Rain, snow help and hurt hunting opener

    The opening weekend of the general black-tailed buck deer season had plenty of weather to aid hunters in the field, but it might have been too much of a good thing for some.

    After years of toiling in hot, crunchy forest conditions to start the general season, deer hunters were greeted this year by heavy rains and snow at high elevation.

    That meant good hunting conditions around Howard Prairie and Hyatt lakes, but thick, heavy snows at high elevations in the northern part of Jackson County left many hunters hunkered down in their trailers, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

    "I think it was a good opener, but some areas were so blustery that it curtailed hunters," says Mark Vargas, ODFW's Rogue District wildlife biologist, who checked hunters in the north county last weekend.

    "With all that wet, heavy snow, they couldn't stay out in it for very long unless they had good gear," Vargas says. "It was wet and miserable."

    But it was also productive, and by Monday local butcher shops had plenty of deer carcasses hanging and awaiting processing.

    Hunting will continue through next week before giving way to the fall general bull-elk season for rifle hunters.

    It's the earliest possible opening weekend for elk hunting based on season frameworks, and normally that would be greeted by grunts. However, with the woods already wet and some areas snowy, the early start should be no problem for elk hunters, Vargas says.

    Those not plying the woods for apex fauna can find plenty of fowl to their liking as the pheasant, quail and chukar seasons open.

    The fee pheasant season at Denman Wildlife Area ends today.

    Central Point man convicted in Eastern Oregon poaching case

    A 43-year-old Central Point man and his father were ordered to pay a $7,500 fine and lost their Oregon hunting privileges for three years for their roles in the poaching of a mule deer buck in November 2014 in Eastern Oregon.

    Justin Aplin and his father, 65-year-old Jerry Aplin, lost their hunting privileges throughout the country after their convictions on misdemeanor wildlife charges Sept. 30, in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

    Justin Aplin was convicted on charges of unlawful take of a trophy buck and borrowing a big-game tag, according to court records. Jerry Aplin, of Terrebone, was convicted on a charge of loaning a big-game tag and aiding in a wildlife violation.

    Oregon State Police received an anonymous tip of poaching activity in the Metolius Unit and the investigation led to three search warrants and the arrests of the Aplins.

    The men were convicted following a three-day trial, court records show.

    Wild and Scenic Rogue fires now OK

    Wednesday's rains brought an end to campfire restrictions in the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River, according to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

    The recent weather pattern has brought enough moisture to reduce fire danger along the Wild Rogue.

    That leaves only the Illinois River corridor and the Ashland Watershed as places in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest where campfires are not allowed.

    Fires along the Illinois River are allowed only in Forest Service-constructed fire rings year-round, and there is a year-round ban on camping and campfires in the Ashland Watershed.

    — Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman


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