If there’s not a photo, it didn’t happen
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Big game reports updated monthly
Cougar (check current harvest numbers), coyote, black bear, general season buck deer
ANNOUNCEMENTS – fire closures, new regs to note
The modified check-in procedures adopted in 2019 will continue for the 2021 season.
Hunting and fire season: Know before you go
Early season hunts often take place during the peak of the wildfire season. Experienced hunters know to check for fire closures before their hunt. Bookmark this page – it has links to the most current fire closures and restrictions.
Hunting out of state? Don’t bring CWD home with you
Chronic Wasting Disease has not been found in Oregon yet and we’d like to keep in that way. If you’re hunting big game in a state that has CWD, please follow these precautions.
Please report elk with hoof disease
If you see elk showing signs of elk hoof disease, including lame or limping elk or elk with damaged, injured, missing or deformed hooves, please report it using this online form.
Coyote and wolf ID
NORTH AND MID-COAST (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw wildlife management units)
General deer, north coast: Deer numbers, as usual, appear to be moderate across the north coast units, with higher densities occurring in eastern portions of the Saddle Mtn., Wilson, Trask, Stott and Alsea units. Days with rain in the forecast tend to be better than “bluebird” weather for deer movement, with bucks becoming less wary and more active as the rut approaches.
General deer, mid-coast: Weather patterns have changed to fall rain showers and fire season has ended for west Oregon District. Deer hunting appears to be slow, which is normal for the first part of the season. As the rut kicks in deer should become more visible. Rain showers are in the 10-day forecast so deer should be on the move as blacktails love the rain. Pay attention to areas with early successional grass/forbs/shrubs adjacent to forest edges as these are the preferred habitats of black-tailed deer.
Cougar: The most productive way to hunt cougar on the north coast is to use a predator call. Hunters are reminded if they harvest a cougar, they must have it checked in to an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest. See the 2021 Oregon Big Game Regulations for details.
Fall bear, north coast: During the fall, bears may be active any time of day but will typically seek out shade during the hottest part of the day. As berry crops are now mostly gone, bears may be seeking cascara trees as well as any other trees that still hold fruit. Check forest roads for fresh sign and then concentrate on overgrown roads or spurs with little or no traffic nearby. Hunters are reminded if they harvest a bear, they must have it checked in to an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest. See the 2021 Oregon Big Game Regulations for details.
Fall Black Bear, mid-coast: Blackberry crop was excellent this year especially in clear cuts with brush. The berries are starting to mold and/or fall off but there are scattered berry patches throughout the area. Key in on these berry patch areas and look for signs of bear scat to increase your chances of finding a fall bear. Fall green up is also occurring so look for green grassy patches as well. Please call your local ODFW within 10 days of harvest to check in your bear head for biological sampling to help assist with bear management.
WILLAMETTE UNITS (Scappoose, eastern Trask, Willamette, Santiam, McKenzie, N. Indigo wildlife management units)
General season antlerless elk: Hunters are reminded to only purchase this tag if they know where they will be hunting since the hunt areas are nearly 100 percent private property. In 2020 there were 120 cows reportedly harvested in the Trask unit (hunters = 209) and 145 harvested in the Willamette unit (hunters = 419). Please refer to the ODFW maps page to review maps of areas where this tag is valid.
General deer and elk: Overall, tags sales slightly increased in 2021 compared to 2020, so hunters can expect more people in the woods with them. Hunters may find more space walking behind a gate on legally accessible land or scouting areas where they can distance themselves from a road.
General “Any legal weapon” deer season opened the first weekend of October. You can expect deer activity to ebb and flow with the weather, with activity picking up during cool, overcast and/or rainy days. Deer spend most of their time feeding in the late evenings and early mornings, although during cool or stormy weather they tend to be more active during the day than during warm, clear weather. You can expect mature bucks to become less nocturnal and more active during the day during the later portion of the season as the rut grows nearer.
Spend time glassing areas that have had a recent disturbance event such as fire or logging activity to locate deer. Generally, 3-10 years post-disturbance is the sweet spot for diversity of vegetation and available forage. There are fifteen units that changed their bag limits to “One buck with visible antler” last season. That change remains in effect this year as well. Hunters should refer to the regulations before heading out to familiarize themselves with the appropriate bag limit for the unit they are in.
Western general elk season doesn’t open until November, but October has some of the best days of the year for locating elk, while there is still some lingering rut activity. It’s never too early to get out and scout for your upcoming elk hunt!
Many Youth Elk hunts started on Aug. 1 and continue thru Dec. 31. Youth elk tag holders should check their 2021 Oregon Big Game Hunting Regulations on pages 53-54 for specific information.
Many local timber companies that typically allow some form of hunting access, such as Stimson and Hancock, have lifted their access restrictions now that the IFPL has dropped. While best to check directly with the company, Oregon Forest & Industries Council tries to keep an up-to-date list of corporate fire closures. However, many of the public lands affected by both 2020 and 2021 fires remain closed to entry.
Fall black bear: Typically bears are targeting berries and insects during this time of year for the bulk of their food sources. However, widespread drought conditions have withered some berries on the vine, so bears may be seeking out other food sources such as fruit trees, manzanita berries, and Arctostaphylos berries. Berries in the western coastal range have fared better than toward the valley. Additionally, many apple orchards are dropping fruit so bears may find themselves a nuisance on private properties or a hunter may find sign of use around old homesteads properties with remanent apple trees.
Hunters in the valley may find better success targeting areas where there has been better water retention such as riparian areas or where consistent watering is conducted such as private agriculture properties.
The Scappoose unit typically has low harvest compared to the Trask unit. The Santiam, McKenzie, and N Indigo all have good numbers of bears. Most are taken opportunistically while deer or elk hunting, so make sure to buy your bear tag before going hunting. There have been multiple bears checked in by archery hunters so far.
With the majority of the season’s berry crop now gone you can expect bears to be widely dispersed on the landscape in search of any remaining fruiting plants or carrion. Serviceberry plants tend to hang on to fruit later in the season than most other berries, so finding these plants could help you find bears. With the first fall rains now behind us, you can expect bear activity to increase.
Bear check-ins have been steady each week with hunters harvesting bears seen while hunting deer and while archery hunting.
Cougar: A productive hunting technique is to use predator calls to mimic a distressed prey species. Approaching cougars can be difficult to see when you are predator calling so hunting with a partner is advised. Similar to bears, most are taken opportunistically while deer or elk hunting. Make sure to buy your cougar tag before going hunting.