Oregon Deer, Elk Fall Hunt Forecasts

Good news if you’re an Oregon big-game hunter as we head into the bulk of fall hunts: The animals are fat and sleek.

“We’re hearing that the animals taken so far this year have been in good shape,” says Don Whittaker, ODFW game biologist. “Rains this summer certainly contributed to their healthy body condition.”

That doesn’t mean deer and elk are prancing proudly just off the roads — you’ll still need to put in time and effort to bring venison to the table — but it’s another sign that, just like in Washington, a mild winter and rainy spring and early summer have been kind to our herds.

ODFW also reports that most hunt units experienced good buck and bull survival from the previous hunting season.

And like their compatriots on the north side of the Columbia, Oregon bios issue fall hunting forecasts for blacktails, muleys, Roseys and Rocky Mountain elk, as well as other species. Match those up with the agency’s new online hunting map and you’re a half mile ahead of the competition.

Here, we post what ODFW has to say about deer and elk. To wit:

NORTHWEST REGION

DEER

North Coast Watershed District (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw wildlife management units)

Black-tailed deer on the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, Trask wildlife management units) survived a relatively mild winter well. While deer densities overall are only moderate, good survival of bucks from last year’s hunting season should give hunters a decent chance this year. Generally, deer densities tend to be highest on the eastern portions of those WMUs.

Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), deer numbers appear to be increasing slightly. In many areas deer seem to be showing fewer signs of Deer Hair Loss Syndrome. Buck numbers in most areas are fair to good. The best deer hunting opportunities are the central to eastern portions of the Stott Mt, Alsea and Siuslaw units; deer numbers decline as one gets closer to the ocean. Both private industrial forestlands and federal lands offer deer hunting opportunities.

2009 Hunter Harvest Statistics: For both archery and rifle hunts, total harvest and success rate was 707 deer and 17% Saddle Mt, 347 deer and 15% in Wilson and 822 deer and 14% in Trask.

SADDLE MOUNTAIN UNIT

Some areas to look at include Davis Point, the lower Lewis and Clark River and Big Creek in Clatsop County and upper Rock Creek and Clear Creek in Columbia County.

WILSON UNIT

Clear-cut habitat is limited but increasing, with most occurring on private corporate forestlands. In recent years, the amount of partial and clear cut harvest on state forestlands has increased substantially, which warrants looking at areas with recent logging include the lower Wilson River, upper North Fork Nehalem River, Gales Creek, Spruce Run and Camp Olson.

TRASK UNIT

Some of the best hunting is on private timberlands in the eastern portion of the WMU where timber harvest has occurred within the last three to five years. Some areas to consider in the eastern Trask Unit are the upper portions of the Yamhill River and upper Willamina Creek. Hunters looking to experience less road traffic and more walk-in hunting opportunities are encouraged to explore the Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area located west of Henry Hagg Lake. On state forest lands in the western portion, look in the Trask River basin.

ELK

On the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, Trask), elk populations continue to be robust, with the highest densities in the western portions of these WMUs. The best bull elk hunting this year may be Trask due to very high bull escapement (e.g. survival) from last year’s hunting season. Wilson also had high bull escapement, but Saddle Mountain hunting is likely to be average because of continued sub-par bull escapement.

Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), elk numbers are relatively unchanged this year, with bull ratios above management objectives in the Alsea. The second rifle bull elk season in Siuslaw has a bag limit of one spike bull; the bull ratio there continues to be well below management objectives.

Elk will be scattered throughout the units, with larger herds common close to agricultural valleys. Industrial forestlands north of Highway 20 typically receive lots of hunting pressure, with young tree plantations providing good hunting opportunities. Forest Service lands south of Highway 34 have considerable numbers of elk, but they are much more difficult to hunt in the thick vegetation and rugged terrain.

2009 Hunter Harvest Statistics: For both archery and rifle hunts, total harvest and success rate was 858 elk and 23% Saddle Mt, 481 elk and 13% Wilson and 828 elk and 14% in Trask. More information.

SADDLE MOUNTAIN

Elk rifle hunting in this unit is all limited entry, but archery elk hunting is through a single general season. Areas with high elk numbers and open habitat include Davis Point, the lower Lewis and Clark River, Big Creek, lower Necanicum River and upper Rock Creek.

WILSON UNIT

Some popular hunting areas are the lower Wilson River, Kilchis River, Cook Creek, upper North Fork Nehalem River, Spruce Run and Camp Olson.

WESTERN TRASK UNIT

Some popular areas with high numbers of elk and open habitats include Cape Lookout, Wilson River tributaries, lower Nestucca River and the Trask River.

TED SPENCER'S 2008 COAST BULL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

STOTT MOUNTAIN, ALSEA UNITS

Some popular areas to hunt elk in the Stott Mountain Unit include the South Fork Siletz River, Fanno Ridge, Gravel Creek, Mill Creek, Elk Creek, Euchre Creek, and the mainstem Siletz River. Popular elk hunting areas in the Alsea include the Yachats River, Five Rivers, North Fork Siuslaw River, Big Rock Creek Road, Luckiamute River, Airlie, Burnt Woods, Bark Creek, Grant Creek, Wolf Creek, Logsden, Pee Dee Creek, and Dunn Forest.

DEER

NORTH WILLAMETTE WATERSHED DISTRICT

Hunters heading to the North Willamette Watershed (Scappoose, north Willamette, eastern Trask and north Santiam Units) this fall can expect improved hunting opportunities. Buck deer escapement during last year’s hunting season helped improve buck ratios in all units. Buck ratios remain above benchmark in the north Santiam (33 bucks per 100 does) and eastern Trask (23 bucks per 100 does) but continue to remain below the benchmark of 20 bucks per 100 does in the Scappoose Unit despite an improved buck ratio to 17 bucks per 100 does.
Despite unusually cool and rainy spring weather conditions, deer populations are healthy with only a slight increase in Deer Hair-Loss Syndrome observed in the lower elevations of the Trask Unit.

Hunters are reminded to contact local timber companies to obtain updated information on access restrictions if fire danger remains high early in the season. The majority of timber land managers in the Scappoose and eastern Trask Units participate in the North Coast Travel Management Area. Hunters are reminded that some roads may be closed to access due to ongoing logging operations or road building. Please read and obey all informational signs to ensure continued access opportunities. The majority of properties in the Willamette Unit are privately owned and hunters are reminded to obtain permission before hunting on those lands. Hunters headed to the north Santiam have a variety of access opportunities from federal forestland, private timberland and agricultural properties.Hunters should check out the Abiqua Basin Access Area. This is a cooperative access program between Longview Timber, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Access and Habitat Program and the Capitol Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association.

Scappoose Unit

Good buck escapement from last season and increased fawn survival should result in better hunting this season. While younger age class bucks typically comprise the majority of the harvest hunters should also find increased numbers of mature bucks. Hunters should be looking for habitat that has a variety of plant components and associated water sources for deer concentrations. Hunters with access to agricultural lands will find higher populations of deer. Some areas to locate deer this fall include Green Mountain, Peterson Point, Bunker Hill, and the upper portions of the Clatskanie River and Kenusky Creek.

LISA ALLEN'S 2009 SCAPPOOSE BLACKTAIL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Eastern Trask Unit

Surveys show a slightly improved buck ratio so opportunities for deer hunters should be good this fall in the eastern portion of the Trask Unit. In general, deer will be concentrated and more visible near forest clearings that are 5-8 years old and agricultural fields along the forest edge. Hunters wanting to do more walk-in hunting should be looking at the Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area west of Forest Grove as a good option. Some areas with good habitat include the upper portions of the Yamhill and Tualatin Rivers, Trask Mountain, Deer Creek and Willamina Creek.

AMY BARTELL'S 2008 MOLLALA RIVER DRAINAGE BLACKTAIL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

North Santiam Unit

The north Santiam Unit buck ratios remain high and prospects for those hunters willing to hunt thick cover where deer concentrate should be good. Hunters will find a wide diversity of terrain in the unit, ranging from high elevation meadows, thick old growth forests, industrial forestlands and agricultural fields which accommodate a variety of hunting styles. Whether hunters choose to still hunt, set up a tree stand, rattle antlers or conduct deer drives, scouting will be critical for success. Snow in the higher elevations of the Mount Hood National Forest will improve tracking conditions and make deer more visible. Hunters looking to stay closer to home should consider hunting on industrial forest lands where land managers are reporting deer damage to recently planted conifer stands. Some locations to consider include the upper Collawash and Clackamas Rivers, Ripplebrook, Abiqua Creek, Timothy Lake, upper Eagle Creek and the Abiqua Basin Access Area.

North Willamette Unit

The long hunting season in the Willamette Unit should provide hunters with a good opportunity to harvest a deer this season. Deer damage to agricultural crops remains high throughout the northern portion of the unit. Hunters are reminded that land within this unit is primarily privately owned and hunters need to have established a good relationship with landowners to ensure a hunting opportunity. Hunters can find some public land hunting opportunities in the Willamette River Recreation Guide, pages 1-14 and pages 15 – 39, published by Oregon State Parks and Oregon State Marine Board; many of these are listed on ODFW’s Hunting Access Map.

2009 Hunter Harvest Statistics: Total harvest and success rate was 719 deer and 20% Scappoose, 1,886 deer and 12% Santiam, 2,123 and 21% Willamette, 1,721 deer and 22% Alsea, 460 deer and 19% Stott Mt, 1,002 deer and 20% Siuslaw.

ELK

Bull elk hunting in the coastal units of the North Willamette District should be best in the eastern Trask Unit due to increased bull escapement during the 2009 hunting season. In contrast, the high vulnerability of elk in the Scappoose Unit has continued to cause bull ratios to fluctuate around the management objective of 10 bulls per 100 cows. With the decreased bull escapement from the 2009 hunting season, prospects should be below average this season in the Scappoose Unit. In the Scappoose Unit, elk are more numerous in the timberlands of the northwestern portion of the unit. In the eastern Trask, elk are widely scattered and can be found near agricultural fields and within the private timberlands.

While populations of elk in the Mt. Hood National Forest continue to decline due to limited forage opportunities, more elk can be located in the industrial forestlands and agricultural fields at lower elevations of the northern Santiam Unit. Hunters should concentrate their efforts on these low elevation lands for their best chance of success. Contacting private landowners prior to the hunting season will be the key to finding these agriculture land elk. Hunters are reminded to always ask for permission before entering private lands.

Scappoose Unit

Poor bull escapement combined with average calf recruitment should mean average bull hunting this fall. Harvest should continue to be dominated by younger age class bulls but there should be a few mature bulls available for the persistent hunter. Hunting for antlerless elk should be similar to last year with just a few adjustments in tag numbers. Hunters are reminded that most of the timberland managers within this unit participate in the North Coast Travel Management Area and hunters should read and follow all posted regulations to ensure continued access. Some popular areas include Cedar Creek, Baker Point, Elk Creek and Buxton.

ROOSEVELT COW ELK NEAR MIST, ORE. (ODFW)

East Trask Unit

An increase in bull escapement from last hunting season will likely mean an above average opportunity for bull elk hunters this fall. Bulls will be widely scattered throughout the unit and hunters are encouraged to spend time scouting in order to locate elk before the season begins. Late season antlerless elk hunters should still have good success if they can find elk concentrated near agricultural fields and low elevation timber stands. Hunters need to be aware of frequent changes of land ownership in the agricultural-forest fringes and always ask for permission before entering private lands.

North Santiam Unit

Declining elk numbers within the Mt. Hood National Forest will make for poor elk hunting on public lands while elk hunter success should be average on lower elevation private timberlands. Hunters heading for the Mt. Hood National Forest will find elk highly scattered and difficult to locate. Scout early and often to be successful here. Places to begin include Timothy Lake, Rhododendron Ridge and Granite Peaks. At lower elevations hunters should explore the Abiqua Basin, Butte Creek and Eagle Creek.

2009 Hunter Harvest Statistics: 382 elk and 15% Scappoose, 277 elk and 5% Santiam, 120 elk and 15% Willamette, 611 elk and 9% Alsea, 143 elk and 6% Stott Mt, 174 elk and 10% Siuslaw.

South Willamette Watershed District (east Alsea, north Indigo, McKenzie, south Santiam, south Willamette, northeast Siuslaw)

Post season buck ratios dipped slightly last year but still remain strong with an overall ratio of 25 bucks per 100 does in the District. There is the potential for hunters to take some mature bucks again this year. Generally, buck ratios were higher in the Cascades (south Santiam, McKenzie, and north Indigo) than in the Coastal units. This has been a trend for a few years with the Cascade units having higher buck ratios but the Coastal units tend to have a higher hunter success rate. District Biologist Brian Wolfer observed many deer during his surveys and says the best places to hunt are those with a variety of habitats. “Areas with a variety of forest—with food and cover—are doing well,” he said. He continues to observe less deer on the national forests due to lower habitat diversity; with the exception of areas that have been heavily thinned or recently burned.

South Santiam Unit

The B&B Fire area of the southeast Santiam offers one of the better places to find deer on National Forest land within the District. The burn is getting brushy which makes it challenging to hunt. The southwest portion of the unit is primarily private lands and hunters should verify the access policy of the particular timber landowner where they plan to hunt.

McKenzie Unit

Finding deer on the National Forest lands in the McKenzie can be challenging. Hunters should look for areas with recent thinning projects or controlled burns. Some thinning has occurred around the North Fork of the Middle Fork Willamette and in the Scott Creek area west of the Mt Washington Wilderness. There are strong deer populations on Weyerhaeuser property in the Wendling and Fall Creek areas. Access is often limited to specific days and areas. Please call the Weyerhaeuser Access Hotline at 1-888-741-5403 for the latest on hunter access restrictions.

N. Indigo

The 2009 Tumblebug Fire is starting to produce forage in a few spots but much of the fire area burned hot and will take another year before much forage is produced. Deer numbers have started improving on private timberlands southeast of Cottage Grove with recent timber harvest activity. Please call the Weyerhaeuser Access Hotline at 1-888-741-5403 for the latest on hunter access restrictions.

ELK

Expect elk hunting to be similar to past years. Bull ratios have remained above management objective for most areas but hunters need to work hard in order to be successful. During the Cascade rifle season elk are likely to be scattered in smaller groups, not responding to calls or hanging out in clear cuts.

For the last couple years, hunter success has been lower in the McKenzie unit than neighboring units. This may be due to lack of forage on National Forest lands and limited access to private timberlands. All this makes pre-season scouting very important. District Biologist Brian Wolfer advises hunters going to the National Forest to look just outside high elevation wilderness areas for elk. “The wilderness areas tend to be lacking in high quality forage so you will find more elk along the higher elevation fringes where past timber management improved forage,” he said. Lower elevation private timberland is also a good place to hunt for elk when allowed by the landowner. Timber harvest on these lands has increased forage while the motor vehicle access restrictions in place most of the year keeps disturbance low.In areas where access is restricted to weekends only, hunters may want to hunt the private lands during the weekend and move to the National Forest to hunt the weekdays.

Northwest Region Big Game Hunting Locations

Along the north coast (Saddle Mt, Wilson, Trask units), Saddle Mt. is 25% state forest lands, Wilson 70% state forest lands, and Trask 50% state and federal forestlands. Hunters have access to 1.5 million acres of private forestland in the three units plus Scappoose through the A&H program’s North Coast Access Area. Within the Wilson unit, note there is a travel management area in the greater God’s Valley area on Oregon Department of Forestry lands. The Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area is open for some big game hunting but take note of closures of certain areas including posted portions of the Beneke Tract during the Saddle Mt elk rifle and archery season and the entire Fishhawk tract, which is a refuge.

Along the mid-coast, (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), the Siuslaw National Forest and BLM lands provide some quality deer and elk hunting opportunities. Try BLM lands in the eastern portion of the Siuslaw and state Department of Forestry lands in east Alsea unit for good deer hunting. Private industrial forestlands are usually very accessible to hunters outside of fire season thanks to the A&H program including the Stott Mt .-North Alsea TMA (map second page). Several travel management areas operate in the mid-coast; see page 98 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations. Please respect motorized access restrictions, which help keep bull ratios healthy, protect important wintering habitat for elk and provide areas for walk-in hunting. Permanent road closures exist in western portion of Siuslaw National Forest south of Hwy 34, in Polk County near the old Valsetz town site, in the Hadsall Creek area near Mapleton. There is also a large seasonal road closure on several private industrial forestlands in the north Alsea (north of Hwy 20) and Stott Mt units. Hunters using the Siuslaw National Forest should obtain a Motor Vehicle Use Map.

The Mt Hood National Forest and most BLM lands should be open to public access, even during dry fall weather. Be aware of any public use restrictions before you hunt. Hunters should always carry a shovel, fire extinguisher, and gallon of water when hunting in case you come across a smoldering campfire. There is limited road maintenance in Mt Hood NF so be careful when negotiating over-grown or water-damaged roads. If you plan to hunt deer or elk in the Mt. Hood, take plenty of time to scout beforehand because big game are scattered and difficult to locate in heavy vegetation and rugged terrain. Hunters heading to the coastal units of the North Willamette Watershed should always check the access policies of industrial forestland owners before heading out into the field. Many of these timber companies have easily accessible hunter hotlines where you can gather the most up-to-date information available. Travel management agreements, funded by ODFW’s Access and Habitat Program, limit motorized access to protect wildlife and the environment and enable walk-in hunting: Abiqua Basin Access Area, Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area, Stott Mt.-Alsea Access Area, North Coast Travel Management Area. Visit the Access and Habitat program page for more opportunities.

The Abiqua Basin A&H project (mostly and the in N. Willamette Watershed District) Thomas Creek A&H project allow for hunter access during the general rifle deer season. These areas are open during the week as well as on weekends. In general private timberlands are good areas to hunt if access is allowed. Call the Weyerhaeuser Hunter/Access Hotline for access information 541-741-5403 or 1-888-741-5403. On the national forest, hunters may want to try the B&B fire area that burned the Santiam Pass and Mt Jefferson Wilderness area in 2003. The burned area is recovering and producing abundant forage. There are five Cooperative Travel Management Areas in the McKenzie unit. Three of these are permanent, one is September thru November, and one is three days prior to the general Cascade elk season and runs for the length of that season. Hunters should refer to page 98 of the 2009 Big Game Regulations for details.

SOUTHWEST

DEER

DOUGLAS COUNTY (Dixon, S. Indigo, NW Evans Creek, Melrose, SW Siuslaw, E. Tioga and NE Powers Units)

Deer populations are up the last two years with good levels on the Umpqua Valley floor with lower levels in the Cascades and Coast ranges. Fawn production has improved the last couple of years, showing a general increase in overall deer populations throughout the county. Buck ratios are good enough that hunters should expect to find an adequate number of legal bucks if they work clear cuts and other places that have 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.

Most property on the Umpqua valley floor is privately owned and hunters are reminded to obtain permission before hunting on those lands. In addition, before going hunting, all hunters should check with local timber companies to obtain information on access restrictions related to fire conditions. During the early part of rifle and archery season, hunters should find deer on the northerly slopes and near water and green up area.

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

Deer populations are improving, partly thanks to a reduction in Deer Hair-Loss Syndrome in fawns. Buck ratios were good after the season closed last year, which means buck numbers should be good for this season. 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 brushy openings, meadows and clear cuts where brush is beginning to grow up. These habitats where vehicle access is limited will be the most productive for deer.

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

For the last few years, deer numbers have increased. Buck ratios also appeared to be high during summer surveys. Most deer will be in high elevations through September. Hunter success is generally weather-dependent with rain and snow bringing the best hunting. Unlike many black-tails, 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 alter in the season. Don’t forget to check fire restrictions before heading out especially early in the season.

2009 hunter statistics: Total harvest and success rate 1,182 deer and 32% Applegate, 606 deer and 34% in Chetco, 890 deer and 28% in Evans Creek, 1,664 and 17% in Rogue, 1,175 and 26% Dixon, 482 and 29% in Sixes, and 504 and 38% in Powers.

SOUTH COAST BLACKTAIL IN VELVET. (ODFW)

ELK

DOUGLAS COUNTY (Dixon, S. Indigo, NW Evans Creek, Melrose, SW Siuslaw, E. Tioga and NE Powers Units)

The outlook for hunters this elk season looks to be above average. February aerial surveys found excellent bull and calf ratios at or above our management objectives. Good escapement from the 2009-10 hunting season and another mild winter increased elk herd survival. Elk numbers are greatest in the E. Tioga, mid to high elevations of the Dixon and S. 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 obtain more information on any restrictions before hunting. In addition, the 2009 Williams, Boze and French Creek fires and the 2008 Rattle fire in the upper N. Umpqua River have moved elk herds. Look for good concentrations of elk near or at the edge of these fire areas.

HUNTER KRUZICK'S 2008 SIUSLAW BULL ELK. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

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

Forage production in Coos County was good in many places. As a result elk should be in good physical shape as a result of feeding on good summer range. Many elk populations are increasing in Sixes and Siuslaw Units, stable in the Powers and just below the management objective in the Tioga Unit. 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. A particularly productive habitat type to hunt in the Oregon Coast Range elk in areas where foresters have thinned timber stands. 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 clearly shown that elk move away from motor vehicle activity.

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

Spring elk surveys showed good bull ratios in the district. It is important for hunters to pre-scout areas for elk. Early in the season, elk are likely to be found in higher elevation or areas of cooler draws where they can retreat to in the heat of the day. Known water sources or wallows can be good locations to start your scouting activities. The best elk hunting comes with rain and snow later in the season, particularly frequent snows that allow better tracking. Elk populations are minimal in the E. Chetco and the W. Applegate though some can be found in select drainages in Applegate. Elk in the Evans Creek Unit are primarily found near private properties. There are also lots of elk down low in and amongst private land but gaining access to these properties requires homework early in the season.

2009 hunter harvest statistics: Total harvest and success rate n/a for Applegate, 58 elk and 21% in Chetco, 83 elk and 15% in Evans Creek, 227 and 7% in Rogue, 146 elk and 7% Dixon, 234 elk and 44% in Sixes, and 71 elk and 16% in Powers.

SOUTHWEST BIG GAME HUNTING LOCATIONS

Good public hunting opportunities exist on Forest Service (Siskiyou, Siuslaw, Rogue River, Umpqua NFs) and BLM lands; some state forest lands can also be hunted. In Sixes, there is public hunting opportunity Coos County Forest in the north portion of the unit and the Siskiyou National Forest in the south. The Jackson Travel Management Area (JACTMA), which includes private forestlands, provides quality non-motorized hunting for deer, elk, turkeys and mountain quail. This area restricts entry by motor vehicles from three days prior to General Cascade Elk season until April 30. The Upper Rogue Green Dot Travel Management program again will be in effect on the Prospect and Butte Falls Ranger Districts in the Rogue River National Forest; it restricts motorized vehicle access to designated roads during the General Cascade Elk season. The Forest Service combined and renamed the Prospect and Butte Falls Ranger Districts to the “High Cascades Ranger District.” TMA maps are available at the Central Point ODFW office 541-826-8774 and online as linked above. See page 98 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations for more on locations and TMAs (travel management areas).

HIGH DESERT

DEER

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

The Hood Unit offers good hunting prospects for those that 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. Older clear cuts are also a favorite place for deer in the Hood Unit.

High buck ratios and good fawn recruitment led to an increase of tags in the West Biggs. The Deschutes and John Day canyons can be great places to find weary bucks, especially later in the season.

The Maupin unit should provide good opportunities at older bucks for those hunters with access to private lands.

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. Hunters should focus their efforts at higher elevations for opportunities at older bucks.

BLACK-TAILED DEER STUDY: ODFW is conducting a buck deer study in the southern portion of the White River Unit to improve its knowledge of local deer herds. Radio-collared deer in this unit are legal to shoot but return collar and identify location of the kill to The Dalles District office.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 132 deer and 21% in Hood, 750 deer and 31% in White River, 146 deer and 43% in Maupin, 742 deer at 65% in Biggs.

Prineville District (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly)

Deer hunters should find improved prospects for a buck this fall. A combination of a mild winter and a wet spring provided good fawn survival. Buck ratios also improved in all 3 units, which coupled with the good fawn survival, should provide for improved hunter success. Archery hunters are reminded, as part of the Mule Deer Initiative, the Maury unit is now a controlled unit requiring archers to possess a controlled entry buck tag. 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.

The MAURY unit is approximately 65% public lands, with BLM managing most of the public lands available to hunters. The unit does include the Maury Mountains managed by the Ochoco National Forest. The Gerry Mountain, S. Fork Crooked River, Sand Hollow Well and Hampton Butte Wilderness Study Areas are on BLM lands and offer challenging and more un-roaded hunting opportunities.

OCHOCO unit is approximately 50% Ochoco National Forest, 10% BLM, with the remainder private. The South Boundary and Rager Travel Management Area’s (TMA’s) are in this unit on Ochoco National Forest lands. Motorized vehicles are allowed, but are restricted to designated roads. Maps for both TMA’s are available at portal signs and at Ochoco National Forest and Prineville ODFW offices. Hunters observing illegal vehicle use or any other violations are encouraged to use the TIP hotline (1-800-452-7888).

GRIZZLY is approximately 70% private land so access is challenging. Public lands are comprised mostly on the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle hunter harvest and success rates were 157 bucks and 26% in the Maury, 787 and 25% in the Ochoco, and 699 and 32% in the Grizzly. More information

Deschutes District (Upper Deschutes, Paulina, North Wagontire, Northwest Fort Rock, Metolius)

Buck ratios are near, or above, management objectives in all Deschutes District units. There should be decent numbers of mature and yearling bucks available in all units relative to the population size. Measures including controlled hunting, increased enforcement, disease monitoring and closures to protect wintering habitat have helped bring buck ratios up. Overall, deer populations continue to be significantly lower than desired due to disease, habitat loss and disturbance, poaching, predation, and road kills. As a result, hunter success will probably be lower than average this year in the Paulina, Upper Deschutes, North Wagontire, and Ft. Rock units.

MIKE ANDERSON'S 2009 METOLIUS UNIT MULEY. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Please be careful when hunting around hay and agricultural fields. ODFW Deschutes District has received reports of problems with arrows getting cut up and baled in hay fields. These sharp pieces of metal in hay bales can kill horses and cows if they ingest them. ODFW has also received reports of problems with rifle hunters pointing loaded rifles into fields while workers are working in the fields.

MULE DEER STUDY: ODFW is conducting a mule deer study in this area to improve its knowledge of local deer herds. Hunter participation in this study is needed. Remember to return one tooth of any deer harvested in all Deschutes District units in envelope provided. Radio-collared deer in these units are legal to shoot (if they are legal for the bag limit for a particular hunt) but please return collar and identify location of the kill to ODFW Bend office.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Hunter harvest and success rate was 510 deer and 21% in Upper Deschutes, 674 deer and 22% in Paulina, 93 deer and 32% in Wagontire, 358 deer and 11% in Fort Rock, 403 deer and 31% in Metolius.

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

Over-winter fawn survival was lower this year in most units despite a fairly mild winter. Buck tags were reduced in the Klamath Falls, and Interstate WMUs in response to the lower fawn recruitment. Fawn recruitment in Keno, Silver Lake, Fort Rock and Sprague was average and tag numbers are the same as last year. Hunters should concentrate on more open areas near cover where good forage opportunities are available near escape cover. 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.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Hunter harvest and success rate was 270 and 24% in Keno, 369 deer and 31% in Klamath Falls, 86 deer and 18% in Sprague.

JAKE RATHSACK'S 2009 FORT ROCK UNIT MULEY. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Lake District (Warner, Interstate, Siilver Lake, southern portions of Beatys Butte, Fort Rock and Wagontire)

Buck ratios are at or above management objectives in all units so adult bucks should be available. Over-winter fawn survival was lower this year in most units despite a fairly mild winter, which means yearling bucks will be available but not abundant. A moderate winter and abundant late spring rains resulted in excellent forage conditions this summer. If we receive late summer rains, forage quality will 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 in North Warner and the Burnt Willow Fire in South Warner are also recovering nicely. Beatys Butte, Wagontire and South Juniper are all desert units with low deer populations. All of these units had very low overwinter fawn survival. Hunters should focus on the desert rims with sagebrush or bitterbrush for best success.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Hunter harvest and success rate was 132 deer and 38% in Beatys Butte, 93 deer and 32% in Wagontire, 152 deer and 36% in Warner, 708 deer and 39% Interstate, 359 and 20% in Silver Lake, 358 and 11% in Fort Rock

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

Deer populations are stable due to good fawn survival last spring. The mild winter and wet spring experienced throughout southeast Oregon in 2009 has benefited most desert species. Buck ratios are at or above management objective with good numbers of younger 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

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 554 deer and 30% in Silvies, 791 deer and 34% in Malheur River, 148 deer and 35% in Steens Mt, 62 deer and 23% in Juniper, 109 deer and 39% in Beatys Butte.

Malheur District (Whitehorse, Owyhee and Beulah Units)

Beulah unit continues to be a strong deer unit. The population is currently estimated at 10,000-12,000 deer and although buck ratios has declined the last couple of year they are still slightly above management objective. 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. Last year, tags were cut in the Owyhee unit thus the proportion of larger buck in the harvest was observed; however it is still a challenging unit. Deer are widely scattered in the unit with no one area with consistently good deer numbers. The Trout Creek Mountain and Whitehorse Units should be comparable to recent years.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics for rifle hunters: Beulah, 944 deer were harvested at 45% success; hunter success was down from 2008, which was 60% success. E. Whitehorse, 94 deer were harvested at 38% success which is a slight increase from last year. Owyhee, 229 deer were harvested at 39% success which is a decrease of 10% from 2008.

ELK

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

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 mature bulls are found at higher elevations, especially during the first season. Most hunters choose to hunt the second of the two general seasons. The second season is longer, with a greater chance of winter weather to improve hunting conditions and success. Bull elk hunting in the Maupin and West Biggs also is a 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; remember fire restrictions are likely in effect during archery season.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 51 elk and 11% in Hood, 110 elk and 7% in White River, 31 elk and 16% in Maupin, 72 elk and 18% in Biggs.

Prineville District (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly)

Elk numbers remain strong, in part due to good to excellent calf survival, and bull ratios that meet or exceed the unit management objectives. 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 rifle 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.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rates were 71 bulls and 14% in Maury unit, 390 bulls and 19% in Ochoco unit, 231 bulls and 16% in the Grizzly unit.

Deschutes– Upper Deschutes, Paulina, north Wagontire, north Fort Rock, Metolius)

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. Herds are at relatively low densities and hunter success is typically low.

Elk numbers continue to grow slowly in the Cascade units. The Upper Deschutes, Metolius and West Fort Rock units are managed under the general season ‘Cascade’ hunt. Elk densities are moderate, but hunter densities are high in the roaded portions of the Cascade units. For solitude, seek more remote areas in the Cascades.

Elk numbers in the North Wagontire (High Desert hunts) are quite variable due to large movements these animals make. The elk are probably most consistent in their patterns near alfalfa fields.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 95 elk and 15% in Paulina, 42 elk and 16% in Wagontire, 102 elk and 4% in Upper Deschutes and 56 elk and 5% for the Metolius.

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

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 good hunting for elk. Habitat conditions are generally good, but more abundant water sources this year could disperse game populations similar to last year. The Egley Complex fire in 2006, which burned approximately 140,000 acres in the Silvies Unit, is generally recovering and providing good early growth for both elk and deer. Travel in the burned area is still restricted however, and hunters should contact the Emigrant Creek Ranger District for a current road closure map.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 617 elk and 19% in Silvies, 321 elk and 17% in Malheur River, 153 and 21% success in High Desert.

Malheur District (Whitehorse, Owyhee and Beulah Units)

E 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. Whitehorse unit has very few elk. An increasing number of elk have been observed in the northwestern portion of the Owhyee unit. These elk are often observed in large groups and very nomadic which makes them difficult to constantly locate.

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

The Cascades offer the best opportunities for elk hunting. The Cascade Area west of Highway 97 is a general season tag. Bull ratios are above management objective and some older age bulls are available.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 population management objectives like much of the region.

2009 hunter harvest statistics

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

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 then 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.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle hunter harvest and success rate was 24 bulls and 4% in Paulina-East Fort Rock, 4 bulls and 6% in Warner, 9 bulls and 3% in Interstate, 1 bulls and 4% in Silver Lake.

High Desert Big Game Hunting Locations

Hunters can utilize BLM lands as well as Deschutes, Ochoco, and Fremont-Winema in these units. The Fox Butte and Walker Rim TMA’s will be in effect 3 days prior through the controlled buck deer seasons and the Timbers and Spring Butte TMA’s are in effect year round.

Mt Hood National Forest, White River and Lower Deschutes wildlife areas offer big game hunting. Public access in the Maupin and West Biggs Units are limited to the Lower Deschutes Wildlife Area and BLM lands in the Deschutes and John Day River Canyons.

Hunters should contact the Prineville BLM or the Ochoco National Forest for maps that show public lands in these units. Remember, the South Boundary and Rager Travel Management Areas (TMAs) have motorized vehicle restrictions effect. Maps showing these TMAs are available from federal agencies, ODFW, and from portal signs on-site.

The county is mostly BLM land. Silvies contains portions of the Ochoco and Malheur national forests. Check the Malheur National Forest Web site for the latest information on closures and fire restrictions.

Some private lands in Harney County are open thanks to the Access and Habitat Program, contact ODFW Hines office (541) 573-6582 for more information.

A high proportion of these counties are publicly owned which results in few hunting access issues. The Klamath Falls unit may be an exception to this trend, and hunters are warned to make sure they have secured access to hunt before entering private lands. Although most of the forest habitats are managed by the Fremont-Winema National Forest, there are extensive tracts of private timber lands. The majority of these properties are open to public access hunting, although hunters are strongly encouraged to respect these lands as access is a privilege. While these landowners appreciate the value of public access hunting, continued public use of these lands may be in jeopardy if off-road vehicle use, vandalism, and littering continue. Lakeview BLM manages most of the desert habitat. Hunters can also utilize the Summer Lake Wildlife Area for some (archery mule deer and Silver Lake and Wagontire unit controlled hunt buck mule deer hunts with a few restrictions. Please see page 101 in the 2010 Oregon Big Game Regulations for details.

Klamath Wildlife Area is closed to deer hunting.

Much of the Malheur DistricT is BLM land. Beulah contains portions of the Malheur National Forest.

ODFW’s Riverside Wildlife Area to open to hunting for deer, elk and upland game. The use of motor vehicles on the area is limited to the main entrance road near the community of Riverside and the Long Siding Road near Juniper Basin, though this road is not maintained, is suitable only for high-clearance 4WD vehicles and is impassable during wet weather. Use the road and bridges at your own risk.

There are many Access and Habitat projects opening private lands to hunters too.

NORTHEAST

BAKER DISTRICT: Sumpter, Keating, Pine Creek, Lookout Mt. wildlife management units

DEER

Over-winter survival was good due to a milder winter. Buck ratios are above management objectives so hunters should experience good success rates throughout the county.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 829 deer and 34% in Sumpter, 348 deer and 40% in Keating, 223 deer and 36% in Pine Creek, 211 deer and 46% in Lookout Mt.

ELK

Bull ratios are up from last year.  Calf ratios are up in the Sumpter Unit and lower than average in other units.  For the best chance at tagging an elk, get as far away from roads as possible, perhaps by hunting in one of the cooperative Travel Management Areas.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 290 elk and 11% in Sumpter, 109 elk and 13% in Pine Creek, 128 elk and 29% in Lookout Mt, 194 elk and 23% in Keating. More information

GRANT DISTRICT: Northside, Desolation, southeast Heppner, northwest Beulah wildlife management units

DEER

Deer populations in Grant County continue to be below management objectives due to poor habitat and predation. The winter was relatively mild with a long and wet spring that kept the mule deer forage green late into the summer. Fawn survival dipped a little compared to last year. Buck ratios continue to be slightly below management objective, but antler growth and body condition should be excellent due to the above average spring rains and corresponding forage growth.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 419 deer and 22% in Northside, 451 deer and 20% in Desolation, 652 deer and 30% Murderers Creek.

ELK

Habitat conditions in Grant County favor elk, most populations are at or above management objectives, except Desolation where calf recruitment is poor due to cougar predation.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 261 elk and 14% in Northside, 302 elk and 9% in Desolation and 528 elk and 17% in Murderers Creek.

HEPPNER DISTRICT: Heppner, Fossil, East Biggs, southern Columbia Basin wildlife management units

DEER

Deer in Heppner are stable to slightly increasing and buck ratios are good. Adult deer survived the winter well for the most part.  A 60,000-acre fire that burned three years ago along the breaks of the North Fork John Day should also provide some better forage and more opportunities for success.

The Fossil unit deer numbers are also stable to slightly increasing. Public lands hunters can work the old Wheeler Burn, which is still producing a fair number of deer and is historically a good spot.

The Columbia Basin and East Biggs deer herds are stable to slightly declining. However if you are lucky enough to have access to private land in the Columbia Basin or John Day River Canyon, you can expect decent hunting.

2009 Deer Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle hunter harvest and success rate was 885 bucks and 33% in Heppner, 663 bucks and 39% in Fossil, 258 bucks and 45% in E. Biggs, 924 bucks and 60% in Columbia Basin.

ELK

Hunting should be slightly improved from last year. Calf ratios in the Heppner unit have increased from 15-18 per 100 cows several years ago to 33 this year, which ODFW attributes to the removal of 53 cougars over the past three years as part of the new cougar management plan. (Sport-hunters took an additional 25 in the Heppner Target Area.) Bull ratios are still slightly below objectives but ODFW is starting to see some older-age class bulls and the higher calf ratios mean more spikes. Bull ratios in Fossil are just about at the MO but calf ratios are still down.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 556 elk and 13% in Heppner and 384 elk and 23% in Fossil.

UMATILLA DISTRICT: Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, Ukiah, eastern portion of Heppner, northern Columbia Basin

DEER

Hunting should be average. The winter was dry, but was followed by an extremely wet spring. Conditions were favorable when fawning occurred and deer came through to mid summer in excellent condition. Ukiah and Walla Walla are good places to get a buck as numbers are good. West Mt Emily has the bigger bucks. While deer continue to persist in good numbers in the Blue Mountains, the deer factory that was the Tower Fire (Ukiah unit) is coming to an end; populations are shrinking naturally along with forage.

2009 compiled hunter harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 145 deer and 39% in Walla Walla, 462 deer and 39% in Mt Emily, 568 deer and 25% in Ukiah, 998 deer and 60% in Columbia Basin.

ELK

Mt Emily and Walla Walla continue to offer very high quality branch bull hunting for those hunters lucky enough to have a tag. Heppner is another bright spot; calf ratios are up. However, it will be a tough year for spike hunters in the Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, and Ukiah Units due to what biologists believe is continued high predation.

2009 hunter harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 75 elk and 16% in Walla Walla, 162 elk and 21% in Mt Emily, 279 elk and 9% in Ukiah, 29 elk and 16% in Columbia Basin.

UNION DISTRICT: Starkey, Catherine Creek, East Mt. Emily, portions of Sled Springs, and Wenaha wildlife management units

DEER

Deer in Union County survived the winter reasonably well this year. It’s likely to be only an average year for hunter success. Deer appear to be in excellent physical condition due to high quality forage produced by a very wet spring. Buck ratios are slightly below management objective levels and fawn survival was below the average. The Catherine Creek unit continues to be well under our target population objective; East Mt. Emily and Starkey are at population target levels. Buck ratios (bucks per 100 does) are 9 in the Starkey, 14 in Catherine Creek and 11 in East Mt. Emily Hunt units.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Hunter harvest and success rate was 227 deer and 27% in Catherine Creek, 518 deer and 40% in Mt Emily, 687 deer and 31% in Sled Springs, 309 deer and 16% in Starkey.

ELK

Elk in the Starkey and Catherine Creek units came through the winter in relatively good condition. Starkey is at population management objective and Catherine Creek is well above the objective. Surveyed bull ratios (bulls per 100 cows) are 4, 11, and 8 respectively for the Starkey, Catherine Creek and east side of the Mt. Emily units. The actual bull ratio in Starkey unit is likely higher than 4. Calf ratios (calves per 100 cows) are 20, 26 and 22 respectively for the Starkey, Catherine Creek and east side of the Mt. Emily units. Calf ratios for these units are up from the previous year. The higher calf ratios will equate to more spike bulls available to hunters this fall.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Hunter harvest and success rate was 159 elk and 18% in Catherine Creek, 162 elk and 14% in Mt Emily and 513 elk and 10% in Starkey.

WALLOWA DISTRICT: Wenaha, Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, Snake River, Imnaha

DEER

Deer numbers are still low following 2 years of unfavorable conditions but 2009 fawn survival improved. We had great spring and summer weather, with good moisture amounts producing an abundance of forage, so deer will be entering the fall in good body condition. Hunters can expect to see more yearling bucks this year and buck to doe ratios remain good.  There should still be opportunity for older age class bucks for hunters willing to spend the time and effort.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Combined archery/rifle harvest and success rate was 171 deer and 41% in Wenaha, 255 deer and 56% in Chesnimnus, 129 deer and 49% in Snake River, 238 deer and 37% in Imnaha, 570 deer and 34% in Sled Springs, 240 deer and 42% in Minam.

ELK

Elk tend to survive winters better, and so have fared better than deer in recent years. The district’s calf survival has increased the past two years and prospects have improved for bull hunters. Unfortunately, because of contracting problems, fixed wing airplane elk trend counts were not completed last spring so no population data or bull survival data is available. District calf survival increased to 27 calves per 100 cows district wide, the highest since 2006. Most units should have good numbers of bulls and hunting success should be good.

CHAD AND PAUL PHELPS WITH CHAD'S 2008 EASTERN OREGON BULL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

The Wenaha Unit had improved calf survival but population levels are still below management objective levels. There are some large, mature bulls available for a few lucky tag holders.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Hunter harvest and success rate was 18 elk and 7% in Wenaha, n/a in Sled Springs and Chesnimnus, n/a in Snake River, n/a in Imnaha.

Northeast Big Game Hunting Locations

Baker District includes the Wallowa Whitman National Forest and Vale District BLM land. Hunters can also access many private lands thanks to the A&H program. Remember travel management area regulations are in effect for Dark Canyon, Patrick Creek, Melhorn, Lake Fork-Dutchman, Okanogan-Fish, Summit Point and Eagle Creek.

Hunters will find many good public land hunting opportunities in Grant County, including the Malheur National Forest and P. W. Schneider Wildlife Area. Roadless areas in the North Fork John Day Wilderness, Desolation and Northside travel management areas are good places to big game hunt. Remember the Camp Creek and Murderers Creek/Flagtail travel management areas are in effect, meaning no vehicle access in certain areas to protect wildlife and habitat and promote quality hunting. Please respect all road closures, gated or not.

Hunters will find most public lands opportunities in the Heppner and Fossil units and can also access private land through the Heppner Regulated Hunt Area, and the Lost Valley Regulated Hunt Area thanks to ODFW’s A&H Program. The old Wheeler burn in the Fossil unit would be a good bet for deer hunters.

Hunters without access to private land can utilize the Umatilla National Forest and ODFW’s Bridge Creek and Columbia Basin (Irrigon and Willow Creek) wildlife areas.

The Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla National Forests and ODFW’s Ladd Marsh and Elkhorn Wildlife Areas near La Grande are open to the public for hunting. In Catherine Creek, Starkey and Wenaha units, Forest Capital (old Boise Cascade) forestlands are open to public hunting, thanks to the A&H program. Also open through A&H: nearly 20,000 acres in Union and Baker Counties. Remember the Dry Beaver-Ladd TMA will be in effect meaning no vehicle access in certain areas to protect wildlife and habitat and promote quality hunting. Seven other TMSs exist in Union County and people are asked to respect all road closures, gated or not. A portion of the Catherine Creek/Keating unit boundary has changed. See blue text on pages 93 and 94 of the 2010 Oregon Big Game Regulations for details.
The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Wenaha Wildlife Area provide public hunting opportunities. Remember several travel management restrictions are in effect in the district including the Noregaard, Whiskey Creek and Shamrock TMAs in Sled Springs, the Chesnimnus TMA in Chesnimnus and the Grouse Lick Creeks in Imnaha during bull season. In the Snake River unit, the Lord Flat Road north of Warnock Corral and the Summit Ridge Road north of PO Saddle will not be open to motor vehicles.

BAKER DISTRICT: Sumpter, Keating, Pine Creek, Lookout Mt. wildlife management unitsDEER

Over-winter survival was good due to a milder winter. Buck ratios are above management objectives so hunters should experience good success rates throughout the county.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 829 deer and 34% in Sumpter, 348 deer and 40% in Keating, 223 deer and 36% in Pine Creek, 211 deer and 46% in Lookout Mt. More information (pdf)

ELK

Bull ratios are up from last year.  Calf ratios are up in the Sumpter Unit and lower than average in other units.  For the best chance at tagging an elk, get as far away from roads as possible, perhaps by hunting in one of the cooperative Travel Management Areas.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 290 elk and 11% in Sumpter, 109 elk and 13% in Pine Creek, 128 elk and 29% in Lookout Mt, 194 elk and 23% in Keating. More information

GRANT DISTRICT: Northside, Desolation, southeast Heppner, northwest Beulah wildlife management units

DEER
Buck
Mule Deer Buck in the Snow
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Deer populations in Grant County continue to be below management objectives due to poor habitat and predation. The winter was relatively mild with a long and wet spring that kept the mule deer forage green late into the summer. Fawn survival dipped a little compared to last year. Buck ratios continue to be slightly below management objective, but antler growth and body condition should be excellent due to the above average spring rains and corresponding forage growth.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 419 deer and 22% in Northside, 451 deer and 20% in Desolation, 652 deer and 30% Murderers Creek. More information (pdf)

ELK

Habitat conditions in Grant County favor elk, most populations are at or above management objectives, except Desolation where calf recruitment is poor due to cougar predation.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 261 elk and 14% in Northside, 302 elk and 9% in Desolation and 528 elk and 17% in Murderers Creek. More information (pdf)

HEPPNER DISTRICT: Heppner, Fossil, East Biggs, southern Columbia Basin wildlife management units

Deer in Heppner are stable to slightly increasing and buck ratios are good. Adult deer survived the winter well for the most part.  A 60,000-acre fire that burned three years ago along the breaks of the North Fork John Day should also provide some better forage and more opportunities for success.

The Fossil unit deer numbers are also stable to slightly increasing. Public lands hunters can work the old Wheeler Burn, which is still producing a fair number of deer and is historically a good spot.

The Columbia Basin and East Biggs deer herds are stable to slightly declining. However if you are lucky enough to have access to private land in the Columbia Basin or John Day River Canyon, you can expect decent hunting.

2009 Deer Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle hunter harvest and success rate was 885 bucks and 33% in Heppner, 663 bucks and 39% in Fossil, 258 bucks and 45% in E. Biggs, 924 bucks and 60% in Columbia Basin. More information (pdf)

ELK
elk
Cow Elk and Calf
– Photo by Nich Myatt-

Hunting should be slightly improved from last year. Calf ratios in the Heppner unit have increased from 15-18 per 100 cows several years ago to 33 this year, which ODFW attributes to the removal of 53 cougars over the past three years as part of the new cougar management plan. (Sport-hunters took an additional 25 in the Heppner Target Area.) Bull ratios are still slightly below objectives but ODFW is starting to see some older-age class bulls and the higher calf ratios mean more spikes. Bull ratios in Fossil are just about at the MO but calf ratios are still down.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 556 elk and 13% in Heppner and 384 elk and 23% in Fossil. More information (pdf)

UMATILLA DISTRICT: Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, Ukiah, eastern portion of Heppner, northern Columbia Basin

DEER

Hunting should be average. The winter was dry, but was followed by an extremely wet spring. Conditions were favorable when fawning occurred and deer came through to mid summer in excellent condition. Ukiah and Walla Walla are good places to get a buck as numbers are good. West Mt Emily has the bigger bucks. While deer continue to persist in good numbers in the Blue Mountains, the deer factory that was the Tower Fire (Ukiah unit) is coming to an end; populations are shrinking naturally along with forage.

2009 compiled hunter harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 145 deer and 39% in Walla Walla, 462 deer and 39% in Mt Emily, 568 deer and 25% in Ukiah, 998 deer and 60% in Columbia Basin. More information (pdf)

ELK

Mt Emily and Walla Walla continue to offer very high quality branch bull hunting for those hunters lucky enough to have a tag. Heppner is another bright spot; calf ratios are up. However, it will be a tough year for spike hunters in the Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, and Ukiah Units due to what biologists believe is continued high predation.

2009 hunter harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 75 elk and 16% in Walla Walla, 162 elk and 21% in Mt Emily, 279 elk and 9% in Ukiah, 29 elk and 16% in Columbia Basin. More information (pdf)

UNION DISTRICT: Starkey, Catherine Creek, East Mt. Emily, portions of Sled Springs, and Wenaha wildlife management units

DEER
Mule Deer
Mule Deer
-Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife –

Deer in Union County survived the winter reasonably well this year. It’s likely to be only an average year for hunter success. Deer appear to be in excellent physical condition due to high quality forage produced by a very wet spring. Buck ratios are slightly below management objective levels and fawn survival was below the average. The Catherine Creek unit continues to be well under our target population objective; East Mt. Emily and Starkey are at population target levels. Buck ratios (bucks per 100 does) are 9 in the Starkey, 14 in Catherine Creek and 11 in East Mt. Emily Hunt units.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Hunter harvest and success rate was 227 deer and 27% in Catherine Creek, 518 deer and 40% in Mt Emily, 687 deer and 31% in Sled Springs, 309 deer and 16% in Starkey. More information (pdf)

ELK

Elk in the Starkey and Catherine Creek units came through the winter in relatively good condition. Starkey is at population management objective and Catherine Creek is well above the objective. Surveyed bull ratios (bulls per 100 cows) are 4, 11, and 8 respectively for the Starkey, Catherine Creek and east side of the Mt. Emily units. The actual bull ratio in Starkey unit is likely higher than 4. Calf ratios (calves per 100 cows) are 20, 26 and 22 respectively for the Starkey, Catherine Creek and east side of the Mt. Emily units. Calf ratios for these units are up from the previous year. The higher calf ratios will equate to more spike bulls available to hunters this fall.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Hunter harvest and success rate was 159 elk and 18% in Catherine Creek, 162 elk and 14% in Mt Emily and 513 elk and 10% in Starkey. More information (pdf)

WALLOWA DISTRICT: Wenaha, Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, Snake River, Imnaha

DEER

Deer numbers are still low following 2 years of unfavorable conditions but 2009 fawn survival improved. We had great spring and summer weather, with good moisture amounts producing an abundance of forage, so deer will be entering the fall in good body condition. Hunters can expect to see more yearling bucks this year and buck to doe ratios remain good.  There should still be opportunity for older age class bucks for hunters willing to spend the time and effort.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Combined archery/rifle harvest and success rate was 171 deer and 41% in Wenaha, 255 deer and 56% in Chesnimnus, 129 deer and 49% in Snake River, 238 deer and 37% in Imnaha, 570 deer and 34% in Sled Springs, 240 deer and 42% in Minam. More information (pdf)

ELK
Elkhorn Wildlife Area
Rocky Mountain Elk
-Photo by David Bronson-

Elk tend to survive winters better, and so have fared better than deer in recent years. The district’s calf survival has increased the past two years and prospects have improved for bull hunters. Unfortunately, because of contracting problems, fixed wing airplane elk trend counts were not completed last spring so no population data or bull survival data is available. District calf survival increased to 27 calves per 100 cows district wide, the highest since 2006. Most units should have good numbers of bulls and hunting success should be good.

The Wenaha Unit had improved calf survival but population levels are still below management objective levels. There are some large, mature bulls available for a few lucky tag holders.

2009 Hunter Harvest statistics: Hunter harvest and success rate was 18 elk and 7% in Wenaha, n/a in Sled Springs and Chesnimnus, n/a in Snake River, n/a in Imnaha. More information (pdf)

Northeast Big Game Hunting Locations

Remember you can now find many hunting locations and even scout from home using ODFW’s Oregon Hunting Access Map.

ODFW Wildlife Management Units

Baker District (Sumpter, Keating, Pine Creek, Lookout Mt. wildlife management units)

Baker District includes the Wallowa Whitman National Forest and Vale District BLM land. Hunters can also access many private lands thanks to the A&H program. Remember travel management area regulations are in effect for Dark Canyon, Patrick Creek, Melhorn, Lake Fork-Dutchman, Okanogan-Fish, Summit Point and Eagle Creek.

Grant District (Northside, Desolation, southeast Heppner, northwest Beulah wildlife management units)

Hunters will find many good public land hunting opportunities in Grant County, including the Malheur National Forest and P. W. Schneider Wildlife Area. Roadless areas in the North Fork John Day Wilderness, Desolation and Northside travel management areas are good places to big game hunt. Remember the Camp Creek (pdf) and Murderers Creek/Flagtail travel management areas are in effect, meaning no vehicle access in certain areas to protect wildlife and habitat and promote quality hunting. Please respect all road closures, gated or not.

Heppner District (Heppner, Fossil, East Biggs, southern Columbia Basin wildlife management units)

Hunters will find most public lands opportunities in the Heppner and Fossil units and can also access private land through the Heppner Regulated Hunt Area (pdf), and the Lost Valley Regulated Hunt Area thanks to ODFW’s A&H Program. The old Wheeler burn in the Fossil unit would be a good bet for deer hunters.

Umatilla District (Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, Ukiah, eastern portion of Heppner, northern Columbia Basin)

Hunters without access to private land can utilize the Umatilla National Forest and ODFW’s Bridge Creek and Columbia Basin (Irrigon and Willow Creek) wildlife areas.

Union District (Starkey, Catherine Creek, East Mt. Emily, portions of Sled Springs, and Wenaha wildlife management units)

The Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla National Forests and ODFW’s Ladd Marsh and Elkhorn Wildlife Areas near La Grande are open to the public for hunting. In Catherine Creek, Starkey and Wenaha units, Forest Capital (old Boise Cascade) forestlands are open to public hunting, thanks to the A&H program. Also open through A&H: nearly 20,000 acres in Union and Baker Counties. Remember the Dry Beaver-Ladd TMA will be in effect meaning no vehicle access in certain areas to protect wildlife and habitat and promote quality hunting. Seven other TMSs exist in Union County and people are asked to respect all road closures, gated or not. A portion of the Catherine Creek/Keating unit boundary has changed. See blue text on pages 93 and 94 of the 2010 Oregon Big Game Regulations for details.

Wallowa District (Wenaha, Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, Snake River, Imnaha)
The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Wenaha Wildlife Area provide public hunting opportunities. Remember several travel management restrictions are in effect in the district including the Noregaard, Whiskey Creek and Shamrock TMAs in Sled Springs, the Chesnimnus TMA in Chesnimnus and the Grouse Lick Creeks in Imnaha during bull season. In the Snake River unit, the Lord Flat Road north of Warnock Corral and the Summit Ridge Road north of PO Saddle will not be open to motor vehicles.

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