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OPEN: COUGAR, BEAR, ROCKY MTN ELK (General Second Season opens Nov. 3 in some units), UPLAND BIRDS (see regs),
Avoid $25 penalty fee — report your deer and elk tags.
You need to complete a hunter harvest survey for each deer, elk, pronghorn, cougar, bear and turkey tag purchased — even if you weren’t successful or didn’t go hunting. Report online at www.reportmyhunt.com (or at ODFW’s website
This penalty was put in place because after several years of “mandatory” reporting with no penalty, just 41 percent of tags were reported on time last year. The information provided is critical for setting tag numbers and seasons—information that’s become more and more difficult to get through traditional phone surveys because hunters have moved, screened their calls, or don’t provide phone numbers.
OPENING WEEKEND ELK: Snowy conditions throughout the season in mid and high elevations made hunting conditions exceptional. Overall district success rate averaged 11 percent.
GROUSE: Grouse season started Sept. 1. Blue grouse can be found in the higher elevations while ruffed grouse are more common in wetter areas. Hunters should expect an average year for grouse, many birds renested, so there are some young birds that are still fairly small. Successful hunters are asked to place the tails and wings from harvested birds in the collection barrels
COUGAR: Cougars can be found throughout Baker County but hunters should target areas with high concentrations of deer and elk. Setting up on a fresh kill or using distress calls can all be productive techniques. Hunters are required to check in the hide of any cougar taken, with skull and proof of sex attached.
BEAR: Fall bear hunters should focus their efforts on areas with a good food source. Hawthorn, huckleberries and plums are favored by bears in the early fall. All successful hunters are required to check in the skull at an ODFW office. See page 36 in the synopsis for details.
COYOTE: Coyote numbers are good throughout the district. Try calling in early morning and late afternoon. Ask for permission before hunting on private properties.
1ST ROCKY MTN ELK SEASON REPORT: Cool temperatures and fresh snowfall made hunting conditions excellent. Most hunters were seeing elk and generally very optimistic about their opportunities. Hunter numbers were down in some areas and normal in other areas. Overall hunter success rate for district was 10 percent among checked hunters.
BULL ELK: Most elk are still distributed throughout the units. With a good calf survival last winter, more yearling bulls should be available to spike hunters. Starkey and Mount Emily bull ratios are at nine bulls per 100 cows while Catherine Creek is at 12 bulls per 100 cows.
GROUSE: Based on our grouse wing collection barrels, Union County is above the five-year average. Blue grouse can be found at higher elevations on ridgelines and canyon rims. For ruffed grouse focus on creek bottoms and moist areas in timbered draws. Blue and ruffed grouse season continues through the end of the year.
BEAR: The fall bear season is open. Hunters should focus their efforts in areas with high concentrations of berries or fruit trees. Pay special attention to huckleberry patches and old abandoned orchards.
Successful hunters are reminded that check in of harvested bears is mandatory. Refer to page 34 and 36 of the 2012 Big Game Regulations for more information.
COUGARS: Cougars are common in Union County. Focus on game rich areas with long ridgelines or saddles that cats typically travel. Setting up downwind of a deer or elk killed by a cougar can be productive. You need to be extremely patient and wear camo when calling cougars as they come in slowly and use every bit of cover as they approach.
Using remote calls will focus the cat’s attention away from your blind. Above all, do not move. Their eyesight is excellent. Nonresident hunters can include a cougar tag with others tags for $14.50. All cougars taken must be checked in within 10 days of harvest. Call for an appointment before coming in.
COYOTE: Coyote numbers are good throughout the district. Try calling in early morning and late afternoon. Remember to ask for permission before hunting on private properties.
LADD MARSH WILDLIFE AREA
Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area is open Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and the following holidays, Veteran’s Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Day during pheasant, quail, partridge and waterfowl seasons. Visitors are advised to carefully read posted signs and consult game bird regulations before entering the wildlife area. Early season waterfowl hunting has been fair to good. Water levels continue to improve with cooler temperatures and some precipitation.
All wetlands west of State Highway 203 have water. Hunters should watch local weather reports for high winds near Ladd and Pyles canyons. This generally means good hunting conditions at Ladd Marsh.
Upland hunting has been good for pheasants and quail. Nesting conditions were good for both this year. Hunters should be advised that vegetation on the wildlife area is extremely thick and dogs are highly recommended.
New this year, a parking permit is needed for Ladd Marsh. Hunters get the permit free with their purchase of an annual hunting license. Display the permit on your vehicle’s dash.
1ST SEASON ROCKY MTN ELK REPORT: The opening two days had occasional snow with depths to 8 inches at higher elevations. Snow fall was heavy the morning of Oct. 25. Hunting conditions were good and hunting success was good. Overall district-wide success rate was 10 percent.
BULL ELK: Elk in the Imnaha and Minam units are beginning to move to lower elevations. Chesnimnus and Snake River units have good numbers of branch bulls available for hunters. The Sled Springs and Imnaha spike hunters are expected to have fair to good hunter success.
BLACK BEAR: Hunting for bear early and late in the day will provide hunters the best opportunity to observe bears. Bears are using draw bottoms feeding on hawthorn and service berries. Spot and stalk hunting will likely provide the best opportunity for harvest.
FOREST GROUSE: Upland game bird brood counts indicate blue grouse numbers are low with fewer than normal number of broods. Ruffed grouse numbers appear to be down as well, although hunters should have better luck finding ruffed grouse than blues. Riparian areas along creek bottoms are good bets for ruffed grouse.
WATERFOWL: Local goose numbers are good and geese can be effectively hunted with decoys in agricultural fields. Ducks numbers are beginning to increase and are scattered with open water throughout the valley.
COYOTE: Good numbers of coyotes can be found throughout Wallowa County. Calling coyotes with rabbit distress-type calls has been effective. It is important to choose areas with abundant coyote sign and little human activity.
COUGAR: Cougar numbers are strong throughout Wallowa County. Most lions are taken incidental to other hunting. However, calling with fawn bleat, or locating a cougar kill and waiting for a cat to return are often successful techniques.