The next elk season for firearms opens Saturday, Nov. 6, and runs through Nov. 14. Here's a look at elk hunting from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, including information on the state's elk management objectives. The complete 2004 Fall Hunting Forecast includes information on deer, elk, bear, cougar, waterfowl and upland game bird hunting. It is available on disk, via e-mail, standard mail or on the Web at www.dfw.state.or.us. The ODFW's phone number is (800) 720-6339.
For information about Grant County, contact the Chamber of Commerce, 281 West Main St., John Day; (800) 769-5664; www.grantcounty.cc.
Elk hunters should expect a below-average to average year.
Murderers Creek, Northside, Desolation, NW Beulah: Calf recruitment was down slightly in Murderers Creek, Northside and Desolation units, but higher in the NW Beulah Unit. There are many bulls in all units with good representation of all age classes. Elk density is high in all three units. Northwest Beulah remains a quality elk hunt with elk numbers similar to the past three years.
Ukiah Unit: Calf ratios fluctuated throughout the unit with some very low ratios observed. Bull ratios also were irregular with some low ratios recorded in the southern end of the unit. Hunter success is expected to be lower this year due to poor recruitment. Elk continue to re-colonize the southern part of the unit, which they left after the Tower Fire in 1996. The dry summer weather also will concentrate elk through the fall if the dry weather pattern persists. Oftentimes elk are difficult to locate in drought conditions.
Keating, Pine Creek, Lookout Mt. and Sumpter Units: Elk numbers are similar to recent years. Because of large areas of private land in the Lookout Mountain and South Sumpter areas, all elk hunts are limited entry and hunts are designed to reduce elk populations.
For the other units, the second season will be general season spike-only. With post-season bull ratios in all units near or above the management objective of 10 bulls per 100 cows, success is expected to be good. Tag numbers are similar to last year.
Above-normal rainfall this spring has improved range conditions at mid to higher elevations.
How many elk are enough? What population best fits an area when all factors are considered?
Those questions and more drove the process when the ODFW began to develop elk management objectives (MOs) more than a decade ago.
Oregon's first elk MOs were adopted in December 1981. These covered 28 Big Game Management Units (BGMU) in Eastern Oregon.
In 1986, the initial MOs were re-evaluated and an end-of-winter Rocky Mountain elk population objective of 52,700 elk for the 28 areas east of the Cascades was established.
The MOs were based on late winter surveys and took the following into consideration:
Population survey data from the previous decade
Computer population modeling
Damage caused by elk on private property
Desires for hunting opportunity
No management objectives were established in western Oregon or in some central and eastern Oregon units for several reasons. These included inadequate census records in some units, elk herds expanding to new areas in some parts of the state, and active elk transplant programs that were under way in other areas.