We chose the last 10 days of the season to hunt in the Wallowa Mountians of North Eastern Oregon. The Hunting area is above 4000 feet and is subject to spring snow storms. The weather had been warm the last few days. My son, Pat and I have hunted this Unit off and on for the last 15 years.
The area we hunt is owned by a private timber company, which allows hunting as part of a limited access agreement. They have logging in progress, whenever the area is accessible. All roads except the main access roads are closed during the hunting seasons to motorized vehicles, with the exception of the loggers. So
travel is limited to horses, bicycles and walking.
Drawing a bear tag for this unit is about an every other year event for party tags
This Unit supports a good number of game animals, with Mule and whitetail
Deer, Elk, Bear, Cougar, Coyotes, Turkeys, Grouse and now Wolves.
With travel being limited, most of the hunting is walk and stalk. Tree stands and
ground blinds are also used. Bicycles will get you to the less hunted areas, be prepared to do a little pushing here and there. Horse camps can be set up as well.
Fortunately the access roads have been here a number of years and hunters have
made camps where possible, you look and find one suitable for your needs.
The hunting party arrived Friday afternoon. chose a place to setup camp. There
are four of us this year. Camp consists of a fifth wheel trailer. a pickup camper
(both self contained) and two tents. I setup an equipment tent, so extraneous
stuff can be out of sight and the weather. I unload my camper, so that I can use
the pickup to haul bikes, hunters and game when needed.
Where we camped, there is access to hunting spots in 360 degrees with logging roads and trails in and out. Logged areas have all been replanted, with little fuel
left on the ground. Lots of forbs and grass for deer and elk. Ranchers run cattle in
the Spring and Summer and usually pull them out before hunting season.
Preparing for a dual hunt (Bear and Turkey) was interesting. We each had a rifle
for bear and a shotgun for turkey. Deciding what to pack around all day proved
to be a problem. I didn't want to lug a 13 pound rifle up and down the terrain we
would be covering. I figured that since we would not be getting into creek
bottoms or low wet areas, I would pack just my shotgun. The rest of the party had
newer packs that accommodate packing a rifle or shotgun on your back.
The next morning it was decided to take a hike and scout for bear and turkey
sign. Fortunately most of the terrain we chose is only moderately up and down,
because this is a six mile hike. With continued logging there is no established
pattern to animal behavior. During the first half of the trek, we saw little in the way of game, other than a couple of whitetail does. We usually make a big circle
so we don't cover the same territory. On the way back to camp, a gobbler cut
loose with a loud gobble. We setup as quickly as possible and tried to call him in,
with no success. That evening we tried a setup to call coyotes, they were around but didn't come in.
The second morning we awoke to two inches of snow on the ground, cold and the
wind was blowing. Good day to rest up from yesterdays trek. Snow was gone by
noon and the afternoon was spent setting up turkey blinds and decoys for the late afternoon hunt. Pat had one answering his call but wouldn't come in. we decided to change our turkey location. Spent the rest of the day calling Turkeys,
had a couple of answers. Looks kile our setup isn't just right.
The third morning was another trek day, hardly out of camp and over on the ridge
was a herd of fourteen elk followed by a half dozen whitetails. On down the trail
were four mule deer. But no bear or turkeys. Got back at camp about noon, I
decided to drive to town and pick up some water and other supplies. Going down
the mountain was uneventful. On the way back about 3 miles from camp, the road follows the creek, I spotted movement in the creek. It turned out to be a
cinnamon colored bear. By the time I could stop, get my rifle and load it, the bear
was out of the creek and up the ridge. Darn! too many trees and too steep.
no shot there. Oh to be twenty years younger.
The fourth morning was more eventful, leaving camp and walking down a haul
road. Note: The haul roads are usually covered with rock, so we walk on the
adjacent trail, three or four feet off the rocks. The animals don't like walking on the rocks either and it's much quieter. The clearing ahead had four whitetails in
it, stopped and glassed it carefully for bear and turkeys. There were a couple of toms in the lower portion of the clear cut. My son Pat went down the hill side
after them and caught up with the gobblers on a wide bench and managed to
harvest a nice big tom.
The rest of the hunt was devoted to hunting turkeys, shooting marmots and glassing
the creek bottoms for bear. Turkeys seemed to hang out with the deer and elk.
If the big animals got spooked, the turkeys left with them.
Hunting results = one Turkey, no Bear, good Camp and lots of memories.
P.S. Pat and I drew tags to rifle hunt Buck Deer this year, in this same unit.
Pat and Jeremiah