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2017-18 Bird Hunting Forecast


General Overview | East Region | West Region | Full Report (pdf)


Bird Hunting
Bird Hunting
- Photo by Dave Budeau-

North American duck populations are looking good and still above their long-term average. Spring habitat conditions were similar to improved in most parts of the U.S. and Canada compared to last year. For locally produced birds, habitat conditions were much improved in Oregon this spring with water in some areas for the first time in a decade or more. Oregon just needs weather and habitat conditions to cooperate this fall and winter for a good waterfowl hunting season.

Upland game bird hunting is going to be a mixed bag this year. Upland game bird populations can vary greatly from year to year. Generally, hunting has little influence over the annual population fluctuation of upland game birds and weather conditions have everything to do with it. Persistent snow cover and cold caused above average mortality in parts of eastern and northeastern Oregon. However, all of the precipitation over the past year also resulted in favorable habitat conditions. Some areas received late season snow or rain near the peak of hatch which also caused some chick mortality, but overall the proportion of young in the population for most species was above average due to good habitat conditions.

Here’s what our surveys found for upland bird species:

Pheasants – Overall pheasant abundance will likely be similar to last year, but populations remain depressed.  Despite the winter weather, Malheur County saw some improvement in pheasant numbers while the Columbia Basin counties saw some decline. These two regions account for the majority of pheasant harvest in the state.

California quail – Statewide California (valley) quail populations have been on an upward trend over the last several years. In 2016 the population was at the most recent 15-yr average. Winter weather caused higher than average mortality in some areas, but surviving quail appeared to have good nesting success with some very large broods observed. California quail likely did better near agricultural and suburban areas in the southern half of the state than the northern half.

Chukar – Chukar abundance saw sharp declines in some areas such as northern Harney and Malheur counties and into NE Oregon and held their own or increased in the Columbia Basin. Persistent deep snow resulted in high winter mortality in some areas for these ground feeding birds. However, chukars are known for their large annual population fluctuations. As with the quail, surviving chukars appear to have had good reproductive success with a higher proportion of juveniles observed on the survey routes than in recent years. Overall, expect to encounter fewer chukars in NE Oregon and the northern parts of Harney and Malheur counties. Chukars in the Columbia Basin, such as in the Deschutes and John Day River basins fared better, and hunters should expect find numbers similar to or above last year.

Forest Grouse – Blue grouse populations remain below average but will be similar to last year. Though difficult to survey, forest grouse and mountain quail numbers appear to have improved in western Oregon. Prospects for forest grouse also remain mixed. The deep snow of last winter likely did not affect these birds as much since they can forage above ground in the trees. East of the Cascades, ruffed grouse populations are expected to remain above the recent 10-year average, while eastern Oregon “blue” grouse counts were mixed and may remain below the recent 10-year average. Forest grouse are difficult to survey in western Oregon, but anecdotal reports suggest production was good in some parts of western Oregon as compared to 2016. Spring surveys in 2017 detected more hooting male Sooty (blue) grouse in western Oregon than in 2016.

What’s New

New structure for NE Oregon fall turkey hunting The Blue Mtn general fall turkey hunt was expanded to include the Grizzly, Ochoco, and Maury units and the number of available tags was increased to 600.

Both the Northeast and Blue Mountain general season turkey tags can now be used in the Mt Emily Unit.

The pintail bag limit is reduced to one daily.

Adjusted shooting hours in NW goose permit zone (sunrise to sunset).

Edible portion for retrieval and waste regulations is defined on page 13.

Duck Hunting
Toby the yellow lab shows off his work
-Photo by Troy Rodakowski-

Take a Friend Hunting – Win a Prize

New this year, ODFW launched the Take a Friend Hunting Contest to encourage experienced hunters to take out new and lapsed hunters. Prizes will be awarded in early January 2018 and include a statewide deer tag, Leupold rifle scope, Weatherby rifle and many more. To be eligible, the experienced and new or lapsed hunter must each have a 2017 hunting license and register online by Dec. 31, 2017 with their Hunter/Angler ID#. New or lapsed hunters are those who have never purchased an Oregon hunting license, purchased for the first time in 2016, or have not purchased since 2012. More details at the contest website, http://www.oregonhunter.info/take-a-friend/

Statewide youth waterfowl season Sept. 23-24. Hunters age 17 and under eligible, must be hunter education certified and be accompanied by a non-hunting adult 21 years of age or older.

Wildlife area/refuge youth waterfowl days: See regulations for more details. Some require advance application and registration. Fern Ridge WA Nov. 5 and Dec. 23, Klamath WA Oct. 21, Sauvie Island WA Oct. 22, Nov. 11, Dec. 3, Dec. 26 and Jan. 15. Tualatin River NWR Oct. 29, Nov. 11, Nov. 19, Nov. 25, Dec. 10, Dec. 16 and Dec. 24. Umatilla NWR Nov. 11.

Youth chukar hunt, Oct. 14-15, Lower Klamath Hills Regulated Hunt Area. Advance registration required, see regulations for details.

Free youth pheasant hunts around the state. ODFW and partners stock pheasants at these special events. Youth age 17 and under, hunter education certified are eligible to participate. Details in the regulations or see the news release. Pre-registration required for most events.

  • Baker City area, Sept. 23 and Sept. 24. Note this event is not near the Baldock Slough Wetlands Project (regulations are in error). People who register for the event will be notified of its location via email.
  • Central Point, Denman Wildlife Area, Sept. 16 and Sept. 17.
  • Corvallis (near Camp Adair), EE Wilson Wildlife Area, Sept. 23 and Sept. 24.
  • Eugene, Fern Ridge Wildlife Area, Sept. 9 and Sept. 10. Registration not necessary but appreciated.
  • Irrigon Wildlife Area (between Irrigon and Umatilla), Sept. 23 and Sept. 24, sign up for morning or evening hunt (morning only on Sunday), see event listings at www.odfwcalendar.com
  • Klamath Falls, Klamath Wildlife Area, Sept. 16 and Sept. 17. Additional hunt on Oct. 21 when Miller Island Unit open to youth hunters only from 10 a.m. on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • John Day Valley, Sept. 16 and Sept. 17
  • La Grande, Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, Sept. 16 and Sept. 17. No advance registration required.
  • Madras, Gateway Canyon Preserve, Sept. 9 and Sept. 10, sign up for one of several three-hour hunting shifts.
  • Portland, Sauvie Island Wildlife Area, Sept. 16 and Sept. 17.
  • Tygh Valley/The Dalles, White River Wildlife Area, Sept. 16 and Sept. 17.

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 will be delayed in dropping it off.

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