Storm a boon for buck hunters

A mule deer buck like this would get almost any hunterĂ¢s heart racing. The buck hunting season starts Saturday. (Baker City Herald file photo/S. John Collins)

The weather, which so often fouls things up for deer hunters, looks pretty friendly this fall.

The season's first significant storm is scheduled to arrive late

Friday, less than a dozen hours before thousands of buck hunters awaken

from dreams of four-points.

This cold front should create nearly ideal hunting conditions for

Saturday's opening morning of the season, which continues through Oct.

15 in Eastern Oregon.

"It's looking good," said Nick Myatt, district wildlife biologist at

the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Baker City office.

"If the weather continued like it was yesterday (Wednesday), hot and dry, it wouldn't be a very fun deer season."

The storm, which is forecast to plunge temperatures from this week's 80s into the 50s and spawn rain or even snow above 6,500 feet, should aid buck hunters in two main ways, Myatt said.

First, dramatic weather shifts tend to prompt deer to move about throughout the day. On hot, dry days the animals are apt to hunker down during daylight.

Second, rain and snow will soften the tinder dry limbs and twigs that litter the forest floor. These will, when stepped on by even the most light-footed hunter, snap with a crack that any deer within half a mile is likely to hear.

Moisture will partially solve that dilemma and allow stealthy hunters to move around with confidence.

Although frigid conditions and deep snow conspired last winter to kill many deer in Baker County, buck numbers are still decent, Myatt said.

Also, the county's population of whitetail deer is growing, adding variety to the typical domination by mule deer.

Most whitetail live on private land, but there are small herds on public property near Phillips Reservoir, Myatt said.

He encourages deer hunters who fill their tag to bring the deer carcass, or just the head, to the local ODFW office for a chronic wasting disease test. To set up a test, call the office at 523-5832.

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