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2017-18 Bird Hunting Forecast


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


West Region

Upland Game Bird

Phesant hunting

Phesant hunting at EE Wilson
- Photo by Nick Myatt -

Fee pheasant hunting at wildlife areas: ODFW stocks pheasants at these western Oregon wildlife areas as there are few natural pheasants in the region. To hunt, you need a license, upland bird validation, HIP validation and $17 fee pheasant tag; bag limit two roosters. See regulations for more details.

  • E.E. Wilson, Monmouth: Oct. 1-31
  • Fern Ridge, Eugene: Sept. 11-Oct. 8 (East and West Coyote, Fisher Butte and Royal Amazon Units)
  • Sauvie Island, Portland: Sept. 18-Oct. 1 (Eastside Unit)
  • Denman, Central Point: Sept. 18-Oct. 6

COOS COUNTY

Cool, moist conditions late into the spring this year may not have been optimal for upland bird brood survival. Young birds that are still covered with down are very susceptible to hypothermia when wet weather strikes, even if the weather is warm. However, good vegetative growth may make up for that to some degree because good growth from plants can result in production of better hiding cover to evade predators and it can result in better insect production. Insects tend to be a primary food resource for young upland birds that are growing plumage. Those interested in hunting grouse will find them on closed forest roads or near creek bottoms. Quail will be found around clear cuts and exposed ridges. Wild turkeys can be found around agricultural areas in the county. Hunters are reminded to scout early and obtain permission to hunt private land prior to hunting.

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Hunters should expect an average year for hunting forest grouse and mountain quail. Brood count results are mixed in the district as some early game bird broods were negatively affected by the long cold spring weather while later nesting birds were able to pull-off some large broods. Blue grouse success is best in mid to high elevations of the Cascades in partly open conifer stands. Ruffed grouse can be found near creeks mostly at mid elevations of both the Cascades and Coast Range. Nesting season production was average for California quail and Mountain quail, so hunting opportunity should be good. Success is best in the lower elevation agricultural lands for California quail and mid-elevations of the Cascades and Coast Range near brushy clear cuts on secondary forest roads for Mountain quail. Check local fire restrictions for current fire danger before going hunting.

JACKSON, JOSEPHINE AND CURRY COUNTIES

Trend surveys suggest mountain quail, ruffed grouse and sooty grouse are near the five-year average and turkeys are up slightly. Mountain quail had good reproduction in some areas, but the total numbers of birds was below average. Ruffed grouse did not have good survival of young birds this year, but some adult birds are present. A few sooty grouse broods were observed at higher elevations. Overall, hunting for mountain quail and forest grouse should be fair. Turkeys had another good hatch and should be very abundant. Dove and band-tailed pigeon numbers should be about the same as last year.

Mountain quail are widely distributed throughout this district, and are usually found near brush fields and old clear-cuts. Ruffed grouse are found in middle elevation forests near water. Sooty grouse prefer higher elevation habitat consisting of a mix of large conifer trees and meadows. Some dove hunting is available on the Denman Wildlife Area in agricultural fields or in dry brushy areas, however harvest success drops quickly after the first few days of the season. Band-tailed pigeons are usually found at high elevations feeding on elderberries or acorns.

Hunters should be aware of fire season closures on private timber lands in Jackson, Josephine and Curry Counties. Check the latest fire closure information before heading out into the field. The Denman Wildlife Area will host a Youth Pheasant Hunt on Sept. 16 and 17, and a Fee Pheasant Hunt from Sept. 18-Oct. 6. Birds will be stocked during this period. Hunters new to hunting the Denman WA are encouraged to call 541-826-8774.

Quail Hunt
Quail Hunt

MID-COAST (LINCOLN, WESTERN LANE COUNTIES)

Ruffed grouse and mountain quail numbers appear to be similar to last year. Their populations are relatively low and scattered throughout the district but pockets of productive areas can be found. Hunt for mountain quail in brushy clear-cuts and near gravel roads, but realize they become difficult to find once the fall rains begin. Ruffed grouse are usually observed along streams or closed forest roads. They can also be found in well-developed or older forest areas. Blue (sooty) grouse are rare and are found only at the highest elevations.

NORTH COAST (CLATSOP, TILLAMOOK COUNTIES)

Ruffed grouse, blue grouse and mountain quail are present in the northern coast range but at lower densities than most other forested habitats in the state. This season is likely to be fair as the weather this spring was wetter than average, likely leading to poor survival for early broods – particularly for grouse. Later broods and especially those of mountain quail experienced improved conditions and likely better survival. Ruffed grouse are usually found along riparian areas and mid-slopes, while blue grouse prefer high-elevation ridges. Mountain quail frequent brushy clearcuts, especially those along south- and west-facing slopes.

NORTH WILLAMETTE (MULTNOMAH, WASHINGTON, CLACKAMAS, COLUMBIA, YAMHILL, MARION COUNTIES)

Staff observations of late spring broods and average chick numbers indicate an average production year for forest grouse, California and mountain quail this year. Rainy and wet conditions this spring were not favorable for forest grouse and quail chick survival and staff noted that some birds appeared to be re-nesting in the late spring based upon some of the small chicks observed this summer. Hunters should expect juvenile birds to be smaller when the season opens this fall.

Mountain quail are commonly found in or around 2-5 year-old clearcuts in the coastal mountains. Covering lots of ground in newer clearcuts with a well-trained dog should help hunters find a few scattered coveys of mountain quail. Most hunting for California quail occurs on private agricultural lands and hunters are reminded to obtain permission before entering private land.

Grouse hunting is likely to be similar to the past few seasons and should offer average hunting opportunities this fall. Hunters looking to harvest both ruffed and sooty (blue) grouse should concentrate their efforts in the Cascade Mountains for the best chance of success. Ruffed grouse prefer the brushy cover along riparian areas and sooty grouse can be found on the higher elevation ridgelines.

Turkey production was average this year and populations in the southwest portion of the district continue to slowly increase; most turkey hunting opportunities are on private land and hunters will need to secure permission to hunt well before the season opens.

SOUTH WILLAMETTE (MARION, POLK, LINN, LANE, BENTON COUNTIES)

Blue grouse and ruffed grouse are relatively common in forest habitat however biologist report fewer forest grouse heard during spring calling surveys and also report seeing fewer broods than usual this summer. California quail are common on the valley floor but most hunting occurs on private lands and hunters will need to obtain access from landowners. The north and central Cascades are generally not great mountain quail areas but birds can found in some of the brushy areas created by clear cut logging or wildfires.

Upland game bird hunting locations

Explore Oregon’s Hunting Access Map for bird hunting locations; use the upland bird range map. ODFW’s wildlife areas Sauvie Island (Portland), EE Wilson (Monmouth), Fern Ridge (Eugene) and Denman (Central Point) offer bird hunting; see regulations for details. Some industrial private forest lands are accessible through the Access and Habitat Program; the Jackson TMA has grouse and quail. National forestland and some state forests also offer bird hunting opportunities. Much opportunity in the region is on private properties; hunters will need to gain permission.

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

West Region Waterfowl

COOS COUNTY

Ducks will begin moving into the county early in the fall and initially concentrate in coastal bays and other large water bodies. A large portion of Coos Bay is open to hunting even though some of it is within the city limits of Coos Bay. Other areas within the city limits of Coos Bay and all areas within city limits of North Bend are closed to hunting. There is also an area near the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend that is closed to hunting. Hunters are encouraged to contact the ODFW Charleston Field Office (541) 888-5515 to obtain the latest information on areas open for hunting.

The Coquille Valley Wildlife Area (CVWA) is closed to public access due to construction of infrastructure on CVWA and in its vicinity. ODFW anticipates opening CVWA Oct. 1, 2017. If all goes as planned the entire ownership, including the Winter Lake Tract will be opened for public access at that time and available for bird hunting. Please contact the ODFW Charleston Field Office (541) 888-5515 to obtain the latest information on access to CVWA.

Also, the Ni’Les-tun Unit of the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge near Bandon will have an area within it open for waterfowl hunting. Other portions of Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge that have been open for hunting in the past continue to be open this year as well. As winter comes on and the rainy season starts, waterfowl will disperse inland to flooded river valleys like the Coquille.

Geese will concentrate on private pastures around river valleys. Canada goose populations have been growing over the past few years. Good goose hunting can be found in most of the county. The key to a successful hunt is scouting before the hunt for areas where geese are going to feed or rest.

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Nearly all waterfowl hunting in the Umpqua Valley is on private property and hunters are reminded to obtain landowner permission before hunting. Plat-I Reservoir in Sutherlin, the Umpqua River and its tributaries offer the best waterfowl hunting in the Umpqua Valley.

JACKSON, JOSEPHINE AND CURRY COUNTIES

Waterfowl production was good this year, but hunting success will depend on local weather and water conditions, and on weather conditions to the north. Storm systems in northern Oregon and Washington push birds south to our area. Local reservoirs and fields on the Denman Wildlife Area are at very low levels and rain is needed to fill water bodies. If rain comes in at the time and in the quantity needed, hunting should be excellent. Waterfowl hunting on the Denman Wildlife Area is usually best during December and January.
Local Canada goose production was extremely good and birds should be very abundant for the September goose season and throughout the general season. The Rogue River is a good place to hunt during the September goose season as well as on the Hall Tract of the Denman Wildlife Area.

The Denman Wildlife Area is dependent on rain to flood fields, and hunters can call 541-826-8774 to check on the status of flooding. Hunters should remember that after Nov. 1 the Hall Tract of the DWA is only open on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The Military Slough and Modoc Units are open all days of the general season.

NORTH and MID-COAST (CLATSOP, TILLAMOOK, LINCOLN COUNTIES)

On the north and mid-coast, expect very good hunting as excellent production of ducks up north should result in high numbers of birds there this year. With the onset of storms comes the best waterfowl hunting on the coast. Stormy weather moves birds off the bays and into more sheltered waters where they can be hunted more effectively. However, when there is too much rain, birds move into agricultural areas where hunting cover tends to be limited or nonexistent.

Waiting for some birds
Waiting for some birds
-Photo by Anna Grabhorn-

Early duck hunting should be fair to good on coastal bays. A mix of ducks (mainly wigeon, pintails, mallards and divers) should be available in larger north and mid-coast estuaries, such as the lower Columbia River and Tillamook, Nestucca, Nehalem, Siletz, Alsea, and Siuslaw Bays. In recent years, the numbers of ducks on these estuaries tends to be greater earlier in the season, with numbers diminishing by December. However, numbers and distribution can change on a yearly basis and success can be good in these areas into January. The best hunting generally occurs during storms before heavy rains flood fields and disperse birds, making them harder to hunt. Another excellent time to hunt the coast is during cold spells when some inland waters are ice-covered.

Goose hunters, do not forget to purchase your annual NW goose permit. Goose hunting should be good all along the north coast during the September goose season as production of local geese (westerns) appeared to be robust. Migratory geese coming in from the north should also be available in high numbers for hunters during the traditional NW Permit Goose seasons. On the mid-coast, opportunities for goose hunting are limited to the estuaries or private agricultural land. Hunters are reminded that during the 2017-18 season there is a closure on the taking of dusky Canada geese. See the 2017-18 Oregon Game Birds Regulations for details.

NORTH WILLAMETTE (MULTNOMAH, WASHINGTON, CLACKAMAS, COLUMBIA, YAMHILL, MARION COUNTIES)

Waterfowl hunters should expect a good hunting season this year. Resident mallards will continue to provide the majority of the early-season hunting opportunities along the Willamette River and in local ponds, wetlands and lakes. Late-season hunting is expected to be good for ducks and geese when cold winter weather brings northern migrants into the state.

Goose hunting opportunities in the northern Willamette Valley and lower Columbia River should also be good this season. Hunters can expect good numbers of local Canada geese to be present during the early September goose season. For a successful September season, hunters need to be out scouting for feeding and loafing areas that concentrate geese. Hunters will also need to secure permission to hunt on private lands where most of the geese can be found. Hunters participating in the Northwest Permit Zone hunt should also find very good numbers of geese available as migrating birds move into the area.

Finding locations to hunt is difficult without access to private lands. Hunters without this access should explore opportunities to hunt waterfowl along the Willamette and Columbia River. Multiple hunting opportunities along the Willamette River can be located in the Oregon State Parks and Oregon State Marine Board’s Willamette River Recreation Guide. The majority of these sites are only accessible by boat but there are several locations that can be reached from local roadways. Hunters are reminded to review the Oregon Department of State Lands website for information concerning the use of Oregon’s waterways and the land underlying and adjacent to them. Additional information concerning waterfowl hunting can be found in the State and Federal Refuge Areas Regulations in the Oregon Game Bird Regulations.

SAUVIE ISLAND WILDLIFE AREA

Waterfowl hunting on Sauvie Island Wildlife Area should be above average this year with waterfowl populations at a relatively high level.  The best hunting is usually during colder weather when birds are pushed south from Alaska and Canada. The wildlife area’s crop production will be good. A few areas were not planted this summer due to high river levels. All hunt units will have some flooded areas opening day of general waterfowl season. Ongoing work on wetland and food resources on the wildlife area will continue to improve hunting in future years. The Northwest Permit Goose Zone will be open this year on the Wildlife Area, but only for white geese (Ross and snow). Dark goose hunting will remain closed on Sauvie Island Wildlife Area except for the September early season.

If you are new to waterfowl hunting on Sauvie Island, see our Beginners Guide.

Special youth waterfowl hunts for hunters age 17 and younger Oct. 22, Nov. 11, Dec. 3 and 26 and Jan. 15. See page 26 of the Game Bird Regulations for details.

ALL VISITORS are reminded that a Wildlife Area Parking Permit is required to for each vehicle to park on the wildlife area. A free annual permit will be included with the purchase of annual hunting, Combination, Pioneer, and Sports Pac licenses. All other Wildlife Area users will be required to purchase a permit; daily permits ($10) and annual permits ($30) will be available where fishing and hunting licenses are sold and on the ODFW’s website, www.dfw.state.or.us.

SOUTH WILLAMETTE (MARION, POLK, LINN, LANE, BENTON COUNTIES)

Prospects for waterfowl hunting will be good if the district sees some rain to flood feeding areas when the birds come down from the north. Canada goose populations are high so there should be good goose hunting opportunities. The Willamette River offers good hunting for those with the proper boat. Goose hunting occurs throughout the valley but hunters will want to obtain permission to hunt private lands.

Hunting in the Willamette Valley can vary greatly by fall and winter weather conditions (temperature and precipitation). It is too early to predict what we will see this winter.

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area (more below) offers public hunting opportunities in this area but it often has low water levels early in the season. Water levels will improve after the fall rains begin to fill the reservoir and impoundments.

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

View from the Coyote Creek platform at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area
-Photo by Chris Schubothe, ODFW-

FERN RIDGE WILDLIFE AREA

Hunters accessing the East Coyote unit from the Cantrell and Neilson road parking lots will experience a decrease in available parking space within each lot. Construction materials have been stockpiled in the parking lots in conjunction with a cooperative infrastructure / habitat improvement project with Ducks Unlimited scheduled for completion in summer 2018. Hunters participating in the reservation hunt are asked to leave the area in front of the red gate at the rear of the Neilson road parking lot free to accommodate ODFW check station. Hunters may have to park along the county road to check in for the reservation hunts or participate in the drawing for available stand-by blinds unfilled by permit holders.
All FRWA pump stations are directly related to the water levels in Fern Ridge Lake and could be adversely affected by the end of summer and into the fall. Early season field flooding may be limited and hunters should expect dry hunting areas at the beginning of duck season, specifically in the reservation hunt area on the East and West Coyote units. With the expectation of pump stations being dry by late September, the reliance on fall/winter rains will be critical. Later season hunting is expected to be more productive as fields naturally flood. Royal Amazon unit and the Northwest end of the Fisher Butte unit might be a productive hunting area early in the season.

Please contact FRWA headquarters at 541-935-2591 for more details and other information.

ALL VISITORS are reminded that a Wildlife Area Parking Permit is required for each vehicle to park on the wildlife area. A free annual permit will be included with the purchase of annual hunting, Combination, Pioneer, and Sports Pac licenses and the Habitat Conservation Stamp. All other Wildlife Area users will be required to purchase a permit; daily permits ($7) and annual permits ($22) will be available where fishing and hunting licenses are sold and on the ODFW’s website, www.dfw.state.or.us.

EE Wilson Wildlife Area

Dove hunting is permitted Sept. 1-22 and Sept. 25-Oct. 30. Quail hunting is permitted Sept. 1-22 and Sept. 25 Jan. 31. The area’s fee pheasant hunt is Oct. 1-31. ALL VISITORS are reminded that a Wildlife Area Parking Permit is required to for each vehicle to park on the wildlife area. A free annual permit will be included with the purchase of annual hunting, Combination, Pioneer, and Sports Pac licenses and the Habitat Conservation Stamp. All other Wildlife Area users will be required to purchase a permit; daily permits ($10) and annual permits ($30) will be available where fishing and hunting licenses are sold and on the ODFW website, www.dfw.state.or.us.

Waterfowl Hunting locations

ODFW’s Sauvie Island (Portland), EE Wilson (Monmouth), Denman Wildlife Area (near Central Point) and Fern Ridge (Eugene) wildlife areas offer bird hunting. On the North Coast you can hunt around estuaries on the coast and in the lower Columbia River; call ODFW’s Tillamook Office for more information or try ODF for a map that shows public and private lands. The Willamette River has some decoy and drifting opportunities; see the Oregon Department of State Lands website.

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