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Game bird reports updated monthly
The ODFW Hunt by Reservation Program brings hunters and landowners together to provide quality hunting experiences on private land. By making a reservation online, hunters receive a permit to hunt select private lands on dates pre-selected by landowners.
The 2021-22 Oregon game bird seasons look promising with pheasant, quail and chukar numbers steady in the east, forest grouse holding the line in the west. However, duck populations and habitat conditions are not as promising.
Data gathered from wings and tails helps ODFW biologists look at population productivity and set seasons.
Legal shooting hours for game bird and Northwest Permit Goose during the 2021-22 hunting seasons – find them online.
Experienced hunters know to check for fire closures before their early season hunts. Make sure to carry water or fire extinguisher, as well as a shovel and axe/polaski while traveling in remote desert country. Bookmark this page – it has links to the most current fire closures and restrictions.
UPLAND BIRD OVERVIEW
October brings the opening of all remaining upland game bird seasons statewide. Westside big game hunters should be prepared to encounter forest grouse and mountain quail in either the Coast or Cascade ranges, particularly in the morning and evening. While some excellent forest grouse habitat was lost to fire last year, these birds can be found throughout Oregon’s forests and likely benefit from moderate forest disturbances.
Hunters looking for adventure can locate mountain quail coveys near steep and brushy habitat by listening for their distinctive high-pitched crow, and looking for sign such as footprints and droppings along roadsides. They tend to be concentrated in the southwest part of the state, but can be found in pockets throughout the Coast range and west slope of the Cascades. Scout old burns or timber sales that have grown back to brush at mid- to high elevations.
While California quail are more densely populated in eastern Oregon, they can be found in brushy valley bottoms, often near water sources, throughout western Oregon. Hunters should work the margins of drainages with the help of a good dog or two, and be selective with shots so birds aren’t lost in the brambles.
Hunters can continue to pursue stocked pheasants on four western Oregon wildlife areas through early to late October (see Page 16 of the Game Bird Regulations for exact dates and locations). Fee pheasant hunts require a hunting license, upland game bird validation, and a $17 Western Oregon fee pheasant permit. Wild pheasants remain elusive in western Oregon and largely persist on private land.
Fall wild turkey season opens on Oct. 9 and runs through Jan 31. A map of open units can be found on page 18 of the Game Bird Regulations. Hunters can harvest no more than 2 fall turkeys of either sex, of which only 1 may be from eastern Oregon. Wild turkey populations continue to be very strong throughout most of their range. As fall turns into winter, the family groups will begin grouping up into larger flocks. Most fall turkeys will be found on private land, so hunters are reminded to seek permission prior to hunting.
MIGRATORY BIRD OVERVIEW
October is the month when the regular waterfowl seasons kick off in Oregon. For regulatory purposes, western Oregon is divided into different zones for goose and duck hunting. All of western Oregon is in Duck Zone 1, and the season opens on Oct. 16. Western Oregon is composed of three different goose hunting zones, the South Coast Zone (opened Oct. 2), the Southwest Zone (opens Oct. 16) and the Northwest Permit Zone (opens Oct. 23).
Widespread drought across the continent has affected waterfowl populations and habitats this past year. Hunters should be prepared for a smaller fall flight of ducks originating from the Canadian prairies, though more northerly habitats were less affected by the drought, and production from those areas should buoy hunter success. Locally, breeding duck populations were down this spring and production was likely below average. However, the greatest driver of hunter success in western Oregon is habitat and weather. Coastal hunters should expect to see good number of early migrating ducks such as wigeon, green-winged teal and pintail. Recent rains may have also started to flood small seasonal wetlands, providing some extra opportunity on opening weekend throughout the region.
Goose populations are faring better, and we expect a large flight of snow geese from Wrangel Island, Russia this year. Large number of these geese are now wintering at Sauvie Island, with recent wintering counts exceeding 25,000. While cackling and Taverner’s geese remain abundant wintering birds in northwest Oregon, their populations have been coming down in recent years. While hunting success should still be good, hunters should expect to see fewer geese then they did over the past 10-years.
Mourning dove hunters need to remember that the season is currently closed in Zone 1. For the first time, the season will reopen on Nov. 15 for a 30-day, late-fall hunt period in all of western Oregon.
Eurasian collared doves: These birds have no protections in Oregon, so there are no closed seasons and no limits to their harvest. Target Eurasian collared doves around agricultural areas 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.
NORTH AND MID-COAST DISTRICTS
Mourning dove: The season reopens Nov. 15.
Waterfowl: Duck season opens Oct. 16 and Northwest Permit goose season on Oct. 23. Local birds were very productive and should provide good opportunities in the early season until fall migrants from further north arrive. Waterfowl movements are tied to tidal movement in coastal estuaries, with birds tending to feed inland as they follow the incoming tide and then gathering in large rafts out on open bays as the tides recedes. Rough weather will also move birds off the open bays and into sloughs and more sheltered areas.
Forest grouse season on the north coast opened Sept. 1 and includes sooty (blue) and ruffed grouse. While both species are associated with conifer forests, sooty grouse occupy the higher elevations of the coast range, especially ridge tops, while ruffed grouse are most commonly seen at mid to lower elevations of forest habitats, including riparian areas.
Mountain quail season runs concurrently with the forest grouse season on the north coast, and hunting is likely to be very good due to dry conditions during the nesting season. These birds are most commonly found in brushy clear-cuts, especially those with a south-facing aspect. Numerous coveys of quail have been seen this September throughout the mid coast area. Try hunting gated roads in our TMA access areas in brushy clear cuts and young timber stands.
Mourning dove: The season reopens Nov. 15.
Grouse: Anecdotally, observations of grouse by hunters in the area have been limited. Collections of grouse wings at collection barrels across the district have indicated more success in the cascades than the coast range, but effort and hunter knowledge or willingness to supply wings can play a factor in productivity of barrels.
Look for grouse along densely vegetated forest roads and roads near riparian areas. Forest edge habitat, such as those areas found where clear cuts meet mature forest stands can be great locations to focus for grouse.
Quail: Despite reports of large numbers of quail during the early season, hunter observation reports have decreased. Hunters will find more success at finding quail targeting sunny breaks in the wet weather.
Turkey: Populations of wild turkey in the northern Willamette region are limited, with the few groups that exist predominantly on agriculture lands outside of McMinnville. There is the small possibility of encountering one in the foothills above the agriculture lands.
Waterfowl: For hunters interested in floating the Columbia and the Willamette Greenway this is definitely a fun alternative to avoid crowds, but can be challenging to determine access. On the Columbia River, island ownership is highly varied, and hunters are encouraged to directly contact the landowners to determine if hunting is allowed. Details on hunting along the Willamette Greenway can be found in Oregon Administrative Rule Division 10 section 736-010-0055 (8).
The Fee Pheasant Hunt continues through Sunday, Oct. 10. The statewide pheasant season continues through Dec. 31, but no fee pheasant tag is required and no additional birds will be released on the wildlife area.
The Fisher Butte, Royal Amazon, West, East, and South Coyote units will close to all public access beginning Monday, Oct. 11. The closure provides a short duration waterfowl refuge so hunters wanting to continue pursuing upland birds will need to hunt other units. Please see the Oregon Game Bird Regulations, page 35, for all access information.
The ongoing drought has resulted in extremely dry conditions and low water levels in Fern Ridge Reservoir. The wildlife area has almost no stored water and no water pumping capability. Hunters should expect poor hunting conditions on the wildlife area for the beginning of waterfowl season and conditions will only improve with rainfall. If you are planning a trip to hunt waterfowl, you can call our office for the latest conditions.
Reminder that only non-toxic shot is allowed on the wildlife area. Hunters must carry with them and complete a daily hunting permit. Permits are free and available at most wildlife area access points. Be sure to display your parking permit when visiting.
Fern Ridge Wildlife Area Headquarters: (541) 935-2591.
Waterfowl hunting on Sauvie Island Wildlife Area should be slightly below average this year with waterfowl populations at a fair level but a lack of water due to the drought conditions. 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. All hunt units will have some flooded areas on opening day of duck season. Ongoing work on wetland and food resources on the wildlife area will continue to improve hunting in future years.
As in past seasons, the Northwest Permit Goose Season will be open this year on the Wildlife Area, but only for white geese (Ross and snow). Dark goose (Canada, cackling, and white-fronted) hunting will remain closed on the Wildlife Area during the Permit season.
If you are new to waterfowl hunting on Sauvie Island, see our Beginners Guide to Waterfowl Hunting on Sauvie Island Wildlife Area.
Special youth waterfowl hunts for hunters age 17 and younger Oct. 30, Nov. 14, Dec. 11 and 28 and Jan. 15, 2022. See the Game Bird Regulations for details.
SOUTHWEST AREA GAME BIRD HUNTING
Mourning dove: The season reopens Nov. 15.
Grouse: Grouse populations are relatively abundant in Coos County presently. Over the past few years conditions have been good for grouse to survive the winter and pull off successful nests. Brood surveys done by OLDFW staff indicate grouse nesting was successful so birds will be available for good hunting. Grouse hunters on the coast are often frustrated by the fact that birds don’t seem to concentrate in specific habitats like they do in dryer parts of the state. Generally Western Oregon hunters find their best success hunting along roads where clover and other green forage grows. For legal and safety reasons, hunting roads that are closed to motor vehicle access are best.
Quail: Quail populations Coastal Oregon are faring quite well these days, as are grouse. There are two species of quail available in Oregon for harvest, California quail and mountain quail. Both are available for harvest in Coos County. California Quail are usually found in lower elevation and near agricultural fields while mountain quail are generally found above 1000 ft. elevation. Mountain quail generally prefer young clear cuts, particularly those with rocky outcroppings nearby. Hunters find both of these species are enjoyable to hunt. Mountain quail in particular are often found on public land or timber company land open to public access. Hunting these birds will beat a hunter and dog up as much as any chukar hunt, if you’re into that.
Turkey, fall season: Turkey numbers have been increasing in Coos County for the past several years. Birds are now well distributed around most agricultural lands in the county and due to their increasing numbers they seem to be increasing their range. Occasionally they can now be found near clear cuts some distance from agricultural lands. Hunters should walk roads looking for tracks and feathers to locate flocks of birds. When birds are located using techniques like busting up flocks with a bird dog then sitting and calling them back in for a shot works well in the fall.
Waterfowl: Duck and goose abundance in Coos County is relatively low at this writing but migrants are beginning to arrive. As is normally the case, early arriving migratory ducks and geese are generally found in the lower portions of bays and estuaries. These birds tend to congregate in October and early November in the saltwater portion of bays and estuaries to feed on eel grass and other saltwater vegetation prior to the arrival of fall rains. Once rain begins and inundation of inland valleys occurs later in the fall these birds will redistribute inland. Often some of the best hunting takes place in this early part of the fall because many coastal bays and estuaries offer areas to hunt that are publicly accessible.
Coquille Valley Wildlife Area
Conditions in Southwest Oregon have been very dry so far this year, as in the rest of the Pacific Northwest. As a result, surface water on Coquille Valley Wildlife Area is at a minimum. Also, migratory waterfowl are only beginning to arrive in the area presently. Hunters wanting to hunt Coquille Valley Wildlife Area for waterfowl should direct their attention to the channels in the Winter Lake Unit for ducks. The ducks that are on the Wildlife Area will be feeding around the edges of the channels where water floods vegetation at high tide. Resident Canada geese can also be found using portions of the Wildlife Area where mowing has been done to improve habitat.
Access to Coquille Valley Wildlife Area is only allowed through the access point located along North Bank Lane. A free permit is required daily to access the Wildlife Area whether for hunting or other purposes. Those permits are available at the access point. The Wildlife Area is managed in two tracts: Beaver Slough and Winter Lake. Beaver Slough Tract is open seven days a week throughout the year and Winter lake Tract is open Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and all Federal and State holidays between September 1 and January 31. The tract is open seven days a week outside of these dates.
No recent report.
JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES
When heading out to hunt in October, remember that some areas here in southwest Oregon are at a fire danger level of Moderate, which may impose restrictions based on the land you are hunting on. Please consult a Forest Service map for details on the forest boundary. Visit the MyODFW.com website for more information.
Mourning dove: The season reopens Nov. 15.
Grouse season opened Sept. 1 statewide. The daily bag limit is three birds of each species (blue and ruffed). More grouse were observed this year on upland brood surveys in the Rogue Watershed. Driving less used dirt roads in the late evening can be an effective way to find grouse.
Quail season opens Sept. 1 in western Oregon. The daily bag limit is 10 quail (in aggregate with both mountain and California quail). Quail numbers increased again this year on ODFW upland brood surveys. Driving old dirt roads in the late afternoon and evening is usually a good way to locate groups. For more information refer to the Oregon Game Bird Regulations.
Ring-necked pheasants: Opens Oct. 9. The Denman Wildlife Area will have stocked 1,200 birds of the prior three weeks for the youth hunt as well as the fee hunt. Many of these birds have not been harvested and will be available to shoot starting Oct. 9.
Fall turkey season opens Oct. 9. The fall turkey season allows hunters with a fall turkey tag to harvest one bird of either sex in WMUs within Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties. Turkey numbers are extremely high in southern Oregon which should make for a good fall hunting season. Successful hunters can purchase an additional fall turkey tag for a chance at a second bird.
Waterfowl: Canada geese are abundant in the Rogue Valley which can make for good hunting. Focus hunting efforts during nasty weather events for your best chance at taking home some waterfowl. Windy and rainy mornings seem to be the best.