Western Hunting Journal, Premiere Issue whj001_premiere - Page 21

Tyler Henscheid with an Oregon Roosevelt bull elk. Best OTC Roosevelt Elk Hunts R oosevelt elk are considered one of the hardest big animals to hunt due to the very place they call home: Steep coastal mountains rife with thick forest and nasty underbrush. Therein lies the draw for many archery and rifle elk hunters. When you put a bull down, it’s earned. Both Washington and Oregon offer some of the best over-the- counter (OTC) Roosevelt elk hunts in the West where 300-plus bulls roam. California has its own Roosevelt population, and the bulls harvested there are legendary; however, hunters must apply for tags through the state’s draw system leaving the best OTC opportunities in Washington and Oregon. WASHINGTON: In the Evergreen state Clallam County has historically produced the state’s biggest bulls. Six of the state’s top 20 bulls came from here, and in the past 10 years six of the state’s biggest bulls were killed in Clallam County. Grays Harbor and Pacific counties also present opportunities at 300- plus bulls, but not nearly to the degree that of Clallam County. Located on the extreme northwest tip of the state, Clallam County encompasses the Hoko (601), Dickey (602), Pysht (603) and Sol Duc (607) game management units, as well as a portion of the Goodman Unit (612). The Clearwater Unit (615) is an- other GMU that is known to produce good elk hunting opportunity. These units are also in the vicinity of the Olympic National Park, which is illegal to hunt in. Roosevelt elk numbers are considered healthy in Clallam County. Using harvest data, telemetry studies and mark-resight surveys wildlife biologists estimate there are 8,600 elk living in the District 16 and many of which use ONP as a safe haven. Successful hunters often scout animals migrating down from the high alpine meadows to lowland winter range. It is common to find elk herds leaving the park boundaries in the major river drainages, in particular the Clearwater River. These areas typically fall within private timber land, and many of the best habitat is gated. The rifle season here runs Nov. 4-15. The archery season, meanwhile, runs Sept. 9-21. All of the aforementioned units are man- aged for 3-point or better harvest regula- tions. These tags can be purchased over the counter prior to the season opener. OREGON: In Oregon, the Coast Range Moun- tains present the greatest opportunity to shoot a good bull. And while seven of the top 20 bulls killed in the Beaver state have come from Clatsop County, those bulls were taken in the 1940s and 50s. In the past decade, the trend has moved toward Tilla- mook and Douglas counties where eight of the top 20 bulls in the state have been killed, five and three respectively. Given the availability of tags and the lack of hunting pressure (relative, of course) Oregon’s North Coast presents itself as one of the best elk hunting opportunities in the state. Hunters who want to hunt Tillamook County will need to concentrate their ef- forts in the Wilson and Trask big game units. Elk numbers in these units are considered healthy in both units. Wildlife biologists esti- mate the elk herds in the Wilson Unit to be at approximately 7,500 strong whereas the nearby Trask Unit elk numbers are just under 10,000 animals unit wide. There is some road access available, most of the best ground is on private timber land. Many of the roads are gated. In Douglas County, hunters focus their attention on the Siuslaw, Melrose and Indi- go units. In Western Oregon, there are two rifle seasons in November. The first season is four days (Nov. 11-14) and any bull can be killed. The second season is seven days (Nov. 18-24) and only spikes can be harvested. The ar- chery season in Western Oregon, meanwhile, is occurs during the rut, it lasts 30 days (Aug. 26-Sept. 24). Any bull can be killed during the archery season. All of these hunts do not re- quire hunters draw controlled hunt tag; rath- er over the counter tags are available. ROOSEVELT TAG FEES WASHINGTON RESIDENT: $50.40; NON-RESIDENT: $497 OREGON RESIDENT: $46; NON-RESIDENT: $549 Why You Should Consider the 7mm-08 The 7mm-08 saw its birth back in the 1950s as a wildcat cartridge and it took a few decades until Remington brought it to market in 1980. Even with the round being in commercial existence for nearly 40 years, its pop- ularity rose significantly over the past decade. While it’s not a round you’ll find at any bench rest or precision rifle competitions, you’ll surely find plenty afield during hunting season. And for good reason. Versatility is the primary reason for the 7mm-08’s rise in popularity. Load it down with 100g to 120g bullets to hunt varmints and predators or go heavier with 140g or 150g bullets and hunt deer, elk, or bear. For those not wanting to own multiple guns, this caliber can do it all. Certainly, I can make an argument for owning multiple rifles in different calibers, but there’s no beating the versatility of this cartridge. With the round being based on the simple, yet inherently accurate .308, the 7mm-08 shares this affinity for accuracy. Whether it’s off the shelf ammunition or reloading your own, finding a load to shoot accurately generally isn’t any trouble. And if you’re a reloader, brass life is generally very good making this round very economical. The 7mm-08 will also do every- thing the .270, .308, and .30-06 will do, only will less recoil and in a short action. So not only can you reduce the overall weight of your rifle if extra ounces are a concern, but the reduced recoil makes it a round that the whole family can shoot. It’s a great round not only for men, but women and youth hunters as well. So the next time you’re in the market for a new rifle, consider the all-around attractiveness of the 7mm- 08. KEVIN MADISON www.westernhuntingjournal.com 19