Guide to Deer Hunting in Oregon

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"Guide to Deer Hunting in Oregon"
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People who have never hunted in Oregon may wonder why it has such appeal to deer hunters. Certainly the numbers of deer have something to do with it, but there is much more to it than just the growing deer population.

A little more than half the state of Oregon is forested, and much of what is left is high desert. Both areas provide great deer habitat and tremendous hunting opportunities. Even in the Willamette Valley, which has the majority of the population for the state, has a large population of deer as well.

Some areas are rugged and difficult to get to, however for many deer hunters this is ideal since it tends to mean there are fewer deer hunters in the area. However, since the greatest human population in the state is in the Willamette Valley, primarily between Eugene and Portland, much of the state has few hunters for the acres of land suitable for deer hunting. If you draw a line through the state, east to west, so it intersects the town of Bend, nearly all points south of that line will have large populations of deer and plenty of areas to hunt, regardless of the type of hunting you prefer doing.

Part of this last is because of the different species of deer inhabiting the state. In the area east of the Cascades, which is high, dry, and mostly pine forest, giving way to scrub and grassland, mule deer roam in sometimes surprisingly large herds. Mule deer sometimes get to a considerable size. Bucks in excess of 300 pounds are now much more rare than they were a century ago, but there are still quite a few around.

This area is also where a hunter is most likely to encounter distance shots. In most areas, there isn't a great deal of dense underbrush, and in the extreme east part of the state, grasses and low scrub dominate the land. Consequently, a shot of less than 100 yards is rare, but those for 300 yards or more are not uncommon.

The country on the west side of the Cascades receives a great deal more precipitation, so dense underbrush is common. This is the domain of the black tail deer. Generally quite a bit smaller than mule deer, black tails are also more populous since the land, especially with the greater abundance of plants, can support more deer. Bucks are seldom over 150 pounds, and sub-species of black tail living in coastal regions can be half that size.

For hunters in the western areas, it is unusual to have a shot over 100 yards, due to the underbrush. Shots of fewer than 50 yards are fairly common. This is an ideal area for the deer hunter who prefers brush hunting, though the deer are a little harder to see.

The Cascade Mountains present different challenges and opportunity for the deer hunter. In this area, the mountainous forests tend to be fir and hemlock, and the mountains make navigation in and out a little difficult. However, it is also a place where black tail and mule deer populations overlap and sometimes interbreed. It is also one of the most beautiful areas in the state.

Some areas of the state also have flag tail or white tail deer, so there is something for nearly everyone.

Oregon also has a multitude of campgrounds deer hunters can use, and many of them are either free or low cost. Note that for unimproved sites, be sure to obey the fire laws as deer season tends to be one of the driest times of the year.

Be sure to check the game synopsis each year. Commonly, some hunting units will be closed for hunting, while in others there may be special regulations. In some, there may even be some limited doe tags available, though these are usually chosen by lottery. Also, there is more than one hunting season. There is a season for bow hunters, one for black powder hunters, one for rifle hunters, and somewhat later, there is also an Elk season.

If you like deer hunting, Oregon is a great place to do it. One long time deer hunter known personally by the author went deer hunting yearly for 47 years and failed to bag a deer only once. That occurred when he got to camp, came down with the flu, and spent the week in camp trying valiantly to recover.

The deer are here, they are multiplying, and they are waiting to be taken. Remember, this helps keep the herds strong.

More about this author: Rex Trulove

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