Deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 30

September 28, 2006 12:00 am
Statewide, 25,000 hunters hold tags to pursue deer starting this Saturday, including 3,000 tag holders for units located in Baker County. The season continues until Oct. 11. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife).
Statewide, 25,000 hunters hold tags to pursue deer starting this Saturday, including 3,000 tag holders for units located in Baker County. The season continues until Oct. 11. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife).

By JAYSON JACOBY

For deer hunters, Saturday morning is sort of like trick-or-treating on your birthday, which also happens to be Christmas.

There's a bit of anticipation involved, in other words.

The annual buck deer hunting season starts Saturday, and although most calendars ignore the event, as a holiday it's certainly of a similar caliber as, say, Columbus Day.

If, that is, you're among the 25,000 or so hunters who were fortunate enough to draw a tag, during the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's lottery last spring, that allows you to hunt bucks in one of Northeastern Oregon's 25 units.

That roster includes about 3,000 hunters in Baker County's four units: Sumpter, Pine Creek, Keating and Lookout Mountain.

Based on the deer census that state biologists conducted in March, hunters ought to see some bucks in Baker County.

Little bucks, in particular.

The ratio of fawns to adult deer in the county this spring was the highest in at least 15 years.

About half of those fawns now have antlers.

Although last week's rainy weather prompted Forest Service and BLM officials to cancel most restrictions on campfires and off-road driving, two areas that were scorched by wildfires earlier this month remain closed to the public and thus off-limits to hunters.

The smaller of those areas — about 500 acres — is on the east slopes of Red Mountain, about 18 miles northwest of Baker City. The closure area is just south of the North Powder River (the primitive road along that river, which is popular among hunters, is open).

The larger area is in the Fish Lake area north of Halfway, where the Clear Creek and Twin Lakes fires burned more than 11,000 acres in early September.

Sections of several hiking trails also are closed in that area, as are two spur roads — 66-400 and 66-410 — that connect to the Fish Lake Road.

Detailed descriptions of all the closures are available on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest's Web site: www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/conditions/index.shtml

The hunting season continues through Oct. 11.