Antler hunting season offers another chance to take to the woods
Oregon hunters are getting ready for another shot at that trophy buck deer or bull elk, but they wont be carrying rifles or bows into the woods and tags arent required.
Late winter through summer is shed season, that time of year when deer and elk toss off last years impressive headgear and start growing new crowns to impress the ladies and challenge each other.
And an increasing number of collectors are using the annual event as an excuse to get out of the house. Theres a certain mystery about antler sheds, as theyre called; especially large ones that evaded us during the hunting season and will soon be just laying about in a Coast or Cascade forest or across a windswept Blue Mountain ridge, waiting to be found.
Its kind of like a big statewide Easter egg hunt.
Human collectors craft furniture, chandeliers, baskets, handles, door pulls, racks and artwork from antlers or, sometimes, sell them by the pound ($8 to $10; ask your taxidermist) for commercial production.
Searching for large, trophy-class sheds can be competitive. One of the prized finds is both sets, left and right, from the same buck or bull.
A website preaches ethical shed-hunting, helps collectors score their finds and maintains a shed record book.
Kent St. Clair of Blodgett, west of Philomath, doesnt have to go far in his search for black-tailed buck antlers around the edges of Coast Range clearcuts.
I find a lot along watering and feed areas like creek bottoms, where they might have to jump, he said. Another good place to look is along fencelines, where even higher jumps might jar a spent antler loose.
Eastern Oregon mule deer and elk, to a lesser degree, hang out on south slopes this time of year to catch the most sunlight. Elk also avoid heavy snow, so look, too, across bare ridges close to timbered bedding areas.
Steve Clark of Corvallis, a Sandy native and fisheries graduate student at Oregon State University, avoids bedding areas because I dont like harassing them (the animals), he said. Finding sheds is just a matter of getting out and walking around. Its like finding a needle in a stack of needles.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, incidentally, agrees about the dangers of shed hunting near stressed deer and elk in some winter ranges and this past week announced the seasonal closures of several state-owned wildlife areas in northeast Oregon, through the end of March to mid-April.
Matthew Fiorito of Junction City hunts for deer sheds on ridges of the Cascades, but prefers to target Roosevelt elk sheds in the exact opposite locations.
Go to the same deep, dense, steep country you would hunt them, he said.
Fiorito, a logging engineer, said sheds carry bragging rights in the timber industry. Hes mounted several matched sets of Roosevelt antlers for his family.
Clark just puts his in his garage where he can look at them once in awhile.
For me, I just like getting out in the woods, he said.
World flyfishing premier: The Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T), has begun its 125-city, 2012 trek, with Oregon showings this week in Bend (Wednesday at the Tower Theater) and Portland.
The Portland show will be Friday at the McMenamins Bagdad Theater amp; Pub, 3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
The Fly Fishing Film Tour is like a Warren Miller ski extravaganza, except for fly anglers. Clips include world-class flyfishing venues (Alaska to New Zealand, Belize to the Bahamas), Ernest Hemingways favorite fishing holes, an artsy segment starring just insects and even a punk-rock band fishing in Wisconsin.
Tickets might still be available at the door Friday for $15, but the event typically sells out. Online tickets are available for the same price at theF3T.com, but the better deal is a $12 ticket at either Royal Treatment Fly Fishing in West Linn, not far from Interstate 205, or Northwest Fly Fishing Outfitters in Portland at Northeast 109th and Halsey.
Early bird drawing: Applicants for big game controlled hunt tags in Oregon who get their bids in by Tuesday evening will have their names entered in a drawing for one of 50 Sports Pacs for 2013.
The drawing, an incentive for hunters to apply early, will take place Wednesday, said the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Winners will be notified by mail. Another 30 Sports Pacs will be drawn from those who apply by March 15 and 20 more for an April 15 deadline.
The final deadline for all controlled hunt applications is May 15.