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The 2013 Fall Hunting Forecast

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High Desert Region

 

 

 

DEER AND ELK HUNTING

Deer

Mule Deer

Mule Deer Buck
-Photo by Charlotte Ganskopp-

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

The West Biggs Unit has good numbers of deer and a strong component of mature bucks. Much of the unit is private. The Deschutes and John Day canyons are great public places to find weary bucks, especially later in the season.

The Maupin Unit has great buck ratios and should provide good opportunities at older bucks for those hunters with access to private lands. There is some limited public access within the Deschutes canyon. Having a good map to ensure you know where you are is essentiall.

Buck numbers in the White River are on the rebound, and good recruitment over the past couple years should continue to increase hunter success. For the best chance at harvesting a mature buck, hunters should expect to get away from roads and focus on higher elevation habitats.

Hunters headed for the Hood unit should pay close attention to fire restrictions. Last year, most of the private timber companies in the valley closed their lands due to extreme fire conditions, and this summer may be even worse if fall rains are delayed. Finding open areas with good browse is key to hunter success. Deer activity is typically highest during first and last light.

DEER MIGRATION 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. ODFW would appreciate if hunters could report any sightings of these deer. Radio-collared deer in this unit are legal to shoot but return collar and identify location of the kill to The Dalles District office (3701 W 13th Street, The Dalles, OR 97058, tel. 541-296-4628).

Prineville District (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly)

Remember the new travel rules for the Ochoco and Deschutes national forests that went into effect a few years ago. Pick up a motor vehicle use map so you know what’s open vs. closed.

Deer hunters should find decent prospects for a buck this fall. Buck ratios are near or above management objective in all Prineville District units. Rifle buck tags remain unchanged from last year, except for additional tags added to the Grizzly unit. The hot and dry summer conditions may have an impact on hunting success and vegetation quality depending on precipitation this fall.

This buck season is one of the earliest due to the calendar switch. Hunters willing and able to hunt later in the season should find better success rates. Fawn recruitment and body condition is average across all units. Overall, deer populations continue to be lower than desired due to habitat loss and disturbance, poaching, predation, disease and road kills.

Mule Deer InitiativeThe 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 roadless hunting opportunities. Archery hunters are reminded that as part of the Mule Deer Initiative (MDI); the Maury unit is now a controlled deer archery unit requiring archers to possess a controlled entry buck tag. Hunters can expect to see larger, older age class bucks as a result of MDI-related tag reductions in the last three hunting seasons. Hunters should expect to see juniper cuts within the Maury unit. OCHOCO unit is approximately 50% Ochoco National Forest, 10% BLM, with the remainder private. The South Boundary and Rager Travel Management Areas (TMAs) are in this unit on Ochoco National Forest lands. Motorized vehicles are allowed, but are restricted to designated roads. Maps for both TMAs 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 mostly on the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland.

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

Spring 2013 fawn ratios were only fair across much of the Deschutes District and these animals are this fall’s spikes and 2-point bucks. Buck ratios are near, or above, management objectives in all Deschutes District units. There should be decent numbers of both mature and yearling bucks available in most units relative to the population size. Management activities 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 the long-term average this year in the Paulina, Upper Deschutes, North Wagontire and Ft. Rock units. Hunter success is expected to be above average in the Metolius unit.

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

Following the mild winter, overwinter fawn survival was fairly good; however the fall fawn ratio was lower so there were lower fawn numbers entering winter. For all units, buck ratios are above management objectives and a good component of older age bucks exists. Tag numbers remain unchanged in all units with the exception of the Keno Unit where tags were increased slightly due to a good spring fawn ratio and high buck ratio. Hunters can expect an average year with slightly lower numbers of yearling bucks available due to lower fawn numbers in the other units. Hunters should concentrate efforts in areas with healthy understory vegetation or thinned areas that offer good forage availability adjacent to cover.

Mule Deer Buck
Mule Deer Buck
-Photo by Nick Myatt, ODFW-

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

Buck ratios were at or above management objective in all units. Fawn recruitment was below maintenance in Silver Lake, Interstate, Warner, Wagontire and Beatys Butte, and only slightly above maintenance levels in Fort Rock. The lower fawn recruitment means there will be fewer yearling bucks in the population and therefore hunter success is expected to be slightly below average. At this time, the desert units are very dry and water is limited. Lower elevations in the forested units also are very dry. Without some late summer rains, deer will be foraging on shrubs and hunters should focus on those areas with shrubs in the understory. All of the forested units have had large wildfires which occurred after 2001. These wildfire areas have recovered and are providing good forage so hunters should concentrate effort in the burned-unburned edges. Beatys Butte, Wagontire and South Juniper are all desert units with low deer populations. Hunters in these units should focus on the desert rims with sagebrush or bitterbrush for best success. Remember archery season in the Warner unit is limited entry.

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

Deer populations are stable throughout the district due to a mild winter leading to good fawn survival over the winter. Buck ratios in all units are at or above management objective with good numbers of younger bucks.

Habitat conditions in the forested areas of the Silvies and Malheur are generally good, but the desert portions will be extremely dry unless we get some late summer or fall rains. 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.

Deer populations in the Beatys Butte, Wagontire, Juniper, Steens and Trout Creek portions of the Whitehorse unit are all desert units with low deer populations. These units continue to be well below management objectives, but with good fawn recruitment over the last few years there should be an increasing number of bucks in the population. Hunters should focus on the desert rims with sagebrush or bitterbrush for best success. Water is very limited in these units this year due to very little precipitation this winter, spring and summer. Archery hunters are reminded that as part of the Mule Deer Initiative (MDI); the Steens unit is now a controlled deer archery unit requiring archers to possess a controlled entry buck tag.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Malheur District (Whitehorse, Owyhee and Beulah Units)

Most of Malheur District experienced an extended cold snap during January that was hard on wintering big game. This cold snap followed an extremely dry summer and fall that caused deer to enter winter in poor body condition. Therefore, fawn recruitment was low throughout the district.

In the Beulah unit, low fawn ratios translates to fewer yearling bucks being available this fall and a decline in hunter success as much of the harvest in this unit is comprised of yearlings. Post-season buck ratios were slightly above management objective last year, so older age class buck numbers should be similar to recent years. Much of the best deer 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. With the drought conditions, there will likely be fewer deer in the desert portions of the unit.

For the Owyhee Unit, wildfire and weed invasion continues to have an impact on the ability of this unit to produce deer. Fawn recruitment has been low since 2009 and the deer population is declining, but buck ratios are at or above management objective. For 2012, hunter success was 50% and there was still a good proportion of mature bucks in the harvest. However it is a very challenging unit to hunt as deer are widely scattered in the unit and there is no one area with consistently good deer numbers. The Owyhee Fire also burned 45,000 acres near Owyhee Dam and State Park earlier this year.

East Whitehorse Unit is another difficult unit to hunt if you are not familiar with the unit. Deer numbers are low and they can be widely scattered in the unit. On a more positive note, the buck ratio remains above management objective and hunter success was 58% in 2012 with a good proportion of mature bucks. The major fires of 2012 and the ongoing drought will continue to affect deer hunting in this unit this season. Additional wildfires have burned in 2013.

Trout Creek Mountains: The Holloway Fire burned most of this unit in 2012, except for the Oregon Canyon and Sherman Field areas. Hunter success increased slightly in 2012, likely due to the loss of some hiding cover. Since the fire, the higher elevations have had decent vegetation recovery despite the drought conditions and the deer seem to have summered well. Reports from people scouting the unit indicate this might be a good year to have a Trout Creek tag. It is still unclear how this deer herd will respond to this fire over the longer term.

Elk
Bull Elk
-Royalty Free Image-

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. Herd numbers have been slightly increasing annually with fair bull numbers. However, heavy cover makes harvesting a bull challenging. Most mature bulls are found at higher elevations, especially during the first season. Many 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 general season, but the animals are almost exclusively found on private lands. Gaining landowner permission in that area could result in a successful 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.

Prineville District (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly)

Elk populations are just below management objectives and bull ratios are quite variable in all three units. Elk are in good body condition and highly mobile across their range. Depending on weather conditions, hunters should expect to find elk on north-slope drainages and high elevations during archery season and more scattered during bull seasons.

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. Maps of those areas are available on ODFW’s website from ODFW and Ochoco National Forest offices. A majority of cow elk tags have been eliminated in the Ochoco unit on public land due to declining elk populations on national forest. New private land hunts for the Ochoco unit are intended to increase elk use on the national forest and eliminate elk staying on private land throughout the seasons. Elk bow hunters must also have a controlled Maury Unit deer bow tag (used/unused) to hunt elk in the Maury Unit.

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

Paulina and Fort Rock unit bull ratios are down slightly this year. Relative to the number of elk, branch antlered bull opportunity will be decent in the Paulina and East Fort Rock units. Herds are at relatively low densities and cover a lot of country, so 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 wilderness and roadless areas in the Cascades. Persons with a “Disability Permit” are limited to a “legal bull” bag limit in these Cascade units this year.

Elk numbers in the North Wagontire (High Desert hunts) are quite variable due to large movements these animals make. The elk are most consistent in their daily patterns near alfalfa fields. Hunters are advised to select their target animal carefully when elk are in open country, and in large herds, to try and avoid wounded animals or multiple animals being hit.

Elk
Bull Elk Grazing
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

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

Elk populations in the Silvies and Malheur River units remain at or above management objectives and bull ratios are similar to previous years with good numbers of adult bulls available. Both units offer good hunting opportunities for elk. 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.

Elk densities in the Steens, Juniper and portions of Beatys Butte and Wagontire (High Desert hunts) are low. Elk movement can be quite variable, as they will travel long distances in short periods of time, making hunting difficult.

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 locate consistently.

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. Best prospects are in the Keno and Fort Rock Units. 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. Archery hunters will have a bull only bag limit in all units with the exception of the Fort Rock unit east of Highway 97 where an either-sex bag limit is in effect.

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 in Silver Lake, Interstate and Warner. Fort Rock unit is a general season with an either sex bag limit. Hunters wishing to hunt elk in Warner, are required to possess a limited entry deer tag.

High Desert Big Game Hunting Locations

Hunters Access MapExplore hunting locations through the Oregon Hunting Access Map.

ODFW Wildlife Management Units

Deschutes District (Metolius, Upper Deschutes, Paulina, north Wagontire, and north Ft. Rock

Hunters can use BLM lands as well as Deschutes, Ochoco, and Fremont-Winema National Forest lands in these units. The Fox Butte and Walker Rim TMAs will be in effect three days prior through the controlled buck deer seasons and the Timbers and Spring Butte TMAs are in effect year round.

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

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.

Prineville District (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly)

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. Remember new travel rules for the Ochoco and Deschutes national forests went into effect in 2011. Pick up a motor vehicle use map so you know what’s open vs. closed.

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

The county is mostly BLM land. Silvies contains portions of the Ochoco and Malheur national forests. See the Malheur National Forest website 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.

Klamath and Lake Counties (Klamath Falls, Keno, Sqrague, Silver Lake, Interstate, Warner, Fort Rock)

New Travel Management Rules which went into effect last year on the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Motor Vehicle Use Maps are available from U.S. Forest Service offices.

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 this access as 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 hunt 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). Klamath Wildlife Area is closed to deer hunting.

Malheur District (Whitehorse, Owyhee and Beulah)

Much of the area is BLM land and there is public land hunting opportunities for most species. Contact the Vale Distrcit BLM office for maps. 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.

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


blue grouse wing

Blue grouse wing from a wing barrel
-Photo by David Budeau, ODFW-

High Desert Region Upland Bird

Return mountain quail and grouse wings and tails

Please return wings and tails of mountain quail and forest grouse if you take one of these birds; they provide important information about populations. Remove one enter wing and whole tail including small feathers. Place in paper collecting bags (your own or those provided at ODFW offices), one bird per bag. Mark the bag with the species, date taken, county taken and general location taken. Drop it off at a designated collection sites (ODFW offices or collection barrels). Freeze the bag if you will be delayed in dropping it off. See page 42 of the regs for more information.

Report mountain quail observations east of the Cascades

Email David.A.Budeau@state.or.us with any observations of mountain quail east of the Cascade Mountains, including date, specific location (nearest creek, town, road, etc.) county of observation and number of quail seen.

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

While upland bird surveys are still in process, early indications show good potential for the upcoming season. Quail, pheasant and Huns appear to have had a good hatch, while chukars so far appear to be down. Pheasant and quail are primarily found in association with riparian corridors, while chukars are found within the Deschutes and John Day river canyons. Public access is generally from the river, or through private lands.

Mid-Columbia (Wasco and Sherman counties) - Hunters should do well this year. Surveys found a good quail hatch, while chukar and pheasant hatches appear down. Most pheasant and quail opportunities are on private lands. Look for these birds throughout upland grass stands, especially in Sherman and eastern Wasco counties. Chukars are found within the Deschutes and John Day river canyons. Public access is generally from the river, or through private lands.

Deschutes County - Most upland game bird species are limited by available habitat and climate in this district. California quail populations are healthy but down slightly, with habitat loss from development likely taking a toll. Most California quail are found on private lands and access is difficult. Good forest grouse habitat is limited in the district but populations are stable, albeit at low numbers in the Cascade portion of the District. ODFW re-introduced mountain quail into the Metolius unit a few years ago but the population remains too low to hunt at this time, so mountain quail hunting is closed in this District. Please report any Deschutes District mountain quail sightings to the ODFW Bend office, Tel: 541-388-6363 or email Corey.Heath@state.or.us. Dove hunters are encouraged to take advantage of the expanding (and invasive) Eurasian collared dove population.

Crook, Wheeler, Jefferson counties - Hunting opportunities are limited in central Oregon as a majority of upland bird populations occur on private lands. Mourning dove counts were similar to last year, and hunters should expect good hunting while warm weather continues. The best opportunities for doves will be at lower elevations, including private agricultural lands, and adjoining BLM and Crooked River National Grasslands. Doves may use public lands for roosting and watering, and scouting these lands can help in locating such hunting opportunities.

Lake and Klamath counties - The best areas for forest grouse are in the Cascades on Winema National Forest or private timber land which is open to access. Blue grouse can be found along ridge tops in more open forest habitats in both Klamath and Lake counties while ruffed grouse are generally found along riparian areas, with few ruffed grouse found in Lake County.

Fair mountain quail hunting opportunities are available in the Cascades. Hunters are reminded of the two-bird bag limit in Klamath County. Lake County is closed to mountain quail hunting.

Quail production was excellent this year and there should be favorable quail hunting opportunities.

Wild pheasant numbers remain at extremely low levels. Unlimited Pheasants will be releasing pheasants at Klamath Wildlife Area and selected private lands open to the public. No pheasants are released at Summer Lake Wildlife Area, and wild pheasant numbers are at very low levels.

Olivia's Chukar

Chukar Hunting
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

In Klamath County, chukars (provided by Klamath Chapter Oregon Hunters Association) will again be released in the Klamath Hills. Chukar populations in Lake County are expected to be fair this year. Summer brood routes indicated good production.

Harney County –Overall chukar production was poor this year due to drought conditions. Chukar surveys on established routes in 2013 resulted in 7.3 birds per mile (increased 49% from last year) and 7.7 chicks per brood (decreased 7.3% from last year). Quail production was below average this year, down 57% from the previous three-year average. Quail hunting opportunities are good throughout Harney county around both agricultural and rangelands in the Steens, Pueblos and Trout Creeks. Focus on basins and creek bottoms. Most pheasant hunting in the county occurs on and around Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Malheur County – The combination of ongoing drought conditions, and a January cold snap that reduced overwinter survival, has negatively affected upland bird populations in Malheur County.

Chukar

Chukar surveys on established routes yielded 22 chukar per 10 miles and production of 7.7 chicks per brood. This is a 42% s decrease from last year when 38.7 birds per 10 miles were measured and is 63% below the 10-year average of 60.2 birds per 10 miles.

The Succor Creek/Leslie Gulch area has only experienced limited recovery. The poor range conditions caused by ongoing invasion of medusahead likely limits the ability of birds in this area to successfully raise broods. The most productive routes were South of Harper in the Cottonwood Canyon, Freezout/Dry Creek (west side of the Owyhee Reservoir) and North of Hwy 20.

Phesant hunting

Pheasant Punting
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Pheasant

The surveys along established routes yielded 6.1 birds per 10 miles which is a 44% decrease in number of birds observed from last year’s survey and 30%% below the 10-year average. Chick production averaged 3.9 chicks per brood. Hunting prospects will vary depending on the farming practices in the area where you have permission to hunt. The outlying areas around Willow Creek and Vale have higher bird numbers than areas closer to Ontario and Nyssa.

There is very little public land pheasant hunting opportunity in the area and the few parcels that are available tend to get hunted daily. One option for private lands access is the Cow Hollow fundraiser https://www.facebook.com/events/486215664739594/ to benefit the Cow Hollow Park.

California quail

Quail production was down in agricultural areas and very poor in rangelands. Surveys on established routes showed 34 quail per 10 miles, down 31% over last year and 16% below the 10-year average. Production was 8.5 chicks per brood with decreased production observed primarily in rangelands.

Upland bird hunting locations

See ODFW’s Columbia Basin Bird Hunting Guide for how to hunt the 250K acres open to hunters in the area. Also see ODFW’s Oregon Hunting Access Map and wildlife areas Summer Lake, Klamath, Lower Deschutes, Prineville Reservoir, Riverside and White River (Tygh Valley).

Some private lands are accessible through the Access and Habitat program. Through ODFW's Upland Cooperative Access Program, hunters can access private land in Wasco and Sherman counties in the Columbia Basin to hunt.


High Desert Region Waterfowl

gadwell drake and hen

Gadwall Drake
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

Deschutes County

Goose hunting should be very good; resident Canada geese had a good production year. Duck hunting should be average or above average for local birds prior to freeze up. Hunters hunting the upper Deschutes River area, remember that by Deschutes County Ordinance portions of the river between Sunriver and Fall River are closed to the discharge of firearms (contact the Deschutes County Sheriff for more information).

Wasco, Sherman and Hood Counties

Duck hunting is mostly jump shooting on private lands and should offer good opportunity where available. Goose hunting opportunity in wheat fields should be fair with most access via private land. Some private land access can be found through Upland Cooperative Access Program lands in Sherman County. See regulations for details.

Jefferson and Crook Counties

Mallards and Canada geese are the most common waterfowl species in these counties. Wet spring conditions provided near ideal nesting, and brood production was similar to last year. Hunting opportunities are limited due to the lack of wetlands, marshes, and access, especially on public lands. Most of the better hunting is associated with private agricultural lands where access can be difficult. Resident ducks and geese had average production, and early season hunting should be good if hunters can get access to private lands.

Klamath County

Waterfowl hunting in the Klamath Basin should be very good this year. Early season usually is best for local and early migrant birds, and hunters can expect to find abundant gadwall and mallard in the Klamath Basin and up into the Summer Lake Basin in Lake County. Hunting prospects will depend on Pacific Northwest weather systems moving birds in Klamath and Lake Counties before freeze-up.

Canada Geese
Canada Geese
-Photo by Robert Mutch-

Most goose hunting opportunities are for resident Canada geese, however there are some white-fronted geese, snow, and Ross’s geese staging in the Klamath Basin prior to continuing south. Goose hunting should improve later into the season with freezing conditions, which tend to concentrate geese near open water areas. Ample public land opportunities exist with area refuges and state managed wildlife areas in addition to private lands.

The Klamath County Goose Zone will continue with some changes this year. The white-fronted goose bag limit will remain at four per day due to robust populations in the Pacific Flyway. The bag limit for white geese remains at six per day. This bag limit includes snow and Ross’ geese. One big change this year is the late goose season will now be open on public waters/lands with the exception of Klamath Basin Refuges and Miller Island Unit at KWA. The hunt helps alleviate agricultural damage from large numbers of white-fronted geese, snow, and Ross’ geese. Spring surveys observed over 400,000 white-fronted geese staging in the Klamath Basin during early March. Another change this year is return of the September Canada Goose season. Contact ODFW's Klamath Falls office at (541) 883-5732 for more information.

Klamath Wildlife Area

Early season is usually best for local and early migrant birds, and hunters can expect to find abundant gadwalls and mallards in Klamath Basin.

Favorable weather conditions will be necessary to encourage large numbers of ducks and geese to stage in the basin, reduce overflights to wintering areas further south, and create favorable hunting conditions. Goose hunting should improve later in the season with geese using frozen ponds for loafing and the small grain fields for forage.

Pheasant Hunters: Pheasants will be released only in Unit C during the first week of the season. After Oct. 11, pheasants will be released in all units on non-hunt days until approximately Thanksgiving weekend dependent on availability. 

Days open for game bird hunting are Oct. 5*, 6*, 8, 10, 12*, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, odd days in November and December, and even days in January. (*Hunting on Oct. 5, 6, and 12 is on a reservation basis with standby and refill. Oct. 20 is the youth waterfowl hunt in Units A and B, with Unit C open to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis.)

Due to the concurrent opening of waterfowl and upland game birds in Zone 2, reservations for Klamath Wildlife Area on Oct. 5, 6, and 12 will be for both waterfowl and upland game birds. Hunters successful in obtaining reservations to hunt these days will need to check in at the check station at least ½ hour before WATERFOWL shooting hours begins, even if you only want to hunt upland game birds. Make sure that if you have a reservation that you have gotten your reservation permit slip from a license sales agent or online from the ODFW website. Reservation permits will not be available at the check station. This will allow us to refill any unused reservation spots as early as possible to allow hunters to get out into the field.

The south end of Unit B (south of the boat ramp) and the west unit in Unit C, south of the first cross dike along the Miller Slough, will be dry during October to do habitat manipulations to improve hunting and waterfowl habitat for the future.

Burning of decadent vegetation on the larger of the Gorr Island Units may occur in late December to January depending on weather.

The special youth waterfowl hunt on Oct. 20 is open to hunters age 17 and younger. Reservations are no longer required for this hunt.  See page 22 of the Oregon Game Bird Regulations.

Harney County

Waterfowl hunting opportunity in the Harney District will be decent this year. Water levels are lower than last year and will continue to drop due to limited snow pack this winter and very little precipitation this spring and summer. Chickahominy Reservoir is still about half full and Warm Springs Reservoir is near minimum pool levels as of early August. Early and late season goose hunting for resident populations of Canada geese should be good on private agricultural lands in the Harney Basin.

Canadian Goslings
Canada Goose
-Photo by Dave Budeau-

Lake County

The fall flight is expected to be similar to last year. The bag limit for the September Canada Goose season was increased and duck bag limits were slightly modified. Therefore hunters should review synopsis for changes to season dates and bag limits for the hunting zones which include Lake County. There was a very poor snow pack last winter and most of the Warner Valley lakes are either dry or very low. Lakeview BLM was able to pump water into the Warner Wetlands during May and early June so water levels will be substantially better than last year. Goose Lake will be almost dry by waterfowl season. Low water levels and high alkalinity in Lake Abert will reduce invertebrates availability resulting in substantially reduced duck use.

Restrictions remain in place for white-fronted goose hunting in Lake County during the youth hunts and the general goose season. They are designed to reduce harvest of the tule white-fronted goose. Production surveys for snow geese on Wrangle Island were not completed again this year, so there is no forecast for the fall flight coming out of Siberia.

Summer Lake Wildlife Area

Over 60 percent of this almost 19,000-acre area is open for waterfowl hunting seven days a week during authorized seasons. Early season is usually best for local and early migrant birds, and hunters can expect to find abundant gadwalls and mallards in Summer Lake Basin. By mid to late-November, freezing conditions occur and most waterfowl will have migrated south to wintering areas.

Habitat work on Summer Lake, which involves drawing down and holding dry some water areas to control excessively dense vegetation, re-establish open water features and rehabilitate local marshes, will continue this year. Though hunters might see a short-term impact to their regular hunting spot, these habitat improvements will improve conditions for waterfowl and for hunters over the long term. The Bullgate Refuge Habitat Management Unit (HMU) will be dry during the 2013-14 hunting season while habitat work is completed. The entire Bullgate Refuge HMU will return to refuge status and will be closed to hunting. Portions of Between The Dikes HMU along Bullgate Dike out to the lakeshore will be dry to facilitate construction.

Please see pages 26 and 36 of the Oregon Game Bird Regulations for hunter advisories and additional information regarding Summer Lake Wildlife Area rules and regulations.

Closure: Access to hunting areas south of Thousand Springs Lane (Lake Co. Rd 4-17, except the Foster Place) will be prohibited from September 28, 2013 until 4:00 am on opening day. This seven-day closure will reduce disturbance to staging waterfowl and improve hunter success. Campgrounds and open roads will remain available for use.

Summer Lake is closed during the September Canada goose season but regular season goose hunting at Summer Lake Wildlife Area should be fair for locally produced Canada geese. Canada goose hunting should improve later in the season with freezing conditions, which tend to concentrate geese near open water. In an attempt to reduce harvest pressure on the rarer Tule white-fronted goose, the daily bag limit is one.

Most snow geese staging at Summer Lake Wildlife Area are from Wrangel Island, Russia. Production this year is not known at this time. Typically, good production results in favorable hunting success due to the large number of juveniles. When production is low, hunting for the more wary adults is difficult. A large portion of this population is now wintering in NW Washington/SW British Columbia and not migrating through Oregon. Recently, staging numbers have been declining and peak staging populations have been less than 10,000 birds. However, other light goose populations (which migrate through Summer Lake Basin to some degree) have been increasing at significant rates, which allowed an increase in the white goose bag limit from 4 to 6 a few years ago. Favorable weather conditions will be necessary to encourage large numbers of geese to stage in the basin, reduce overflights to wintering areas further south, and create favorable hunting conditions.

Malheur County

Most irrigation reservoirs and ponds in the area will be dry by fall. This will likely impact waterfowl hunting in the area. September goose hunting should be good on private agricultural lands in the Jordan Valley, Arock, and Rome area for those hunters willing to scout fields for geese and secure permission.

Hunters need to check the 2013-14 Oregon Game Bird Regulations for significant changes in the goose seasons for Malheur County Zone.

Snake River Valley

Fair waterfowl hunting is available in the area most of the season, and improves significantly during cold weather events. Cold weather events reduce open water concentrating birds and increasing the time spent foraging. Field hunting for both geese and ducks can be good for hunters willing to spend the time and effort to secure private land access. Water levels in the Snake River are expected to remain low through winter making access to the river difficult.
Hunters need to check the 2013-14 Oregon Game Bird Regulations for significant changes in the goose seasons for Malheur County Zone.

Waterfowl Hunting Locations

Explore bird hunting locations using ODFW’s Oregon Hunting Access Map. ODFW's Summer Lake and Klamath wildlife areas are major winter staging areas for waterfowl and provide great hunting opportunities. Some private lands are accessible through the Access and Habitat program. See page 30-36 of the Game Bird Regulations for more information on hunting locations. Remember to ask permission before hunting on private lands.


Black Bear
Black Bear
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Bear and Cougar in the High Desert Region

Successful bear and cougar hunters, remember check-in is mandatory! See the regulations for what you need to check in at an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest (call the office first to make an appointment). For best results, prop the animal’s mouth open with a stick after harvest to allow easy tooth extraction for accurate aging. Hunters will be mailed a postcard with age results several months after check-in.

Most cougars and many bears are taken when hunters are pursuing other species (like deer and elk). Be ready for the opportunity—purchase a cougar or bear tag before you hunt this fall!

Deschutes (Upper Deschutes, Paulina, north Wagontire, north Fort Rock, Metolious)

Bear populations are stable in the district but due to limited suitable habitat, bear numbers are lower here than in other portions of the state. Highest bear densities are west of Highway 97 at the higher elevations. Cougar populations are healthy due to relatively abundant prey and low mortality. Cougars can be found throughout the district, but will be easier to locate once there is snow on the ground and tracking conditions improve. In particular, cougar numbers appear to be increasing at a faster rate in the Paulina unit than in adjacent units.

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

Both bear and cougar populations are abundant in the White River and Hood Units. Cougars are moving into canyons of the Deschutes and John Day River systems. Predator calling and locating a fresh kill may increase hunter success. For bears, hunters should focus on clearcuts or natural openings in the forest, especially those with good berry crops.

Prineville District (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly)

Bear and cougar appear to be stable, with low population density and harvest reported for bear, and better opportunities for cougar. Good quality bear habitat is limited, with the better habitat present in the northern portions of the Ochoco unit, and on the Lookout Mountain and Paulina Ranger Districts of the Ochoco National Forest. Cougars are more widely dispersed throughout all three units and generally will be associated with deer, elk, or pronghorn. Hunting using calls during the winter when big game are concentrated on winter range has been effective for some hunters. Areas to consider scouting include: Maury Mountains, Salt Creek and S.F. Crooked River (Maury unit); Lookout Mountain, upper Bridge Creek and South Fork John Day River (Ochoco); and Mill Creek and Green Mountain (Grizzly).

Rocky Mountain Goat
Courgar
- Royalty Free Image-

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

Though bear and cougar populations appear stable, harvest in the units is generally low. The Cascade Mountains region of the Klamath District traditionally provides the most opportunity for bear hunters in the area. Keno, Interstate and Sprague Units offer best opportunities. Most bear harvest occurs incidentally while hunters are out pursuing deer and elk. Hunters are reminded to purchase bear and cougar tags prior to opening day of buck season.

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

Bear habitat is limited so populations are low compared to other areas of the state. Yamsey Mountain, Booth Ridge, Winter Rim in the Silver Lake Unit, Coleman Rim in the Interstate Unit and the forested portions of the Warner Unit provide the most opportunity for bear hunters in the area. Hunters should focus on clearcuts or natural openings in the forest, especially those with good berry crops. Cougar populations are healthy due to good habitat and prey base. Cougar hunting is most productive following low elevation snow events when cougar tracks can be observed. Hunters have also had success using predator calls.

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

While bear density is generally low here, hunting this fall is expected to be fair as bears respond to berry production in the forest. Fall bear hunting in berry patches in the national forest can be productive. Cougar populations are healthy and distributed throughout the district in any area with a big game prey base. Cougar hunting is most productive following low elevation snow events when cougar tracks can be observed.

Malheur District (Whitehorse, Owyhee and Beulah Units)

Bear habitat is very limited in this district. Cougar populations are healthy and distributed throughout the district in any area with a big game prey base. Cougar hunting is most productive following low elevation snow events when cougar tracks can be observed.

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