The Baker County press. (Baker City, Ore.) 2014-current, January 02, 2015, Image 7

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    FRIDAY, JANUARY 2, 2015
Outdoor Rec & Sports
What happened to all the rabbits?
more than
one box of
shells be-
cause it was
common to
see many
of rabbits
through the
flats and up
the draws.
older people
will tell you
that cotton
By Steve Culley
tail was often
on the menu.
a winter-
I started seeing dead
rabbits on the highway be-
tween Richland and Baker
this year.
Thanksgiving Day usu-
Not many, but a few.
had a cottontail hunt
I even saw a jackrabbit
Culley boys.
or two during the daytime.
mom was glad
I suppose that doesn’t
of the way
seem like something of
note to anyone who can’t
remember the sixties.
Day dinner.
But really, back in the
One of my earliest
day, jack rabbits and cot-
was of my dad
tontails were part of every
with a
country boy’s existence.
If you felt boredom
I can remember him
coming on, a .22 and some
that they hunted
sagebrush was the cure.
Love Reservoir and
Especially in winter with
but the last
snow on the ground was
a hole
the best of times.
get it and
You had better take
make an even hundred.
It would absolutely
scare the socks off the new
bunch of law enforcement
people and the Portland
liberal, but as kids in our
teens we would drive
around the alfalfa fields
on winter nights and shoot
boxes of .22 shells as we
spotlighted the waves of
rabbits that came in from
the sagebrush.
Kids running free with
firearms, after dark! My
God! We need to ban that
A month or so ago I
was coming back from La
Grande and stopped at the
rest area just north of Cul-
ley Lane.
I was looking over the
old homestead and started
having a conversation with
guy who was walking his
little dog.
I told him: It was on a
sagebrush, right here, in
1956 or 1957. Wasn’t any
freeway and an old dirt
road wound its way across
that flat down there up to
that spring over there that
we used to call the Jenkins’
place. My dad was mow-
ing some alfalfa and I had
my .22. As the mowed
part grew and the standing
hay got smaller scores of
cottontails were trapped.
Sam O Swim court turns
into ice skating rink
As part of what has
become an annual tradi-
tion, the basketball court
in the parking lot just
outside the YMCA’s Sam
O Swim Center was hosed
down with water earlier
this week—just prior to the
subzero temperatures.
The public is welcome
to bring their boots and
skates, and go slip slidin’
Visit the Center at 580
Baker Street in Baker City
or call (541) 523-8328 for
more information.
Anthony Lakes snow report
I shot a lot of shots and I
think I got a few. I re-
member being there when
mom and dad strung some
barbed wire and there were
sage-grouse chicks flying
up, but that is another
So what happened to the
rabbits? I returned from
Viet Nam and Okinawa in
the fall of 1967. It wasn’t
too long after that, maybe
the next summer that I was
out in the hills with my .22
and started seeing rabbits
that were sick. I shot a
couple that had big sores.
They died off and you
never saw rabbits for quite
In previous years they
would die off and then
come back. The local
wisdom was that they ran
in seven-year cycles.
That has been interrupt-
ed since the 70s. That is
why I mention the fact that
I see dead rabbits while
crossing Virtue Flat. Not
many, not the dozen that
would be on the highway
every morning in the rabbit
glory days—but a few. A
So why is this impor-
tant? It was during the
rabbit years that we had
the deer years. Anybody
who grew up in eastern
Oregon in the 60s remem-
bers what real deer hunting
I haven’t read it, but
have talked with George
Keister, Dick Humphries’
replacement at ODFW.
George wrote some stuff
on how the lack of a rabbit
buffer between coyotes and
deer fawns has affected
deer numbers.
I spent some time on
Virtue Flat in a blind
watching sage-grouse and
filming them. At night you
can hear the coyotes work-
ing the leks. When rabbits
aren’t available, the pups
still need to eat.
Who knows all the im-
pacts of the rabbit die-off
Evidently the die-off af-
fects all of the west.
What did it?
I will venture my guess.
Although die-offs were
part of the past cycles they
didn’t last.
Personally I think the
answer will be found in
globalism. We like to
trade and get rich but the
microbe is global too,
especially with the flying
incubators of today.
Like West Nile virus that
I think came in on some
parrots to a New York Zoo
and spread nationwide. I
suspect a new bug—dif-
ferent from the native
tularemia— that native
rabbits and hares have no
resistance to.
We should really study
that because the native
sage-grouse is becoming
controversial as it declines
in number for various
I suggest that a lack of
alternative food sources for
predators is one reason.
Editor’s Note: We would
like to thank Richland’s
Steve Culley for submit-
ting this guest column this
week for “The Outdoor
Column.” Steve was born
in Baker to pioneer stock
with ancestors at Auburn
in 1862, Malheur City,
Mormon Basin and Eagle
Valley. He was raised on
a ranch just north of what
is now Culley Lane. He
says he hunted and fished
Northeast Oregon from the
time he was old enough to
walk behind his father or
Starting next week,
reporter Todd Arriola will
take this column and run
with it, writing a new in-
stallment twice per month.
Guest columns for those
in-between weeks are
—ODFW Recreation Report—
Chukar, Hun, and California Quail - The season opens Oct. 11 and ends Jan. 31,
2015. Hunters should expect another season very similar to last years. Chukar numbers
are still low for the county, however quail numbers showed a slight increase from last
Grouse - Blue grouse can be found in the higher elevations while ruffed grouse are
more common in wetter areas. Hunters should expect an average year for grouse.
Successful hunters are asked to place the tails and wings from harvested birds in the
collection barrels.
Cougars can be found throughout Baker County but hunters should target areas with
high concentrations of deer and elk. Setting up on a fresh kill or using distress calls can
all be productive techniques. Hunters are required to check in the hide of any cougar
taken, with skull and proof of sex attached.
Coyote numbers are good throughout the district. Try calling in early morning and late
afternoon. Remember to ask for permission before hunting on private properties.
Photo Courtesy of Anthony Lakes.
As of December 31, 2014, Anthony Lakes reported the following conditions:
New Snow (24 hr): 0”; New Snow (48 hr): 0”; Base Depth: 49”; Temperature:
2 degrees; Conditions: Clear, calm; Groomed Runs: Broadway, Bert’s, Holi-
day, Trouble Creek, Variety, Lower College, Grouse, Vista, Road Run. Updated
reports can be found at
Elk visible at NP feed site
The Elkhorn Wildlife
Area, nestled below the
east crest of the Elkhorn
Mountains, is best known
for the Rocky Mountain
elk and mule deer herds
that frequent the area
during the winter.
When snow covers the
ground, ODFW staff feed
elk and deer to encourage
them to stay in the higher
elevations and out of the
agricultural fields in the
valley below.
The area is not open
to hiking, camping, etc.
at present, but there are op-
portunities for viewing and
photographing the herds.
A wide variety of smaller
mammals and birds can
also be seen at the site on
any given day.
For more information
about the Elkhorn Wildlife
Area at 61846 Powder
River Lane in North Pow-
der, call (541) 898-2826.
BULL PRAIRIE RESERVOIR: rainbow and brook trout. Remains open all year. Ap-
proximately 200 trophy rainbow trout were stocked on Sept. 23. The reservoir has
frozen. Proceed with caution, ice may be too thin to support anglers.
GRANDE RONDE RIVER: steelhead. Anglers have recently reported good steelhead
fishing on the Grande Ronde. Howeve , flows have jumped to very high over the wee -
end and will make angling a more difficult until flows subside. nce flows drop angling
will continue to produce well throughout the winter. Boating will be much easier for both
rafters and drift boaters. With cooling water temps look for fish to move to calmer water
where they can conserve energy while holding. A healthy proportion of two salt fish has
resulted in a large average size this year. So, expect a few larger fish and some screa -
ing drags! Remember, only adipose-fin clipped rainbow trout may be retained and al bull
trout must be released unharmed.
HOLLIDAY PARK POND: trout. Remains open all year. Trophy trout were stocked on
Sept. 23 and should provide good fishing for the remainder of t e year. Proceed with
caution if pond is iced over. Ice may be too thin to support anglers.
IMNAHA RIVER: Steelhead. Anglers are still making successful steelhead trips to the
lower Imnaha. Flows jumped over the weekend and are falling which is the best time to
get on the fish. Anglers have reported catching fish on both fly and conventiona gear.
Try using gear that’s a little smaller than your used to when water temperatures are low.
JOHN DAY RIVER: Steelhead. Heavy rains over the past weekend have made the
John Day high and muddy. Steelhead fishing is expected to be poor until flows recede t
2000 cfs or below. Then the steelhead should be scattered from the mouth up to Kimber-
ly. ODFW encourages all anglers to keep any ad-clipped steelhead taken in this fisher .
All wild (adipose intact) steelhead must be released unharmed.
UMATILLA RIVER: steelhead. Steelhead fishing was good last week with ower river
anglers averaging 3.0 hours per steelhead caught and upper river anglers averaging 4.1
hours per steelhead caught. High flow over the weekend made the river unfishable for
several days; the river has dropped and is clearing in the Pendleton area. Steelhead are
distributed though out the system. Anglers are find best success using bobbers and jigs
and drift fishing for steelhead. Anglers should consult the synopsis for detailed regula-
WALLOWA LAKE: rainbow trout, kokanee, lake trout. Some rainbow trout are still
available and tagged fish are occasionally being reported. Trout have been caught with
a variety of methods but a simple rig with PowerBait has been most effective. If the cold
weather continues and the lake freezes, ice fishing can be good for both kokanee and
trout. The lake was stocked with tagged rainbow trout in an effort by ODFW to better
understand the utilization of this fisher . Tagged fish have been caught at very high rates
and over $2,700 in rewards have been paid.
WALLOWA RIVER: steelhead, mountain whitefish. Reports of successful steelhead
trips have been surprisingly consistent for steelhead. The best time to catch steelhead
on the Wallowa is normally late winter or early spring, but there are enough fish being
caught currently to keep anglers interested.
— Random Acts of Kindness —
Each week The Baker County Press
will include a list—all anonymous,
of course—of the good deeds and
random acts of kindness people from
around the area have witnessed. To
include something you’ve seen or
experienced, email News@TheBak- with “Random
Acts of Kindness” in the subject line.
We’ll be sure to include your story.
• I left my purse on the bottom of a
shopping cart that was overloaded to
begin with. I unloaded the top and
forgot where I’d stuffed it. I wheeled
the cart over to the place they stack
them, and started walking back toward
the car. I hadn’t even gotten there yet
when a gentleman came running after
me, swinging my purse in front of
him. It didn’t match his outfit at all!
I’m kidding. What a nice guy.
• I am grateful for the man who gave
me the job tip. I didn’t even know the
place he said was hiring. Thank you.
• So there was a mom and two little
kids ahead of me in the grocery line.
Ahead of them was this older man. He
just finished buying a bunch of groce -
ies and along with it a couple of those
potted flowers they sell. Well this
mom was completely frazzled, and
the kids started crying. Then this man
turns around, hands the flower pot to
the mom and says, “Merry Christmas.
I always buy two. One for whoever’s
behind me. Here take it.” It took her a
minute to get over it but she did.