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2016 Oregon Bird Hunting Forecast


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


Bird Hunting
Bird Hunting
- Photo by Dave Budeau-

2016-17 Oregon Game Bird Regulations

This year could be a good one for upland bird hunting with counts at their highest in 10 years for chukar. North American duck populations are also looking good and still nearly 40 percent above their long-term average. Last year’s hunting season at Sauvie Island was one of the top 14 seasons in 50 years of record-keeping, with a harvest of 2.1 birds per hunter. Oregon just needs weather and habitat conditions to cooperate for another good waterfowl hunting season.

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

Pheasants – Overall for the state, pheasant abundance is down from last year, but most of this decline was due to lower counts in Malheur County. In the other parts of the state, like the Columbia Basin, pheasant counts were similar to last year or even showed slight increases.

California quail – Index to statewide abundance showed a slight decline from last year, but California quail populations remain above the 10-year average. California quail did better in the northern half of the state than the southern half.  Regardless of area, hunters should expect to see similar numbers of quail to last year.

Chukar – Statewide chukar counts were up 36% over last year and are well above the recent 10 year average. The counts in 2016 were the best since 2006. Counts were not up everywhere with some areas like Wallowa County showing declines. Portions of Malheur, Grant, and Harney counties saw increases while counts in other areas like Baker County were similar to last year. Improvement was noted on the Lower Deschutes and John Day Rivers and some other parts of the Columbia Basin but chukar numbers there remain below the long-term average.

Forest Grouse – Prospects for forest grouse are mixed. East of the Cascades counts of ruffed grouse were the same as last year and populations remain well above the recent 10 yr average, while eastern Oregon blue grouse counts were down and remain below the recent 10 year average. Forest grouse are difficult to survey in western Oregon, but anecdotal reports suggest production declined from last year.
A reminder to hunters to 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.

What’s New

See the 2016-17 Game Bird Regulations for more information.

New structure for NE Oregon fall turkey hunting: Three former controlled hunts (Baker, Grande Ronde, Wallowa) have been combined into one 1st come, 1st serve “Northeast Fall Turkey Hunt” with 450 tags available. The former Blue Mtn controlled hunt is also now 1st come, 1st serve with 500 tags available. Tags for both these hunts go on sale Sept. 20. White River fall turkey remains a controlled hunt due to high demand for this hunt.

Klamath Wildlife Area hunting dates and time changes: Game bird hunting now allowed on Monday, Wednesdays and Saturdays from October-November (and on Sunday during opening weekend of duck and pheasant season) and every day in January. This is to reduce confusion (previously hunting was allowed every other day). Upland bird hunting now opens 10 a.m. (instead of 8 a.m.) during waterfowl season.

Age changes for youth waterfowl hunt: This year, hunters age 17 and younger (not just age 15 and younger) can take part in September youth waterfowl weekend Sept. 24-25 statewide.

No HIP needed: Upland game bird and crow hunters no longer need the free HIP validation (it is still required for migratory game birds such as mourning doves, band-tailed pigeons, and waterfowl).

Complete permits at wildlife areas: Hunters are now required to complete and return daily hunting permits indicating their effort and harvest at wildlife areas where they are used (Coquille Valley, Denman, E.E. Wilson, Fern Ridge, Klamath, Ladd Marsh, Sauvie Island, Summer Lake)

Sauvie Island Reservation waterfowl hunters, the reservation check-in system is changing this year.

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

Controlled game bird hunting application deadlines

  • White River controlled fall turkey: Sept. 13
  • ODFW wildlife area game bird hunt reservation application deadlines: Sauvie Island hunt periods A (Sept. 17), B (Oct. 5), C (Oct. 19), D (Nov. 4), E (Nov. 20), F (Dec. 4), G (Dec. 20)
  • Fern Ridge East and West Coyote Units: Oct. 22
  • Klamath Miller Island opening day: Sept. 10

Some fees and license types have also changed, see Game Bird Regulations for details.

Youth hunts

See page 26-27 of the Oregon Game Bird Regulations for more information.

Statewide youth waterfowl season Sept. 24-25. 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. 26 and Dec. 21, Klamath WA Oct. 22, Sauvie Island WA Oct. 23, Nov. 12, Dec. 4, Dec. 26 and Jan. 15. Tualatin River NWR Oct. 29, Nov. 13, Nov. 26, Dec. 11, Dec. 24, Jan. 8 and Jan. 21.

Youth chukar hunt, Oct. 8-9, Lower Klamath Hills Regulated Hunt Area. Advance registration required, see regulations for details.

Free youth pheasant hunts around the state in September. 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.

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