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2017-18 Bird Hunting Forecast


General Overview | East Region | West Region | Full Report (pdf)


Turkey Hunter
Dogs Sophie (on left) and Max and me on a bird hunting trip in the Deschutes
-Photo by Mary Hanson-

East Region

Upland Game Bird

BAKER COUNTY

Upland game bird production was lower than last year’s due to the harsh winter conditions. California Quail and chukar counts were much lower than last year. The surviving birds did have good reproduction and chicks were of good size, and broods were generally large. Chukar numbers dropped from about 60 birds per 10 miles to about 20 birds this year. Quail had it a little tougher and they dropped from 13 birds per mile to 1 bird this year. Sportsmen should expect to see quite a few less birds than the last two years in the Baker District with birds more scattered than past years. A&H properties offer good upland hunting and access to public land.

CROOK AND JEFFERSON COUNTIES

Hunting opportunities are limited in central Oregon as a majority of upland bird populations occur on private lands. The best opportunities for doves will be at lower elevations, including private agricultural lands, and adjoining BLM and Crooked River National Grasslands. Doves may use public lands for roosting and watering, and scouting these lands can help in locating such hunting opportunities. The Eurasian collared dove population is increasing in this district, and hunters can target these birds with no closed season or bag limit. Forest grouse inhabit the Ochoco National Forest, but are less abundant than in other parts of the state. California quail can be found at lower elevations in brushy habitat, particularly near agricultural and riparian areas. Although most of these habitat types are found on private lands, some public opportunity exists on BLM lands and at Prineville Reservoir Wildlife Area. Area.

DESCHUTES COUNTY

Most upland game bird species are limited by available habitat and climate in this district. Biologists believe most upland species nested successfully this year. California quail populations are healthy with most found on private lands (so access is difficult). Good forest grouse habitat is limited in the district but populations are stable, albeit at low numbers in the Cascade portion of the District. ODFW re-introduced mountain quail into the Metolius unit a few years ago but the population remains too low to hunt at this time, so mountain quail hunting is closed in the county. Dove hunters are encouraged to take advantage of the expanding (and invasive) Eurasian collared dove population.

GRANT COUNTY

Trend counts for quail and chukar are down for the 2017 season while grouse and turkey numbers remain stable. Turkey and chukar offer the best opportunities this season for upland hunters with turkey widely distributed through the county. The Philip W. Schneider Wildlife Area is open to the public and offers good bird hunting. Most South Fork Complex Fire restoration projects on the Wildlife Area have been completed and the area is responding well. However, hunters may encounter staff conducting additional/follow-up projects within burned areas and should plan accordingly.

KLAMATH AND LAKE COUNTIES

In Lake County, hunting prospects are much better than last year due to good water conditions in nearly all wetland basins and favorable local production.

The best areas for forest grouse are in the Cascades on Winema National Forest or private timber land which is open to access. Blue grouse can be found along ridge tops in more open forest habitats in both Klamath and Lake counties, while ruffed grouse are generally found along riparian areas in the Cascade Mountains. There are very few ruffed grouse in Lake County.

Hunters are reminded of the two-bird bag limit for mountain quail in Klamath County. Lake County is closed to mountain quail hunting. Most valley quail hunting opportunities are on private land, and hunters are reminded to ask for permission.

Wild pheasant numbers remain at extremely low levels. Unlimited Pheasants will be releasing pheasants at Klamath Wildlife Area and selected private lands open to the public. No pheasants are released at Summer Lake Wildlife Area, and wild pheasant numbers are at very low levels on the area.

HARNEY COUNTY

Due to the above average snow pack and prolonged cold temperatures, last winter upland bird population trends are down compared to last year and well below the 10-year average. Chukar populations seem to have taken the hardest hit with a 98% decrease from last year’s count. Sage-grouse offer the best hunting opportunities in the district. Quail hunting opportunities can be found throughout Harney County around both agricultural and rangelands in the Steens, Pueblos and Trout Creeks. Focus on basins and creek bottoms. Most pheasant hunting in the county occurs on and around Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

MALHEUR COUNTY

The northern half of Malheur County experience record snow fall in excess of 3 feet during the past winter. Snow began accumulating in early December and remained snow covered through the end of February. The harsh winter conditions had a significant negative impact on adult survival of upland birds outside of agricultural areas. Spring nesting conditions were good with favorable spring moisture in March and April while May and June experienced very little rain resulting in good early brood production and very few late broods observed.

Olivia's Chukar
Chukar hunting
-Photo by ODFW-

Chukar

Chukar surveys on established routes yielded 32 chukar per 10 miles and good production with 12.7 chicks per brood. This is a 73% decrease from last year when 115.7 birds per 10 miles were measured and is 22% below the 10-year average of 40.7 birds per 10 miles. On established routes overall adult population was down significantly due to harsh winter conditions and is the primary factor in the drastic drop in bird population’s across the northern portion of the county. Fortunately this spring was good for chick production as indicated by 12.7 chicks per brood which is above average. The most productive routes were near the Owyhee Reservoir and Cottonwood Canyon southwest of Harper.  

Pheasant

Surveys along established routes yielded 8.3 birds per 10 miles which is a 110% increase in number of birds observed from last year’s survey and 18% above the 10-year average. Chick production was below average at 3.6 chicks per brood. Hunting prospects will vary depending on the farming practices in the area where you have permission to hunt. The outlying areas around Willow Creek and Vale have higher bird numbers than areas closer to Ontario and Nyssa.

There is very little public land pheasant hunting opportunity in the area and the few parcels that are available tend to get hunted daily. One option for private lands access is the Cow Hollow fundraiser https://www.facebook.com/CowHollowPark/ to benefit the Cow Hollow Park.

California quail

Surveys on established routes yielded 33 quail per 10 miles, down 17% over last year and 14% below the 10-year average. Production was good at 9.2 chicks per brood with similar production observed in agricultural and rangelands. Overall quail populations were negatively impacted by harsh winter condition in rangelands.

MID-COLUMBIA COUNTIES (HOOD, WASCO, SHERMAN)

Upland counts for the district were mixed, with chukars and doves being higher than the past few years, but pheasant and quail being much lower. Forest Grouse and mountain quail are more commonly found in the forested portions of the Hood and White River units, with Forest Grouse most concentrated in the Hood unit and western portion of the White River unit.

MORROW, GILLIAM AND WHEELER COUNTIES

Most upland bird species counts were down from last year with pheasants, Hungarian partridges and doves showing the largest decreases. Overall production was down slightly from last year for all species but production numbers were still good. Hunters can access lands in the Upland Cooperative Access Program, the Heppner Regulated Hunt Area in this district for upland bird hunting. Also see ODFW’s Columbia Basin Bird Hunting Guide for maps and other good information on the 250K acres open to public hunting.

UNION COUNTY

Quail and pheasant counts are down, likely due to the challenging winter of 2016-17. Hunters can expect to work a little harder to fill game bags this season. The best hunting opportunities are pheasant on the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area and forest grouse on national forests. Hunters should work ridge tops above 5,000 feet for blue grouse and stream corridors with heavy cover and water for ruffed grouse.

Olivia's Chukar
Sadee on an Eastern Oregon chukar hunting trip
-Photo by Terry Zolotoff-

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

2017 hunting season looks promising on Ladd Marsh. Pheasant and quail populations appear to be doing well after the tough winter. Over-winter survival of adult birds is below average. With fewer adults, less broods were observed overall, but brood size is above average for all species. Hunters should still be able to find birds.

Upland game birds can be located throughout Ladd Marsh providing ample hunting opportunity for all. Grassland, fence rows, brush, and areas adjacent to agricultural fields are good locations to key on.

All visitors including hunters must have in their possession a free daily permit to access the wildlife area. Permits will be available at several self-check-in stations at entry points and parking lots. All visitors are required to have a permit to park on the wildlife area. Hunters receive a free parking permit with their hunting license. The $10 daily or $30 annual permit can be purchased at an ODFW office that sells licenses or at a license sales agent. Learn more about ODFW’s Wildlife Area Parking Permit Program. Parking permits are to be displayed on the vehicle dash. More information

WALLOWA COUNTY

Surveys for blue and ruffed grouse are stable over the past five years and these species should provide fair opportunity during September and early October. Forest grouse hunters should be aware that there are vehicle restrictions and no camping allowed on Hancock forestlands during fire season. Chukar numbers are up slightly over the past five-year average and hunting should be a bit better this fall.

UPLAND BIRD HUNTING LOCATIONS

See ODFW’s Columbia Basin Bird Hunting Guide for how to hunt the 250K acres open to hunters in the area. Also see ODFW’s Oregon Hunting Access Map and wildlife areas Summer Lake, Klamath, Lower Deschutes, Prineville Reservoir, Riverside and White River (Tygh Valley). Some private lands are accessible through the Access and Habitat program. Through ODFW's Upland Cooperative Access Program, hunters can access private land in Gilliam and Morrow counties in the Columbia Basin to hunt.

Waterfowl

Duck Blind
Duck hunters in a blind
-Photo by ODFW-

BAKER COUNTY

Duck and goose hunting is expected to be similar to past years with a few resident birds available early in the season. More migrant birds will arrive later in the season and hunting should improve, especially in the Baker and Keating Valleys. Almost all hunting is on private property, so be sure to ask permission before hunting. The Powder River from Baker City to Brownlee Reservoir offers the best waterfowl hunting.

DESCHUTES COUNTY

Duck and geese hunting should be average or above average for local birds prior to freeze up. Canada geese numbers have increased over past survey years. Due to low water levels, some previously built hunting blinds may be high and dry for hunting season and access to waterfowl will be difficult in some areas. Hunters hunting the upper Deschutes River area, remember that by Deschutes County Ordinance portions of the river between Sunriver and Fall River are closed to the discharge of firearms (contact the Deschutes County Sheriff for more information).

CROOK AND JEFFERSON COUNTIES

Mallards and Canada geese are the most common waterfowl species in these counties. Hunting opportunities are limited due to the lack of wetlands, marshes, and access, especially on public lands. Most of the better hunting is associated with private agricultural lands where gaining access can be difficult.

GRANT COUNTY

Grant County offers very limited waterfowl hunting opportunities due to lack of habitat; it’s mostly jump shooting on private land along the John Day River.

HARNEY COUNTY

Typically hunting is best in late fall and early winter and on agricultural lands, be sure to get permission from the landowner.

KLAMATH COUNTY

Early season usually is best for local and early migrant birds. Hunting prospects will depend on Pacific Northwest weather systems moving birds into and around Klamath and Lake Counties before freeze-up.

Most goose hunting opportunities are for resident Canada geese, however there are some white-fronted geese, snow, and Ross’s geese staging in the Klamath Basin prior to continuing south. Goose hunting should improve later into the season with freezing conditions, which tend to concentrate geese near open water areas. Ample public land opportunities exist with area refuges and state managed wildlife areas in addition to private lands.

The late goose season (Jan. 16-March 10, 2018) will again be open on public waters/lands with the exception of Klamath Basin Refuges and Miller Island Unit at KWA. The hunt helps alleviate agricultural damage from large numbers of white-fronted geese, lesser snow, and Ross’ geese. The September Canada Goose season will also again take place this year in Klamath County.

Contact ODFW's Klamath Falls office at (541) 883-5732 for more information.

Duck Hunting
Justin Falk shooting at a duck while his dog Toby watches.
-Photo by Troy Rodakowski-

KLAMATH WILDLIFE AREA

Bird hunting is open on Oct. 7 (reservation only) and Oct. 8 and every following Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from October-December and open every day in January during authorized gamebird seasons. Upland bird hunting opens at 10 a.m. during waterfowl season. See regulations for details.

Early season is usually best for local and early migrant birds, and hunters can expect to find abundant gadwalls and mallards in the Klamath Basin.

Favorable weather conditions will be necessary to encourage large numbers of ducks and geese to stage in the basin, reduce overflights to wintering areas further south, and create favorable hunting conditions. Goose hunting should improve later in the season with geese using frozen ponds for loafing and the small grain fields for forage.

Pheasants are released throughout the season thanks to donations by Pheasants Unlimited. After Oct. 13, pheasants will be released in subunits A and C of the Miller Island Unit.
Management programs on the Klamath WA-Miller Island Unit could impact waterfowl hunter access during the 2017-18 waterfowl seasons. Efforts to rehabilitate portions of the marshlands around the Miller Island Unit, which will improve habitat for a multitude of waterfowl species, will require dewatering certain wetlands and actively controlling overgrown vegetation. While efforts will try to bring water back to all areas as soon as possible, some portions of the unit may be dry and will not provide good hunting opportunities throughout the season. These rehabilitated marshes will provide important food sources for birds in coming years and will greatly benefit hunters in the long term.

There is a special youth waterfowl and upland bird hunt on Oct. 21. Klamath WA Miller Island Unit is open only to hunters age 17 and younger with hunter education. Reservations are not required for this hunt. See page 27 of the Oregon Game Bird Regulations.

LAKE COUNTY

Schoolhouse Lake

Schoolhouse Lake,
Summer Lake Wildlife Area
-Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW-

SUMMER LAKE WILDLIFE AREA

Over 60 percent of this almost 19,000-acre area is open for waterfowl hunting during authorized seasons. Hunting is permitted 7 days per week and a free daily hunting permit is required. Hunting permits are available at Headquarters.

Early season is usually best for local and early migrant birds, and hunters can expect to find abundant dabbling ducks such as green-winged teal, gadwall, shoveler, wigeon, pintail and mallards in Summer Lake Basin. By mid to late-November, freezing conditions occur and most waterfowl will have migrated south to wintering areas.

CLOSURE: Access to hunting areas south of Thousand Springs Lane (Lake Co. Rd 4-17, except the Foster Place) will be prohibited from Sept. 30 until 4:00 am on opening day. This seven-day closure will reduce disturbance to staging waterfowl and improve hunter success. Campgrounds and open roads will remain available for use.

Summer Lake is closed during the September Canada goose season but regular season goose hunting should be fair for locally produced Canada geese. Canada goose hunting should improve later in the season with freezing conditions, which tend to concentrate geese near open water. In an attempt to reduce harvest pressure on the rarer Tule white-fronted goose, the daily bag limit is one.

Most snow geese staging at Summer Lake Wildlife Area are from Wrangel Island, Russia. Production this year is predicted to be good. Typically, good production results in favorable hunting success due to the large number of juveniles. When production is low, hunting for the more wary adults is difficult. A large portion of this population is now wintering in NW Washington/SW British Columbia and not migrating through Oregon. Recently, staging numbers have been declining and peak staging populations have been less than 10,000 birds. However, other light goose populations (which migrate through Summer Lake Basin to some degree) have been increasing at significant rates, which allowed an increase in the white goose bag limit from 4 to 6 a few years ago. Favorable weather conditions will be necessary to encourage large numbers of geese to stage in the basin, reduce overflights to wintering areas further south, and create favorable hunting conditions.

MALHEUR COUNTY

Many of the desert ponds held water through the summer resulting in good duck and goose production. Desert ponds are also a good opportunity for early season jump shooting. Jordan Valley provides an excellent opportunity for September Canada goose hunting. Hunters need to acquire permission to hunt private lands. 

Treasure Valley

Fair waterfowl hunting is available in the area most of the season, and improves significantly during cold weather events. Cold weather events reduce open water, concentrating birds and increasing the time spent foraging. Field hunting for both geese and ducks can be good for hunters willing to spend the time and effort to secure private land access.

MID-COLUMBIA DISTRICT (WASCO, SHERMAN AND HOOD COUNTIES)

Duck hunting is mostly jump shooting on private lands and should offer good opportunity where available. Goose hunting opportunity in wheat fields should be good with most access via private land. Some private land access can be found through Upland Cooperative Access Program lands in Sherman County. See regulations for details.

The Columbia River Refuge is open for hunting and provides some opportunities for hunters from the Celilo train bridge to Arlington. Access will primarily be by boat. For more information contact ODFW The Dalles at 541-296-4628. Note that hunting is not allowed on most Corps of Engineers property.

UMATILLA AND MORROW COUNTIES

Habitat conditions in the Columbia Basin still support large numbers of wintering Canada geese. Try hunting the Columbia Basin Wildlife Areas (Power City, Irrigon, Coyote Springs, Willow Creek). Food crops are being planted, ponds are being enhanced, all of which will make conditions better for waterfowl hunting on these lands.

Hunting prospects depend on weather conditions. If the region does not experience a real winter, many of the northern migrants will stay in Washington. The best hunting is usually later in the season (late November) after some cold weather pushes birds down out of Washington. The Columbia River is usually the best opportunity for hunters on public land, but those who can access irrigated circles in northern Morrow County usually get good goose hunting.

UMATILLA COUNTY

Upland game bird brood routes revealed little change from last year despite an increase in over winter moisture during a harsh winter. Following are the species specific outlooks:
Pheasant: Numbers were up a small amount compared to the previous year. Hunters should expect similar hunting to last year with concentrations of birds existing in areas with surface water and adjacent cover.

California Quail: Continue to exist and reproduce above the long term average in the Umatilla County portion of the Columbia Basin. Hunters should expect bird numbers to be similar to last year or a bit better with good hunting conditions to work with. Quail are most common around riparian or upland shrubs such as wild rose, chokecherry, and elderberry.

Chukar and Hungarian Partridge: Habitats for both are limited in Umatilla County, but good numbers of birds exist in the few areas where habitat exists. Rolling hills of grass and Conservation Reserve Program lands are good for Hungarian partridge and large canyon country is best for chukar hunting.

Mourning Doves: Mourning doves are distributed widely in the lower, non-forest areas of Umatilla County. Dead snags near water will be good spots to focus hunting activity.

Juvenile duck hunt
Juvenile duck hunt
-Photo by Mike Miles-

UNION COUNTY

Duck and goose hunting is expected to be similar to last year. Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area is a great destination for waterfowl hunters though water levels are expected to be low for October.

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Waterfowl numbers are below average but this is not a sign of poor hunting. Above average winter snow fall and cooler conditions throughout the spring has helped maintain higher than average water levels throughout the Grande Ronde valley. These conditions have allowed waterfowl to stay dispersed making them harder to census, but should allow for more areas available to waterfowl hunters.  

Note: all visitors including hunters must have in their possession a free daily permit to access the wildlife area. Permits are available at several self-check-in stations at entry points and parking lots. Wildlife hunters, viewers and anglers also need a parking permit to park on the wildlife area. Hunters receive a free parking permit with their hunting license or the annual permit can be purchased online or at an ODFW office that sells licenses or at a license sales agent. Parking permits are to be displayed on the vehicle dash Learn more about ODFW’s Wildlife Area Parking Permit Program.

WALLOWA COUNTY

Waterfowl hunting should be similar to previous few years. Expect good hunting opportunities later in the fall and early winter when migrating birds arrive. The few resident geese Canada geese in the district have fared well, too. Most hunting is decoy hunting in agricultural fields, and jump shooting irrigation ditches.

WATERFOWL HUNTING LOCATIONS

Explore bird hunting locations using ODFW’s Oregon Hunting Access Map. ODFW's Summer Lake and Klamath wildlife areas are major winter staging areas for waterfowl and provide great hunting opportunities. Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area provides opportunities in northeast Oregon. Some private lands are accessible through the Access and Habitat program. Remember to ask permission before hunting on private lands.

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