Lower than expected deer numbers in many parts of the state, disease and encroachment from developements all wait to greet Oregon deer hunters this year. There are few bright spots in the upcoming Oregon deer season, making scouting all that more important if you plan on bringing home the venison.
Finding Clearcuts May be the Key to Finding the Deer
In many of the hunting zones, deer numbers on Public land is down and deer numbers on private land are slight up. Many of the State's biologist give the credit for this to logging. Due to the "tree hugger" mentality that plagues many Western states, there are fewer and fewer logging operations taking place on Public lands and this is impacting the big game herd not only in Oregon but other coastal states such as California and Washington.
On private land where logging is allowed, there's more browse in the clear cuts that will support more deer. Hunters will do well to find an area with mixed age clearcuts and old growth timber. The more different types of habitat you can find, the better.
Disease Affecting Oregon Deer Numbers
Blacktail and Mule Deer numbers are down this year in Oregon with some blame going to the deer hair loss syndrome. This disease is affecting deer populations from Washington to California and hitting the Blacktails especially hard.
This disease is primarily affecting deer populations below 1800 feet. No news as to why this is the case, but hunters heading out should be aware of this and adapt their scouting accordingly.
The Bright Spot For Oregon Deer Hunters
If there is any encouraging news for Oregon deer hunters, it's that the buck ratio's are up in many areas of the state.
The North Coast biologist are seeing buck ratios from 21 to 37 bucks per 100 does. In the Central part of the state, buck ratios range from 16 to 21 bucks per 100 does.
In the High Desert areas, a mild winter and good spring green-up was expected to bring big numbers for Oregon deer hunters, but this hasn't been the case. Biologist are placing the blame on average to slightly lower numbers on the increase in Coyote populations and rapidly expanding developements. Biologist say Coyote numbers in Harney County are at a 10 year high which has resulted in poor fawn survival rates.
The bottom line is that Oregon deer hunters will have to get smart if they hope to score this year. Their scouting habits will have to change and they'll have to be smart about where and how they scout. As one Oregon biologist put it,
“Hunting someplace ‘because we’ve always hunted here’ doesn’t work anymore.”
Well said. That's not only good advice for Oregon deer hunters, but for deer hunters anywhere. I wish all Oregon hunters a good year and hope for the best!