2022-23 game bird hunting forecast
For the 2022-23 Oregon game bird seasons, hunters will find strong upland bird population across the state, with some exceptions. Duck hunters will find a mixed bag when it comes to local duck populations and habitat conditions.
In this Article
The statewide outlook
Migratory game birds
Population surveys in Oregon and across the continent showed a mixed bag for ducks this spring. Locally, populations were up in western and northeast Oregon. However, numbers for common breeding species like mallards and gadwall in central and southeast Oregon were down.
Habitat conditions were also variable, with good to excellent conditions in the west and northeast, and fair to very poor conditions in other areas of the state. Central and southeast Oregon are still gripped by a significant drought and many wetland basins were entirely dry this spring. Those that did have water have only continued to deteriorate this summer.
While there may be good production where water was present, we expect that numbers of locally produced birds will be down in this region.
Further north conditions were variable too. Alaska reportedly had excellent breeding conditions and duck numbers were strong for most species, though pintail and scaup remained below their long-term average. Northwest Canada was generally characterized by good breeding conditions though some common species like wigeon and green-winged teal saw decreases from 2019, the last time the area was surveyed due to COVID-19. The prairies of southern Alberta were very dry this spring, and duck numbers were down in this area.
As usual, hunting success will be dependent on bird numbers and habitat conditions this fall and winter. Early in the season, those areas with good habitat conditions should provide excellent hunting opportunities for locally produced birds, as well as early migrants like wigeon, green-winged teal and pintails. Coastal estuaries and the lower Columbia River are always good western Oregon bets early in the season. East of the Cascades, water will be at a premium this year, but where it is present, hunters should find birds. Good bets are the popular Summer Lake and Klamath Wildlife Areas.
Hunters should note that conditions in the much of the lower Klamath Basin are very dry this year, and Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges just across the border in California are entirely dry. This will affect bird distribution in adjacent areas of Oregon. Hunters who plan on traveling should check with the appropriate land manger to see if the area they hope to hunt has water or not.
The late, wet spring west of the Cascades should have promoted good growing conditions for many types of moist-soil wetland plants that ducks desire. However, that late spring also delayed or precluded planting of some agricultural crops on wildlife areas and other areas of managed waterfowl habitat. When these seasonal wetlands flood back up this fall and winter, they should provide good hunting opportunities.
Locally, Oregon’s breeding western Canada goose flock continues to be robust, though surveys indicated counts declined 17 percent from last year, driven by lower counts in eastern Oregon due to the drought. Further north, after a few years of lower counts, goose populations breeding on the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta in western Alaska appear to have rebounded slightly this year. Our wintering small cackling geese increased 15 percent from last year, though they remain below the population objective of 250,000. White-fronted geese also saw increases this year, jumping 32 percent from last year. With a count of 664,000, this population remains well above their population objective of 300,000. Snow goose populations have been very robust during the past decade, leading to very liberal regulations, and we expect a large flight of snow geese this fall.
Northwest Oregon goose hunters
Waterfowl hunters should be aware that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (avian flu) has been detected in Oregon and across the continent this summer in wild waterfowl as well as backyard poultry flocks. While this disease does not present a significant health concern for humans, hunters should practice some routine hygiene precautions whenever handling wildlife. These measures also will help protect from avian flue or any other disease the bird could be carrying:
- Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling and cleaning game birds.
- Do not eat, drink, smoke or touch your face when handling birds.
- Keep the uncooked game bird and any fluid material associated with it away from other foods.
- Thoroughly clean knives and any other equipment or surfaces come in contact with uncooked birds. A good cleanser and sanitizer is a commercial chlorine-based cleaning solution or mix one third cup of chlorine bleach per one gallon of water.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after handling birds (or with alcohol-based hand products if your hands are not visibly soiled).
- Cook all game meat thoroughly (up to at least 165° F) to kill disease organisms and parasites. Use a food thermometer to ensure the breast or thigh meat has reached at least 165° F.
Please visit the ODFW website for more information and updates through the season.
Hunters should consider a mourning dove hunt this coming season. Although hunters will likely find the largest concentrations of doves in agricultural areas of eastern Oregon, huntable numbers can be found in most areas that are not heavily forested. This early-season hunt is a great way to introduce new and young hunters to wing-shooting since the weather is usually nice and no special equipment is needed.
Like mourning doves, band-tailed pigeons are another of Oregon’s migratory upland game birds. The season is short, September 15 – 23, with a 2-bird daily limit. If you go, be sure to get your band-tailed pigeon permit first. Pigeons can be found in throughout forested areas of western Oregon and are typically hunted near food sources or at ridge-top passes. Look for pigeons in forest openings or timber cuttings feeding on elderberries or cascara. If you’ve never hunted for band-tailed pigeon, here are some tips to get you started.
Get HIP in 2022-23
Remember, you must have a free HIP validation to hunt any migratory game bird including mourning doves, band-tailed pigeons and waterfowl. If you bought a Sports Pac, you also will need to redeem your upland and/or waterfowl vouchers before you hunt.
Upland game birds
Upland game bird hunters will find strong upland bird populations across the state, with some exceptions. Upland bird populations can vary greatly from year to year depending on weather and habitat conditions. Upland production surveys indicate improvements in both density and production from the previous year for chukar and California quail. The winter of 2021-22 was dry and mild, until a large precipitation event in April and May. This moisture was much needed in terms of forage, cover and available water. May remained very cool and rainy into mid-June, which is peak hatch for wild turkey, forest grouse, and pheasant. Nest and brood survival was impacted to some degree. Hunters may see younger chicks on the ground, the product of successful renesting by hens that failed initially.
Despite the well-timed spring moisture, Eastern Oregon is still experiencing severe drought that has reduced soil moisture, surface water, vegetation, and has come with some extreme temperatures. Hunters will find upland birds using the remaining “green groceries” of the high desert, valuable wet meadows and riparian areas with abundant forage plants and insects. Central and south-central Oregon are experiencing the most serious drought with improved conditions in Malheur County and throughout the Blue Mountains. Southwestern Oregon is also experiencing drought conditions that have made for extreme fire danger in hot and dry forests. The rest of western Oregon has experienced abundant precipitation but has not been immune to some high summer temperature.
Here’s what our surveys found for upland bird species:
This does not seem to be the year for pheasants in eastern Oregon, likely due to poor hatching conditions. Hunters can still find birds in the Heppner, Umatilla, Mid-Columbia, and Harney districts, but the birds continue their long-term decline in the Malheur District, driven by reduced habitat more than environmental factors. Western Oregon pheasants remain in certain margins of agricultural land but are generally hard to find.
California (valley) quail populations are in good shape, well-adapted to the desert environment as long as they can find a water source. Production was generally up in most districts, though the Malheur District was down somewhat. California quail are most abundant in Harney, Malheur, Grant, Heppner and the Mid-Columbia districts.
Chukar, known for their large annual population fluctuations, will likely have an above average year with quite a bit of variation across the state. In particular, the Baker portion of the Snake River is showing strong populations, and the Malheur District is indicating greatly improved populations from the previous two years. Overall chukar were down in the Harney District, but biologists believe chukar populations are better than the counts showed. The Mid-Columbia District is reporting strong chukar production on the John Day and Deschutes.
Forest grouse populations may be scarce in certain areas this fall due to poor weather during hatching. There should be good carryover of adults, but time will tell whether forest grouse hens were able to successfully renest. Hunters should find plenty of adult forest grouse in the Cascades and Coast range. Best bets for eastside forest grouse hunting are found in the Wallowa and Blue Mountains of northeast Oregon.
What’s new for regulations
- The daily turkey bag limit for western Oregon fall turkey season increases to two turkeys of either sex. The season bag limit of two fall turkeys remains unchanged.
- Daily bag and possession limits for Canada geese in the Northwest Zone decrease to 3 and 9, respectively.
Youth waterfowl hunts
State youth waterfowl season
This hunt on Sept. 24 and 25, gives young hunters the first shots of the season. To participate, hunters must:
- be 17 or younger,
- have successfully completed hunter education,
- have the proper hunting licenses, validations, and federal duck stamp for their age category, and
- be accompanied by a non-hunting adult 21 years of age or older.
Special youth waterfowl hunts
In addition to the statewide youth season, several wildlife areas/refuges hold special waterfowl hunts for youth only:
- Baskett Slough NWR: Sept. 24 & 25
- Fern Ridge WA: Nov. 26, Dec. 28
- Klamath WA: Oct. 22
- Sauvie Island WA: Oct. 29, Nov. 13, Dec. 10 & 18, Jan. 15, 2023
- Tualatin River NWR: Nov. 12, 20 & 26, Dec. 4, 10, 18 & 24, Jan. 1 & 7, 2023
- Umatilla NWR: Nov. 12
Some of these hunts may require advanced application and registration. See the current Oregon Game Bird Regulations for more information.
Youth upland bird hunts
Youth chukar hunt
ODFW will partner with the Klamath Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association to offer a youth chukar hunt, Oct. 24-25, on the Lower Klamath Hills Regulated Hunt Area. Advance registration is required. See the current Oregon Game Bird Regulations for more information.
Youth pheasant hunts
There are several free youth pheasant hunts around the state. ODFW and its partners stock pheasants at these special events, which are open to youth 17 and younger who have successfully completed hunter education. See why you should consider a youth pheasant hunt for your child. Pre-registration is required for most events.
- Sept. 10-11, Fern Ridge WA (Eugene)
- Sept. 17-18, Denman WA (Central Point), Klamath WA (Klamath Falls), Ladd Marsh WA (La Grande), Sauvie Island WA (Portland). Central Oregon (Madras) and John Day.
- Sept. 24-25, Coquille Valley WA (Charleston), E.E. Wilson WA (Monmouth), Irrigon WA (Pendleton) and White River WA (Tygh Valley)
- Oct. 22, Klamath WA (Klamath Falls)
Return wings and tails
Please return wings and tails of mountain quail and forest grouse; 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 where taken and general location taken. Drop it off at a designated collection sites (ODFW offices or collection barrels). Freeze the bag if you can’t drop it off right away.
Find more information, including a map of barrel locations.
Eastern Oregon upland game bird forecast
Upland game bird hunters should see a better than average year in Baker County. A mild winter and favorable spring conditions led to good chick production. Birds had good reproduction, chicks were of good size, and broods were generally large.
Quail seem to be still trying to recover from the hard winter of 2016-17 and their numbers have been down the last several years. Hunters should expect to see birds scattered in pockets of good habitat. A&H properties offer good upland hunting and access to public land.
Crook and Jefferson counties
Hunting opportunities are limited in central Oregon as most upland bird populations are on private lands. The best opportunities for doves will be at lower elevations, including private agricultural lands, and adjoining BLM and Crooked River National Grasslands. Doves may use public lands for roosting and watering, and scouting these areas lands can help hunters locate these hunting opportunities.
The Eurasian collared dove population is increasing in this district, and hunters can target these birds with no closed season or bag limit. Forest grouse inhabit the Ochoco National Forest, but are less abundant than in other parts of the state.
California quail prefer lower elevation brushy habitat, particularly near agricultural and riparian areas. Although most of these habitat types are on private lands, some public opportunity exists on BLM lands and at the Prineville Reservoir Wildlife Area.
Upland game bird species are limited by the climate and available habitat in this district. Biologists believe most upland species production was fair this year, despitelate spring heavy precipitation which caused upland birds to re-nest. Re-nesting attempts were mostly successful.
California quail populations are healthy with most found on private lands. Remember to ask for permission before entering private lands.
Good forest grouse habitat is limited in the district, but populations are stable, albeit at low numbers in the Cascade portion of the district. Drier than normal conditions may have changed distribution of grouse across the landscape.
Mountain quail are slowly increasing and are now legal to harvest. The daily bag limit for mountain quail in eastern Oregon is limited to two birds.
Dove hunters are encouraged to take advantage of the expanding Eurasian collared dove population, which has no closed season or bag limit.
Trend counts for quail, turkey and chukar are down slightly for the 2022 season while forest grouse were difficult to find in surveys. However, they tend to follow the same pattern as other birds and are likely down slightly as well. The likely cause if this decrease is the unusually cool and wet spring.
Turkey and chukar offer the best opportunities this season for upland hunters, with turkey widely distributed through the county. Turkeys tend to congregate in large numbers in the John Day Valley, Ritter area and Monument during winter months. However, many of these birds are on private land so hunter must be sure to obtain permission before hunting. Turkey season starts September 1 in Grant County. This allows hunters the opportunity to harvest turkeys on public lands before turkeys migrate to private lands.
The Philip W. Schneider Wildlife Area is open to the public and offers good bird hunting. Quail, both California and mountain, can be found in brushy and riparian areas throughout the county but hunters will have to work to flush them out of cover. Hunters will find grouse throughout the national forest with blue grouse on ridge tops, like Strawberry Mountain or Vinegar Hill, and ruffed along brushy creek bottoms, like Murderers Creek or Camp Creek.
Upland bird game bird hunting in Harney County is expected to be average and similar to last season. Last winter was extremely mild and should not have impacted upland bird populations. This spring and summer have been relatively high amounts of precipitation leading to good forage conditions for chicks. This appears to have resulted in fair production for most upland birds.
Chukar –Trend surveys found 72.7 birds/10 miles which is a 37 percent decrease compared to last year and a 1.4 percent decrease from the 10-year average. However, these declines are likely related to low water levels limiting survey effort on one brood route. Production was only fair with 2.1 chicks/adult, which is about 16 percent below the long-term average. Production appeared to be better in the Steens Mountain and Malheur River areas than in the far south end of the county.
California quail – Trend surveys found 34.7 birds/10 miles which represents a 20 percent increase from last year and is 14 percent above the 10-year average. Production was fair with 3.5 chicks/adult, which is above the 10-year average.
Pheasants -- Most pheasant hunting opportunity is found on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. No formal surveys are conducted, but observations suggest that while some pheasant production occurred on the refuge, habitat conditions are still being negatively affected by drought.
Klamath and Lake counties
In Klamath and Lake counties, a wet spring provided a positive vegetative response despite persistent drought impacts to localized populations.
The best areas for forest grouse are in the Cascades on Fremont-Winema National Forest or private timberland that’s open to public access. Look for blue grouse along ridge tops in more open forest habitats in both Klamath and Lake counties, and ruffed grouse along riparian areas in the Cascade Mountains. There are very few ruffed grouse in Lake County.
Remember there is a two-bird bag limit for mountain quail in eastern Oregon. In Lake County, California quail appeared have had a better year than expected, with most birds occurring on private land. Brood counts are high in most of the valleys within Lake Co. Klamath county brood observations indicate good nesting success.
Identify this species and its habitatocus around agricultural areas and forest openings where food sources are abundant. Ask permission to hunt private lands. Be sure of your identification before you hunt these birds, which are smaller and darker than the Eurasian collared dove.
Eurasian collared doves are expanding throughout Lake and Klamath counties. These birds have no protections in Oregon, so there are no closed seasons or limits to their harvest. A hunting license is required on public land. Hunters should focus around agricultural areas and forest openings where food sources are abundant. Be sure of your identification before you hunt these birds, which are larger and lighter than mourning doves with a distinctive band around the back of the neck. Identify this species and its habitat
California quail production was fair on Summer Lake Wildlife Area and should provide good hunting opportunities. The northern portions of the wildlife area along Thousand Springs Lane (Lake Co. Road 4-17) up towards Lake View Lane (Lake Co. Road 4-18) and homestead sites such as the Turner Place are the best places to find quail.
In Lake County, the best chukar hunting opportunities are along the desert rims such as Diablo, Coglan, Abert and Coleman in the southeast portion of the county. Many places that historically have held chukar in the county are dry. Think outside the box when pursuing chukar this year in Lake Co.
Wild turkey are distributed throughout the southern portion of the Keno Unit. Several transplants and natural production have resulted in an increase of birds on the landscape in recent years available for the spring turkey season. There is no fall turkey season in Klamath or Lake county. In Lake County, turkey numbers are very low and many of the birds are located on private lands
Wild pheasant numbers remain at extremely low levels. Unlimited Pheasants will be releasing pheasants at Klamath Wildlife Area and selected private lands open to the public. The Summer Lake Wildlife Area doesn’t release pheasants, and wild pheasant populations on the wildlife area, already very low, appear to be down this year with very few broods having been observed this past summer.
California quail production within the wildlife area was good this year, while pheasant production looks to be poor.
Last winter was very mild and dry which was good for over winter survival for upland birds. This year moisture came later in the spring which greatly improved range conditions and benefited chukar and quail.
Chukar - Surveys on established routes yielded 45 birds per 10 miles, this is a 78 percent increase from last year and 2 percent below the 10-year average of 45 birds per 10 miles. Brood production was good at 11.1 chicks per brood but total number of brood classified was significantly higher than previous 2 years. Most notable increase in chukar number was in the northern part of Malheur County.
Pheasant - Surveys along established routes yielded .9 birds per 10 miles, a 77 percent decrease in number of birds observed from last year’s survey and 86 percent below the 10-year average. Chick production was poor at 2 chicks per brood. Hunting prospects will vary depending on the farming practices in the area where you have permission to hunt. The outlying areas around Willow Creek and Vale have higher bird numbers than areas closer to Ontario and Nyssa.
There are very few public lands in the area available to pheasant hunters and the few parcels that are available tend to get hunted daily. One option for private lands access is the Cow Hollow fundraiser to benefit the Cow Hollow Park.
California quail - Surveys on established routes yielded 36 quail per 10 miles, a 9 percent decrease from last year and 12 percent below the 10-year average. Production was good at 9.7 chicks per brood with good production observed in range and agricultural lands.
Mid-Columbia counties (Hood, Wasco, Sherman)
Summer brood counts were mixed this year and varied greatly by species. Thus far fire activity has been less than normal and good spring rains seem to have benefitted some species.
Pheasant numbers have been relatively low throughout the district over the past 10 years. Fewer than normal birds were counted on this year’s surveys, but this may have been due to a late wheat harvest across the region during the survey period. Anecdotal reports from areas that have held pheasants in the past indicate that numbers should be comparable to last year.
Pheasants can be found in and around farmlands throughout Sherman and Wasco counties primarily on private lands. Habitat is a limiting factor for these birds within the district so focus on areas with adequate cover and water. There are opportunities to harvest pheasants on private lands enrolled in ODFW’s UCAP program. Call The Dalles field office at 541-296-4628 to learn more about this program. There are some limited pheasant hunting opportunities on public land primarily near the breaks of the Deschutes and John Day River canyons.
Chukar hunting is the premier upland hunting opportunity in the Mid-Columbia district. Summer surveys indicated that the hatch this year was good to excellent in most areas. Counts were double that of the 10-year average. Hunters can find chukar on public and private lands throughout The John Day and Deschutes River canyons. Popular access points include the Macks Canyon access road in the Deschutes, the Lower Deschutes Wildlife Area, and Cottonwood Canyon State Park in The John Day canyon. In early season water sources are a good place to start searching for birds. As the season progresses hunters will need to walk farther from access points to find birds. Later in the season snowfall can present an opportunity to find concentrations of birds where snow has melted or been blown off hillsides exposing bare ground.
Gray partridge (Huns) counts increased slightly this year compared to the 10-year average. They are almost exclusively a private land hunting opportunity. Common habitat for Huns includes grasslands, wheat stubble, and heavy cover adjacent to farmlands. Hunters can also try hunting UCAP properties within the district for Huns.
Surveys indicate California quail populations are beginning to stabilize after the substantial decrease in count numbers in 2019. This year 381 birds were counted compared to 145 in 2019. This is, however, slightly less than number of birds counted last year. Quail are mostly associated with heavy cover adjacent to riparian areas.
Sooty and ruffed grouse can be found in forested portions of Hood River and Wasco County. There are relatively few grouse of either species throughout the Mid-Columbia district and are mainly concentrated in the Hood unit and the western part of the White River unit. Both species were counted in low numbers during spring and summer surveys in the Mid-Columbia district.
Hunters can find mountain quail in forested portions of the district. They are rarely counted on surveys; therefore it is difficult to report trends over time. Look for brushy areas that are two to 10 years post burn or timber harvest.
Turkey numbers had been increasing throughout all three counties in the Mid-Columbia district. However, turkey count data indicated a decrease of 42 percent when compared to the 10-year average this summer. There is a potential that spring rains had a negative impact on young chicks.
Hunters should be aware that the Hood and White River Units are closed to fall turkey hunting, but the Maupin and Biggs units are included in the general Eastern Oregon season. For these units try hunting near canyon bottoms with good roosting trees. There are also private land hunting opportunities where suitable roosting trees and water sources are available.
Morrow, Gilliam and Wheeler counties
Hunters will find it a little harder this year to locate coveys of birds. This year’s counts indicate that all upland bird species have declined from last year’s counts. Mourning doves were the only species in this area that remained relatively the same. Hunters can access lands in the Upland Cooperative Access Program, and the Heppner Regulated Hunt Area (RHA) for upland bird hunting. This year there was a reduction in size of the Heppner RHA area from 63 mi2 to 22 mi2. An updated map can be found here or by calling the Heppner District office. Also, see ODFW’s Columbia Basin Bird Hunting Guide for additional information.
The majority of upland hunting is on private land, so be sure to ask permission prior to hunting. Hunters looking for public land can access the Columbia Basin Wildlife Areas, including Power City, Irrigon, Coyote Springs and Willow Creek. We are seeing good numbers of quail at Irrigon and Willow Cr. Be sure to get youth hunters signed up for the youth pheasant hunt at Irrigon Wildlife Area. Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge is also an option for upland hunting. See the attached document for refuge regulations.
August surveys indicate that the pheasant population is still down this year in Umatilla County, but data gathered outside of regular surveys indicate brood numbers to be fairly normal. Quail surveys indicate the population to be about average and mourning dove numbers appear to be excellent. There are some gray partridge and chukar in suitable habitat in the county but none were observed on surveys this year.
The best hunting opportunities are pheasant on the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area and forest grouse on national forests. Hunters should work ridge tops above 5,000 feet for blue grouse and stream corridors with heavy cover and water for ruffed grouse.
Ladd Marsh is open Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday and federal holidays Aug. 1 through Jan. 31.
Pheasant: We wrapped up our youth hunt this past weekend with lots of shooting and 56 participants harvested 69 pheasants. It was a great year with many raving about the numbers of birds they saw while out hunting. Our second hatch seems to have come pretty late in the summer so a lot of birds were unidentifiable and will still be that way for the opener. This is good news for many as those birds will mature throughout the season and provide for extended opportunities!
Quail seem to be still rebounding but fair numbers have been seen on the area but many hold tight to safety zones. Our mourning dove hunting has gained popularity with over 100 doves harvested in the first few days of the hunt, but their number have plummeted as many have headed south with the cold nights last week. Overall, our upland numbers seem to be fair to good and we are excited to kick off another season here shortly!
Hunters will find upland game birds throughout Ladd Marsh providing ample hunting opportunity for all. Grassland, fencerows, brush and areas adjacent to agricultural fields are good locations to key on -- but don’t overlook dry and receding wetlands. The wetland habitat provides more opportunity for pheasants than all the other areas combined.
All visitors, including hunters, must have in their possession a free daily permit to access the wildlife area. Permits will be available at several self-check-in stations at entry points and parking lots. All visitors are required to have an ODFW Wildlife Area Parking Permit to park on the wildlife area. Hunters receive a free parking permit with their hunting license. Parking permits are to be displayed on the vehicle dash. Learn more about ODFW’s Wildlife Area Parking Permit Program.
Please call the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area with any questions 541-963-4954.
Fire closures and associated access restrictions limited biologists’ ability to survey some areas this season. Mild winter and spring conditions were likely good for production; however, the drought conditions throughout the summer may have impacted brood survival due to limited forage resources.
In general, surveys for blue (dusky) and ruffed grouse indicate that blue grouse populations are still below the long-term average. Nevertheless, these species should provide fair opportunity during September and early October, especially in more heavily forested areas in the Snake River Unit.
Forest grouse hunters should be aware that there are vehicle restrictions and no camping allowed on Hancock forestlands during fire season.
Chukar remain abundant in more arid areas, specifically in patches of cheatgrass above the Imnaha River and on vegetated slopes along the Wenaha and Grande Ronde rivers.
Upland game bird hunting locations
See ODFW’s Columbia Basin Bird Hunting Guide for how to hunt the 250K acres open to hunters in the area. Also see ODFW’s Oregon Hunting Access Map and wildlife areas Summer Lake, Klamath, Lower Deschutes, Prineville Reservoir, Riverside and White River (Tygh Valley). Some private lands are accessible through the Access and Habitat program. Through ODFW's Upland Cooperative Access Program, hunters can access private land in Gilliam and Morrow counties in the Columbia Basin to hunt.
Eastern Oregon waterfowl forecast
Duck and goose hunting is expected to be similar to past years with a few resident birds available early in the season. More migrant birds will arrive later in the season and hunting should improve, especially in the Baker and Keating valleys. Almost all hunting is on private property, so be sure to ask permission before hunting. The Powder River from Baker City to Brownlee Reservoir offers the best waterfowl hunting.
Duck and geese hunting should be average for local birds prior to freeze up. Canada geese numbers have increased over past survey years. Due to historically low water levels, some areas may be high and dry for hunting season and access to waterfowl will be difficult in some areas.
Hunters hunting the upper Deschutes River area should remember that Deschutes County Ordinance prohibits the discharge of firearms in portions of the river between Sunriver and Fall River, see map.
Crook and Jefferson counties
Mallards and Canada geese are the most common waterfowl species in these counties. Hunting opportunities are limited due to the lack of wetlands, marshes, and access, especially on public lands – but hunters could try hunting the limited BLM along the Crooked River or the Prineville Reservoir. Most of the better hunting is associated with private agricultural lands where gaining access can be difficult.
Grant County offers very limited waterfowl hunting opportunities due to lack of habitat -- it’s mostly jump shooting on private land along the John Day River. There is some goose hunting along the John Day River on private lands. Be sure to seek permission before hunting.
Typically hunting is best in late fall and early winter and on agricultural lands. Be sure to get landowner permission before hunting private lands. Portions of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are open to waterfowl hunting (see the Game Bird Hunting Regulations) though hunting success and access to hunting areas is dependent on water levels in Malheur Lake. The North and South Malheur Lake Hunt Zones will both be closed to waterfowl hunting this year due to low water levels.
Early season usually is best for local and early migrant ducks. Hunting prospects will depend on Pacific Northwest weather systems moving birds into and around Klamath County before freeze-up. Persistent drought conditions have affected water availability in some portions of the county.
Most fall goose hunting opportunities are for resident Canada geese, however there are some white-fronted, snow and Ross’s geese staging in the Klamath Basin prior to continuing south. Goose hunting should improve later into the season with freezing conditions, which tend to concentrate geese near open water areas. Klamath Marsh and Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and state managed wildlife areas, in addition to private lands, offer ample hunting opportunities. Lower Klamath Lake NWR does not have water to support a waterfowl season this year.
The late goose season (Jan. 16-March 10, 2023) will again be open in all areas with the exception of Klamath Basin Refuges and Miller Island Unit at Klamath Wildlife Area. The hunt helps alleviate agricultural damage from large numbers of white-fronted, lesser snow and Ross’ geese.
Contact ODFW's Klamath Falls office at (541) 883-5732 for more information.
Klamath Wildlife Area – Miller Island Unit
The Miller Island Unit is open to hunting and public use daily through the end of September, except on the days reserved for youth waterfowl (Sept. 24-25) and upland hunts (Sept. 17-18). Hunters should expect good hunting for mourning doves early in the season. Canada goose hunting during the September Canada goose season (Sept. 10-14) is usually slow.
Opening weekend for general waterfowl and pheasant hunting seasons is Oct. 8 (reservation required) and Oct. 9. Hunt days are then every following Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from October-December and open every day in January during authorized gamebird seasons. Upland bird hunting opens at 10 a.m. during waterfowl season (see regulations for details). After Oct. 14, pheasants will be released in subunits A, B, and C of the Miller Island Unit.
A daily hunting permit is required, and hunters shall be in possession of permit while in the field. Check out is required. Daily hunt permits are available at the check station located on the North side of Miller Island Rd. just west of the railroad tracks.
Early season is usually best for local and early migrant birds, and hunters can expect to find abundant gadwalls, northern pintail, green-winged teal and mallards on the wildlife area.
Goose hunting should improve later in the season with geese using frozen ponds for loafing and the small grain fields for forage.
There is a special youth waterfowl and upland bird hunt on Oct. 22, the Miller Island Unit is open only to hunters aged 17 and younger. Hunt hours are the same as during the general season. Hunters must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older, who may not hunt. Reservations are not required for this hunt. See page 26 of the Oregon Game Bird Regulations.
Currently water availability for opening weekend and the first part of the zone 2 seasons are still unknown. A better idea of wetland conditions (water levels) will be known by the youth waterfowl hunt weekend. If there is water available for opening weekend, waterfowl hunting conditions should be good.
Contact ODFW’s Klamath Wildlife Area at (541)883-5732 for more information.
Over 60 percent of this almost 19,000-acre area is open for game bird hunting during authorized seasons. Hunting is permitted 7 days per week and a free daily hunting permit is required. Hunting permits are available at Headquarters. Hunters should be aware the wildlife area is not open during the September Canada goose season.
In most years, a fair number of mourning doves can be found early in September but they typically move south once cooler fall weather conditions arrive. The best areas to hunt on the wildlife area are from Thousand Spring Lane (Lake Co. Rd. 4-17) north toward Lake View Lane (4-18) and old homestead sites such as the Turner Place.
Waterfowl hunting conditions should be good across most of the wildlife area. Water supplies have been fairly good, but some areas like the area between Windbreak and Bullgate may be slow to flood-up. However, moist-soil annual plants should produce abundant food sources in these areas once they do flood.
Summer Lake proper has been low to dry most of the summer with most water found along the NE corner of the lake.
The early portion of the waterfowl season is usually best for local and early migrant birds, and hunters can expect to find abundant dabbling ducks such as green-winged teal, gadwall, shoveler, wigeon, pintail and mallards on the wildlife area. Waterfowl production was average this year with mallard numbers being poor, but good numbers of Canada goose, gadwall and cinnamon teal broods were observed throughout summer.
Regular season goose hunting should be fair for locally produced Canada geese. Canada goose hunting should improve later in the season with freezing conditions, which tend to concentrate geese near open water. To reduce harvest pressure on the rarer Tule white-fronted goose, the daily bag limit in Lake County is one white-fronted goose.
Most snow geese staging at Summer Lake Wildlife Area are from Wrangel Island, Russia. Production this year is unknown at this time, but the population has been on a recent upward trend. Typically, good production results in favorable hunting success due to the large number of juveniles. When production is low, hunting for wary adults is more difficult.
A large portion of this population is either wintering in NW Washington/SW British Columbia, along the Columbia River or staying on northern (Alberta) staging grounds until late in the fall when they are pushed south by winter weather. Unfortunately, these geese migrating out of Canada are now by bypassing traditional staging areas such as Summer Lake on their way to California.
Recently, staging numbers at the wildlife area appear to have stabilized at around 5-6,000 birds. It will take favorable weather conditions to encourage large numbers of geese to stage in the basin, reduce overflights to wintering areas further south, and create favorable hunting conditions.
Closure: Access to hunting areas south of Thousand Springs Lane (Lake Co. Rd 4-17, except the Foster Place) will be prohibited from Oct. 01 until 4:00 am on opening day (Oct. 8). This seven-day closure will reduce disturbance to staging waterfowl and improve hunter success. Campgrounds and open roads will remain available for use.
Many of the desert ponds dried up this summer because of mild winter conditions and very little precipitation, but those ponds that held water through the summer had fair duck and goose production. Desert ponds are also a good opportunity for early season jump shooting. Jordan Valley provides an excellent opportunity for September Canada goose hunting. Hunters need to get permission to hunt private lands.
Fair waterfowl hunting is available in the Treasure Valley (agricultural areas near the Snake River in the vicinity of Ontario, Adrian and Nyssa) most of the season, and improves significantly during cold weather events. Cold weather events reduce open water, concentrating birds and increasing the time spent foraging. Field hunting for both geese and ducks can be good for hunters willing to spend the time and effort to secure access to private land.
Mid-Columbia District (Wasco, Sherman and Hood Counties)
Duck hunting in this district is mostly jump shooting on private lands. There are also limited opportunities to setup or jump shoot along the waters of the Columbia River. Usually, the times of best success are early in the season for local birds or later in the season after the first push of colder weather.
Best access to the Columbia is by boat or at limited locations where the public can legally cross railroad tracks. For more information contact ODFW in The Dalles at 541-296-4628. Note that hunting is not allowed on most Corps of Engineers property.
Goose hunting opportunities in wheat fields should be good later in the season with most access via private land. Some private land access can be found through Upland Cooperative Access Program lands in Sherman County, but scouting is key as birds often change their flight paths in this area.
Umatilla and Morrow counties
Hunting prospects depend on weather conditions. If the region does not experience a real winter, many of the northern migrants will stay in Washington. The best hunting is usually later in the season (late November) after some weather pushes birds down from northern areas. The Columbia River is usually the best opportunity for hunters on public land, but those who can access irrigated circles in northern Morrow County usually get good goose hunting.
Habitat in the Columbia Basin still supports large numbers of wintering Canada geese and the number of snow geese wintering in this area has greatly increased in recent years.
Waterfowl hunters should not forget about the Columbia Basin Wildlife Areas (Power City, Irrigon, Coyote Springs, Willow Creek). Food crops were planted and ponds have been enhanced, all of which will make conditions better for waterfowl hunting.canad
With the removal of cattails and planting food plots, the wildlife areas are seeing more attention from mallards, gadwall, pintail and small numbers of wood ducks. The largest numbers of mallards seen on the wildlife areas typically occurs during the last few weeks of season. Waterfowl hunting on the wildlife areas are best during very windy conditions when ducks get blown off the Columbia River.
Duck and goose hunting is expected to be similar to last year. Dry conditions have left fewer broods overall. Early water could make exceptional waterfowl hunting at the start of the season. Limited public lands make Union County difficult to find waterfowl hunting opportunities. Ladd Marsh can be great waterfowl hunting at certain times throughout the season.
Well, we’re all hoping for significant precipitation in the near future. If it doesn’t come soon, our available huntable water is going to be minimal. We have a couple ponds on the area that are still holding water and a good number of birds but they are shrinking by the day.
Overall duck production in our area seems to be down -- and one can probably attribute that to the weather but geese seemed to fair well. Staff have noted the majority of ducks seen this summer were adults, which means production was poor. Mallards were the most abundant duck observed this summer but other species like gadwall, cinnamon teal and redheads were noted.
Hunters should call the office at 541 963 4954 to get a current update on water levels or plan to make a trip out on one of the open days prior to the hunting season to scout out potential locations.
All visitors including hunters must have in their possession a free daily permit to access the wildlife area. Permits are available at several self-check-in stations at entry points and parking lots. The Wildlife Area is closed 10 p.m. - 4 a.m. daily. There is no camping on the wildlife area. Both of these rules include area parking lots. Violators will be asked to leave and may be cited.
Waterfowl hunting should be similar to previous few years. Expect good hunting opportunities later in the fall and early winter when migrating birds arrive. The few resident geese Canada geese in the district have fared well, too. Most hunting is decoy hunting in agricultural fields, and jump shooting irrigation ditches so be sure to get landowner permission before hunting.
Waterfowl hunting locations
Explore bird hunting locations using ODFW’s Oregon Hunting Access Map. ODFW's Summer Lake and Klamath wildlife areas are major winter staging areas for waterfowl and provide great hunting opportunities. Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area provides opportunities in northeast Oregon. Some private lands are accessible through the Access and Habitat program. Remember to ask permission before hunting on private lands.
Western Oregon upland game bird forecast
Fee pheasant hunting at wildlife areas
ODFW stocks pheasants at these western Oregon wildlife areas – a region where there are few natural birds. To hunt, you need a license, upland bird validation, HIP validation and $17 western Oregon fee pheasant permit, which allows you to harvest two birds. Still not convinced? Check out these 7 reasons to consider a fee pheasant hunt.
- E.E. Wilson, Monmouth: Sept. 26-Oct. 31
- Fern Ridge, Eugene: Sept. 12-Oct. 9 (East and West Coyote, Fisher Butte and Royal Amazon Units)
- Sauvie Island, Portland: Sept. 19-Oct. 2 (Eastside Unit)
- Denman, Central Point: Sept. 19-Oct. 7
Weather conditions in spring and early summer can be a primary driver for upland bird chick survival and chick survival tends to drive overall abundance of birds in local populations. This spring was very wet and winter-like conditions extended late into the spring. These conditions were not likely to be positive for the survival of chicks. Considering Coos County has had pretty good conditions for chick survival most years over the past several years, overall abundance of mountain quail, California quail and ruffed grouse is good. In addition, quite a few broods that appear to be the result of late nesting attempts are being see.
Between the good nesting success of recent years and the late broods, upland bird hunting should be pretty good this year. Sooty (blue) grouse, however, appear to be in a long-term decline that is not likely due to weather conditions.
Grouse hunters should hunt the usual areas, which are closed roads with grass and clover growing on them and riparian areas with brushy cover. That being said, grouse in the Coast Range can be somewhat randomly located throughout a variety of habitats. If a hunter is observant, it is possible to pattern grouse based on where they flush. At any given time, birds will be drawn to some specific food resource and bird location can change base on the availability of the food.
As for quail, these birds are usually found around similar habitat year in and year out. Hunters will find the best mountain quail hunting near ridge tops, rocky outcroppings on hillsides and around the periphery of clear-cuts.
California quail (aka valley quail) are generally found near private agricultural lands for the most part. Due to increased timber harvest in recent years, which creates early serial habitats, California quail are being seen farther from agricultural lands this year than in the past. Hunters may find opportunities to hunt California quail in clearcuts in the vicinity of agricultural fields as opposed to only finding them in the agricultural settings.
Wild turkey populations have been increasing steadily for the past several years. Recent turkey broods have had about five poults per brood, which is pretty good for the Oregon coast and may explain increasing turkey populations in the county. Hunters will find most turkeys in and around private agricultural lands, which is their traditional habitat choice. However, one of the best ways to locate wild turkeys is to cruise forest roads looking for tracks, droppings and feathers. With the apparent expansion of turkeys locally, searching for birds in forest lands adjacent to agricultural lands is worth the time spent.
Douglas County hunters should see a good year for mountain and California quail. Surveys showed brood production/survival was above the five-year average. Also, observations after the survey period indicate good brood survival and plenty of coveys, especially on the west side of the county.
Unfortunately, grouse did not seem to fair as well. Counts were below the five-year average for the county. However, in some mid-elevation Cascade locations blue grouse appear to have better production/ survival than other populations.
California quail will be difficult for most hunters to focus on because they are primarily found on low elevation private property. Sometimes they can be found in lower elevation industrial timber property near agricultural areas. Make sure you know the property ownership and if they allow access.
Mountain quail hunters should be targeting open habitats at mid-elevations. Clear-cuts around 3-6 years old provide great habitat on industrial timber property. On federal ground be looking for natural openings and areas with shrubs or low growing vegetation in open timber stands.
Blue grouse hunting is best in mid to high elevations of the Cascades in partially open timber stands and edges between habitat types (old fires, meadows and timber thinnings).
Ruffed grouse can be found near creeks and overgrown roads mostly at mid-elevations of both the Cascades and Coast ranges.
Check local fire restrictions and closures before going hunting for the first couple months, the county is under drought condition and high fire danger. As of this writing, almost all private industrial timber lands are closed and there are several closures on BLM and Forest Service property in Douglas County.
Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties
Trend surveys suggest mountain quail numbers are down from last year. Ruffed grouse and sooty grouse numbers both appear to have decreased slightly as well this year. As always turkey numbers are very good in southern Oregon and are likely on the increase in many areas in Jackson and Josephine counties. This year the daily bag limit for fall turkeys was removed, it still remains one bird per tag with a season limit of two tags.
This was a harder year for upland game birds in the Rogue District. Hunting for mountain quail and grouse might be more difficult compared to recent years. The late cold snap and storms we saw in April earlier this year likely caused some nests to fail resulting in fewer birds hatched this year across all species. Dove numbers seem to be less this year in the Rogue Valley compared to past years, however they are a migratory species so numbers may increase as the fall progresses. Band-tailed pigeon numbers this year are on the rise from previous years.
Mountain quail are widely distributed throughout this district and are usually found near brush fields, old clear-cuts, and at higher elevations surrounded by manzanita and scree. Ruffed grouse are found in middle elevation mixed conifer and deciduous forests, near water sources, whereas Sooty grouse prefer higher elevation habitat consisting of a mix of large conifer trees, old growth timber, 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 or after the first colder temperatures arrive on the valley floor. Band-tailed pigeons are usually found at high elevations feeding on elderberries or acorns. They are a shy bird and can provide a more challenging hunt.
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. 17 and 18, and a Fee Pheasant Hunt from Sept. 19-Oct. 7. Birds will be stocked randomly during this period and the Denman Wildlife Area does not provide a stocking calendar for pheasant release. Hunters new to hunting the wildlife area are encouraged to call Clayton Barber (Denman Wildlife Area Manager) at 541-857-2397.
Mid-Coast (Lincoln and western Lane counties)
Quail populations appear to be good with reports of large coveys. Hunt for mountain quail in brushy clear-cuts and near gravel roads, but realize they will get hard to find once the fall rains begin.
Grouse appear to be at an average production rate this year. Ruffed grouse are usually found 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.
The coast range experienced abnormal berry production due to a wet spring and late frost this year. Berries are late across the board and non-existent in some areas. This may congregate bird species that feed on berries (quail, grouse, band-tailed pigeons, etc.). Focus on areas with berries to increase the likelihood that you will find birds. Remember, band-tailed pigeons are not considered upland game birds, and are listed under migratory game birds in the 2022-2023 ODFW Game Bird Regulations.
North Coast (Clatsop and Tillamook counties)
Ruffed grouse, sooty (blue) grouse and mountain quail are present in the northern coast range in moderate densities. This season is likely to be fair to average for sooty and ruffed grouse with above average numbers of mountain quail. Much of May and June was wet, which likely led to below average survival for early broods. Grouse broods seen in August contained many smaller birds, indicating that some late nesting (or re-nesting) took place. Mountain quail readily raise multiple broods and dry conditions for much of the rest of the summer usually lead to good numbers.
Ruffed grouse are usually found along riparian areas and mid-slopes, while sooty grouse prefer high-elevation ridges. Mountain quail frequent brushy clear-cuts, especially those along south- and west-facing slopes.
North Willamette (Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Columbia, Yamhill and Marion counties)
Wet spring conditions, like those experienced this year, typically reduce clutch survival for many upland bird species. Anecdotally, there are many coveys of quail being observed across the North Willamette, both Mountain and California quail, and surveys for band-tailed pigeon and grouse had similar counts to last year.
Scattered flocks of pigeons can be found when walking roads in conifer forest but can also be found in association with oak woodlands. If you’re thinking of hunting band-tailed pigeon for the first time, be mindful of the short season window. There is also an additional permit that needs to be purchased.
Sooty grouse detections during spring surveys across the North Willamette Watershed were similar to last year. Access was a major hurdle to many hunters for the last several years, and early season hunting will likely be impacted by closures on private timber lands due to fire danger and closures in some National Forest lands due to the continued impacts of the 2020 wildfires.
Later in the season as extreme fire conditions wane, more private lands should be available for access and the National Forest has begun to open areas impacted by the 2020 wildfires for public access. Check the respective landowner’s websites for up-to-date access information.
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.
An effective hunting strategy should include hiking along ridgelines or open slopes near timber and bodies of water in the early morning or late evening, since grouse typically spend the warm afternoon hours in trees high off the ground.
Mountain quail are commonly found in or around 2 to 5-year-old clear-cuts in the coastal mountains, but populations are less robust in the northern coast range. Covering lots of ground in newer clear-cuts with a well-trained dog should help hunters find a few scattered coveys of mountain quail. California quail are abundant on agriculture lands and timber lands.
Turkey hunting in much of the North Willamette area is nearly non-existent with only a few small, scattered flocks. However, turkey populations in the southwest portion of the district continue to slowly increase, though they are still very small compared to other areas of the state. Most turkey hunting opportunities are on private land and hunters will need to secure permission to hunt well before the season opens.
There are similar numbers of mourning doves around this year as to last year. Water may be a limiting factor in some areas. However, the new split season will provide hunters a chance at the late push of birds driven south with changing weather.
South Willamette (Marion, Polk, Linn, Lane and Benton counties)
Blue grouse and ruffed grouse are relatively common in forest habitat. California quail are common on the valley floor but most hunting occurs on private lands and hunters will need to obtain permission from landowners. The north and central Cascades are generally not great mountain quail areas but birds can be found in some of the brushy areas created by clear-cut logging or wildfires.
The prolonged cold, wet spring likely resulted in poor chick survival this year. Upland game birds that attempted secondary clutches may provide some relief, but the juveniles may be smaller in size early in the season compared to previous years.
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; and the new East Lane TMA offers good grouse hunting opportunities. 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.
Western Oregon waterfowl forecast
The extended winter-like spring this year created very good conditions for nesting and brood rearing in Coos County. Duck and goose broods should have seen good survival, which will create good hunting opportunities for locally produced birds. As the fall progresses and migratory birds begin to show up along the southern Oregon coast, the situation will only improve. Hunters should expect plentiful hunting opportunities this season. Normally, as waterfowl begin their southward migration those that arrive early on the Oregon Coast will concentrate in the lower portions of bays and estuaries, generally in saltwater. These birds will begin to disperse into inland valleys as increasing rain inundates agricultural fields later in the season. So, for the hunter who will be hunting public land, the early portion of the season can be the most productive on the coast.
The Ni’Les-tun and Bandon Marsh Units of the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge near Bandon will have areas open for waterfowl hunting. Waterfowl numbers in these areas can be quite good early in the season.
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 prior scouting for areas where geese are going to feed or rest.
The entire Coquille Valley Wildlife Area is open to public access. After several years of habitat restoration on the Winter Lake tract, waterfowl numbers are beginning to increase as local ducks and geese discover these new food sources. As fall precipitation inundates fields with water, and more waterfowl migrate in to the county, there should be good hunting in late fall on the wildlife area.
Hunters need to be aware there are channels throughout the Winter Lake tract that have very steep sides and at high tide may be deep enough to go over chest waders. Also, as the tide changes there may be a current in the channels that could make crossing them challenging. Hunters should wear PDFs when crossing the channels or, in most cases, not try to cross the channels at all.
These channels are part of a habitat improvement project designed to establish an intertidal connection between Coquille River the and the Winter Lake tract.
Hunters who want to hunt the wildlife area need to fill out a permit daily. Permits are available at the access point located along North Bank Road. Each hunter must fill out their own permit. Please do not take more than one permit per hunter from the box.
Nearly all waterfowl hunting in the Umpqua Valley is on private property and hunters are reminded to get landowner permission before hunting. Many agricultural landowners along the valley floor are seeing significant damage to fields from increases in Canada goose populations over the recent years. Many landowners and managers have been welcoming hunters to help them reduce this damage. Plat-I Reservoir, Ben Irving Reservoir and Galesville Reservoir have areas set aside for hunting waterfowl. Hunters need to be familiar with Douglas County and Sutherlin Water Control District regulations for access times and watercraft use on these reservoirs. The Umpqua River and its tributaries also offer great waterfowl hunting in the Umpqua Valley.
Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties
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. Waterfowl hunting on the Denman Wildlife Area is usually best during December and January.
Local Canada geese 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 541-857-2397 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 and Lincoln counties)
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, especially teal, 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.
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. Another excellent time to hunt the coast is during cold spells when some inland waters are ice-covered.
Goose hunting should be good all along the north coast during the September goose season as production of local geese (westerns) was good again this year. Migratory geese 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.
North Willamette (Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Columbia, Yamhill and Marion counties)
Abundant late winter and spring precipitation should have resulted in good local production of mallards and wood ducks. Resident birds will support early season hunting opportunities, but once those birds become wary there may be a lull until birds start flying south.
Finding locations to hunt in the North Willamette is difficult without access to private lands. Hunters without this access should explore opportunities to hunt waterfowl along the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Hunting opportunities along the Willamette River can be found in the Oregon State Parks and Oregon State Marine Board’s Willamette River Recreation Guide. Most of these sites are only accessible by boat but there are several locations that can be reached from local roadways.
Hunters should 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.
Waterfowl hunting on Sauvie Island Wildlife Area should be average this year after a near record last year. The wet spring appears to have led to good local production and the best hunting is usually during colder weather when birds are pushed south from Alaska and Canada.
The wildlife area’s crop production was mediocre this year because of the lack of summer rains and this could impact hunting success to a degree. All hunt units will have some flooded areas on 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 Season 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 season.
If you are new to waterfowl hunting on Sauvie Island, see our Beginners Guide to Waterfowl Hunting on Sauvie Island.
If you’re an old hand at Sauvie but still get frustrated with your draw results, see Sauvie Island WA waterfowl hunts: Three ways to increase your draw odds.
Special youth waterfowl hunts for hunters age 17 and younger Sept 24-25, Oct. 29, Nov. 13, Dec. 10 and 28 and Jan. 15, 2023. See the Game Bird Regulations for details.
South Willamette (Marion, Polk, Linn, Lane and 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. The Willamette River offers good duck hunting for those with the proper boat. Goose hunting occurs throughout the valley but hunters will want to obtain permission to hunt private lands or hunt properties enrolled in the Open Field Program that allow access for goose hunting. A map of those properties can be found at www.OregonHuntingMap.com or at the ODFW website.
We expect waterfowl hunting success to be above average this year. Late spring rains allowed Fern Ridge Reservoir to reach capacity so water is available and will be pumped for opening day. More acres of habitat should be available for migrating ducks and hunters alike.
We did not plant any corn this year. The late spring rains delayed the crop planting date until July 18, which didn’t allow enough time for corn to mature and harden prior to the anticipated date of the first fall rains. We chose to plant faster maturing millet, sudangrass and buckwheat instead. Some cells where native vegetation was thriving and producing quality feed for waterfowl were not farmed.
We added three more hunting blinds to our South Coyote Unit for this season. The South Coyote Unit is part of our reservation hunt so you must first apply and successfully draw an opportunity or participate in our stand-by drawing. We don’t have water pumping abilities for our South Coyote Unit so hunters will likely see more success once fall rains fill those wetlands. Look for a newly revised reservation hunt map soon.
Please contact FRWA headquarters at 541-935-2591 for more details and other information.
The wildlife area can be productive for duck hunting later in the season, as winter rains fill wildlife area ponds. In October, the area has little water available for duck hunting and disturbance from the fee pheasant hunt likely reduces waterfowl use of the available wetlands.
Waterfowl hunting locations
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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