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2009 Fall Hunting Forecast available online

 
September 11, 2009

 

SALEM, Ore.ODFW’s fall hunting forecast is available online. Based on surveys by staff biologists, the report offers hunters a good look at what to expect this fall.

The forecast can be accessed on ODFW’s website through a link at the top of the Hunting Resources page.

In the forecast, hunters will learn how big game (deer, elk, cougar, bear) and game bird (upland birds and waterfowl) populations are doing in areas statewide. Staff biologists also offer tips on where and how to hunt.

What’s new for 2009

Black-tailed deer hunters: Return deer teeth

ODFW is asking successful black-tailed deer hunters to return teeth from their animal to the department. ODFW will use the teeth to determine the age of the animal, data that will used in population modeling efforts and considered when setting seasons.

Some hunters that drew a controlled tag will receive an envelope by mail, and other hunters can pick one up at a license sales agent or ODFW office. Directions for how to extract a tooth are on the envelope.

Last year, the Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a Black-Tailed Deer Management Plan, a long-term strategy to manage these deer found west of the crest of the Cascades. One of its key goals is to improve data for these species. ODFW appreciates hunters’ assistance.

Summer Lake closure 7 days prior to opener

Most of the marsh area of Summer Lake Wildlife Area (south of Thousand Spring Lane or Lake Co Rd 4-17) will be closed to all public access (except campgrounds and open roads) for seven days before the opening day of waterfowl season. This is to decrease disturbance to birds and give them a chance to settle before the opener. It should improve success on opening day. This year the closure begins Oct. 3, 2009.

Immediate retrieval of game birds

As a tool to reduce poor hunter practices including “skybusting” (shooting at birds too far away and losing track of where they fall), the word “immediately” will be added to the waste rule so it reads: “All game birds killed or crippled must immediately be retrieved, if possible, and kept by the hunter in the field.”

There are some waterfowl hunters not going after birds that are crippled (they just continue to shoot) and others are high-shooting (aka sky-busting) so they can’t see where hit birds fall.

It’s important for hunters to retrieve birds not just for hunter ethics but also for wildlife management. Certain species of waterfowl have quotas or hunting restrictions.

This new rule is another tool to deal with the problem. For several years ODFW has also been hosting shooting clinics to help hunters judge distances better and we will do so again at Summer Lake this year (during opening weekend Oct. 9 and 10).

New My Hunter Information tab makes it easy to track your hunt from start to finish

ODFW’s new My Hunter Information Web page makes it easy to track preference points, reporting status, and season closures all in one place. It’s available under Hunting Resources.

Hunters need to enter their Hunter Angler ID number, date of birth and last name to access the secure site. Once signed in, they can see preference points, controlled hunt application status, draw results, season closures, tag sale deadlines, and results reporting status of their tags all in one place. 

“This capability is thanks to our new online license sales system,” explained DeAnna Erickson, ODFW license services manager. “We want to make it convenient and easy for hunters to access their personal hunt information.”

Mandatory Reporting

Many hunters are still not reporting the results of their big game and turkey tags, though doing so has been mandatory since last year. Compliance rates average less than 17 percent.

Hunters are required to complete a hunter harvest survey online or by calling 1-866-947-ODFW (6339) and using the automated phone system. Do the report for each and every big game tag purchased (except for bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goat tags) and for turkey tags. Reporting is required even if you were not successful or did not go hunting. Keep in mind you may still get a call from ODFW’s telephone survey for data comparison purposes. ODFW uses the data to accurately assess harvest rates and set hunting seasons.

During its Oct. 2 meeting in Salem, the Fish and Wildlife Commission may adopt incentives for hunters that report (beginning in the 2010 season) and penalties for those that don’t (beginning with the 2011 season). Expect more information from ODFW in the coming months.

Miss the tag sale deadline? Now you can still get a tag.

ODFW is now offering hunters that have missed the tag sale deadline a process that allows them to still buy their tag and go hunting.

Hunters that pay a $6.50 fee in addition to the tag fee and sign an affidavit stating they have not yet hunted during the season will be allowed to purchase the tag.

“Every year, we hear from hunters that failed to buy their tag due to an unforeseen circumstance, or SportsPac license holders that have already purchased a tag but failed to pick it up on time,” says Deanna Erickson, ODFW licensing services manager. “None of us like turning away hunters who have often already invested considerable time, effort and money preparing for the season. We want to give everyone that wants to go hunting the chance to do so.”

Hunters that wish to purchase a tag after the deadline must contact ODFW’s Licensing Services in Salem (503-947-6100) directly or through an ODFW field office that sells licenses. If purchasing at a field office, ODFW Licensing Services will need to fax an affidavit to that location for the hunter to sign. Hunters should anticipate that it will take one to three working days to complete the process and get the tag. 

Beginning in 2010, the fee to purchase a tag after the deadline (the duplicate tag fee) will be $17.00.

It remains illegal to hunt without the appropriate tag in possession. All tag sale deadlines listed in the regulations are still in effect and those deadline dates follow:

Western Oregon Deer Centerfire – Oct. 2

Black Bear (General and SW Additional) – Oct. 2

Cougar (General and Additional) – Oct. 2

Cascade Elk – Oct. 16

Rocky Mt Elk Centerfire, 1st season – Oct. 27

Rocky Mt Elk Centerfire, 2nd season – Nov. 6

Coast Elk Centerfire, 1st season – Nov. 13

Coast Elk Centerfire, 2nd season – Nov. 20

DEER AND ELK

The good news: deer, elk and other big game harvested so far this year have been in good body condition. The reality check: hunters will still have to work at it to be successful.

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

But you will still have to do your homework to be successful,” he continued. “Go scout in advance of the season and get away from your truck. The happy hunters will be those that get away from the roads.”

The past winter was milder than the previous years and most units experienced good buck and bull survival from the previous hunting season. See each individual district’s forecast for more information.

And don’t forget to wear blaze orange for safety. Deer and elk won’t see you but other hunters will.

CWD Monitoring

ODFW is still conducting Chronic Wasting Disease monitoring on deer and elk. Please cooperate with field biologists to collect samples or call a field office to set up an appointment for sample collection. There will also be check stations off some major highways Oct. 4 and 5 (buck deer season) and Nov. 1 and 2 (Rocky Mtn elk season).

BEAR AND COUGAR

As of Sept. 4, 2009, 219 black bears have already been checked in by successful fall hunters. This year the Tioga unit leads for fall bear harvest, followed by Indigo and Siuslaw. Spring bear harvest totaled 367 bears, with Siuslaw leading by a wide margin, with 72 bears taken.

ODFW Game Program Coordinator Don Whittaker thanks hunters for the great job they did last year checking in bear heads. “Almost all of the bears taken were brought into us,” he said. “It’s exactly what we want to see.” During check-in, ODFW collects a tooth to age the animal for bear population monitoring.

Mandatory check-in for successful bear hunters continues this year. Remember, only thawed bear skulls will be accepted. (It’s very difficult for biologists to extract a bear tooth from a frozen skull.) Hunters should also prop the bear’s mouth open with a stick after harvesting it, again to make tooth extraction easy. For more information on mandatory check-in, visit ODFW’s website and see here for a list of ODFW offices that can check bears. Be sure to call first to make sure someone is available to help you.

Fall bear hunting tips:

  • Bears will be feeding on berries so look for berry patches in mid to high elevation forest areas, old orchards, and along riparian areas with lots of berries.
  • Watch for turned over logs and stumps and broken down fruit trees for fresh sign.
  • Dry weather conditions early in the season may concentrate bears near riparian areas. 
  • Hunting into the wind is critical due to bear’s keen sense of smell.
  • Look for open areas where bears will be moving through or foraging, including clear-cuts, meadows and open slopes.
  • Concentrate efforts during early morning and evening.  
  • Use predator calls.   
  • Find good vantage points and utilize optics to locate bears; early morning and late afternoon to evening are the best time for spotting.
  • Know your target—remember it is unlawful to take cubs less than one year old or sows with cubs less than one year old.

Cougars: Don’t forget to buy the tag

So far this year, 134 cougars have been taken by hunters, with the most taken in Ukiah (13) followed by Sumpter unit (11). But most hunters aren’t actively looking for cougars when they fill their tag. The vast majority are taken by hunters that happen to see a cougar when pursuing other species like deer or elk. 

Don’t forget to purchase your cougar tag, or a Sport Pac license that includes a tag, so you can harvest one should you have the opportunity.  

Hunters that are successful are required to check-in the hide with thawed skull and proof of sex attached at an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest. ODFW thanks hunters for their cooperation. The data collected is critical to ODFW’s continued tracking and management of the cougar population. 

Cougar hunting tips:

  • Use predator calls.
  • Look for and follow tracks in fresh snow. Tracking cougars in big game winter ranges when snow is present can be effective.
  • Winter conditions tend to concentrate deer and elk on winter ranges and cougars follow. When hunting near winter range, take care not to unnecessarily disturb herds that are already under stress.
  • Remember it is unlawful to take spotted kittens or female cougars with spotted kittens.

STATEWIDE WATERFOWL OUTLOOK

This year marks the 13th consecutive liberal duck season and bag limits on canvasback (1), pintails (2), and scaup (3) all increased from last year. The scaup season length will only be 86 days as compared to 107 days for other duck species.

Goose hunters in Klamath County will see more hunting opportunity as the daily bag limit for white geese and white-fronted geese during the late-winter hunt period (Feb. 20-March 10, 2010) has increased to 4 white and 2 white-fronted geese. Hunters in the special NW Oregon Permit Zone will notice decreased quotas for dusky Canada geese in all hunt areas and season periods.  This was in response to the lowest population estimate on record for these geese. The department reminds hunter to be sure of their target and never purposely shoot a dusky Canada goose. Other goose seasons remain liberal both in days and bag limits. 

Duck hunters should see similar or better hunting opportunities compared to last year. While overall breeding numbers were up across the Continent, numbers were down slightly in some areas of the Pacific Flyway. Ample spring and summer precipitation in many areas of Eastern Oregon should have bolstered duck production in Oregon’s most important waterfowl breeding areas.

In general, total ducks from major breeding areas in Alaska, Canada, Montana and the Dakotas increased 13% compared to numbers from the previous year. Mallard numbers increased 10% from the previous year while pintails showed a 23% increase. Only wigeon (-1%) and redheads (-1%) showed very minor decreases. Total pond numbers in these areas increased 45% from the previous year. Oregon breeding waterfowl surveys were conducted from late April through mid-May. Statewide, the breeding mallard population was down 6% compared to last year and down 25% compared to the 1994-2008 long-term average. Total breeding duck numbers in Oregon were down 17% from last year and down 32% from the long term average.

If you are new to the sport, see ODFW’s how-to hunt flyer for waterfowl.

2009 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey
(data collected from major breeding areas in U.S. and Canada)

Species

2009

2008

% Change
from '08

% Change
from LTA*

Mallard

8,512,000

7,724,000

+10

+13

Gadwall

3,054,000

2,728,000

+12

+73

American Wigeon

2,469,000

2,487,000

-1

-5

Green-winged Teal

3,444,000

2,980,000

+16

+79

Blue-winged Teal

7,384,000

6,640,000

+11

+60

Northern Shoveler

4,376,000

3,508,000

+25

+92

Northern Pintail

3,225,000

2,613,000

+23

-20

Redhead

1,044,000

1,056,000

-1

+62

Canvasback

662,000

489,000

+35

+16

Scaup

4,172,000

3,738,000

+12

-18

*LTA is long-term average.

 

  STATEWIDE UPLAND GAME BIRD OUTLOOK

Upland game bird populations can vary greatly from year to year. Generally, hunting has very little to do with the annual population fluctuation of upland game birds and weather conditions have everything to do with it.

The good news is that most upland bird counts are up over last year. Pheasant counts were 50% higher and chukar counts were 70% higher than in 2008. However, populations for many species are still at or below the recent 5-year average.

With the little impact by hunting, seasons are set under a 5-year framework. Hunters will see just a couple of changes this year.

In the past, Oregon’s pheasant hunting season has been conservative when compared to other states. This year, pheasant season will open earlier (to coincide with chukar and California quail seasons in eastern Oregon) and close later. Since only roosters can be harvested and late season birds are extra wily, Oregon will still have plenty of roosters to reproduce the following spring.

Fall turkey hunting opportunities in western Oregon have also been expanded. The number of first-come, first-served tags will increase from 3,000 tags to 4,000 tags. In addition, hunters will now be able to take two fall turkeys, though the daily bag limit will remain at one. The area for the western Oregon fall turkey season has also been expanded, with all but the extreme NW part of western Oregon available to hunters.

See below for a summary of statewide trends and visit the region links for more local information. If you are new to the sport, see ODFW’s how-to hunt flyer for mourning dove and upland game birds.

ODFW needs your wings and tails
If you are successful in taking a blue or ruffed grouse or mountain quail, please send us a wing and tail (see directions on page 40 of the Oregon Game Bird Regulations). The data collected during these efforts helps biologists accurately determine upland bird populations. There are wing collection barrels at various locations statewide, at ODFW offices (or just bring the wing during regular business hours 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.), or contact David Budeau or Brandon Reishus for instructions.

Hungarian (Gray) partridge: Hun production in eastern Oregon was greater than average, but Hun populations remain below the recent 5-year average. Morrow and Umatilla counties are reliable places to find birds. Huns can often been found near the tops of rolling hills, particularly on property enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program.

Chukar: Following drought-induced poor production in 2007 and correspondingly low fall population that year, chukar populations have increased in each of the last two years, with about a 70% increase in 2009 over 2008. However, chukar numbers are still below the recent 5-year average. Chukars are among the most “accessible” of Oregon’s bird with most being found on the arid and rugged BLM ground of eastern Oregon. Nearby water sources are often a plus for locating these birds early in the season.

California quail: Surveys in western Oregon suggest average California quail production and abundance. Most of Eastern Oregon saw increases in the quail population; however biologists in central and north-central Oregon counted fewer quail this summer. Overall, California quail numbers in eastern Oregon are expected to be up about 35% higher as compared to last year and should be near their recent 5-year average. Though these birds can be encountered out in the sagebrush steppe of eastern Oregon, they are most often associated with riparian areas and agricultural activities on both sides of the state. They usually have access to very dense cover.

Mt. quail: About 75% of the statewide harvest occurs in the southwest part of the state. Production in this region appeared to be fair to good with populations in western Oregon about the same as last year. The Umpqua and Rogue districts will be hunters’ best bet for Mtn. quail. Limited areas of eastern Oregon are open for Mtn. quail hunting. Hunters are reminded to check regulations for open areas where reduced bag limits are in place.

Pheasant: Statewide hunters should expect to encounter a few more pheasants this year over last. This summer biologists counted 50% more pheasants than last year with numbers now approaching the recent 5-year average. Generally, the better pheasant hunting will be found in the Columbia Basin and northern Malheur County. Most pheasant occurs on private land particularly in association with cultivation of cereal grains. However, some good pheasant hunting can be found on wildlife areas and National Wildlife Refuges. If you’re on the westside, take advantage of the fee pheasant hunts at wildlife areas.

Blue grouse: The outlook for blue grouse is mixed. Though biologists were seeing a decent number of good-sized broods during the course of their work, fewer grouse were observed on the standardized survey routes. Generally, hunters should encounter similar numbers of birds as compared to last year. Statewide, populations of blue grouse are improved over last year. These birds are generally found at higher elevations, many times on high ridges in mature forests with open understories.

Ruffed grouse: The story for ruffed grouse is similar to that for blue grouse.  In general, the production and abundance of ruffed grouse was average. Populations should be near the 5-year average for the state. Hunters should expect to encounter similar numbers of birds this year as they did in 2008. Ruffed grouse are widespread throughout the state and often found at lower elevations than blue grouse in mixed deciduous/conifer areas. Mountain riparian areas can also hold good numbers of these birds.

Sage-grouse: Surveys indicate that breeding ground counts for sage-grouse were up in 2009 and the birds appeared to have average production. Much of the sage-grouse range experienced unusually high precipitation during June with some areas receiving almost five times the normal amount of rain. This may have impacted some production and certainly influenced their distribution. Hens and broods are often attracted to wet meadows and high elevations during the summer, but the exceptional rainfall allowed the birds to remain scattered for longer periods of time. Oregon allows a limited entry controlled hunt for sage-grouse, the deadline to apply was Aug. 31.

Turkeys: Turkey production appears to have been hampered in some parts of the state by spring weather this year with fewer poults being observed. However, good numbers of birds can still be found especially in northeast and southwest Oregon where there are fall hunting opportunities. The number of general fall turkey tags for western Oregon was increased to 4,000 and the season bag limit was increased to 2 (still 1 bird daily). General season tags will go on sale Sept. 23. The deadline to apply for controlled hunt fall turkey tags is Sept. 15. Turkeys can be widely scattered during the early part of the fall season, but will generally move to lower elevations and congregate for the winter, often on private lands.

Mourning doves: Numbers of doves appear to be up in 2009, with numbers just above the recent 5-year average. In Oregon, weather often dictates the success of the season for these early migrants. Eurasian collared doves are continuing to increase in abundance and are found statewide. The Eurasian collared doves look similar to mourning doves but are considerably larger in size. These new arrivals, which are not native to the state, are now included in the bag limit along with mourning doves. Look for mourning doves in or near grain fields. Birds will often perch on wires or in dead trees near feeding sites. Sources of water and gravel bars in rivers can also be good spot to hunt doves, particularly in the evening.

Northwest Region Hunting Forecast

Southwest Region Hunting Forecast

High Desert Region Hunting Forecast

Northeast Region Hunting Forecast

For a word document of the entire forecast, email: Michelle.N.Dennehy@state.or.us

   

Contact:

Michelle Dennehy (503) 947-6022

Fax:

(503) 947-6009

 
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