Welcome to the 2012 Fall
Western Oregon hunters: Return black-tailed deer teeth
ODFW needs the teeth from harvested black-tailed deer for use in population modeling efforts. (The deer’s age can be determined from the tooth.) See this flyer for directions 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 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) had to survive a relatively cool and wet winter and spring. However, forage conditions have been excellent this summer. 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. As in 2011, 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. Hunters should check with landowners or the Department of Forestry for information on forest closures.
In 2012, the deer bag limit for archery hunters and hunters with a disability permit has been changed to 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.
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.
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.
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On the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask), elk populations continue to be robust, with the 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 two seasons.
Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), elk numbers are relatively unchanged this year: however, the observed bull ratio in the Alsea unit was slightly below management objective of 10 bulls per 100 cows. The ratio is above 10 in the Stott Mt unit. 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.
In February 2012 the observed bull ratios in the mid-coast (Alsea, Stott Mt and Siuslaw units) was above 10 bulls per 100 cows in the Alsea Unit, but below 10 in the Stott Mt unit. The Alsea, Stott Mt and Siuslaw unit’s elk populations are below management objectives at this time. The second rifle bull elk season in Siuslaw has a bag limit of one spike bull; the bull ratio there has climbed to above 10 for the first time in many years, however bulls are spread out in the unit and hunting is difficult.
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.
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.
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)
Jake Lum with his buck.
-Photo by Tod Lum-
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. An increase in post-season buck ratios in the Scappoose and eastern Trask units will provide more mature bucks for hunters while the number of bucks has decreased in the north Santiam (23 bucks per 100 does).
Cool and rainy spring weather conditions increased the level of Deer Hair Loss Syndrome in the Scappoose unit for black-tails but had little effect 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, ODFW’s A&H program and the Capitol Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association.
Increased buck escapement from last season and a minor decrease in 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.
Eastern Trask Unit
Deer surveys show an increased buck ratio and opportunities for deer hunters should be good 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 decreased to 23 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 2011 hunting season. 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.
While populations of elk in the Mt. Hood National Forest continue to decline due to limited forage opportunities, more elk can be located in 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.
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 mature bulls available for the persistent hunter. Hunting for antlerless elk should be similar to last year with just a few adjustments in tag numbers. 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 popular areas include Bacona, Rye Hill, Long Mt., Cedar Creek, Baker Point, Peterson Point and Buxton.
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 hunters 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 while elk hunter success should be slightly above average on lower elevation private timberlands. 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.
SOUTH WILLAMETTE WATERSHED DISTRICT (S. Santiam, McKenzie, N. Indigo wildlife management units)
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 –
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 25 bucks per 100 does in the District. 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.
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 through the end of general rifle deer season. This project has increased hunter access with 7-day a week hunting but vehicle travel will be 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. During 2011, the Wendling TMA was very popular with hunters and experienced a high volume of use. For example, 279 vehicles entered the TMA on the opening morning of general rifle deer season. Hunters concerned with potential crowding can take advantage of the 7 day a week access to hunt mid-week.
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. Hunters will have the best success around the edges of the burn or in areas where the fire was patchy. 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.
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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.
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.
Deer and Elk Regions: Northwest | Southwest | High Desert | Northeast
Remember you can now find many hunting locations and even scout from home using ODFW’s Oregon Hunting Access Map.
ODFW Wildlife Management Units
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 but there are access changes this year (see page 98 of Big Game Regs). 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.
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). 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. 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. Slight changes to regs for deer hunting at William Finley NWR; see page 98 of the Big Game Regs.
2008 Youth Pheasant Hunt
Free youth upland bird hunts
Sign up online or at a license sales agent for free youth pheasant hunts. Hunters age 17 and under are eligible. Details here
- Corvallis (Monmouth), EE Wilson Wildlife Area, Sept. 15, 16, 22, 23. Call tel. 541-745-5334 for more information.
- Eugene (Fern Ridge Wildlife Area): Sept. 8, 9. No advance registration needed, hunters can begin checking in at 6:30 a.m. at check station in Nielsen Rd parking lot. Call 541-935-2591 for more information.
- Portland (Sauvie Island Wildlife Area): Sept. 15, 16. 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. 10-Oct. 7
Sauvie Island, Sept. 17-30
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.
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 the wet and cool weather conditions during the nesting season, production of grouse broods should be low with mountain quail production low to average. 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. Cool, wet spring weather may have resulted in poor nest success. 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.
North Willamette District (Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Columbia, Yamhill, Marion counties) – Surveys indicate an average production year for grouse and mountain quail this year so hunting is likely to be similar to the past few seasons. Another cool, wet spring caused many birds to renest this year; those that were successful will have very small chicks when the hunting season starts. 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; many turkey hunting opportunities are on private land.
South Willamette District (Marion, Polk, Linn, Lane, Benton counties) - Cool, wet springs usually have a negative effect on the nesting success of both blue and ruffed grouse. This spring was cool and wet but biologists are seeing some grouse broods in the forest. In general, hunters should expect to find fewer grouse again this year. Mountain quail, while not common in this district, tend to nest later than the grouse and may not have been affected as severely by the weather. Hunters looking for mountain quail should seek out drier sites with a lot of brush. 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.
Upland Game Bird Regions: Northwest | Southwest | High Desert | Northeast
Cole Braun with her Gadwall drake.
-Photo by Amy Braun-
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 disperses 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.
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.
ODFW hopes to open additional private property to goose hunting in the Willamette Valley during the fall through the new Open Fields program. Properties will be announced on the Hunting Resources/Waterfowl page.
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. 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 good again this year. Last year was one of the top six seasons since 1964. The population estimates for most species are up and hunters will likely have a productive season. 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. There will be a new ADA Compliant Disabled Hunter Blind in the restored Boy’s wetland.The Northwest Oregon Special Permit Goose Zone will be closed on Sauvie Island Wildlife Area.
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. 28, Nov. 17, Dec. 9 and 26 and Jan. 13. See page 22 of the Game Bird Regulations for details.
FERN RIDGE WILDLIFE AREA - 2012-13 Hunt Season – Fern Ridge is coming off a great year for duck hunting, with nearly 5,500 taken last year, the highest since record keeping began in the late 1980s. 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. 8-Nov. 16 with the reservation waterfowl hunt beginning Nov. 17. 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.
View from the trail at Royal Ave. on the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area
- Photo by Chris Schubothe, ODFW-
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 10 to Oct 7, and duck hunting including a reservation waterfowl hunt program. There is a youth upland hunt program on Sept 8 and 9 and designated youth waterfowl hunt days on Sept 22 and 23 (statewide, hunters 15 yrs and younger) and Nov 24 and Dec 26 (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. 8- April 30. Hunters, birdwatchers, and hikers should become familiar with area regulations and access restrictions before entering the field.
ALL VISITORS are reminded that effective Jan. 1, 2012, 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, www.dfw.state.or.us.
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.
Waterfowl Regions: Northwest | Southwest | High Desert | Northeast
Successful bear and cougar hunters, remember check-in is mandatory and so is bringing in a thawed hide and skull! 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.
North Coast Watershed District (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw wildlife management units)
Oregon Fish and Wildlife
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 average this year. The low densities of bears combined with the heavy vegetation in the Scappoose Unit and eastern section of the Trask Unit will make animals difficult to locate. Overall harvest in these units is low and most bears are typically taken by hunters participating in other big game hunts. 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. Early August season hunters are reporting multiple bear sightings and ample opportunities to fill their tag.
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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 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 cool, wet spring this year has delayed all the berry crops. Hunters can expect the berries to be a couple of weeks later than usual this year. In August hunters should look for areas with early season berries, such as blackcap raspberries and trailing blackberries. Expect to find bears feeding on Armenian (Himalayan) blackberries or huckleberries when they ripen in late August or September.
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.
Bear and Cougar Regions: Northwest | Southwest | High Desert | Northeast