DEER and ELK
ROGUE DISTRICT- Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties
(Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon and Sixes)
Black-tailed deer populations remain good in the Rogue District. In general the Rogue, Dixon, Evans Creek and Applegate units within Jackson County have mostly a migratory deer population. Within these units, hunt at high elevations (4,000-plus feet) during the early half of the season and hunt lower elevations during the late half of the season after deer have migrated. Deer in Josephine and Curry counties will be found at all elevations throughout the season.
Big-game hunting statistics indicated that all units within Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties had a slight decrease in black-tailed deer hunter success last year. The Rogue unit had a success rate of 19 percent in 2015, down from 20 percent in 2014. Dixon was down from 29 percent to 27 percent, Evans Creek dropped from 33 percent to 32 percent, Applegate went from 30 to 27 percent, and the Chetco dropped from 42 percent to 39 percent.
Elk numbers in recent years have been lower on most of the public lands, and pre-season scouting is very important. As most private timberlands are closed until fire season restrictions are lifted, look for many hunters to be sharing public lands. The best place to look is on lands with minimal roads and north-facing slopes during periods of warm/dry weather.
Cascade General Elk season success rates have been roughly the same in recent years, and last year was estimated at 6 percent. Hunter success was up during the Chetco coastal seasons, with the first season at 29 percent and second season at 32 percent.
UMPQUA DISTRICT - Douglas County
(Dixon, S. Indigo, NW Evans Creek, Melrose, SW Siuslaw, E. Tioga and NE Powers)
Deer hunting should be good in the Cascades and Umpqua Valley. Elk hunting in the Cascade units should be about the same as the past few years.
Last winter was mild, and deer and elk responded with good overwinter survival. The fawns per adult deer ratios in the Dixon, Indigo and Melrose have been stable to increasing over the last few years. An exception is the lower-elevation deer populations around the Umpqua River, which were hit hard by epizootic hemorrhagic disease. The disease was particularly hard on the Columbian white-tailed deer population. Surveys show that deer numbers are still below average. Hunters with Columbian white-tailed deer tags will have to secure places to hunt where landowners with good deer numbers will grant permission.
Elk numbers in the Tioga Unit are close to population management objectives and doing well. Cascade deer and elk hunters will have better success hunting areas with good cover adjacent to openings. Some of the better wildlife openings are created by clearcuts, thinnings or wildfire after several years.
Over the past few years, Western Oregon rifle deer hunters have done fairly well in the Cascade units (Indigo/Dixon), and recent surveys show that trend should continue as long as the weather cooperates. Cascade elk hunters have averaged about 5 percent success over the past few years, and this year is expected to be the same.
The large amount of fire activity in the district recently will create great big game habitat in the years to come. However, in the short term, hunters may want to concentrate their efforts elsewhere and stay out of the very recently burned areas. Large salvage and reforestation projects have especially impacted the Stouts Creek fire area.
Hunters unfamiliar with this area are advised to hunt smarter, not harder. Use Google Earth or Google Maps (Satellite layer) to explore the area with a birds-eye view and get an idea of the terrain and vegetation. Get some good maps from the Forest Service/BLM/local fire protection association and use them in conjunction with Google Maps to locate areas away from roads.
BEAR AND COUGAR
(Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon, and Sixes)
Enough rains occurred this spring that berry crops should be good. Predator calling can also yield good results. Focus on using a fawn distress call in early morning and late evening. Hunters can expect an average harvest year as bear numbers continue to be robust. During hot, dry weather, bears will be found around cooler wet drainages, with the best times in early morning and late evenings. Applegate unit has the best success during the fall season, although bears are found throughout the three counties.
Cougars are found throughout the district and can be hunted all year long. They can pose a challenge to hunt, but hunters are finding the use of predator calls along major ridge lines as a way to increase their odds. Don’t forget to purchase a tag, because the vast majority of cougars taken today are by hunters pursuing other species.