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2017 Oregon Big Game Hunting Outlook


General Overview | East Region | West Region | Full Report (pdf)


West Region

  Deer and Elk

Black-tailed Deer
Black-tailed buck
-Photo by Ronald French-

NORTH COAST DISTRICT (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw wildlife management units)

DEER

Black-tailed deer on the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask wildlife management units) survived a very cold, long winter with very little post winter mortality was observed. Deer densities overall are moderate as was the survival of bucks from last year’s hunting season. The best bet for buck hunting will be the Wilson WMU.

There has been a lot of recent clear-cut timber harvest on state forest lands, so be sure to take a look at ODF lands if scouting for areas to hunt deer. Generally, deer densities tend to be highest in the eastern portions of these units. Most industrial forest lands will be open to at least non-motorized access once fire season is over with the exception of Weyerhaeuser lands, most of which will be in a fee access program this fall.

In 2017, the deer bag limit for archery hunters and hunters with a disability permit will continue to be one buck deer having not less than a forked antler.

Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), overall deer numbers appear to be stable to increasing slightly in various areas and buck numbers are fair to good in most areas. The 2016 and 2017 growing seasons were very good which has likely improved overwinter survival. The prevalence of deer hair loss syndrome continues to be present in the district during late winter and into spring and mortalities continue to occur due to this syndrome. The best deer hunting opportunities are the central to eastern portions of the Alsea unit and Siuslaw unit; deer are less abundant and patchy as one gets closer to the ocean.

The Stott Mt – North Alsea Travel Management area provides some walk-in hunting opportunities. Due to private land fire season rules, the vast majority of private industrial forest lands are closed to public access for archery season. Most private lands are not expected to open public access until fire season is officially over as determined by Oregon Department of Forestry, which is typically in October. Hunters must contact the individual companies or check the Oregon Dept. of Forestry website for corporate closures. http://www.ofic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/2017-Closure-Form.pdf

Elk Hunt

Looking for elk on Saddle Mt.
-Photo by Ken Sofich -

SADDLE MOUNTAIN UNIT

Some areas to look at include Clatsop Ridge, Davis Point, the lower Klaskanine, Young’s, Lewis and Clark and Necanicum Rivers in Clatsop County, and Fall and Crooked creeks in Columbia County. While much of the unit is industrial timber land, most timber companies offer plenty of walk-in access in some areas and open gates for dawn to dusk vehicular access in others, once the fire season is over. See the newly revised North Coast Cooperative Travel Management Area map from ODFW for details.

WILSON UNIT

Clear-cut habitat is increasing, with much of it occurring on state (ODF) forest lands. Areas with recent logging include the lower Wilson River, North Fork Wilson River, Standard Grade, Buck Mtn. and Camp Olson. Deer populations continue to be on the increase, with excellent buck to doe ratios.

TRASK UNIT

On state forest lands in the western portion, look in the Trask River and lower Wilson River basins. On industrial forest lands, the upper portions of the South Fork Trask River and Widow Creek, as well as Cape Lookout and Cape Meares blocks, have a lot of good habitat.

ELK        

On the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask) elk populations are only at moderate levels currently, and achieve their highest densities in the western portions of these WMUs. Bull elk hunting this year should be good in the Wilson and Trask due to high bull survival from last year’s hunting seasons. Both WMUs have general season archery and rifle hunting opportunities. The Saddle Mountain also had good bull survival from the last several seasons, but bull rifle hunting is controlled only.

For archery elk hunters, most industrial forest lands will be open to at least non-motorized access once fire season is over with the exception of Weyerhaeuser lands, most of which will be in a fee access program this fall.

In 2017, the bag limit for elk for disabled hunters in the Saddle Mtn., Wilson and Trask WMUs will not include an antlerless elk. Please check the 2017 Oregon Big Game Regulations for details.

Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), elk population numbers are lower than management objectives for all three units. In 2017, the observed bull ratios were below 10 per 100 cows in both the Stott Mt. and Alsea units, and in 2017 the Siuslaw unit is above 10 bulls per 100 cows. The second rifle bull elk season in Siuslaw has a bag limit of one spike bull; the bull ratio there continues to be highly variable year to year but is appearing to be showing signs of increasing. .

In 2017, the elk bag limit for disabled hunters and archers hunting in the Alsea and Stott Mt. Units is “one bull elk.”

Elk will be scattered throughout the units, with larger numbers of elk close to agricultural valleys. Industrial forestlands north of Hwy 20 typically receive lots of hunting pressure, with young tree plantations providing good visibility and some travel management roads providing walk-in access. Forest Service lands south of Hwy 34 have low to moderate numbers of elk, and are much more difficult to hunt in the thick vegetation and rugged terrain. However, during archery season many industrial landowners are closed due to fire season and state and federal public lands may provide the only access for hunting. Hunters should check with landowners before hunting or check the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s website for fire restrictions and closures.

We advise hunters to be aware that Weyerhaeuser may implement a permit/lease program on their lands for the 2018-19 hunting seasons next year and to check with Weyerhaeuser for more information (www.Wyrecreationnw.com )

SADDLE MOUNTAIN

Elk rifle hunting in this unit is all limited entry, but archery elk hunting is through a single general season. Both seasons are managed under a 3-point minimum regulation. Areas with higher elk numbers and open habitat include Tillamook Head, Davis Point, the lower Klaskanine, Young’s, Necanicum and Lewis and Clark Rivers, Ecola Creek, and upper Rock Creek.

WILSON UNIT

Bull elk rifle and archery hunting is through general seasons, and the second coast elk rifle season has a bag limit of a “spike-only” bull. Some popular hunting areas are the lower Wilson River, God’s Valley, Cook Creek, upper North Fork Nehalem River, Standard Grade, Buck Mtn. and Camp Olson.

WESTERN TRASK UNIT

For archery elk hunters the bag limit for 2017 continues to be one bull with a visible antler, and this applies to the entire unit. Like with the Wilson unit, bull elk rifle and archery hunting is through general seasons, and the second coast elk season has a bag limit of a “spike-only” bull. Some popular areas with higher numbers of elk and open habitats include Cape Lookout, Cape Meares, Wilson River tributaries, lower Nestucca River and the Trask River, especially the South Fork.

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, Grant Creek, Wolf Creek, Logsden, Pee Dee Creek, and Dunn Forest.

NORTH WILLAMETTE DISTRICT (Scappoose, eastern Trask, north Willamette, north Santiam wildlife management units)

Black-tailed Bucks Sparring
-Video by Keith Kohl-

DEER

Hunters heading to the North Willamette Watershed (Scappoose, north Willamette, eastern Trask and north Santiam Wildlife Management Units) should find good hunting opportunities for black-tailed bucks. An increase in post-season buck ratios in the Scappoose (22 buck per 100 does), and eastern Trask WMUs (30 bucks per 100 does) should increase the number of mature bucks for hunters in the Coast Range. A downturn in the buck ratios in the north Santiam WMU (19 bucks per 100 does) will make finding a legal buck a little more difficult but large, mature bucks are still frequently harvested in the unit. Regardless of which WMU you hunt, the late closure (Nov. 3) of rifle buck season should produce good hunting opportunities during the last few weeks of the season. Deer Hair Loss Syndrome continues to be more prevalent in the Scappoose Unit but only spotty in the low elevation lands in the eastern Trask and north Santiam units.

Hunters are reminded to contact local timber companies to obtain updated access information and check the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s website for fire restrictions and closures. Archery hunters may find many industrial timberlands closed to access due to fire season restrictions. State and Federal lands typically remain open during the archery season and provide the primary hunting opportunities.

Hunter access to the majority of Weyerhaeuser lands in the Scappoose, eastern Trask and north Santiam WMUs will be limited to those hunters who purchased an entry permit. Hunters can obtain a 2017 North Coast Travel Management Area map showing landownership and access opportunities at the northwest Oregon ODFW district offices. 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.

SCAPPOOSE WMU

Increased buck escapement from the last two seasons should result in above average hunting this fall. While younger age class bucks typically make up the majority of the harvest, hunters should also find a few mature bucks to keep things interesting. 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 Tater Hill, Long Mt., Serafin Point, Burgdorfer Flat, Buck Mt. Bunker Hill, Baker Point, Bacona, and the hills above Pebble Creek.

EAST TRASK WMU

Deer surveys show a good increase in buck ratios and opportunities for deer hunters should be above average this fall in the eastern portion of the Trask WMU. Some of the best hunting is on private timberlands where timber harvest has occurred within the last three to five years. Hunters wanting 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. Some areas with good habitat include the upper portions of the Yamhill and Tualatin Rivers, Trask Mountain, Barney Reservoir, Pumpkinseed Mt., Green Top, and Willamina Creek.

NORTH SANTIAM WMU

The north Santiam Unit buck ratios decreased to 19 bucks per 100 does so prospects for those hunters willing to hunt thick cover where deer concentrate should be average this season. Hunters will find a wide diversity of terrain in the WMU, ranging from high elevation meadows, thick old growth forests, industrial forestlands and agricultural fields, so a variety of hunting styles can be accommodated. Whether hunters choose to still hunt, set up a tree stand, rattle antlers or conduct deer drives, scouting will be critical for success. Hunters looking to stay closer to home should consider hunting on industrial forestlands where land managers are reporting deer damage to recently planted conifer stands. Some locations to consider include the upper Collawash and Clackamas Rivers, Granite Peaks, High Rocks, Butte Creek, and Molalla River.

NORTH WILLAMETTE WMU

The long hunting season in the Willamette Unit should provide hunters with a very 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. 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 area (http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=194); many of the hunting spots are also listed on ODFW’s Hunting Access Map.

Elk
Bull Rosevelt elk at the Oregon Coast
- Photo by Ryan Hoeft-

ELK

Bull elk hunting in the coastal mountains of the North Willamette District should be similar to last year in both the Scappoose and eastern Trask WMUs. Overall elk populations in both WMUs are below the Management Objective and antlerless elk tags available to hunters will be similar to 2016 with the exception of a few agricultural damage hunts in the southwest portions of the WMU. In the Scappoose WMU, elk are more numerous in the timberlands of the northwestern and agricultural lands along Hwy 26. In the eastern Trask, elk are widely scattered and can be found near agricultural fields and within the private timberlands.

In the north Santiam WMU, elk populations in the Mt. Hood National Forest continue to decline due to limited forage availability. Hunters will find the majority of elk on the industrial forestlands and agricultural fields at lower elevations. 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 elk. Hunters are reminded to always ask for permission before entering private lands.

The majority of Weyerhaeuser lands in the Scappoose, eastern Trask and northern Santiam WMU’s are limited to those hunters who have a lease agreement or acquired an access permit.

SCAPPOOSE WMU

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 opportunities for antlerless elk will increase slightly due to changes in a few controlled hunt boundaries (North Plains hunts 1-4) in the southwest portion of the WMU. Hunters are reminded that most of the timberland managers within this WMU participate in the North Coast Travel Management Area and hunters should read and follow all posted regulations to ensure continued access. Some areas to consider include Upper McKay Creek, Green Mountain, Buck Mt., and Bunker Hill.

EAST TRASK WMU

Bulls will be widely scattered throughout the WMU and hunters are encouraged to spend time scouting in order to locate elk before the season begins. Late season antlerless elk hunting opportunities will be similar to 2016 to address elk damage concerns in some areas. Hunters that have drawn an antlerless elk tag 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. 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. Other areas to consider include Trask Mt., Stony Mt., Windy Point and Neverstill.

NORTH SANTIAM WMU

Declining elk numbers within the Mt. Hood National Forest will make for poor elk hunting on public lands and 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 there. Places to begin scouting include Timothy Lake, Rhododendron Ridge and Granite Peaks. At lower elevations, hunters should explore Butte Creek, Upper Molalla River and Eagle Creek.

SOUTH WILLAMETTE DISTRICT (S. Santiam, McKenzie, N. Indigo wildlife management units)

DEER and ELK

Although the long-term harvest and hunter participation trend has been declining for both deer and elk, over the last couple of years harvest has stabilized and success rates have seen a slight increase. Hunters that are knowledgeable about habitat, take the time to scout, and then hunt hard will have the best chance for success. Populations are strongly tied to habitat conditions and hunting prospects are fair to good in places with high quality habitat. Hunting prospects are poor in lower quality habitats.

Forage is key to good deer and elk habitat. Early seral (brush and forb) forest conditions provide some of the best deer and elk forage. On public lands, early seral habitat is often found in areas burned by wildfire and may be found in thinned areas if the enough trees were removed. On private timber land, forage is best in clearcuts beginning a couple years after the timber harvest.

Access to private timber land is continually changing. Hunters need to ensure they have permission before hunting on private lands. Weyerhaeuser has expanded their fee permit and lease program this year. Hunters that usually hunt Weyerhaeuser land will want to check the Weyerhaeuser website to see if the area they hunt is now included in their fee program.

Elk herds are below populations Management Objectives resulting in reduced antlerless hunting opportunities, particularly on public lands. However, herds are at or above bull ratio Management Objectives indicating opportunities for mature bulls.

Black-tailed deer populations are meeting buck ratio Management Objectives but are below population benchmarks. Rifle hunters typically find the best success in the later portions of the season when the leaves drop and the rut approaches. Archery deer hunters consistently have the best success during the late season.

deer hunters

This 139" blacktail chased a doe within archery range of my cousins' treestand.
-Photo by Wyatt Sebright-

S. Santiam

The old B&B Fire in the Santiam Pass area continues to hold good numbers of deer but the brush is becoming fairly thick making the hunting a bit more challenging. Still, this is a good early season place to hunt on National Forest lands if the private lands are closed to access. Elk can be found around the edges of the burned area.

McKenzie

The Wendling TMA is still open to free public hunting access and will be in operation from Sept. 30 through Nov. 30. This time period will allow increased access for late season archery, muzzleloader, and youth hunters. The Wendling TMA is a good area for both deer and elk hunting. Refer to the kiosks located at the TMA entry points or call (541) 741-5403 prompt #6 for updated Wendling TMA access information. Please be advised that 2017 will be the last year that the Wendling TMA is in operation. Weyehaeuser, the primary landowner, is withdrawing from the TMA agreement and will be converting their lands into fee access starting in 2018. Hunters should check with the other private landowners for access information starting in 2018.

N. Indigo

In the Indigo, the Tumblebug Fire that burned in the upper Middle Fork Willamette drainage improved deer habitat and the deer population in the area is expected to improve over the next few years. Additionally, the US Forest Service and sporting organizations such as Oregon Hunters Association and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have been hard at work thinning old clearcuts to improving forage conditions south of Hills Creek Reservoir. These habitat projects will help maintain the deer and elk populations in the area. Still, the strongest deer and elk populations occur on private lands where expansive timber harvest results in improved forage. Please remember to check access restrictions before hunting on private lands.

UMPQUA DISTRICT - COOS COUNTY (west Tioga, west Powers, north Sixes, southwest Siuslaw)

DEER

Deer population abundance appears to continue to be stable in Coos County, overall. Deer herd dynamics such as buck ratio is measured after the General Rifle Buck Season concludes each year to indicate how many bucks survived the hunting season and will be available the following season. Surveys conducted after the 2016 season indicate the buck ratio is adequate to provide good opportunities for hunters to be successful in the 2017 season. Based on those surveys, it appears buck ratio in the Tioga Unit is down some but still high enough for a good season if weather is cooperative. As in the past, surveys indicate deer densities are highest in the Sixes and Powers Units.

Hunt for deer in brushy openings, meadows and clear cuts where brush is beginning to grow up. Areas where vehicle access is limited will be the most productive. Scouting before the season will increase your odds of success.

Brayden's buck

Brayden took this great Blacktail, his first, with a 285 yard shot.
-Photo by Bryan Langley -

In the past few years there have been some large tracts of private timber company lands that changed ownership. Some of the new owners have different public access policies than past owners. Hunters need to make contact with private landowners and managers to ensure they may access private land where they intend to hunt. In some cases, land owners and managers will charge a fee for access. Luckily there is still a large amount of Bureau of Land Management lands, National Forest land and the Elliott State Forest for hunters to hunt. It is imperative that hunters know what land they are accessing and what the policy is regarding access. A good way to determine whether access is allowed to a piece of land is to look for signs at access points to timberlands. Often these signs will provide information as whether public access is allowed and whether permits are required. If permits are required, there may be information on how to obtain them.

Another issue hunters need to be prepared for is restrictions for access to private lands due to fire concerns. This is especially true of hunters who want to hunt the bow season in late August and September. While the spring was quite wet in Western Oregon, the summer has dried things out. This has resulted in a situation where grass grew well and it is now dry and ready to burn easily. Hunters may find access will be restricted until the fire conditions subside.

ELK

Elk populations are above the Management Objective in the Sixes Unit and close to objective in Powers and Tioga. Bull ratios have been relatively good in all units. Generally moisture retention is best on north slopes and as a result grass growth is best there. Those hunting in bow season should concentrate their efforts on these slopes. Fall rains, when they come, will have an effect on elk distribution in the controlled bull seasons in November.

Often the most important factor that determines where elk will be found is human activity. Elk can be expected to move to places where vehicle and other human activity are minimized. During times of significant human activity, like during controlled bull seasons, human disturbance can be more important in determining elk distribution than food availability. So road closures are often the best places to find elk on a regular basis. Within these areas, hunting may be best on north-facing slopes in the early seasons. A particularly productive habitat type to hunt in the Oregon Coast Range is where foresters have thinned timber stands. Thinning the tree canopy encourages grass and brush growth on the ground, improving feed quality.

In the past few years there have been some large tracts of private timber company lands that changed ownership. Some of the new owners have different public access policies than past owners. As is the case for deer hunters, elk hunters need to make contact with private landowners and managers to ensure they may access private land the hunter intends hunt. In some cases land owners and managers will charge a fee for access. Luckily there is still a large amount of Bureau of Land Management lands, National Forest land and the Elliott State Forest for hunters to hunt. It is imperative that hunters know what land they are accessing and what the policy is regarding access. A good way to determine whether access is allowed to a piece of land is to look for signs at access points to timberlands. Often these signs will provide information as whether public access is allowed and whether permits are required. If permits are required, there may be information on how to obtain them.

Another issue hunters need to be prepared for is restrictions for access to private lands due to fire concerns. This is especially true of hunters who want to hunt the bow season in late August and September. While the spring was quite wet in Western Oregon the summer has dried things out. This has resulted in a situation where grass grew well and it is now dry and ready to burn easily. Hunters may find access will be restricted until the fire conditions subside.

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

Elk Hunt
Practice equals clean and accurate shot. 2015 Bull Elk
-Photo by Chace Arnold-

DEER and ELK

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.

Despite a prolonged winter season, spring surveys indicate good over-winter survival for deer and elk in the Douglas portion of the Umpqua District. The fawns per adult deer ratios in the Dixon, Indigo and Melrose have been stable to increasing over the last few years. Elk numbers in the Tioga Unit are close to population management objective 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. Hunters need to check weather forecasts frequently as that will play a key role with fire season restrictions and hunting access.

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% 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. Hunters unfamiliar with this area are advised to hunt smarter, not harder. Use Google Earth or Google Map (Satellite layer) to explore the area with a birds-eye view and get an idea of the terrain and vegetation. Get a hold of some good maps from the Forest Service/BLM/Local Fire Protection Association and use them in conjunction with Google Map to locate areas away from roads that will provide you a quality hunting experience. Another good source of information is to view historic fire perimeters online (https://www.geomac.gov/viewer/viewer.shtml).

These maps will give you an idea where large areas have been opened up by wildfire which enhances forage opportunities for deer and elk. Find the food, and you’ll find the game.

ROGUE DISTRICT (Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon, and Sixes)

DEER

Overall black-tailed deer populations remain good in our district, in general the Rogue, Dixon, Evans Creek and Applegate units within Jackson County have mostly a migratory deer population. Within these units hunt in high elevation (4000+ft) during the early half of the season and hunt lower elevation (4000ft) during the late half of the season after deer have migrated. Deer in Josephine and Curry County will be found at all elevations throughout the season.

Big game hunting statistics indicate that all units within Jackson, Josephine, and Curry County had a slight increase in black-tailed deer hunter success last year. The Rogue unit had a success of 20% in 2016 which is up from 19% in 2015. Dixon is up from 27% to 31%, Evans Creek increased from 32% to 34%, Applegate is now at 31% compared to 27%, and the Chetco dropped to 37% from 39%. Most units show an increase in success compared to 2015, however over the past four years deer hunter harvest has remained roughly the same in all five units, indicating that this year should be the same.

ELK

Elk numbers in recent years are 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 our 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 over recent years with the Evans Creek success slightly up and the Rogue Unit slightly down. Chetco coastal seasons hunter success was down, with first season at 25% and second season at 10%. Applegate coastal seasons were down in 2016, the first season was only a 1% success and the second season had a 6% success.

  BEAR AND COUGAR

Black Bear
Black Bear
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

NORTH COAST DISTRICT (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw wildlife management units)

The bear outlook looks fair to good for the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask). Bear densities tend to increase from north to south and from east to west, with the highest densities in the southwestern portion of the Trask WMU. This year’s berry crops appear to be fair to poor although blackberries appear to be strong, so bears will most likely be out in open areas such as clearcuts during the early part of the season. During the midday hours, predator calling can be very productive, and is best done with a calling partner to maximize calling effort and detection of bears as they approach the area.

In the mid-coast (Alsea, Siuslaw), especially the coastal slopes, bear numbers appear to be moderate and hunters usually spot bears. Fewer bears are observed or harvested in the Stott Mt unit than the Alsea and Siuslaw units to the south. Vegetation including berries can be abundant in the fall. Areas where berries and other fruits are available will be very attractive to bears. Bears are more abundant closer to the coast than the Willamette Valley side of the coastal mountains. Some areas within the Siuslaw unit are popular with hunters and may be fairly crowded at times. Most industrial forest lands are closed to access during the fire season.

Recommended units to hunt cougars are the Alsea and Siuslaw in particular, west of Dallas, west of Dawson, and south and west of Philomath. As with bears, predator calling is by far the most effective way to harvest a cougar other than spotting one while hunting deer or elk. Most cougars are harvested by hunters during the deer and elk hunting seasons so don’t forget to carry a tag.

NORTH WILLAMETTE DISTRICT (Scappoose, east Trask, north Willamette, north Santiam WMUs).

Bear hunting in the eastern slopes of the Coast Range should be similar to previous years. The low densities of bears combined with the heavy vegetation in the Scappoose Unit and eastern portions of the Trask Unit will make animals difficult to locate. Overall harvest in these units is low and hunters participating in other big game hunts typically take most bears. Hunters targeting bears in these units should be looking for food sources such as blackberry patches and abandoned fruit orchards that will concentrate bears.

In the northern portion of the Santiam Unit, bear hunters will find higher densities of bears and average hunting opportunities this year. Food sources appear to have matured 2-4 weeks earlier this year and bears are concentrated on those available food sources, making it easier for hunters to key into their location and movement patterns.

Cougar densities remain low in the Scappoose and eastern portions of the Trask Unit and hunting success will be poor this year. Higher densities of cougar in the northern Santiam Unit should provide hunters with their best chance for success. Successful hunters in 2015 found using predator calls that mimic a prey species to be very effective. For safety, hunters should always have a partner along when predator calling. Tracking cougars through fresh snow near concentrations of deer and elk is another technique that has proven to be effective.

SOUTH WILLAMETTE DISTRICT (S. Santiam, McKenzie, N. Indigo wildlife management units)

Bears are abundant on both private and public lands. The key to bear hunting is to hunt their natural food sources. Bears key on berry crops during the fall hunting season including but not limited to raspberries, trailing blackberries, cascara, Armenian blackberries, huckleberries, madrone, and manzanita. Find a ripe food source and watch it both morning and evening; don’t forget to consider the wind and try to avoid spooking the bear. Water sources, such as a small pond or swamp, can attract bears that want to take a swim to cool off. Overall bear prospects are good as they are abundant on both private and public lands.

Most hunters take cougars opportunistically if they have a tag. Cougars are abundant but secretive. They can be found anywhere that deer and elk are found. If you want a chance to bag a cougar, buy your tag in case you see one while you are hunting or scouting other game.

UMPQUA DISTRICT - COOS COUNTY (west Tioga, west Powers, north Sixes, southwest Siuslaw)

The highest bear densities appear to be near the Umpqua River close to the coast. Bear hunting opportunities will be best near blackberry patches and streams in the early part of the fall season. These patches can be found in creek bottoms, in clear cuts or along deactivated forest roads that are “brushing in.” Conditions this spring and summer have been very good for berry production for all berry species. So, bears will be found in places with berry stands that are isolated from human activity. In August and early September, Himalayan black berries will ripen and become bears’ primary food source. Blackberries appear to be coming on strong this year. Tree stand or ground blind hunting near Himalayan blackberries can be very productive when bears are feeding on this food source. Once blackberries are no longer available, bears will turn to huckleberries. This causes bears to be somewhat dispersed. Hunting bears with predator calls may be a good method to use at that time.

Cougars are difficult to locate in Coos County. The majority of cougars are taken incidentally during deer and elk seasons by hunters who have also purchased a cougar tag. Other hunters find success using predator calls in areas where the hunter finds fresh cougar sign or areas where deer and elk concentrate. Cougars will often approach calls slowly and they are easily distracted if calling is not consistent. Many cougar hunters find electric calls to be useful tools to hunt cougars. Fawn or calf distress calls may be the best choice for hunting.

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

All indicators are that bear numbers remain high again this year. Bears are found throughout our units. Densities in southwest Oregon are high with Applegate producing highest harvest in the state during fall season. Those hunters picking up a SW Additional Bear Tag report higher success rates ranging from 7% to 67% over the past three years.

Berry crops in many areas are plentiful and seem to be ripening like normal. To find bears, look for all type of berry crops, such as blackberries, huckleberries, manzanita berries and acorns and for recent feeding activity by bears (fresh droppings). Depending on the weather, the bears may be at these foods sources all day or towards the late afternoon when cooler weather prevails.

As the berries dwindle, hunters may take advantage of the food supply shortage by using fawn-in-distress calls to draw bears out from heavy cover. Set up in a spot that gives you a good view of the area and keeps your scent away from approaching bears. A fawn in distress call may also draw in other predators like cougar, bobcat, coyote and fox.

cougar
Cougar
- Royalty Free Image-

Cougar numbers continue to remain stable. Because of their elusiveness, cougars are best hunted during other big game season, although hunters have had success with predator calls. Cougars have large home ranges and use major ridge lines for their movements.

ROGUE DISTRICT (Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon, and Sixes)

Enough rains occurred this spring that berry crops are good. Locating these berry crops and looking for bear sign should be productive. Predator calling can also yield good results, focus on using a fawn distress call in early morning and late evening. Hunters can expect a good 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. The Chetco and Applegate units have had the best success during the fall season, although bears are found throughout the three counties in very healthy numbers.

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 since the vast majority of cougars taken today are by hunters pursuing other species.

  West Region Big Game Hunting Locations

Oregon Hunting Access Map
Oregon Hunting Access Map

Resources to help you find a hunting location:

NORTH COAST DISTRICT (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw wildlife management units)

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 about 1 million acres of private forestland in the three units plus Scappoose through the A&H program’s North Coast Access Area (map available, see page 104 of 2017 Oregon Big Game Regulations for description). 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; see page 108 of the Big Game Regulations for details. 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.

Gate closures in the southwestern portion of Tillamook State Forest will continue again this year; see their website for more information.

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. Several travel management areas operate in the mid-coast; see the 2017 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. A permanent road closure exists in western portion of Siuslaw National Forest south of Hwy 34, and in Polk County near the old Valsetz town site. 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 refer to their Motor Vehicle Use Map available from the forest.

We advise hunters to be aware that Weyerhaeuser may implement a permit/lease program on these lands for the 2018/19 hunting seasons next year and to check with Weyerhaeuser for more information (www.Wyrecreationnw.com )

NORTH WILLAMETTE DISTRICT (Scappoose, eastern Trask, north Willamette, north Santiam wildlife management WMUs)

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 NF, 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 District 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 or see ODFW’s corporate closures webpage. Travel management agreements, funded by ODF’s Access and Habitat Program, limit motorized access to protect wildlife and the environment and enable walk-in hunting. Hunters should look into the Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area and North Coast Travel Management Area. Visit the Access and Habitat program page to learn about other opportunities. The majority of Weyerhaeuser lands in the Scappoose, eastern Trask and northern Santiam Units are limited to those hunters who leased property or acquired an access permit.

SOUTH WILLAMETTE DISTRICT (S. Santiam, McKenzie, N. Indigo wildlife management units)

The Abiqua Basin A&H project (mostly the N. Willamette Watershed District), Thomas Creek A&H project, and the Wendling Travel Management Area 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 and it will be restricted especially during archery season and even into rifle season if fire danger continues. Information regarding access to Cascade Timber Consulting lands can be obtained by calling (541) 367-2111 ext 669. 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. In addition to the Wendling TMA, there are four additional Cooperative Travel Management Areas in the McKenzie unit. Three of these are permanent and one is September thru November. See page 104 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations. Weyerhaeuser expanded their fee permit and lease programs. Hunters that have hunted on Weyerhaeuser in the past are advised to check the Weyerhaeuser website to see if the expanded fee program affects the area they hunt.

UMPQUA DISTRICT (Tioga, Powers, north Sixes, southwest Siuslaw, Dixon, S. Indigo, NW Evans Creek, Melrose, and Powers units)

Good public hunting opportunities exist on Forest Service (Siskiyou, Siuslaw, Rogue River, Umpqua NFs) and BLM lands; some state forest lands such as the Elliott Stat Forest in Coos and Douglas counties can also be hunted. Timber company lands in the Tioga, Sixes, Rogue, Evans Creek, and Applegate may be open to public hunting opportunities when there is not high fire danger. But hunters need to contact these companies prior to hunting to obtain the latest information on open areas and any restrictions such as road or fire closures (check the Corporate Closures page first). There is public hunting opportunity on Coos County Forest in the north portion of the Sixes 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 104 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations for more on locations and TMAs (travel management areas).

Hunters planning to hunt the Tioga Unit need to know the Weyerhaeuser Millicoma Tree Farm and other lands in Coos County are being managed under a permit system for public access. While public access is allowed on a portion of Weyerhaeuser ownership in the county, free of charge, most of the company’s ownership may only be accessed after purchase of an access permit or through securing a lease for some properties. Information on Weyerhaeuser’s new access permit system is available on the Weyerhaeuser website at www.wyrecreationnw.com Also much of the land previously owned by Menasha Campbell was sold to other companies in the past couple of years. Some of these companies also charge a fee to access their lands.

Additionally, The Coquille Valley Wildlife Area (CVWA) is closed to public access due to construction of infrastructure on CVWA and in its vicinity. ODFW anticipates opening CVWA October 1, 2017. If all goes as planned the entire ownership, including the Winter Lake Tract will be opened for public access at that time and available for bird hunting. Please contact the ODFW Charleston Field Office (541) 888-5515 to obtain the latest information on access to CVWA.

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