EXTREME FIRE DANGER IN EFFECT WITH TOTAL CLOSURES OF PRIVATE TIMBERLANDS IN OREGON
This is NOTHING new to archery hunters here in Oregon. We get blessed to have an early hunt compared to other states. BUT! That comes with a huge price. Fire dangwer is usually high to extreme. It is extreme this year and will likely remain there all through the early season. Here is what ODF&W has to say about it....
ODFW does not close hunting seasons due to fire danger. However, hunters may face restrictions and reduced access to private lands during fire season.
Most public lands will be open to hunters during fire season, except there may be restrictions (see most common ones below). Some roads and areas on public land could be closed off due to current fires or firefighting activity.
Private landowners may close their properties to ALL access or have restrictions (such as no camping). See more information about private lands below.
It is each hunters’ responsibility to know access conditions and restrictions before heading afield. Here are some helpful places to find this information:
- Oregon Department of Forestry Click on any area in the map to see a list of fire restrictions in areas protected by ODF. Click within public lands areas to find out the land manager and contact info.
- US Forest Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- InciWeb (Current fires and fire-related closures in Oregon)
- Corporate Closures (pdf) (covers several private industrial timberlands in Oregon)
- Rogueweather fire report
Here are some of the most common fire restrictions according to ODF:
- Campfires are either prohibited or only allowed in approved campgrounds in many areas.
- Smoking and off road driving is also prohibited in most areas, which includes motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.
- Vehicles must have either a gallon of water or a fully charged and operational 2½-pound fire extinguisher and shovel (except when travelling on state highways or county roads).
- ATVs must have a charged and operational 2½ pound fire extinguisher.
More about access to private land during fire season
Landowners in Travel Management Areas or involved in ODFW’s Access and Habitat program still have the right to close their lands during fire seasons. These landowners typically pull even their own contractors and workers (e.g. loggers) off their property when fire danger reaches a certain level. Ultimately their first obligation is to protect their property from the damage caused by a devastating fire.
Hunters can help keep landowners in the program by taking good care of the private property they use to hunt. Respect gate closures and travel restrictions, don’t litter and leave no trace.
Southwest Oregon has a range of habitats supporting diverse game populations. Steep, forested hillsides along the coast and through the Siskiyou Mountains can make finding game challenging. But active timber harvest practices and forest fires create the forage habitats used by deer, elk and bears. The Cascade Range is very similar with its dense Douglas fir forests. Recently harvested tracts of timber or a burned forest will make finding your quarry easier.
Southwest Oregon is a checkerboard of public land. Numerous Access and Habitat projects open industrial timberland for hunting.
JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES (Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon, and Sixes)
Deer: Archery deer season began on Aug. 25. Hunting success in 2017 decreased slightly from what it was in 2016. This upcoming 2018 season should be around the same success or better. With the cooler weather forecast and fewer fire closures hunter harvest has the potential to be greater than that of last year. Remember that deer in the Dixon, Rogue and Evans Creek unit typically are at high elevations during the summer and as fall approaches they migrate down to lower elevations; however, there are resident deer on the valley floor year-round. In the Applegate and Chetco units deer that are present at higher elevations usually only move when pushed out by severe weather. Remember when heading out this archery season that many areas here in southwest Oregon are at a fire danger level of Extreme, which imposes restrictions based on the land you are hunting on. Visit the US Forest Service or Oregon Department of Forestry websites for more information.
Elk: General Archery Elk season opened Aug. 25 for any elk in the Applegate unit and lands outside of the US Forest Service’s National Forest boundaries in the Rogue, Dixon and Evans Creek units. Within the National Forest boundaries in the Rogue, Dixon and Evans Creek unit as well as the entire Chetco and Sixes units hunting is restricted to bull elk only. Always refer to the 2018 Oregon Big Game Hunting Regulations before heading out to hunt. This is expected to be an average harvest year with a slight increase in hunter success in 2017 compared to the previous season. During the first part of the season when the weather is warmer look for elk in the cooler drainages as well as on north facing slopes. Finding and sitting on active wallows and other water sources can be very productive in hot weather. Remember when heading out this archery season that many areas here in Southwest Oregon are at a fire danger level of Extreme, which imposes restrictions based on the land you are hunting on. Visit the US Forest Service or Oregon Department of Forestry websites for more information.
Fall black bear season started August 1. Hunters can expect another good year. The Applegate unit has historically had some of the highest harvest in the state so focus your efforts there; however the Rogue and Evans Creek can also be very productive. Huckleberry patches at high elevations and blackberries at low elevations seem to be a good place to start your search for bears feeding in early morning and late evening. Fawn calls can also be a useful tool when trying to harvest a bear. Here in Southern Oregon you are allowed two fall bears by purchasing your SW Additional Fall Black Bear tag, this tag is good for all of units 20-30. Remember that there is a mandatory check in of your bear skull at an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest, and the skull must be unfrozen. In addition if you harvest a female bear you must turn in the entire reproductive tract to ODFW. See page 61 in the big game hunting regulations for more information.
Youth Antlerless Elk seasons began Aug. 1 in many areas across southern Oregon. These are controlled hunts that give youth a long, low-stress hunting season in which they can hopefully harvest an elk. Elk this time of year are generally up in the national forests foraging in dark timber. As summer ends and weather gets more severe they generally move down to lower elevations that boarder private land. September can be a very productive time as elk are typically more vocal and even cows can come into an area that you are calling from.
Cougar season is open statewide year-round or until zone quotas are met (see zone quota page). With the upcoming elk and deer seasons remember to purchase your cougar tag since majority of the cougars are harvest while in pursuit of other species. There is a mandatory check in of all cougars harvested within 10 days of the after harvest; the unfrozen skull, hide, and proof of sex must be taken to an ODFW office during normal business hours. If a female cougar is harvested it is also mandatory to bring in the reproductive tract in order to gain valuable population data. For more information refer to page 64 of the 2018 Oregon Big Game Hunting Regulations.
Western gray squirrel: Open year-round. There is no bag limit or closed season in that part of the Rogue unit south of the Rogue River and S Fork Rogue River and north of Hwy 140. See page 65 of the 2018 Oregon Big Game Hunting Regulations for more information. And yes, you can take squirrels with archery equipment. This can be a real challenge. Try it if you have not.
Coyotes are abundant in our area. Remember to ask for permission to hunt on private lands. Hunter can find coyotes around meadows and brush piles where mice and rabbits are found. Predator calls are very useful when used in conjunction to known prey base. Test your identification skills with ODFW’s new Coyote and Gray Wolf ID Quiz.
DOUGLAS COUNTY (Dixon, S. Indigo, NW Evans Creek, Melrose, SW Siuslaw, E. Tioga and NE Powers Units)
Elk: A few controlled elk hunts opened Aug. 1.
Black bear: General bear season opened Aug. 1. Hunters can expect an average year. The dry weather conditions will concentrate bears near streams where foraging will be better. Berry crops are coming in good this year, but will most likely dry out early with the current weather patterns. Glass clear cuts and meadows early mornings and late evenings to find bears taking advantage of these food sources. Bear numbers are good with the highest numbers in the coast range, and with smaller populations in the Cascades.
Remember that there is a mandatory check in of your bear skull at an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest, and the skull must be unfrozen.
Cougar: The cougar season is currently open. Look in areas adjacent to agriculture and within areas of higher concentrations of deer. When fresh tracks are found, set up and call with either mouth or electronic predator calls.
Cougars are abundant throughout with indicators pointing to stable or increasing numbers. Hunting cougar is a challenge because these animals are very secretive, but harvest success is greatest adjacent to private land with high deer populations using a predator call.
Coyote: Numbers are strong throughout Douglas County. Using predator calls to lure them in can be an effective method for harvesting coyotes. Try calling in early morning and late afternoon. Be sure to ask permission before hunting on private land.
Test your identification skills with ODFW’s new Coyote and Gray Wolf ID Quiz.
COOS COUNTY (west Tioga, west Powers, north Sixes, southwest Siuslaw)
Hunters need to be aware that ownership of several timber land parcels in Coos County has recently changed. In some cases the new owners have different access policies than their predecessors. Make sure you know what the policy is before accessing private land and don’t assume the policy is the same as prior years.
Coos Mountain Access
The Coos Mountain Access Area went into effect Aug. 25 and will be in effect, year around for the next three years. This is the newest Access Area in Oregon and encompasses about 63,000 acres in the heart of the Tioga Unit. Within this Access Area most of the arterial roads are open for motor vehicle access and many, but not all, of the secondary roads are open for foot or bike access. This new Access Area was created in response to some private landowners in the area expressing a willingness to allow public access in a way that is compatible with their land management goals.
Lands within Coos Mountain Access Area provide excellent opportunities for big game and upland gamebird hunting and viewing. Roads that are open to foot or bike access also provide great opportunities to hike or use mountain bikes in conjunction with hunting and viewing in an area where those opportunities are not plentiful. Roads open to motor vehicles are marked with green dots. All other roads are open, only to foot or bike access. For information on Coos Mountain Access Area , contact The Charleston Field Office at (541)888-5515. Maps are available.
Fall bear: The fall black Bear season opened Aug. 1 and will run to Dec. 31. What tends to determine whether the bear season is a good one, in terms of hunter success, or a not-so-good one is blackberry availability. If the blackberry crop is a good one bears will concentrate their attention and time on eating berries which gives hunters an advantage because the bears become predictable. This year looks like a good berry year so hunting should be too. Most hunters find success by hunting isolated berry patches where bears go to feed and are not disturbed by vehicle traffic. Many times patches like this can be found on the edges of clear-cuts or at the end on decommissioned roads. Bears will be most active in late evenings, making that the best time to hunt. Early mornings can be a good time to find bears, too.
Archery deer and elk seasons opened Aug. 25 and run through Sept. 23. Reproduction for deer and elk populations in Coos County have been high enough for populations to remain stable in most units. Buck ratios are a little lower than in some years but adequate for good hunting. Bull ratios have been above management objective for several years. So, hunting for both should be good this year.
Deer hunters will find deer in young clear-cuts where grass is growing. Since little rain has fallen this summer water availability will be an important factor influencing deer distribution.
Elk will be gravitating to north slopes where conditions will be cooler and moister, and food sources will be attractive to them. As with deer, water availability will be an important factor to consider this season for finding elk herds.
Coyote: Numbers are strong throughout Coos County. Using predator calls to lure them in can be an effective method for harvesting coyotes. Try calling in early morning and late afternoon. Be sure to ask permission before hunting on private land.
Test your identification skills with ODFW’s new Coyote and Gray Wolf ID Quiz.
Cougar: Hunters can expect an average year. Cougars are abundant throughout with indicators pointing to stable or increasing numbers. Hunting cougar is a challenge because these animals are very secretive, but harvest success is greatest adjacent to private land with high deer populations using a predator call.