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DEER AND ELK HUNTING
Improved hunter harvest statistics
Thanks to the many hunters who reported their deer and elk hunts on time last year. Now put that information to use by taking at a look at ODFW’s new hunting statistics, which for the first time are based on information from the new mandatory reporting system, not the traditional phone survey.
“Last year was the first year that enough hunters reported for us to use the data,” explains staff biologist Joel Hurtado. Reporting rates went from less than 50 percent on average to more than 80 percent for deer and elk tags.
Previously, harvest data was based on data garnered from the department’s traditional phone surveys, a much smaller sample size. For example, ODFW typically contacts less than 10 percent of general season deer hunters in its phone survey, but this year 79 percent of general deer season hunters reported.
Finally, statistics now include antler points on bucks and bulls harvested, so hunters can see the number of trophy-size animals a unit is producing.
Don’t forget to also report this year’s big game and turkey hunts no later than Jan. 31, 2014 if your hunt ends during 2013. (The deadline is April 15, 2014 for 2013 hunts that end between Jan. 1-March 31, 2014). See the hunter reporting page for more information and remember you can also report your hunts by phone and talk to a real customer service representative (not an automated system) at 1-866-947-ODFW (6339).
For the 2013 season, the biggest change big game hunters will face this fall is on national forests. Archery, disabled and muzzleloader hunters will no longer be able to take antlerless elk on national forestland in the Cascades (units Dixon, Evans Cree, Indigo, McKenzie, Rogue, Santiam). The change is due to declining elk populations on national forestland.
While Oregon’s big game herds headed into winter with lower fawn and calf ratios due to dry conditions during summer and fall, the mild winter helped more animals survive and enter fall in good condition.
Check fire restrictions
This year more than ever, it’s important to check fire restrictions before going afield. Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) says the fire danger this season is unprecedented and record resources have been tied up in firefighting. Check with the national forest where you are headed or BLM for information before heading afield.
Many private forestland owners allow hunters on their land and offer some of the best hunting opportunities. But during high fire danger, “Landowners may have no other choice but to restrict access as a fire prevention strategy,” explains Mike Dykzeul, Director, Forest Protection for the Oregon Forest Industries Council (OFIC).
OFIC keeps a list of their members’ current public access status on the Oregon Department of Forestry website. Hunters should check this list (see “Corporate Closures in Effect”) or contact the landowner before heading afield. This list is updated whenever there is a change so check back frequently.
Hunters and others planning trips into Oregon’s wild areas should be prepared to be flexible with their plans if they encounter access restrictions. ODFW does not close hunting seasons due to fire danger. Hunters may need to hunt in a different area if their favorite hunting spot is the site of an active fire or if a private landowner has closed access due to high or extreme fire danger.
Following is a list of regulatory changes from last year:
|Cole Braun with her Gadwall
-Photo by Amy Braun-
Duck/other migratory birds:
- Canvasback bag limit increases to 2 (up from 1 last year). Please note that the printed regulations are in error on page 6—the canvasback bag limit is 2, not 3.
- Possession limit for all migratory game birds increases to 3x the daily bag limit (up from 2X)
- Scaup season will revert to moderate limit of 3/day, 86-day season
September Canada goose:
- Klamath County reopens (closed to September goose since 2006)
- Bag limit back to 5/day in eastern Oregon (up from 3/day)
Regular goose seasons:
- Allow white goose hunting on Sauvie Island Wildlife Area (primarily snow geese), which will increase public land opportunity for geese in NW Oregon. (NW Goose permit needed.)
- Separate dark goose limits into individual limits for Canada geese and white-fronted geese
- Bag limit of 4 for Canada geese in most areas and 6 for white-fronted geese in most areas
- Different seasons for white-fronts and Canada geese in Malheur County
- Shorten split during Klamath County Canada goose season so it is identical to Lake and Harney counties
- Increase bag limit for white geese in Malheur County to 20/day (up from 10/day)
Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area:
- Require free self-service daily hunt permit
- The 3-Day Non-Resident Bird Hunting License will cover all game birds and include a Wildlife Area parking permit. (Non-resident must still purchase applicable tags, validations.) Previously, this license did not include a parking permit or cover mourning dove, band-tailed pigeon, turkey and snipe hunting.
-Photo by ODFW-
UPLAND BIRD HUNTING
Oregonhuntingmap.com makes it easy to find bird hunting locations throughout Oregon. Upland game bird species ranges are overlaid on the map.
2013 Upland Game Bird Survey Summary
Weather conditions across Oregon were high variable during the spring of 2013 consequently the upland game bird outlook is mixed In southeast and south-central Oregon, January through April was extremely dry, which lead to below average conditions for reproduction.
Statewide chukar numbers are expected to be similar to or slightly below last year. Counts were down in some portions of their range such as in Malheur County, while counts in portions of the Columbia Basin suggest a slight increase in the chukar population as compared to last year. Overall, harvest is expected to be similar to last year, which will be below the recent 20-year average. Within the chukar range, in general precipitation amounts increased from south to north.
HUNGARIAN GRAY PARTRIDGE
These are not the most numerous or popular of Oregon’s upland game birds and their range is limited. Gray partridge numbers appear to have declined in 2013 after being relatively strong the past few years.
Pheasant surveys in population strongholds of Columbia Basin and northern Malheur County suggest mixed results. Some wildlife districts saw improved populations, while others saw fewer birds as compared to last year. The central and western portions of the Columbia Basin saw slight improvements in pheasant counts while all other saw few birds this year. Overall harvest is expected to be down slightly from last year. ODFW stocks pheasants at Denman, Fern Ridge, Sauvie Island and EE Wilson Wildlife Area; see page 14 of the Game Bird Regulations for dates on Western Oregon fee pheasant hunting.
Eastern Oregon production surveys suggest quail numbers have fallen since last year. Quail in and around agricultural lands probably fared better than the quail out in the desert areas. For western Oregon, where water is not a limiting factor, California quail numbers are expected to be up.
These are Oregon’s most popular upland bird to hunt and can be found in much of the state. The blue grouse consists of two species in Oregon, with the Sooty species found in the Cascades and west to the Coast, while the Dusky species is found in the Ochoco, Blue, and Wallowa Mountains. Ruffed grouse are found throughout the state in suitable habitat. Early indications suggest improvement in forest grouse numbers in 2013. Statewide, both ruffed and blue grouse harvest in 2013 is expected to increase from last year.
Breeding numbers of sage-grouse declined from last year, and production in most areas appears to be below average. Central Oregon numbers indicated stable sage-grouse numbers while SE Oregon saw significant declines. The declines are likely the result of the extremely dry January-April time period and habitat impacted by extremely large fires in 2012. A portion of the popular Whitehorse Unit will remain closed to sage-grouse hunting in 2013.