NEWPORT — The Coast Elk first season begins Saturday, Nov. 9, and runs through Nov. 12, while second-season riflemen will get their crack at a visible antler Nov. 16-22.
Oregon’s elk are one of the most sought-after species for hunters and the second most popular game animal after deer. Rocky Mountain elk are found in eastern Oregon, and Roosevelt elk are found in western Oregon with most concentrated in the Coast, Cascade and Blue Mountain ranges.
Experienced hunters recommend a .30 caliber Spitzer or boat tail bullet of 150 to 180 grains for elk that can reach 1,000 pounds, compared to the 130-grain weights more suitable for deer. Leave the 30-30 at home and hunt with a more substantial 30-06, .300 magnum or other heavyweight ordnance that will get the job done.
‘Still hunting’ is a successful method of finding elk. It’s a misnomer of a name, since this technique includes slowly moving through a habitat. During the hunt, constantly monitor the wind to keep it in your face, look for sign and anticipate your next move. Elk hunting is a game of patience, and the more time you spend in the woods the better you’ll get at this slow-moving stalk.
With still hunting, use the terrain and foliage to your advantage. Don’t be tempted to move through open areas. Instead, follow low spots in the land and never ‘skyline’ yourself. When pausing, use trees, foliage and shadows to your advantage.
Besides bullets, you won’t want to leave behind binoculars. Even in heavy timber and brush, specs come in handy for spotting hard-to-see body parts otherwise concealed: the flicker of an ear, the horizontal back or belly line of an animal, and the features of the rack.
If your bullet hits an elk and it’s still standing, keep shooting. Never take your eyes off the animal or the location where it was standing. Elk are big animals and can take multiple shots to take down.
If the animal takes off, mark your reference point and walk to the spot. Search for blood or hair where the animal was last seen. Look for freshly turned dirt and blood as you go. Sometimes blood may not appear for 50 yards or more, especially if the lungs were missed.
Successful elk hunters are being asked to take a small tissue sample — a piece of meat about the size of a nickel — place it in a Ziploc bag with records of the harvest date, location, wildlife unit and gender, then place it in the freezer. Samples can be dropped off at the Newport ODFW office in South Beach at the hunter’s earliest convenience to be included in a current study.
Hunters should refer to the 2019 Oregon Big Game Hunting Regulations on pages 38-39 for elk regulations and the included units for further information.
Meanwhile, upland bird season opened Sept. 1 for western Oregon blue and ruffed grouse, California and mountain quail, and continues through Jan. 1.
Forest grouse on the central coast includes sooty (blue) and ruffed grouse. While both species are associated with conifer forests, sooty grouse occupy the higher elevations of the coast range, especially ridge tops, while ruffed grouse are most commonly seen at mid to lower elevations of forest habitats, including riparian areas. Due to the relatively warm and dry nesting season, game managers report that hunting should be good this year for these birds.
Mountain quail season runs concurrently with the forest grouse season on the central coast, and hunting is likely to be very good due to dry conditions during the nesting season. These birds are most commonly found in brushy clearcuts, especially those with a south-facing aspect.