With more than one-half of the state in public ownership, Oregon is fortunate to have millions of acres available for hunting game birds. Whether it is pursuing chukars on the Bureau of Land Management lands of the Owyhee or blue grouse in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, these federal lands, in conjunction with state wildlife areas and federal refuges provide abundant opportunities for the upland game bird hunter. Maps are always a public land hunter’s best friend. Both Bureau of Land Manangement (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have high quality ownership maps available from their offices. (Note: Just the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands account for 50% land ownership in Oregon.)
The ODFW also manages wildlife areas, most of which offer some type of upland game bird hunting opportunity. In addition, many wildlife areas offer special hunting opportunities, such as accessible hunting blinds for persons with disabilities, youth hunting opportunities, and controlled hunts. See the special wildlife area regulations and opportunities in the Game Bird Regulations. Other state agencies that provide hunting access on some of their lands include the Department of State Lands and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). OPRD manages about 40 land parcels along the Willamette River that offer game bird hunting, however some of these lands are accessible only by boat. For more information see the Willamette River Recreation Guide.
Now several years old, the ODFW publication Game Bird Hunting in Oregon: A guide to Public Hunting Opportunities is still a useful tool for locating places to hunt. This book contains species descriptions and pictures, maps of all major wildlife areas, tips from wildlife biologists, harvest statistics, and more. There is fee for this publication with all proceeds benefiting game bird management programs.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) also works with private land-owners to encourage public access. Some of these private lands are enrolled in Regulated Hunt Areas (RHAs), Access and Habitat, and the Upland Cooperative Access Program (pdf).
Many of these private land access opportunities as well as public hunting opportunities can be found in the Columbia Basin. Access to other private lands may be obtained simply by asking. Many private landowners permit hunting. Should you gain access to private land, remember to respect the private landowners wishes, behave responsibly, pick up any litter, don’t drive in closed areas, leave gates as you found them, etc. Hunting responsibly and ethically will help all hunters maintain access to private lands.