Following is a hunting season update for the Willamette units, which include Scappoose, eastern Trask, Willamette, Santiam, McKenzie and North Indigo wildlife management units:
General season antlerless elk: Hunters are reminded to only purchase this tag if they know where they will be hunting since the hunt areas are nearly 100% private property. In 2020 there were 120 cows reportedly harvested in the Trask unit (209 hunters) and 145 harvested in the Willamette unit (419 hunters). Please refer to the ODFW maps page to review maps of areas where this tag is valid.
General deer and elk: General Archery Deer and Elk seasons have started. There are 15 units that changed their bag limits to “One buck with visible antler” last season. That change remains in effect this year as well. Not every wildlife management unit has the same bag limit in general season, so hunters should refer to the regulations before heading out to familiarize themselves with the appropriate bag limit for the unit they are in.
As usual for the kickoff of archery seasons, temperatures play a major factor in deer and elk activity levels. Expect animals to spend most of their time feeding in the late evenings and early mornings. During the heat of the day, they will typically bed in shady, cool locations such as north slopes of timber stands. As the temperatures begin to cool, animal activity during the day will begin to increase.
Drought conditions will also be keeping animals closer to consistent water sources. Sitting in a stand / blind on water during especially hot days has been proven to be a successful technique for harvesting animals during the early archery season. The first fall rains generally spark an uptick in big game activity during the daylight hours. Getting in the field during the first rains of the season will increase your chances of running into game.
It’s a long archery season, so be patient and don’t push game too hard. Game that are pushed too hard will be extra alert. Additionally, elk may leave your preferred hunt area if pressed too aggressively.
Many Youth Elk hunts started on Aug. 1 and continue through Dec. 31. Youth elk tag holders should check their 2021 Oregon Big Game Hunting Regulations on pages 53-54 for specific information. It may be hot and dry out, but hunting early can beat some of the fire restriction closures and, of course, the start of school.
Many timber companies have closed their land due to fire danger; while best to check directly with the company, Oregon Forest & Industries Council tries to keep an up-to-date list of corporate fire closures. Additionally, many of the public lands affected by both 2020 and 2021 fires remain closed to entry.
Fall black bear: Typically bears are targeting berries and insects during this time of year for the bulk of their food sources. However, widespread drought conditions have withered some berries on the vine, so bears may be seeking out other food sources such as fruit trees or kinnikinnick. Berries in the western coastal range have fared better than toward the valley. Hunters in the valley may find better success targeting areas where there has been better water retention such as riparian areas or where consistent watering is conducted such as private agriculture properties.
The Scappoose unit typically has low harvest compared to the Trask unit. The Santiam, McKenzie, and N Indigo all have good numbers of bears. Most are taken opportunistically while deer or elk hunting, so make sure to buy your bear tag before going hunting. There have been multiple bears checked in by archery hunters so far.
Cougar: A productive hunting technique is to use predator calls to mimic a distressed prey species. Approaching cougars can be difficult to see when you are predator calling so hunting with a partner is advised. Similar to bears, most are taken opportunistically while deer or elk hunting. Make sure to buy your cougar tag before going hunting.
Wildlife viewing at EE Wilson
In the Corvallis area, there are lots of deer, shorebirds and waterfowl to see at EE Wilson Wildlife Area. Look for goose, mallard, hooded merganser and wood duck broods. Wildlife viewing remains good for waterfowl and shorebirds. Neotropical migrants in the area include yellow-breasted chat, American goldfinch, various swallows, warblers, thrush, kinglet and common yellowthroat.
Dogs are required to be on a leash inside the wildlife area boundary. Rifles and pistols are prohibited year-round. A parking permit is required to park at EE Wilson Wildlife Area. Find out how to buy a parking permit.
Find latest fishing regulation updates
They’re always at the top of the Recreation Report in the zone where they’re happening. As of Sept. 3, ODFW has lifted all remaining “hoot owl” restrictions statewide that closed salmon, steelhead, trout and sturgeon fishing
2020-21 game bird hunting forecast
A look at the upcoming hunting season for upland and migratory game birds. In the South Willamette region (Marion, Polk, Linn, Lane and Benton counties), blue grouse and ruffed grouse are relatively common in forest habitat.
California quail are common on the valley floor but most hunting occurs on private lands and hunters will need to obtain permission from landowners. The north and central Cascades are generally not great mountain quail areas but birds can be found in some of the brushy areas created by clear-cut logging or wildfires.
The unseasonably dry spring may result in higher-than-normal chick survival this year. We suspect this year could be a good year for upland game birds.
Prospects for waterfowl hunting will be good if the district sees some rain to flood feeding areas when the birds come down from the north. The Willamette River offers good duck hunting for those with the proper boat. Goose hunting occurs throughout the valley but hunters will want to obtain permission to hunt private lands or hunt properties enrolled in the Open Field Program that allow access for goose hunting. A map of those properties can be found at www.OregonHuntingMap.com or at the ODFW website.
The Fern Ridge Wildlife Area experienced dry winter and spring seasons. Very similar to last year, we are well below normal rainfall amounts. This has resulted in very low reservoir levels and will impact wildlife area operations this fall. Wetland cells are currently dry and many of our pumps do not have access to water. Wetland cells can only be filled with rainfall so early season duck hunting opportunities will likely be impacted without substantial fall rains. Expect the Fisher Butte and Royal Amazon Units to be completely dry for opening day of waterfowl season.
Waterfowl hunters applying for the reservation hunt should consider applying for dates later in the season when rainfall is likely to improve water conditions. Hunters participating in our September and October fee pheasant hunt should also expect dry conditions. Make sure to bring water for your dogs as water will be scarce on much of the wildlife area.
Please contact FRWA headquarters at 541-935-2591 for more details and other information.
The EE Wilson Wildlife Area can be productive for duck hunting later in the season, as winter rains fill wildlife area ponds. In October, the area has little water available for duck hunting and disturbance from the fee pheasant hunt likely reduces waterfowl use of the available wetlands.
Tips for e-tagging
The ODFW electronic licensing system makes it easy to tag your salmon, steelhead and halibut, as well your deer, elk and turkey on your phone. Here are some tips for making it go smoothly.
Wild coho seasons open Sept. 15
Wild coho retention seasons will open Sept. 15 in the Tillamook, Nestucca, Siletz and Coos basins. See the regulation update sections at the top of the NW and SW zones.
Fall trout stocking
Trout stocking is scheduled to resume a little later this month in some locations. There may be some changes to the published schedule due to poor water conditions in some places. Be sure to check the Recreation Report for the latest updates.