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Diet Food — In the off-season, many hunters turn to small game such as rabbits. Rabbits can be hunted year-round. Cottontail rabbits live in a variety of habitats such as sage, agricultural lands and low-elevation forest. Their larger cousin, the varying hare (snowshoe), prefers dense pole patches or brush in higher forests. Rabbits are a very good choice for those wishing to shed a few pounds after the Thanksgiving feasts. Frantically chasing these speedsters over hill and dale is great exercise and their meat is very low in fat and cholesterol and higher in protein than both beef and poultry. They’re a very renewable resource and their ingredients don’t contain words you can’t pronounce.” JIM WARD photo
OPEN: COUGAR, BEAR (ends Nov. 30), CONTROLLED ELK HUNTS (in some units), UPLAND BIRDS (see regs), WATERFOWL
Grouse — 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 re-nested, 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 — Open through today. 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. Remember to ask for permission before hunting on private properties.
Grouse — Based on our grouse wing collection barrels, Union County is above the 5-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 – Open through today. Bear reports and check-ins have continued to decrease over the past few weeks. 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.
Cougar — 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.
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. Waterfowl hunting has been fair to good. Recent storms have improved water conditions and increased waterfowl numbers.
Most wetlands have good water for hunting. 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
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 car dash.
Forest Grouse — Blue grouse in mid to upper elevations are using trees most of the time. Lower elevation blues can still be found on grassy ridge tops.
Waterfowl — Local goose numbers are good and geese can be effectively hunted with decoys in agricultural fields. Ducks numbers are increasing 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 for hunters. 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.
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 under Hunting) or call 1-866-947-6339. Hunters who fail to report 2012 deer and elk tags by the deadline (Jan. 31 for most hunts) will be fined $25 when they purchase a 2014 hunting license.
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, screen their calls or don’t provide phone numbers.
Wolves and coyotes can look alike
Most wolves in the state today are in northeast Oregon but a few have dispersed further west and south. Wolves are protected by state and/or federal law and it is unlawful to shoot them.
Coyote hunters need to take extra care to identify their target because wolves can look like coyotes, especially wolf pups in the mid-summer and fall. ODFW appreciates hunters’ assistance to establish wolves’ presence in Oregon.
Report any wolf sightings or wolf sign to ODFW using the online reporting system.