Fall hunting forecast — 2009


Quail - Mountain quail nesting season was good so hunting should be good. Success is best in the mid-elevations of the Cascades and Coast ranges near brushy clearcuts on secondary forest roads. California (valley) quail counts were slightly lower this year so hunting success should be about average. Most California quail are found on agricultural and low-elevation forestland.

Turkey - Turkey production was above average this year so hunter harvest should be about average or above average. Most turkeys can be found on or adjacent to low-mid elevation private lands associated with oak savannah habitat.

Pheasant - Pheasant outlook is poor because the Umpqua Valley lowlands have very few pheasants that still exist on private lands and are available for harvest.

Forest Grouse - Blue and ruffed grouse counts for this year indicate average for blue and better than average for ruffed production. Hunting availability and success for forest grouse should be good this season. Blue grouse success is best in mid to high elevations of the Cascades in partly open conifer stands. Ruffed grouse can be found near creeks mostly at mid elevations of both the Cascades and Coast Range. Hunters may use rimfire rifles or pistols to harvest forest grouse.

Waterfowl - Hunting for resident geese should be very good this year as goose production continues to be excellent. The early September goose hunt should be excellent for hunters along river gravel bars frequented by geese or for those with access to private property. Local duck production was good this year. Duck hunting conditions should improve as the fall migrating ducks arrive, especially because production up north was above average this year. Nearly all waterfowl hunting in the Umpqua Valley is on private property and hunters are reminded to obtain landowner permission before hunting. Plat-I Reservoir in Sutherlin, the Umpqua River and its tributaries offer the best waterfowl hunting.


Quail - Mountain and California quail production appears to be mediocre this year. But persistent hunters should be able to find birds. Quail will be found in the vicinity of brushy clearcuts and close to ridge tops where vegetation is sparse on public and private lands.

Forest Grouse - Production appears to be poor in many areas this year. This is likely due to late spring rain. However, some early season bear hunters reported seeing good numbers of grouse where they were hunting in eastern Coos County. Try hunting near the crest of the Coast Range. To hunt ruffed grouse, look in riparian areas of clearcuts or near forest openings like abandoned roads or natural meadows. Blue grouse will be found near riparian areas in the heat of the day and ridge tops in morning and evenings.

Waterfowl - Ducks will begin moving into the district early in the fall and initially concentrate in coastal bays and other large water bodies. A large portion of Coos Bay is open to hunting even though it is with in the city limits of Coos Bay. For information on the area open for hunting, contact the ODFW Charleston Field Office 541-888-5515. As winter comes on and the rainy season starts, waterfowl will disperse inland to flooded river valleys like the Coquille. Geese will concentrate on private pastures around river valleys. Canada goose populations have been growing over the past few years. Good goose hunting can be found throughout most of the county.


Mountain quail - Numbers appear to be average and hunters should expect a fair harvest. Despite spring showers, most were able to re-nest. Mountain quail will be found in brushy clearcuts near water.

Forest grouse - Numbers are average and hunters can expect a fair season. Birds can be found in timbered creek draws. A good bird dog will aid greatly in bird retrieval.

Turkey - Fall turkey hunting should be fair but developing a relationship with landowners is key to getting at them as most are on private property. Turkey hunters may use dogs during the fall season.

Pheasant - The only real pheasant hunting opportunities are during the fee season Sept. 21-Oct. 9 at Denman Wildlife Area.

Waterfowl - September Canada goose season is open in this area and are abundant on valley floors, ag land and even football fields. The best waterfowl hunting at Denman Wildlife Area tends to occur around the end of November; area managers continue to plant crops and flood fields to attract waterfowl to Denman.

Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties
(Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon and Sixes)

Deer - The fall hunting forecast in Jackson and Josephine counties looks good. Deer counts have been up the past four years in a row and buck ratios are good. Hunter success is generally weather-dependent with rain and snow bringing the best hunting. Unlike many blacktails, Jackson County's deer are migratory and hunters are encouraged to hunt high elevations in the first part of the season, switching to mid to low elevations later in the season. The Curry County outlook also looks good for blacktails. There is a lot of federal land to hunt; concentrate on areas around the Biscuit fire for the best vegetation. There is also a lot of private forestland there and many companies offer access; be sure to get permission and always check fire restrictions before hunting.

Elk - Spring elk surveys showed good bull ratios in the district. Early in the season, elk are likely to be found in higher elevation or areas of cooler draws where they can retreat in the heat of the day. Known water sources or wallow can be good location to start your scouting. Elk populations are minimal in the east Chetco and the west Applegate, though some can be found in select drainages in Applegate. Elk in the Evans Creek Unit are primarily found near private properties.

Douglas County
(Dixon, Southern Indigo, NW Evans Creek, Melrose, SW Siuslaw, Eastern Tioga and NE Power units)

Deer - Populations are slightly better than last year with medium to high populations on the Umpqua Valley floor and lower levels in the Cascade and Coast ranges. Fawn production improved last year and this year, so there has been an increase deer populations around the county. Deer Hair-loss Syndrome seems to be affecting less of the district's deer population. Buck ratios after the season last year were high enough that hunters should expect to find legal bucks if they work clearcuts and other places that provide brushy habitats. In addition, mild winter conditions over the last few years have contributed to excellent survival providing a good deer harvest opportunity this season. The best hunting will be found in low to mid elevations; private and BLM lands tend to have the best hunting prospects. Private lands in the Sixes Unit tend to provide the best hunting. During the early part of the season, hunters should find deer on the northerly slopes and near water and green-up areas.

Elk - The outlook for hunters looks to be above average. February aerial surveys found excellent bull and calf ratios at or above management objectives. Good escapement from the 2008-09 hunting season and another mild winter increased elk herd survival. Elk numbers are greatest in the east Tioga, mid to high elevations of the Dixon and south Indigo and the perimeter of the Melrose units. Early in the season, some of the local private timberlands are restricting access due to the high fire danger so hunters should contact them for information on any restrictions before hunting. The 2009 Williams Creek fire and the 2008 Rattle fire in the upper North Umpqua River has moved elk herds. Look for good concentrations of elk near or at the edge of these fire areas.

Coos County
(west Tioga, west Powers, north Sixes, southwest Siuslaw)

Deer - Deer populations are improving, partly thanks to a reduction in Deer Hair-loss Syndrome in fawns. Hunting prospects are good in all units but your best chance is to find access to private land in the Sixes Unit. Hunt for deer in openings, meadows and clearcuts where brush is beginning to grow up.

Elk - Many elk populations are increasing, particularly in Sixes Unit. The elk population in Tioga is close to management objectives and may be declining. Elk hunting will be best on north-facing slopes in the early seasons. Later in the season, elk often move to south-facing slopes where fall green-up starts earlier. Thinned timber stands are good places to hunt in the Coast Range. Thinning the tree canopy encourages grass and brush growth on the ground and feed quality improves. Hunting public or private lands where motor vehicle access is limited will be best. Studies have shown that elk move away from motor vehicle activity.

Mid-Columbia District
(Hood, White River, Maupin, West Biggs)

Deer - The Hood Unit offers good hunting prospects for those who put in the time to hunt the thick cover; this is where hunters will find the older age-class bucks. Rains during the season will improve hunting conditions, putting bucks on the move during daylight hours. Fawn numbers are slightly above population maintenance levels but excellent over-winter fawn survival combined with above management-objective buck ratios helped maintain tag numbers in the Maupin and West Biggs units. Buck numbers were at management objectives in the White River Unit and fawn numbers were up. Weather permitting, this should provide for increased harvest opportunities.

Elk - Numbers in the White River and Hood units are near the management objective and will be found scattered in small groups throughout the units. Bull numbers are fair, but heavy cover makes harvesting one a challenge. Most hunters choose to hunt the second of the two general seasons, which is longer and has a better chance of getting snow, improving hunting conditions. Bull elk hunting in Maupin and West Biggs also is general season, but the animals are almost exclusively found on private lands. Unless a hunter knows a landowner in that area, it will be very difficult to find a place to hunt. The White River Wildlife Area has fair numbers of elk and is open to public hunting. Fire restrictions are likely in effect during archery season.

Prineville District
(Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly)

Deer - Buck hunters will likely have a harder time finding mature bucks, in part due to the better-than-average success enjoyed by last year's buck hunters. The units had a better-than-average fawn crop that should help offset having fewer older bucks. The wet spring has provided outstanding forage conditions, and deer look to be in excellent shape going into the fall hunting seasons. Through August there had been no major fires that could impact hunters. Hunters would do well to conduct pre-season scouting trips to see current conditions for themselves. In terms of hunting locations, the Maury Unit is primarily BLM lands with a small amount of Ochoco National Forest lands. The Gerry Mountain, S. Fork Crooked River, Sand Hollow Well and Hampton Butte Wilderness Study Areas offer challenging and more un-roaded big-game hunting opportunities.

Elk - Elk numbers remain strong, in part due to excellent calf survival. Last year's bull hunters enjoyed above-average success, which is going to make it more difficult for this year's hunters, but there should be opportunities for younger bulls and spikes. The Maury and Ochoco units offer the best opportunities for bagging an animal on public land, while the Grizzly unit is mostly private land where access can be difficult. Ochoco Unit hunters are reminded the Rager and South Boundary TMA motorized vehicle restrictions will be in effect with maps of those area available on-site and from ODFW and Ochoco National Forest offices.

Deschutes District
(Upper Deschutes, Paulina, north Wagontire, northwest Fort Rock, Metolius)

Deer - Buck ratios are well below management objectives in the Paulina and Metolius units and close to management objectives in the Upper Deschutes and Fort Rock units this year. There should be decent numbers of mature and yearling bucks available in all units. Management measures have helped bring buck ratios up, but overall deer populations continue to be lower than desired due to disease, habitat and predation.

Elk - Upper Deschutes, Paulina and Fort Rock units have good bull ratios. Relative to the number of elk, branch antlered bull opportunity will be fair in the Paulina and East Fort Rock units. Elk numbers continue to grow slowly in the Cascade units. In the Paulina, East Fort Rock and the North Wagontire units, elk populations are low and widely scattered. The Upper Deschutes, Metolius and West Fort Rock units are managed under the general season Cascade hunt.

Harney District
(Silvies, Malheur River, Steens Mt. Juniper, portions of Beatys Butte and Wagontire)

Deer - Deer populations are stable due to good fawn survival last spring. The mild winter and wet spring experienced throughout Southeast Oregon in 2008 benefited most desert species. Buck ratios are at or above management objective with fair numbers of mature bucks. Habitat conditions are generally good and abundant water sources this year may disperse game populations more widely. The Egley Complex fire in 2006, which burned approximately 140,000 acres in the Silvies Unit, is generally recovering and providing good early stage habitat for both deer and elk. Travel in the burned area is still restricted, however, and hunters should contact the Emigrant Creek Ranger District at 541-573-4300 for a map of road closures

Elk - Elk populations remain at or above management objectives and bull ratios are similar to previous years with good numbers of adult bulls available. Both the Silvies and Malheur River units offer excellent hunting for elk. Habitat conditions are generally good, but more abundant water sources this year could disperse game populations more widely than last year.

Malheur District
(Whitehorse, Owyhee and Beulah units)

Deer - The Beulah unit is a good deer unit. The population is currently estimated at 10,000-12,000 deer and although buck ratios dropped last year they are still slightly above management objectives. Much of the best hunting is on public land near the edge of the Malheur National Forest. Other areas within the National Forest that have had recent fires or logging activity can also be productive. In the rest of the district, deer populations are stable to slightly declining due to continued low recruitment, but buck ratios are at or above management objective. Tag cuts in the Owyhee unit seem to have improved success rates and the proportion of larger bucks in the harvest; however, it is still a challenging unit. Deer are widely scattered in the unit with no one area with consistently good numbers. The Trout Creek Mountain and Whitehorse Units should be comparable to recent years.

Elk - Beulah is an elk de-emphasis zone. Tag numbers are high with numerous long seasons to keep the elk population under control. Success rates are poor without access to private lands. Whitehorse and Owyhee units are part of the High Desert hunt area, but have very few elk.

Klamath District
(Keno, Klamath Falls, Sprague, SW portion of Fort Rock, West portion of Silver Lake, West Interstate)

DEER - Increased over-winter survival and good forage production due to wet spring weather has resulted in improved deer numbers across the district compared to last year. The Keno unit fared especially well last winter, and hunters should expect to see more yearling bucks than in years past. Success should be average to above average in the northern part of the county, including Fort Rock, Sprague, and Silver Lake units. Given an abundance of forage at all elevations, continued mild weather will result in deer remaining scattered on summer ranges during the hunting season. Although populations remain below management objectives, all units are at or above buck ratio management objectives so there should be good opportunities for adult bucks.

Elk - The Cascades offer the best opportunities for elk hunting. The Cascade area west of Highway 97 is a general season tag. Elk numbers are lower in the eastern part of the county, and seasons east of Highway 97 are limited entry. Overall population trends are stable to slightly increasing in some areas but below management objectives like much of the region.

Lake District
(Warner, Interstate, Silver Lake, Southern portions of Beatys Butte, Fort Rock and Wagontire)

Deer - Buck ratios are at or above management objectives in all units except North Warner, so adult bucks should be available. Over-winter fawn survival was at or slightly below maintenance levels, which means yearling bucks will be available but not abundant. A moderate winter and abundant late spring rains resulted in above average over-winter survival and excellent forage conditions this summer. Late-summer rains will make forage quality persist, and deer will be scattered at all elevations. Deer will be foraging on shrubs and hunters should focus on those areas with shrubs in the understory. Some recommended locations for hunting are the 2002 Tool Box fire in Silver Lake district where forage is recovering. Focus on the fringe of the fire for best results. Forage on the Grassy Fire area of the Fremont National Forest are also recovering nicely so the area is worth a look.
Elk - Bull ratios are at or above objectives but elk densities are very low. Elk numbers are generally higher in the Silver Lake and Fort Rock units than in units further south. All rifle elk seasons are limited entry with a bull-only bag limit. Archery seasons are general with a bull-only bag limit, with the exception of Fort Rock, which is either sex.

— Compiled from ODFW reports

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