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.
Over his years of chasing whitetails, A.J. Downs of Conroe, Texas, has taken a number of big bucks with his bow. But none of the other mounts in his trophy room can match the size, or the meaning, of the freak whitetail that fell to his arrow shortly after daylight on opening day of the 2012 archery season.
Thirty-five years of bowhunting have taught Bill Ullrich a few things about chasing whitetails.
Several seasons ago, Bill had made up his mind to take off work early to spend an afternoon in the woods, and he knew exactly which tree he was headed for that afternoon. He was almost to the tree when something told him he needed to turn around and, instead, opt for a tried and true setup he had long-ago named the 'œgood luck tree.'
One hour and ten minutes later, he realized that was the best decision he had ever made, as he watched his arrow bury to the nock in the largest whitetail buck he had ever shot at.
Bill Winke has earned himself a spot as one of the best Midwestern whitetail hunters of all time with this massive double G4 Iowa giant.
The huge Iowa non-typical Bo Russell took is testimony to the rewards of smart scouting and hard work. Not to mention being adaptable enough to overcome some outside interference — including a crew of archeologists!
Russell\'s giant had a gross score of 246 4/8 inches and a net of 231 4/8. That made him the second-largest bow kill entered from the 2012 season.
After many years of chasing the same buck and coming up empty, Brian Hollands\' luck finally turned around. On a fateful morning two seasons ago, Hollands not only found a lost little girl wandering the back roads of Missouri, he also found the buck of a lifetime.
Brian Herron fought numerous obstacles and setbacks to eventually bag this 184-inch bruiser.
The 16-point Daigle buck, scored by Boone & Crockett measurer Lonnie Desmarias, grossed a whopping 197 0/8 inches gross and netted 191 0/8 inches as a non-typical, breaking the existing Massachusetts state record by seven inches, according to the Northeast Big Buck Club records.
In 2009, Dean Partridge started having encounters and getting trail camera photos of a small 4Ã—4 whose back tines were a little bladed. There was nothing out of the ordinary at the time, so Partridge and crew carried on filming that fall and finished off the season. The next summer, he was back in the woods, checking to see which bucks had made it through the harsh winter. And much to his surprise, the buck that seemed ordinary had grown into an extraordinary buck with a large droptine that he aptly named "Droppy."
You need only skim the pages of the record books to understand why the majority of hunters pick the November rut as the prime time to hunt giant whitetails. Mature bucks are never a pushover, but they are more vulnerable when their nose is glued to the ground trailing an estrus doe. Fred Swihart proved, however, that you can have success outside the rut — sometimes it\'s just a matter of persistence.
Whitetail fate played its hand for Arkansas' Shane Frost in the big-timbered, fertile ground of the Black River Bottoms in Clay County. The ancient oaks and sloughs, in all their years, had likely never witnessed a more epic bowhunting scene, which ended with a 216-inch trophy on Frost\'s wall.
Garry Greenwalt teamed up with North American Whitetail\'s Gordon Whittington to kill this amazing Washington buck, known to Greenwalt as "The Ghost." Greenwalt spent a good deal of time tracking down the amazing 172-inch Washington giant, but it was all worth it.
It was mid-afternoon on Nov. 13, 2009, and Gary Morris of Winslow, Ark., was heading south out of Iowa. Driven by a haze of internal frustration, he was headed back to Arkansas six days early. The last three years of planning, anticipation and excitement for his Midwestern hunt had been stolen by an encounter with a 170-inch behemoth buck and a blown 12-yard 'œchip-shot.' After his miss, Morris thought about giving up bowhunting altogether. But it\'s a good thing he didn\'t.
With the help of her husband, Kevin, Ohio resident Lindsay Groom scouted this buck for two weeks before coming across its path again. Lindsay shot the buck with her crossbow at about 10 yards, but was unable to locate the buck.
After watching the kill shot again on film, the couple decided to track it the next morning, finding the deer just 30 yards away from where they stopped looking the night before.
Jeff Iverson hunted this particular buck for three seasons. In 2010, when the buck was a six-by-six typical, he missed a shot at it with his bow but Iverson\'s persistence eventually paid off.
On Nov. 14, 2012, the wind was right for hunting, and Jason decided to sit all day. At about 7:30 a.m., he heard chasing over the steep hill in front of him. Then a doe came running up the hill and went past him. Jason could hear grunting from the cedars below. It was the buck he had named "Cyclops."
With the buck at only 70 yards, Jason cranked up his scope and looked at the buck closely. Immediately he saw the glassy eye, and he knew Cyclops was his. It was a chip shot for his accurate .270 Win. After the shot, the huge buck only went about 75 yards before he crashed.
After years of hunting other people's property, Schmeidler finally got his own in 2010, when he purchased a 750-acre property consisting of river bottom cover and cropland. He immediately planted multiple food plots, his favorite being milo, and two seasons later, nine straight days of hard, smart hunting gave Schmeidler his trophy.
Despite one of the worst droughts in history, in July 2012 Jim Cogar's expectations for deer season in central Ohio were as high as ever. Trail cameras were set, mineral sites were established, and other attractants were strategically placed throughout the farm.
After discovering a giant on his trail camera, that he aptly dubbed Conan, Cogar set out on a mission to bag Conan before the end of the season.
It was Super Bowl Sunday before the opportunity presented itself to Cogar. As Conan led two young bucks down a hill, a distraction opened the door for Cogar to bag his buck of a lifetime.
Joshua Earp\'s Georgia giant scored 187 inches green, weighing in at 235 pounds, and was a great October surprise.
'œI've hunted 25 years for this," Earp said. "I give all thanks to God and my father for teaching me and introducing me to this sport I'm addicted to.'
Lucas Cochren killed an amazing 238-inch Kansas trophy, but it all started with a blood trail gone cold. Fortunately, Cochren stuck to it and bagged the trophy of his lifetime.
Mike Moran\'s Saskatchewan buck was a dream come true for the hunter who\'d spent 27 years looking for a deer of that quality. He finally got his wish one Thanksgiving day, an experience he won\'t forget.
Payton Mireles, age 10, of Indiana, with her first buck: a 154-inch bruiser.
Having two years of history with this particular buck, Rhett Butler was able to track where he had taken pictures of "Hercules." The deer seemed to be ranging over 1-1.5 square miles revolving around a 100-acre alfalfa field.
When the buck stepped out, Rhett put the crosshairs onto the buck's left shoulder and squeezed the trigger of his Winchester .270 bolt action. At the crack of the rifle the buck dropped in his tracks and never even kicked. The hunt for Hercules was over.
Killing the buck that had come to be known to the Taylors as 'œBig Daddy' was Robert's primary focus in the fall of 2012. He arranged his work schedule so he could be in a deer blind most mornings and afternoons during the waning weeks of the season.
After a sleepless night and an unsuccessful afternoon tracking a blood trail, Ryan Dietsch was sure he\'d squandered the opportunity of a lifetime. He and friends went back to track the deer he thought he\'d hit, but couldn\'t find so much as a drop of blood. His luck all changed, however, and the rest — along with his 219-inch trophy — is history.
Stanley Suda with his Southern Ohio buck, estimated between 235 and 240 inches.
"The shot was perfect," he said. "I watched my dream buck run across the field and pile-up about 20 yards inside the wood line. This was definitely my finest moment in the treestand.'