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Major hunting seasons open Saturday, Oct. 3: Be safe

October 1 , 2009


Refresh your memory on safe hunting practices with free online course

SALEM, Ore.—Last year, one person lost their life and three were injured in four separate hunting incidents in Oregon.

These two hunters are showing safe hunting practices by wearing blaze orange, controlling the muzzle of their firearms, and pointing the muzzles in a safe direction. Photo courtesy of ODFW.

In two of the incidents, the shooter failed to properly identify his target before shooting. The one fatal incident occurred in Coos County, where Kelly E. Johnson shot at what he thought was a deer and killed 20-year-old Cody T. Armstrong. Johnson later pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide and is serving five years in prison.

In Jackson County, a hunter shot into brush because he believed it was a turkey, and his victim suffered 130 pellet wounds on his body. A duck hunter was shot in the leg in Tillamook Bay when his dog touched his loaded firearm. In Malheur County, a man was injured when his rifle discharged through his hand as he was pulling it up while adjusting a rifle tripod.

In a non-hunting incident, a woman was injured at EE Wilson Wildlife Area as she was walking in front of a person loading their shotgun on the shooting range. The shotgun accidentally discharged.

“All of these tragic incidents may have been avoided if some basic hunter safety rules had been followed,” said Chris Willard, ODFW hunter education coordinator.

  • Be sure of your target, and what is in front of it and beyond it.
  • Control the muzzle of your firearm at all times.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
  • Wear blaze orange. Deer and elk won’t see the color but other people will.

Since mandatory hunter education for anyone under 18 began in the 1960s, overall hunting incidents in the state have dropped dramatically—from 90+ incidents per year to less than 10. Thanks to over 700 volunteer hunter education instructors located throughout the state, an estimated 6,500 students take hunter education each year and receive their hunter education certificate.

ODFW also offers an online hunter education course that anyone can review free of charge to learn about safe and ethical hunting practices, survival skills, and other topics. (To become hunter education certified, one must also pay a $15 fee, pass an online test and pass a field day exam.)

Hikers, bikers, campers: Be safe in the woods during hunting seasons

While incidents involving non-hunters are rare, there are steps hikers, bird-watchers and other non-hunters in the outdoors can take to be safer.

  • Wear blaze orange or other brightly colored clothing. This way, hunters will be able to see you. Avoid wearing earth-tones.
  • Make noise and make your presence known. Talk, sing, whistle or shout to other hunters that you are in the area.
  • Be aware of hunting seasons and when hunters could be in the woods.

The peak of hunting season is October through January but hunting is open all year for some animals in some areas. Hunters could be in state and national forests, Bureau of Land Management land, wilderness areas, state-managed wildlife areas, some federal refuges and on private lands. The ODFW Recreation Report is updated online every Wednesday and lists which general hunting seasons are open in specific areas.

Below are dates of some of the major fall hunting seasons in Oregon. Last year, more than 97,000 hunters participated in western Oregon general deer rifle hunt and 60,000 in eastern Oregon limited-entry deer hunting, the seasons that opens this Saturday. 

  • Oct. 3-16, Oct. 24-Nov. 6: Western Oregon general deer rifle season in Cascades.
  • Oct. 3- Nov. 6: Western Oregon general rifle deer season on Coast.
  • Oct. 3-14: The majority of controlled (limited-entry) rifle deer hunting in eastern Oregon occurs.  
  • Oct. 10 and 17: Opening of waterfowl (duck and goose) hunting and remaining upland bird seasons (pheasant, chukar, quail).  
  • Oct. 17-23: Cascade elk season.
  • Nov. 14-17 and 21-27: Coast elk seasons.  
  • Oct. 28-Nov. 1/Dec.4, Nov. 7-15: General Rocky Mountain bull elk in Mt. Hood/Columbia Basin area and parts of northeast Oregon during second period.




Michelle Dennehy
(503) 947-6022
Fax: (503) 947-6009



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