McKenzie River Reflections - Make the McKenzie Connection!



August 15, 2012

McKenzie River area hunting opportunities


Deer and Elk Updates


Deer taken in McKenzie UnitNate Burman of Albany, Ore. was 14 years old when he took this deer during a youth hunt in the McKenzie Unit.

– Photo by Steve Burman –

Hunters can thank the mild winter for good over-winter survival in many elk herds, though the dry fall sent calves into winter in less than ideal body condition in parts of the state.

Elk populations continue to be mostly stable in Oregon, though some districts are still experiencing low calf survival. See the reports from each district for more details.

The bowhunting cover girl for the 2012 Big Game Regulations, Amanda Alexander, took another elk in 2011! So did her husband, Ira—four elk in two years for the couple. Read their full story here see all the photos from their hunting trips at ODFW’s Facebook page:

The Alexanders shared these elk hunting tips with ODFW:

* Get in shape before hunting season—so you’re ready for long hikes and heavy packs if an animal is taken. “In 2010 we did all the packing out ourselves—it took six hours to debone and bag up both elk and then eight straight hours and three trips per person to get the meat out of the woods back to camp.”

* Practice often with equipment so you are confident in your equipment and your shot.

* Study your hunting spot before going afield. Use, Google Earth, good BLM maps (which can be ordered) and download the topo maps to GPS. Also review statistics from the annual state Fish and Game manual to help decide which zone to apply for or where to hunt.

* Look for an area with lots of public land or property open to hunting—the bigger the better so there are more places to roam.

* Look for feed and water for the animals you will hunt.

* Look for road access or trail access. Some road access is fine but not too much. “You can’t just drive around on a quad and look for elk. Maybe you can for deer but in my experience, the elk hear that from far away.”

* Hunting elk is completely different than hunting deer. “It’s more like hunting a big turkey during the rut. Spot and stalk.”

* Look for wallows, old rubs, scat and other signs of elk.

* Put on the miles. Keep moving, slowly of course. Keep looking with binos or spot scope. And when you spot something miles away, don't be afraid to go after it.

* Learn how to be silent and keep the wind in your face. Not letting elk see or smell you is half the battle.

* Get in range and make your shot count. If all the practice and homework is done your chances increase dramatically. Right place at the right time always helps too!

* Leave the area the same as your entered it (no tire tracks or fire pits) to keep the hunting environment as natural as possible. “When we were cutting up our elk from our 2010 hunt there were elk just a few hundred yards away feeding and a nice bull screaming. We just were there doing our business not making too much noise or attention. The herd was able to do their thing. It was amazing to watch.”



Deer with radio colarA radio-collared black-tailed deer in Western Oregon. It’s legal to harvest an animal with a collar, but please return the collar to ODFW.

– Photo by ODFW –

Black-tailed deer hunting continues to be challenging, especially on public land, but hunters have some factors working in their favor this year: Most districts report good buck survival from last year, a decrease in Deer Hair Loss Syndrome and good spring vegetation growth due to rains.

ODFW is working on better estimating black-tailed deer in western Oregon. These deer are secretive and live in dense forests, making them difficult to count. Successful western Oregon deer hunters are asked to return deer teeth which are used in population modeling efforts. See this flyer for directions on how to remove a tooth and return it with your name, address, date of kill, species killed, sex of animal, and wildlife management unit or hunt where harvested to: ODFW Wildlife Population Lab, 7118 NE Vandenberg Ave, Adair Village, OR 97330. Pre-paid, pre-addressed envelopes for teeth are available at ODFW offices and many license sales agents. Hunters that submit a tooth will receive a postcard from ODFW with information about their animal after about nine months.

Hunters could also encountered radio-collared deer. It is fine to harvest a collared deer but please return the collar to ODFW.

Reports are mixed for mule deer in eastern Oregon. Many districts saw good fawn survival due to the mild winter, but overall fawn numbers going into the winter were low. Some districts are in a drought while others got plenty of rain. See the regional reports for more information.

ODFW continues work on the Mule Deer Initiative, an effort to reverse the trend of declining mule deer numbers focused at first on five units (Heppner, Maury, Murderers Creek, Steens Mountain and Warner).  Projects include predator control, habitat improvement and increased law enforcement. An update on the effort will be available later in the fall.

Oregon Big Game Forecast 2012

By Jim Yuskavitch/Oregon Hunters Association


Brian Wolfer, district wildlife biologist for the South Willamette Watershed District, which includes the McKenzie Wildlife Management Unit along with portions of the Indigo, Santiam, Siuslaw and Alsea units are seeing the same decline in deer numbers caused by reduced logging on national forest lands, while numbers are going up on private timberlands where active logging is occurring. Buck ratios, though, are very good at 25:100, which is what he is shooting for.

 “If you find a place where there are deer, you have a good chance of getting a nice buck,” said Wolfer. For hunters headed for the High Cascades, he recommends looking for areas that burned in wildfires between three and 10 years ago, which is where you are likely to find the best deer habitat and biggest concentrations of deer.


8x9 Roosevelt elk taken by winner of Western Oregon elk raffle hunt“Elk are much the same story as deer,” said Brian Wolfer referring to the west slope of the Cascades and east side of the Coast Range. “They are doing better on private timberlands and ag lands than on national forest.” But he reports they have got some big bulls on his district.

“During our surveys we saw a lot of big bulls,” he said. “There are definitely large bulls out there — five- six- and seven-point bulls.” Bull ratios are in the high teens, well above the 10:100 management objective.

Joseph Rutledge of Gaston, Ore. with the 8x9 Roosevelt elk he took as winner of the 2008 Western Oregon elk raffle hunt.

Bear and Cougar

In the summer and fall, bears follow the ripening schedule of various berry species and hunters who seek those places out will have the best success.

Although cougars are found throughout the state, the highest populations are in southwestern and northeastern Oregon. While some hunters specifically target cougars with predator calls or track them after a fresh snowfall most cougars are taken by hunters incidentally while after other big game species.

Sign up online for free youth upland bird hunts

Girl hunter with pheasant


Meagan Jansen of Tigard with a pheasant she got at last year’s EE Wilson Wildlife Area youth pheasant hunt.

-Photo by ODFW-



Youth hunters (age 17 and under) can sign up for free upland bird hunts taking place at 12 locations across the state in September.

To register, sign up online, at a license sales agent, or at an ODFW office that sells licenses. (Two of the locations, Fern Ridge and Ladd Marsh wildlife areas, don’t require advance registration.) The hunts are free, though youth hunters need a valid hunting license ($14.50) and upland game bird validation ($8.50) to hunt. Only youth already certified in hunter education are eligible to participate.

New this year, registration is through the license sales system rather than by phone and opens in early August rather than Sept. 2, which should give kids and their families more time to plan. Call the numbers listed with each hunt below if you need more information about a particular hunt.

To sign up online, do the following:

    * Go to the license sales page.

    * Enter the Hunter/Angler ID (ODFW ID#), last name and Date of Birth of the youth hunter. (If the youth hunter has never purchased an ODFW document, choose “New Customer” under the “Hunter/Angler ID#” drop down arrow.)

    * Select green “Register for a Class” tab.

    * Verify your customer information.

    * Select Youth Upland Hunt tab.

    * Select hunt of choice.

    * Continue through the checkout process.. It is not necessary to bring the receipt to the youth pheasant hunt.

ODFW and partners stock pheasants at these special hunts that give youth a head start on regular hunting seasons. Quail and dove can also be hunted. All regular bag limits apply. (Bag limits will be listed in the 2012-13 Oregon Game Bird Regulations available later in August.)

Most clinics begin with a free shotgun skills training session and have trained hunting dogs and their handlers available to accompany participants at the event.

An adult 21 years of age or older must accompany the youth to supervise but not hunt. Both hunter and supervisor must wear a hunter orange hat, eye protection and a hunter orange vest—equipment provided by ODFW to anyone that doesn’t have it. Hunters need to check in and out of the hunt. Only federally-approved, non-toxic shot is acceptable for use in many places; see pages 22-23 of the 2012-13 Oregon Game Bird Regulations (available later in August) for more information.

While most areas have a hunt both Saturday and Sunday, youth hunters may only sign up for one hunt. They are welcome to hunt stand by on the other day.

   The nearest clinic will be held in Eugene (Fern Ridge Wildlife Area): Sept. 8, 9. No advance registration needed, hunters can begin checking in at 6:30 a.m. at check station in Nielsen Rd parking lot. Call 541-935-2591 for more information.

Contact: James Reed, Hunter Education Coordinator, (503) 947-6016, [email protected]

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