Several of Oregon’s major bird hunting seasons open in October, with duck hunting in western Oregon and the Columbia River Basin slated to start on Oct. 12.
Saturday marked the start of duck hunting in eastern Oregon along with chukar, gray partridge and pheasant plus remaining quail seasons.
For bird hunters in Douglas County, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said hunters should expect an average year with forest grouse and mountain quail and that brood counts in the district are showing good production of both.
Mountain quail production has increased within some of the recent fire impacted areas in the Umpqua National Forest, the ODFW said. Blue grouse success is best in mid to high elevations of the Cascades in partly open conifer stands, and Ruffed grouse can be found near creeks mostly at mid elevations of both the Cascades and Coast Range.
Nesting season production was average for California quail and mountain quail, so hunting opportunities should be good. The ODFW said hunting is best in the lower elevation agricultural lands for California quail and to look for mountain quail in mid-elevations of the Cascades and Coast Range near brushy clear cuts on secondary forest roads.
The department also said to check local fire restrictions for current fire danger before going out to hunt, though the Douglas Forest Protective Agency ended its fire season at the end of September.
Bird hunters are asked to use the ODFW’s new electronic licensing system and can use either paper or electronic licenses and validations.
Federal duck stamps, which are required for duck, goose, merganser, and brant hunting, are not sold through ODFW’s licensing system and will not appear on the MyODFW app or an online account. Hunters need to carry their federal duck stamp in addition to their ODFW licenses, and they can be purchased at a post office or another location that sells them, such as an outdoor retailer or national wildlife refuge.
Below are some highlights provided by the ODFW on what bird hunters should expect this season:
Duck: North American duck populations are down from recent highs but still 10% above the long-term average. Closer to home, breeding mallard numbers in California, Oregon and Washington were down slightly from last year, though wetland conditions, especially in eastern Oregon, were excellent this spring. The only regulation change hunters should be aware of this season is that the bag limit for pintail has decreased to one per day.
Pheasant: Eastern Oregon’s pheasant numbers have declined after last year’s peak. Production was positive, but overall hunters will find fewer birds on the ground. The highest densities were found in the Malheur, Umatilla, Heppner and Mid-Columbia, districts, respectively. Pheasant brood production was highest in the Heppner, Malheur, Umatilla and Mid-Columbia districts.
California quail: Statewide California quail populations continue on their upward trend, particularly in the high desert. Of the areas surveyed, the highest production effort by California quail was in the Harney, Wallowa, and Mid-Columbia districts, respectively.