Washington and Oregon Deer Hunting Forecast for 2014
October 01, 2014
Deer hunters in Washington and Oregon enjoy an amazing variety of opportunities, with a big range of hunting terrain and with mule deer, blacktails and whitetails available in different areas. We'll break things down geographically to help you know what to expect when you venture afield this fall.
Blacktail deer on the north coast (Saddle Mountain, Wilson, western Trask wildlife management units) experienced a fairly mild winter and average spring, with an extended period of warm, dry weather in early May through early June. While deer densities are only moderate, good survival of bucks from last season should give hunters a decent opportunity, especially in the Wilson WMU. Deer densities tend to be highest in the eastern portions of these units.
Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mountain, western Alsea, north Siuslaw), deer numbers appear to be increasing. Buck numbers in most areas are fair to good. The growth of vegetation has been exceptional this year, and the deer are in good condition. The best deer hunting opportunities are the central and eastern portions of the Alsea unit and Siuslaw unit; deer numbers decline closer to the ocean.
Deer populations in Coos County appear to be stable, with some increase seen in the north Sixes Unit and portions of Tioga. Decreased prevalence of deer hair loss syndrome has resulted in better fawn survival. Buck survival last season appeared to be fairly high as well. Hunting prospects are good in all units; however a large percentage of private may limit hunter access in some areas of the Powers and Sixes units.
Deer populations remain similar to last year with large numbers on the Umpqua Valley floor and lower populations in the Cascades and Coast ranges. Fawn ratios have been good for the past 10 years, with good overall deer recruitment throughout the county. Buck ratios are similar to last year. so hunters should expect to find a good number of legal bucks if they work clearcuts and other places that have brushy habitats.
Jackson, Josephine, Curry Counties
The fall deer hunting outlook in Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties looks good. Deer counts have been stable for the past three years, with buck ratios remaining strong. Acorn surveys throughout the area show variation in acorn abundance. The spring had less rainfall, resulting in reduced brush. Hunting is expected to be average for all of our units. Most deer will be in high elevations through September.
Over-winter survival was good in all units, with overall fawn numbers up from last year. Buck ratios are still at or above management objectives. The body condition of animals should be excellent with the early rains producing forage later than usual.
Deer populations in Grant County continue to be below management objectives. Grant County experienced a dry summer and warm fall, which led to slightly lower than normal fawn ratios going into this winter. Late rains did help produce decent fall green-up in the valley.
Deer in Heppner are stable to slightly increasing, with good buck ratios. Adult deer survived the mild winter well, but fawn survival was down from last year. Hunters should find decent opportunities throughout the unit.
Deer in Union County survived the winter reasonably well this year, and hunter success should be good this year. Deer appear to be in excellent physical condition due to high quality forage resulting from a wet spring.
Hunting should be average. The winter and spring were dry, but rains in June helped mitigate some of the looming drought effects. Ukiah and Walla Walla are good places to get a buck as numbers are good. West Mt. Emily has traditionally produced bigger bucks, but recent population declines have reduced buck numbers.
Despite a relatively mild winter, deer numbers remain low in all of the units, with this past year's fawn survival having been lower than desired. Predation on adult deer and fawns continues to hold deer populations well below management objective levels. Hunters can expect to see fewer yearling bucks this year, but adult buck ratios have remained stable. There should still be opportunities for older age class bucks for hunters willing to spend the time and effort.
HIGH DESERT REGION
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, especially on private land. There is limited public access within the Deschutes Canyon. A good map is essential for success.
Buck numbers in the White River corridor are on the rebound, and good recruitment over the past couple of years should continue to increase hunter success.
Deer hunters should find decent prospects for a buck this fall. Buck ratios are near or above management objectives in all Prineville District units. Rifle buck tag numbers 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.
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 law 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.
Following the mild winter, overwinter fawn survival was fairly good. However, the fall fawn ratio was lower so there were reduced 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, except for the Keno Unit, where tags were increased slightly due to a good spring fawn ratio and high buck ratio.
Buck ratios were at or above management objective in all units. Fawn recruitment was below maintenance, which means there will be fewer yearling bucks in the population. Therefore hunter success is expected to be slightly below average.
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.
Most of Malheur District experienced an extended January cold snap that was hard on wintering big game. The cold snap, combined with an extremely dry summer and fall, caused deer to enter winter in poor body condition. Therefore, fawn recruitment was low throughout the district.
Total deer numbers and buck numbers were still at objective levels when the post-hunt flights were conducted in 2013. The 2013 season showed good success, so 2014 buck numbers may be down slightly. Hunter success will be a function of weather conditions during the hunting season. Hunters who draw late-season quality buck hunts will have an excellent opportunity to get their mule deer.
Winter conditions were favorable for mule deer in Chelan County this year. However, the lack of snow cover made it difficult to conduct aerial surveys. Overwinter survival will likely be good. Surveys showed buck ratios at objective levels. The number of mature bucks in the population remains above average. The 2014 season should be a good one, barring summer drought and major wildfires and if the fall weather cooperates. Hunters who draw late season quality buck hunts will have an excellent opportunity.
Post-hunt deer surveys were up dramatically following the 2012 hunting season. Surveys after the 2013 season were more along the lines of the long-term average, although some routes continued to show an increase in total deer numbers. Fawn per doe ratios were higher than average at 73:100, and buck ratios were at population objective. Those hunters who are lucky enough to gain access to private lands in Douglas County in 2014 will likely have another successful year.
In GMUs 272, 278, 284 and 290 hunter success rates averaged about 27 percent (range 18 to 39 percent). Post-hunt buck to doe ratios are at objective levels, with at least one unit hitting the highest since 1996 (29 bucks per 100 does). Mature buck numbers are down, but recruitment of young bucks into the older age classes seems to be strong, a result of good production. Game Management Unit 290, which is a limited-entry, special-permit unit, had post-hunt buck numbers consistent with the long-term average for total bucks and for mature bucks. Gaining access to hunt private lands is the key to hunting mule deer in the Columbia Basin.
Post-season buck ratios increased this past winter to 26 bucks per 100 does with an average fawn ratio of 51:100. Expect there to be a higher number of legal bucks in 2014, with a higher percentage of 3-year-old and older bucks than in the recent past. Survey areas are predominantly in the private land agricultural/grassland areas. Information for the higher elevation forested areas within the district is limited, but nothing points to an increase or decrease in those lower density mule deer populations.
Klickitat Mule Deer/Blacktail Deer Transition Zone
It's been a pretty mild winter in District 9. Harvest data for 2013 showed an uptick in the deer harvest in all three of the Klickitat GMUs. Taken in aggregate, it's reasonable to expect an average or slightly above average deer harvest in 2014.
The post-hunt fawn ratio was 61 fawns per 100 adult deer, slightly above the 35-year average of 50 fawns per 100 adults. The total number of deer classified was down due to unfavorable survey conditions. The prevalence of the hair-loss syndrome was quantified during the survey. Hair-loss was observed in just 2 percent of the classified animals and was most common in fawns.
White-tailed deer are still recovering from the severe winters of 1997 and 1998. Harvest has been gradually increasing in District 1 over the past two years, a trend that should continue in 2014. Fall surveys for the past two years also yielded slightly higher buck to doe, and fawn to doe ratios. Recent moderate winters have likely contributed to increased overwinter survival of deer in District 1. While check stations are currently not mandatory, an increase in harvested deer checked in 2013 likely indicates increasing hunter success.
General season harvest for 2013 was down only slightly across the district over the previous year. Weather and forage conditions have been favorable. We expect the deer population and harvest to remain stable.
White-tailed deer in the southeast District are stable but doing well. Private lands access is the key to hunting white-tails in the southeast, where agricultural lands provide the best opportunities.
Blacktail deer are stable on a region-wide basis, with localized fluctuations. Population fluctuations mostly relate to local forest management. Deer populations do well the first few years after a timber harvest, but when canopy closure occurs as the new trees grow older, the shade-intolerant forage plants are reduced. On a region-wide basis, blacktail deer harvest has been fairly consistent, and that should remain true this season.
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For access to more current deer hunting information for both Washington and Oregon please go online to the links listed below.