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Hunting in Oregon

The 2013 Fall Hunting Forecast

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Northwest Region





Return deer teeth

Successful western Oregon deer hunters are asked to return deer teeth, which are used in population modeling efforts. See this flyer for directions (pdf) on how to remove a tooth and return it with your name, address, date of kill, species killed, sex of animal, and wildlife management unit or hunt where harvested to: ODFW Wildlife Population Lab, 7118 NE Vandenberg Ave, Adair Village, OR 97330. Pre-paid, pre-addressed envelopes for teeth are available at ODFW offices and many license sales agents. Hunters that submit a tooth will receive a postcard from ODFW with information about their animal after about nine months.

North Coast Watershed District (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw wildlife management units)

Nate's deer

Nate Burman of Albany, Ore. was 14 years old when he took this deer during a youth hunt in the McKenzie Unit.
– Photo by Steve Burman –


Black-tailed deer on the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask wildlife management units) were treated to a fairly mild winter and an average spring with an extended period of warm, dry weather in early May and early June. While deer densities overall are only moderate, good survival of bucks from last year’s hunting season should give hunters a decent chance this year, especially in the Wilson WMU. Generally, deer densities tend to be highest in the eastern portions of these units.

Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), deer numbers appear to be increasing in various areas. The prevalence of deer hair loss syndrome continues to decrease. Buck numbers in most areas are fair to good. The growth of vegetation has been exceptional this year and the deer appear in good body condition. The best deer hunting opportunities are the central to eastern portions of the Alsea unit and Siuslaw unit; deer numbers decline as one gets closer to the ocean. Both private industrial forestlands, state forestry and federal lands offer deer hunting opportunities. The Stott Mt – North Alsea Travel Management area also provides walk-in hunting opportunities.

Fire season may affect access on both private and public forest lands. Most industrial landowners will restrict access, even on foot, until fire season is officially over.  Hunters must contact the individual companies or check the Oregon Dept. of Forestry website for corporate closures. Most landowners were closed to access prior to the archery season.

In 2013, the deer bag limit for archery hunters and hunters with a disability permit has is one buck deer having not less than a forked antler.

Saddle Mountain Unit

Some areas to look at include Davis Point, the lower Lewis and Clark River and the lower Necanicum River in Clatsop County and upper Rock Creek and Clear Creek in Columbia County. While much of the unit is industrial timber land, most timber companies offer plenty of walk-in access in some areas and open gates for dawn to dusk vehicular access in others once the fire season is over.

Wilson Unit

Clearcut habitat is increasing, with most occurring on private corporate forestlands. In recent years, the amount of partial and clearcut harvest on state forest lands has increased substantially. Areas with recent logging include the lower Wilson River, North Fork Wilson River, Gales Creek, Spruce Run and Camp Olson. Deer populations appear to be on the increase, with good buck to doe ratios.

Western Trask Unit

On state forest lands in the western portion, look in the Trask River and lower Wilson River basins. But some of the best hunting is on private timberlands in the eastern portion of the WMU where timber harvest has occurred within the last three to five years. Some areas to consider in the eastern Trask Unit are the upper portions of the Yamhill River and upper Willamina Creek. Hunters looking to experience less road traffic and more walk-in hunting opportunities are encouraged to explore the Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area located west of Henry Hagg Lake.

Bull Elk
- Royalty Free Image-


On the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask), elk populations are at their highest densities in the western portions of these WMUs. Bull elk hunting this year should be very good in the Wilson and Trask due to high bull survival from last year’s hunting seasons. Both WMUs have general season archery and rifle hunting opportunities. The Saddle Mountain also had high bull survival from the last three seasons.

Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), elk numbers are relatively unchanged this year and are lower than management objectives for all three units. The observed bull ratio in the Alsea unit was 10-11 bulls per 100 cows and the ratios were 10 per 100 in the Stott Mt. unit and 6 per 100 in the Siuslaw. The second rifle bull elk season in Siuslaw has a bag limit of one spike bull; the bull ratio there continues to be well below management objectives.
Elk will be scattered throughout the units, with larger numbers of elk close to agricultural valleys. Industrial forestlands north of Highway 20 typically receive lots of hunting pressure, with young tree plantations providing good visibility and some travel management roads providing walk-in access. Forest Service lands south of Highway 34 have considerable numbers of elk, but they are much more difficult to hunt in the thick vegetation and rugged terrain. However, during archery season many industrial landowners will be closed due to fire season and state and federal lands may provide the only access for hunting. Hunters should check with landowners before hunting or check the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s website for fire restrictions and closures.

Saddle Mountain Unit

Elk rifle hunting in this unit is all limited entry, but archery elk hunting is through a single general season; both are managed under a 3-point minimum regulation. Areas with high elk numbers and open habitat include Davis Point, the lower Lewis and Clark River, Big Creek, lower Necanicum River and upper Rock Creek.

Wilson Unit

Some popular hunting areas are the lower Wilson River, Kilchis River, Cook Creek, upper North Fork Nehalem River, Standard Grade, Spruce Run and Camp Olson.

Western Trask Unit

Some popular areas with high numbers of elk and open habitats include Cape Lookout, Wilson River tributaries, lower Nestucca River and the Trask River.

Stott Mountain, Alsea Units

Some popular areas to hunt elk in the Stott Mountain Unit include the South Fork Siletz River, Fanno Ridge, Gravel Creek, Mill Creek, Elk Creek, Euchre Creek, and the mainstem Siletz River. Popular elk hunting areas in the Alsea include the Yachats River, Five Rivers, North Fork Siuslaw River, Big Rock Creek Road, Luckiamute River, Airlie, Burnt Woods, Grant Creek, Wolf Creek, Logsden, Pee Dee Creek, and Dunn Forest.

North Willamette Watershed District (Scappoose, eastern Trask, north Willamette, north Santiam wildlife management units)


Hunters heading to the North Willamette Watershed (Scappoose, north Willamette, eastern Trask and north Santiam Units) will find mixed opportunities for black-tailed bucks this year. A slight increase in post-season buck ratios in the Scappoose will provide a few more mature bucks for hunters while the number of bucks has remained stable in the north Santiam (23 bucks per 100 does) and eastern Trask (18 bucks per 100 does) units and hunting should be similar to 2012. 

Deer Hair Loss Syndrome continues to be more prevalent in the Scappoose unit but only spotty in the low elevation lands in the eastern Trask and north Santiam units. 

Hunters are reminded to contact local timber companies to obtain updated information because some roads may be closed to access due to ongoing logging operations or road building. Please read and obey all informational signs to ensure continued access to opportunities. The majority of properties in the Willamette Unit are privately-owned and hunters are reminded to obtain permission before hunting on those lands. Hunters headed to the north Santiam have a variety of access opportunities from federal forestland, private timberland and agricultural properties. Hunters should check out the Abiqua Basin Access Area, a cooperative access program between Longview Timber (recently purchased by the Weyerhaueser Co.), ODFW’s A&H program and the Capitol Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association.

Scappoose Unit

Increased buck escapement from last season and increased fawn survival should result in improved hunting this fall. While younger age class bucks typically make up the majority of the harvest, hunters should also find a few mature bucks to keep things interesting. Hunters should be looking for habitat that has a variety of plant components and associated water sources for deer concentrations. Hunters with access to agricultural lands will find higher populations of deer. Some areas to locate deer this fall include Coal Creek, Baker Point, Peterson Point, Bacona and the upper portions of the Clatskanie River.

Jake Lum

Jake Lum with his buck.
-Photo by Tod Lum-

East Trask Unit

Deer surveys show a stable buck ratio and opportunities for deer hunters should be average this fall in the eastern portion of the Trask Unit. Some of the best hunting is on private timberlands in the eastern portion of the WMU where timber harvest has occurred within the last three to five years. Hunters wanting to experience less road traffic and more walk-in hunting opportunities are encouraged to explore the Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area located west of Henry Hagg Lake. Some areas with good habitat include the upper portions of the Yamhill and Tualatin Rivers, Trask Mountain, Baker Creek, and Willamina Creek.

North Santiam Unit

The north Santiam Unit buck ratios remain stable at 24 bucks per 100 does so prospects for those hunters willing to hunt thick cover where deer concentrate should be average this season. Hunters will find a wide diversity of terrain in the unit, ranging from high elevation meadows, thick old growth forests, industrial forestlands and agricultural fields, so a variety of hunting styles can be accommodated. Whether hunters choose to still hunt, set up a tree stand, rattle antlers or conduct deer drives, scouting will be critical for success. Snow in the higher elevations of the Mount Hood National Forest will improve tracking conditions and make deer more visible. Hunters looking to stay closer to home should consider hunting on industrial forestlands where land managers are reporting deer damage to recently planted conifer stands. Some locations to consider include the upper Collawash and Clackamas Rivers, Abiqua Creek, Granite Peaks, High Rocks, Butte Creek, Molalla River and the Abiqua Basin Access Area.

North Willamette Unit

The long hunting season in the Willamette Unit should provide hunters with a very good opportunity to harvest a deer this season. Deer damage to agricultural crops remains high throughout the northern portion of the unit. Hunters are reminded that land within this unit is primarily privately owned. Hunters need to have established a good relationship with landowners to ensure a hunting opportunity. Hunters can find some public land hunting opportunities in the Willamette River Recreation Guide available at Marine Board website; many of the hunting spots are also listed on ODFW’s Hunting Access Map.

Bull Elk Grazing
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-


Bull elk hunting in the coastal units of the North Willamette District should be good in both the eastern Trask Unit and Scappoose Unit due to the improved bull survival during the 2012 hunting season. Bull ratios in the Scappoose Unit (16 bulls per 100 cows) and the Trask Unit (23 bulls per 100 cows) are both above the Management Objective (M0) of 10 bulls per 100 cows. However, overall elk populations in both units are below the Management Objective and fewer antlerless elk tags will be available to hunters. In the Scappoose Unit, elk are more numerous in the timberlands of the northwestern portion of the unit. In the eastern Trask, elk are widely scattered and can be found near agricultural fields and within the private timberlands. 

In the north Santiam Unit, elk populations in the Mt. Hood National Forest continue to decline due to limited forage availability. Hunters will find the majority of elk on the industrial forestlands and agricultural fields at lower elevations. Hunters should concentrate their efforts on these low elevation lands for their best chance of success. Contacting private landowners prior to the hunting season will be the key to finding these elk. Hunters are reminded to always ask for permission before entering private lands.

Scappoose Unit

Good bull escapement combined with improved calf recruitment should mean above average bull hunting this fall. Harvest should continue to be dominated by younger age class bulls but there should be a few additional mature bulls available for the persistent hunter. Hunting opportunities for antlerless elk will be reduced due to the decline in the elk population over the past few years. Hunters are reminded that most of the timberland managers within this unit participate in the North Coast Travel Management Area and hunters should read and follow all posted regulations to ensure continued access. Some areas to consider include Upper McKay Creek, Green Mountain, Bunker Hill and Mount Cedara.

East Trask Unit

Slightly improved bull escapement from last hunting season will likely mean an above average opportunity for bull elk hunters this fall. Bulls will be widely scattered throughout the unit and hunters are encouraged to spend time scouting in order to locate elk before the season begins. Late season antlerless elk hunting opportunities will be reduced due to the decline in the elk population. Hunters that have drawn an antlerless elk tag should still have good success if they can find elk concentrated near agricultural fields and low elevation timber stands. Hunters need to be aware of frequent changes of land ownership in the agricultural-forest fringes and always ask for permission before entering private lands. Hunters wanting to do more walk-in hunting should be looking at the Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area west of Forest Grove as a good option. Other areas to consider include Trask Mt., Stony Mt. and Neverstill.

North Santiam Unit

Declining elk numbers within the Mt. Hood National Forest will make for poor elk hunting on public lands and hunter success should be slightly below average on lower elevation private timberlands. The 2012 bull ratios (17 bulls per 100 cows) declined from a high of 23 bulls per 100 cows observed in 2011. Hunters heading for the Mt. Hood National Forest will find elk highly scattered and difficult to locate. Scout early and often to be successful there. Places to begin include Timothy Lake, Rhododendron Ridge and Granite Peaks. At lower elevations, hunters should explore the Abiqua Basin, Butte Creek, Upper Molalla River and Eagle Creek.

radio-collared black-tailed deer

A radio-collared black-tailed deer in Western Oregon. It’s legal to harvest an animal with a collar, but please return the collar to ODFW.
– Photo by ODFW –

South Willamette Watershed District (S. Santiam, McKenzie, N. Indigo wildlife management units)


Black-tailed deer populations remain below historic levels. There are still deer available but hunters need to hunt hard and smart in order to have consistent success. The bright spot is that surveys last fall indicate that post season buck ratios remain strong with an overall ratio of 31 bucks per 100 does in the District with three and four point bucks accounting for 46% of the bucks observed. This means there is the potential for hunters to take some mature bucks again this year.    

South Santiam Unit

The B&B Fire area of the southeast Santiam offers one of the better places to find deer on National Forest land within the District. The burn is getting brushy which is good for deer populations but can make hunting challenging. The southwest portion of the Santiam unit is primarily private lands and hunters should verify the access policy of the particular timber landowner where they plan to hunt. 

McKenzie Unit

Finding deer on national forestlands in the McKenzie can be challenging. Hunters should look for areas with recent thinning projects or controlled burns. Some thinning has occurred around the North Fork of the Middle Fork Willamette and in the Scott Creek area west of the Mt Washington Wilderness. There are strong deer populations on Weyerhaeuser property in the Wendling and Fall Creek areas. Access is often limited to specific days and areas. Please call the Weyerhaeuser Access Hotline at 1-888-741-5403 for the latest on hunter access restrictions. Hunters should be aware that the Wendling Travel Management Area is in effect this year and has been expanded north to the Calapooia Mainline Road. The TMA is in effect through the end of general rifle deer season, including the youth extension weekend. This project has increased hunter access with 7-day a week hunting but vehicle travel is restricted to designated open roads. Open roads will be designated with orange road markers in the field. Access may be closed or restricted due to fire danger, management needs, or timber harvest activities. Call the Weyerhaeuser Access Hotline at 1-888-741-5403 prompt #6 for updated information on access restrictions. Hunter compliance is important for this increase in access to continue into future years. The Wendling TMA has been very popular with hunters and experiences a high volume of use. It is estimated that 4597 vehicle use days occurred in 2011 and 3551 vehicle use days occurred in 2012 despite the open period being restricted due to fire danger. Hunters concerned with potential crowding can take advantage of the 7 day a week access to hunt mid-week.

N. Indigo

The northern portion of the Indigo unit constantly has a high buck ratio but can be challenging to hunt. The 2009 Tumblebug Fire is starting to produce forage and deer populations in the area should begin to respond. Outside the burn, hunters will want to concentrate their effort near old timber harvest units or natural openings that provide forage. Deer numbers have started improving on private timberlands southeast of Cottage Grove with recent timber harvest activity. Please call the Weyerhaeuser Access Hotline at 1-888-741-5403 for the latest on hunter access restrictions. Hunters may encounter radio collared deer in the Indigo Unit. Hunters are reminded to contact ODFW if they harvest a radio collared deer. 

Bull Elk
- Royalty Free Image-


Expect elk hunting to be similar to recent years. Bull ratios have remained at or above management objective for most areas but hunters need to work hard in order to be successful. Hunters tend to have higher success rates in the coastal units than in the Cascades.

Archery, muzzleloader (200M1), and Disability Permit hunters need to be aware that antlerless elk are no longer included in the bag limit on national forest owned lands in the Cascade units. Please check the 2013 Big Game Regulations for bag limits and season dates for the units you hunt. This bag limit change did not affect lands owned by other entities such as private lands or BLM lands.   

Elk populations in the Cascades appear stable to increasing on private lands but decreasing on national forestlands. The result is lower hunter success rates as hunters have a difficult time finding elk on national forestland and have limited access to private lands. All this makes pre-season scouting very important. Hunters are advised to look just outside high elevation wilderness areas for elk as the wilderness areas tend to be lacking in high quality forage. More elk are likely to be found along the higher elevation fringes where past timber management improved forage. Lower elevation private timberland is also a good place to hunt for elk when access is allowed by the landowner. Timber harvest on these lands has increased forage while the motor vehicle access restrictions in place most of the year keeps disturbance low. In areas where access is restricted to weekends only, hunters may want to hunt the private lands during the weekend and move to the national forest to hunt the weekdays.

Northwest Big Game Hunting Locations

Remember you can now find many hunting locations and even scout from home using ODFW’s Oregon Hunting Access Map.

ODFW Wildlife Management Units

Oregon Travel Management Area Maps

Saddle Mountain

Saddle Mountain, near Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area
- Photo by Jim Yuskavitch, ODFW -

North Coast Watershed District (Saddle Mt., Wilson, west Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw)

Along the north coast (Saddle Mt, Wilson, Trask units), Saddle Mt. is 25% state forest lands, Wilson 70% state forest lands, and Trask 50% state and federal forestlands. Hunters have access to 1.5 million acres of private forestland in the three units plus Scappoose through the A&H program’s North Coast Access Area (no map available, see pg 96 of Big Game Regs for description). Within the Wilson unit, note there is a travel management area in the greater God’s Valley area on Oregon Department of Forestry lands. The Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area is open for some big game hunting; see page 98 of Big Game Regs for details. Take note of closures of certain areas including posted portions of the Beneke Tract during the Saddle Mt elk rifle and archery season and the entire Fishhawk tract, which is a refuge.

ODF also notes some gate closures in western portion of Tillamook State Forest: Temporary gate closures resume for 2013 hunting season (maps below)

Along the mid-coast, (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), the Siuslaw National Forest and BLM lands provide some quality deer and elk hunting opportunities. Try BLM lands in the eastern portion of the Siuslaw and state Department of Forestry lands in east Alsea unit for good deer hunting. Private industrial forestlands are usually very accessible to hunters outside of fire season thanks to the A&H program including the Stott Mt .-North Alsea TMA (map second page) (pdf). Several travel management areas operate in the mid-coast; see page 96 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations. Please respect motorized access restrictions, which help keep bull ratios healthy, protect important wintering habitat for elk and provide areas for walk-in hunting. Permanent road closures exist in western portion of Siuslaw National Forest south of Hwy 34, in Polk County near the old Valsetz town site, in the Hadsall Creek area near Mapleton. There is also a large seasonal road closure on several private industrial forestlands in the north Alsea (north of Hwy 20) and Stott Mt units. Hunters using the Siuslaw National Forest should obtain a Motor Vehicle Use Map.

North Willamette Watershed District (Scappoose, east Trask, north Willamette and north Santiam)

The Mt Hood National Forest and most BLM lands should be open to public access, even during dry fall weather. Be aware of any public use restrictions before you hunt. Hunters should always carry a shovel, fire extinguisher, and gallon of water when hunting in case you come across a smoldering campfire. There is limited road maintenance in Mt Hood NF so be careful when negotiating over-grown or water-damaged roads. If you plan to hunt deer or elk in the Mt. Hood, take plenty of time to scout beforehand because big game are scattered and difficult to locate in heavy vegetation and rugged terrain. Hunters heading to the coastal units of the North Willamette Watershed should always check the access policies of industrial forestland owners before heading out into the field. Many of these timber companies have easily accessible hunter hotlines where you can gather the most up-to-date information available. Travel management agreements, funded by ODFW’s Access and Habitat Program, limit motorized access to protect wildlife and the environment and enable walk-in hunting: Abiqua Basin Access Area, Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area, North Coast Travel Management Area. Visit the Access and Habitat program page for more opportunities.

South Willamette Watershed District (east Alsea, north Indigo, McKenzie, south Santiam, south Willamette, Siuslaw)

The Abiqua Basin A&H project (mostly the N. Willamette Watershed District), Thomas Creek A&H project, and the Wendling Travel Management Area A&H project allow for hunter access during the general rifle deer season. These areas are open during the week as well as on weekends. In general private timberlands are good areas to hunt if access is allowed and it will be restricted especially during archery season. Call the Weyerhaeuser Hunter/Access Hotline for access information (541-741-5403 or 1-888-741-5403). On the national forest, hunters may want to try the B&B fire area that burned the Santiam Pass and Mt Jefferson Wilderness area in 2003. The burned area is recovering and producing abundant forage. In addition to the Wendling TMA, there are five additional Cooperative Travel Management Areas in the McKenzie unit. Three of these are permanent, one is September thru November, and one is three days prior to the general Cascade elk season and runs for the length of that season.

NORTHWEST Region Upland Bird

2008 Youth Pheasant HuntFree youth upland bird hunts in September – sign up online or at a license sales agent, must be hunter education certified and be accompanied by an adult.

  • Corvallis (Monmouth), EE Wilson Wildlife Area, Sept. 14, 21, 22. Call tel. 541-745-5334 for more information.
  • Eugene (Fern Ridge Wildlife Area): Sept. 7, 8. No advance registration needed, hunters can begin checking in at 7 a.m. at check station in Nielsen Rd parking lot. Call 541-935-2591 for more information.
  • Portland (Sauvie Island Wildlife Area): Sept. 14, 15. Call tel. 503-621-3488 for more information.

Fee pheasant hunting

ODFW stocks pheasants at these locations to create hunting opportunity. Hunting requires an upland bird validation, HIP validation and $17 fee pheasant tag; bag limit two roosters. See regulations for more details.

E.E. Wilson, Oct. 1-31
Fern Ridge, Sept. 9-Oct. 6
Sauvie Island, Sept. 16-29

Return mountain quail and grouse wings and tails

Please return wings and tails if you take one of these birds; they provide important information about populations. Remove one entire wing and whole tail including small feathers. Place in paper collecting bags (your own or those provided at ODFW offices), one bird per bag. Mark the bag with the species, date taken, county taken and general location. Drop it off at a designated collection sites (ODFW offices or collection barrels). Freeze the bag if you will be delayed in dropping it off. See pg 42 of regs for details.

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. Based on moderate weather conditions during the nesting season, production of grouse broods should be average with mountain quail production average to good. 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. 

Mid Coast (Lincoln, western Lane counties) – Ruffed grouse and mountain quail numbers appear to be low again this year. Their populations are scattered.  Hunt for mountain quail in brushy clearcuts and near gravel roads but realize they become difficult to find once the fall rains begin. Ruffed grouse are usually observed along streams and in well-developed or older forest areas. Grouse are typically observed by deer and elk hunters.  Blue grouse are are rare and are found only at the highest elevations.

North Willamette District (Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Columbia, Yamhill, Marion counties) – Staff observations indicate an average production year for grouse and mountain quail this year so hunting is likely to be similar to the past few seasons.  Hunters looking to harvest both ruffed and sooty (blue) grouse should concentrate their efforts in the Cascade Mountains.  Covering lots of ground in newer clearcuts with a well-trained dog should help hunters find a few scattered coveys of mountain quail. 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. 

South Willamette District (Marion, Polk, Linn, Lane, Benton counties) – The unusually warm, dry spell early this spring allowed the blue and ruffed grouse to get some early broods off this year. Biologists are seeing a fair number of forest grouse broods and hunters should expect a few more young grouse in their bag this year. Some large mountain quail and California quail broods have been observed; however many of the chicks are very small indicating these broods are from late season hatches. There are plenty of turkeys but most are on private land, particularly small landowners on the edge of the valley, so prepare to knock on some doors.  

Upland game bird hunting locations: Explore Oregon’s Hunting Access Map for bird hunting locations. Try ODFW’s Sauvie Island (Portland), EE Wilson (Monmouth) and Fern Ridge (Eugene) wildlife areas. Some industrial private forest lands are accessible through the Access and Habitat Program. See page 28-34 of the Game Bird Regulations for more information on hunting locations.

Northwest Region Waterfowl

gadwell drake and hen

Gadwall Drake
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

Resident mallards will continue to provide fair early-season hunting along the Willamette River and in local ponds, wetlands and lakes. Early duck hunting should also be fair to good on coastal bays. A mix of ducks (mainly wigeon, pintails, mallards and divers) should be available in larger north coast estuaries, such as the lower Columbia River and Tillamook, Nestucca and Nehalem 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.

Late-season hunting is expected to be good for migrant ducks and geese when cold winter weather brings northern migrants into the state. Duck hunters should scout for good spots on backwater sloughs, or secure permission to hunt private properties.


Though restrictive, goose hunting opportunities in the Willamette Valley and lower Columbia River should be good. This year the daily bag limit on cackling Canada geese has been increased to three in both the NW Oregon General Zone and the NW Oregon Permit Zone. See pg 16 of the Oregon Game Bird Regs for details.

Healthy resident Canada goose populations and very liberal bag limits should provide very good opportunities for September waterfowl hunters willing to do some pre-season scouting to learn the birds’ movement patterns. Resident goose populations can be found throughout the Willamette Valley, lower Columbia River and coastal estuaries. Pre-scouting goose movements is an essential part of goose hunting.

See the Open Fields program page for opportunities to hunt on private land.  
North Coast - On the north coast, expect continued 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 north 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.

North Willamette District – Waterfowl hunting should be good this season with hunters having the best chance for success early in the season for locally produced birds and following colder weather when birds move south. Finding locations to hunt is difficult in the North Willamette Watershed without access to private lands. Hunters without this access should explore opportunities to hunt waterfowl along the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. 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 available at the Marine Board website. 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 – Waterfowl hunting on Sauvie Island Wildlife Area should be above average this year with waterfowl population at a near all-time high nationwide. 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 late this year due to the wet spring and summer. In addition, more low lying areas were incorporated into a new “moist soil” management program, which provides an abundance of natural food sources. Numerous wetlands and hunt areas will be flooded prior to the season. Ongoing work on wetland and food resources on the wildlife area will continue to improve hunting in future years. The Northwest Oregon Special Permit Goose Zone will open again 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. 27, Nov. 16, Dec. 8 and 25 and Jan. 12. See page 22 of the Game Bird Regulations for details.

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

View from the trail at Royal Ave. on the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area
- Photo by Chris Schubothe, ODFW-

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area - 2013-14 Hunt Season – Fern Ridge Wildlife Area is located west of Eugene and offers a variety of hunting opportunities. The area is open for archery deer hunting, general season deer hunting (shotguns only, no rifles), mourning dove season, September Canada goose season (closed to goose hunting during general season), pheasant and quail hunting including the Western Oregon Fee Pheasant Hunt Program from Sept. 9 to Oct. 6, and duck hunting including a reservation waterfowl hunt program. There is a youth upland hunt program on Sept 7 and 8 and designated youth waterfowl hunt days on Sept 21 and 22 (statewide, hunters 15 yrs and younger) and Nov. 30 and Dec. 23 (reservation hunt for hunters age 17 and younger). The Oregon Game Bird Regulation booklet outlines all Fern Ridge Wildlife Area hunting regulations.

A free daily self-service hunt permit is required for hunting in five units (East Coyote, West Coyote, Fisher Butte, Royal Amazon and Kirk Park units).  Seasonal access restrictions are in effect for all visitors from Oct. 7- April 30. Hunters, birdwatchers, and hikers should become familiar with area regulations and access restrictions before entering the field.

Fern Ridge is coming off another great year for duck hunting, with about 4,100 ducks taken last year.  This is the second highest harvest since record keeping began in the late 1980s and follows a record setting season in 2011-2012. During duck season, the entire lake area and majority of the wildlife area remain open to hunting daily. Concurrent with duck season dates, the Fisher Butte and Royal Amazon units remain open seven days a week with hunting ending at 1 p.m. each day. These units are closed to all public access daily after 2 p.m. to provide daily predictable periods of sanctuary for wintering waterfowl. The East and West Coyote units are closed to all access from Oct. 7-Nov. 15 with the reservation waterfowl hunt beginning Nov. 16. Application information for the reservation hunt can be found in the game bird regulation booklet. The eastern portion of the Kirk Park unit is open three days a week during duck season, with hunting allowed on a Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and holidays. Shooting hours are posted in the game bird regulations shooting hours table. Hunters are encouraged to carefully read posted regulation signs and the printed game bird hunting regulations. For questions or to obtain a map, contact the wildlife area at 541-935-2591.

Hunters need to be aware that the warm, dry spring has resulted in limited water availability at Fern Ridge. Most ponds and impoundments will have low or no water until they fill with the winter rains. Fern Ridge Reservoir is extremely low this summer which will further slow the filling of impoundments in the Royal Amazon and Fisher Butte units.

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 ($7) and annual permits ($22) will be available where fishing and hunting licenses are sold and on the ODFW’s website,

Waterfowl Hunting locations

Explore Oregon’s Hunting Access Map for bird hunting locations.

Try ODFW’s Sauvie Island (Portland), EE Wilson (Monmouth) and Fern Ridge (Eugene) wildlife areas. 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 Willamette River Recreation Guide on the Oregon Department of State Lands website for more info.

Black Bear
Black Bear
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Bear and Cougar in the Northwest Region

Successful bear and cougar hunters, remember check-in is mandatory. For best results, prop the animal’s mouth open with a stick after harvest. Only certain ODFW offices can check in bears and cougars; call first to confirm someone is available to help you. See the Oregon Big Game Regulations to learn exactly what is required.

North Coast Watershed District (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw wildlife management units)

The bear outlook looks fair to good for the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask). Bear densities tend to increase from north to south and from east to west, with the highest densities in the western fringe of the Trask WMU. This year’s early berry crops appear to be excellent, so bears will most likely be out in open areas such as clearcuts during the early part of the fall.

Along the mid-coast (Alsea, Siuslaw) bear numbers appear to be high and hunters are having good success. Fewer bears are observed or harvested in the Stott Mt unit than units to the south. Vegetation including berries are late-maturing but very abundant this year.  Areas where berries and other fruits are available will be very attractive to bears. Bears are more abundant closer to the coast than the Willamette Valley side of the coastal mountains.   Some areas within the Siuslaw unit are popular to hunters and may be fairly crowded at times.

Cougars are relatively rare along the north and mid-coast and all indications are that the population is relatively low. Recommended locations to hunt cougars are the Alsea and Siuslaw units in particular, west of Dallas, west of Dawson, and south and west of Philomath.  As with bears, predator calling is by far the most effective way to harvest a cougar.  Most cougars are harvested by hunters during the deer and elk hunting seasons.

North Willamette Watershed District: Scappoose, east Trask, north Willamette, north Santiam wildlife management units

Bear hunting in the eastern slopes of the Coast Range should be similar to previous years. The low densities of bears combined with the heavy vegetation in the Scappoose Unit and eastern portions of the Trask Unit will make animals difficult to locate. Overall harvest in these units is low and hunters participating in other big game hunts typically take most bears. Hunters targeting bears in these units should be looking for food source such as blackberry patches and abandoned fruit orchards that will concentrate bears. 

In the northern portion of the Santiam Unit, bear hunters will find higher densities of bears and average hunting opportunities this year. Food sources appear to be improved from previous years and bears are concentrated on those available food sources, making it easier for hunters to key into their location and movement patterns. As of early August, hunters are reporting multiple bear sightings during their hunts.

- Royalty Free Image-

Cougar densities remain low in the Scappoose and eastern portions of the Trask Unit and hunting success will be poor this year. Higher densities of cougar in the northern Santiam Unit will provide hunters with their best chance for success. Successful hunters in 2012 and 2011 found using predator calls that mimic a prey species to be very effective. For safety, hunters should always have a partner along when predator calling. Tracking cougars through fresh snow near concentrations of deer and elk is another technique that has proven to be effective.

South Willamette Watershed District (east Alsea, north Indigo, McKenzie, south Santiam, south Willamette, northeast Siuslaw)

Bear populations are strong in the District. One of the keys to successful bear hunting is to target the food sources and hunters in this area have a variety of food sources to target throughout the season. The berry crop this year seems to be a couple of weeks early as a result of the warm, dry spring. Hunters may need to adjust their hunting locations accordingly. Many early season berries are done producing for the year and bears are already moving on to Armenian blackberries and huckleberries.
In this area, bears tend to be found throughout the Indigo and Siuslaw units. Bears are less wide spread in the McKenzie and hunters will want to look for recent bear sign to know if bears are using the area. 

The district has plenty of cougar (except in the north coast area) but they are difficult to hunt, especially early in the season when deer and elk are scattered. Try predator calling early in the season and then hunt those concentrated deer and elk areas once there is snow and the big game start using winter range. The vast majority of cougar taken nowadays are taken incidentally while hunting for other species. As they are widespread off the valley floor in this district, you could run into them in a variety of areas. Buy your tag prior to hunting for other species so can take one if you see it.

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