Bird hunters
Columbia Area

Bird hunting the Columbia Basin federal wildlife refuges

Federal wildlife refuges available for bird hunting in the Columbia Basin. Part 3 of a 4 part series of articles.

Table of contents

Part 1: Columbia Basin Bird Hunting Guide - An Introduction
Part 2: Bird Hunting the Columbia Basin State Wildlife Areas
Part 3: Bird Hunting the Columbia Basin Federal Wildlife Refuges (you are here)
Part 4: Public Access to Private Land for Bird Hunters in the Columbia Basin

Maps, regulations and other information can change from year-to-year on wildlife refuges. Be sure to see the area’s website for the latest information.

Cold Springs NWR

  • 3,117 acres in Umatilla County near Hermiston.
  • Species to hunt: quail, pheasant, waterfowl, snipe; all other species of wildlife are protected; upland bird hunting allowed only after noon on designated hunt days.
  • Open for hunting Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays plus holidays during the state waterfowl season - Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day.
  • Refuge opens 1.5 hours before hunt times.
  • Shotguns only, use and possession limit of 25 shells per day; federally-approved, non-toxic shot only.
  • Non-motorized boats allowed. No camping, fires or alcoholic beverages.
  • Directions: I-84 East to exit 182. Left at OR-207 N/ Hermiston Hwy. Right at County Rd 1200/W Highland Ave. Slight left at County Rd 1200/Experiment Station Rd/E Loop Rd and go about 5 miles. Left at Reservoir Rd. Cold Springs NWR is on the left.

More information: Oregon Game Bird Regulations; Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 64 Maple Street Burbank, WA, tel. 509- 546-8300; www.fws.gov/coldsprings/ click under Regulations and Hunting Maps.


Memorial Marsh Unit (on Cold Springs NWR map above)

  • Assigned blind hunt area with 8 blind sites near water. No free roaming or jump shooting for waterfowl. Waterfowl hunters in the unit must park and access the unit from parking lot F (see map) and on a first-come, first-served basis in the numbered parking space matching the blind number where they are hunting. Two of the eight blind sites (#1 and #7) have alternative blind locations (1b and 7b). All are located in or near water. Hunters must remain within 100 feet (30 m) of the blind/stake unless retrieving birds. Hunt parties limited to 4 persons per blind. Upland bird hunters and waterfowl hunters using the reservoir are not allowed to use parking lot F.
  • Reservoir Hunting – Hunting is allowed on the remaining designated areas of the refuge (see map).
  • Temporary Blinds – Portable blinds may be used. Temporary blinds may be constructed of natural material, but shall be available for general use on a first-come, first-served basis. Digging or using pit blinds is not permitted. Waterfowl hunting parties are required to space themselves no less than 200 yards apart.

Umatilla NWR 

  • Popular hunting destination with 29,000 acres of prime waterfowl and upland bird habitat in Morrow County. Special regulations for the McCormack Unit and the Boardman Unit.

More information:


McCormack Unit (on Umatilla NWR map above)

  • Species hunted: waterfowl, snipe, pheasant, quail, deer by special permit; all other species of wildlife are protected.
  • Open for hunting Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays plus the holidays during the state waterfowl season- Thanksgiving, Christams and New Year's Day.
  • Refuge open 1.5 hours before shooting times until 1.5 hours after hunt time.
  • Shotguns only, use and possession limit of 25 shells per day; federally-approved, non-toxic shot only.
  • No boats, camping, fires or alcoholic beverages.
  • Waterfowl hunting: Waterfowl hunting is by assigned blind though stand-by hunting is allowed. There are 50 blind/hunt sites available. Blind selection priorities are determined through a lottery system prior to the start of the waterfowl season each year. After all on-time hunters with a lottery pick have selected blinds any stand-by hunters may select blinds based upon a drawing held at the check station along Paterson Ferry Rd, north of Hwy 730 near Irrigon. See https://www.fws.gov/refuge/umatilla/ for how to apply and click Rules and Regulations or Maps for special regulations in this unit.
  • Upland bird hunting: Pheasant and quail hunting are allowed in McCormack Unit from noon until the end of state shooting hours during legal refuge waterfowl hunt days. Check-in at check station prior to hunting (Paterson Ferry Road in Irrigon, check station open 1.5 hours before legal hunt time until 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Maximum of 15 permits issued daily. Check-out when finished hunting. Advanced registrations required for the first two weekends of upland bird season.
  • Vehicles & Parking: All hunters are required to park in designated parking lots. Parking lots are lettered A-O with trails leading from parking lot to each blind site. There is no boating access from Parking Lot I. Consult map to find which parking lot to use according to your blind choice. Vehicles are allowed only on designated routes of travel.
  • Directions: I-84 east or west to exit 168. Merge onto US-730 E/Columbia River Hwy. Left at County Rd 930/Paterson Ferry Rd. Travel almost 3 miles, turn left into NWR.

Boardman Unit

  • Adjacent to the east end of the Columbia River RHA.
  • Species hunted: quail, pheasant, waterfowl, snipe; all other species of wildlife are protected.
  • Open daily for hunting during state upland bird and waterfowl seasons. Upland bird hunting allowed only after noon until the end of state shooting hours.
  • Shotguns only, use and possession limit of 25 shells per day; federally-approved, non-toxic shot only.
  • Temporary Blinds – Portable blinds may be used. Temporary blinds may be constructed of natural material, but shall be available for general use on a first-come, first-served basis. Digging or using pit blinds is not permitted. Waterfowl hunting parties are required to space themselves no less than 200 yards apart.
  • Directions: I-84 to exit 159. North on Tower Rd. Cross the railroad tracks and turn right (east) on the access road. Continue east to the parking area west of Refuge fence.

McKay Creek NWR

  • 1,837-acre refuge near Pendleton overlays McKay Creek Reservoir, a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation storage facility, serving the irrigation needs of the Umatilla River Basin.
  • Species hunted: waterfowl, snipe, pheasant, quail.
  • South end of refuge open for hunting Oct. 1 through end of regulated seasons on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  • Access for hunting is from two parking lots off Shaw Rd on east side of refuge.
  • Federally-approved, non-toxic shot only.
  • Directions: I-84 East to exit 209. Right/south on Hwy 395/John Day Hwy. Travel about 5 miles and turn left, McKay NWR on the right.

More information:

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