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Game Bird Hunting

Game Bird Hunting

General Hunting Regulations

For a complete copy of all state laws and federal regulations consult Oregon Administrative Rules, the Oregon Revised Statutes and Federal Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations (Title 50 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20).


  • Blue Grouse: Dusky grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) and sooty grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus).
  • Canada Goose: Any Canada goose (Branta canadensis) or cackling goose (Branta hutchinsii) including but not limited to the following subspecies; western (B. c. moffitti), Vancouver (B. c. fulva), dusky (B. c. occidentalis), lesser (B.c. parvipes), Taverner’s (B. h. taverneri), Aleutian (B. h. leucopareia), and cackling (B. h. minima).
  • Dusky Canada Goose: Any dark-breasted (Munsell 10 YR color value 5 or less) Canada goose with a bill length between 40 and 50 millimeters.
  • Eastern Oregon: All cos east of the summit of the Cascades, including all of Klamath and Hood Rvr cos.
  • Forest Grouse: Ruffed grouse and blue grouse.
  • Game Birds: Any waterfowl, snipe, band-tailed pigeon, mourning dove, pheasant, quail, partridge, grouse, or wild turkey.
  • Migratory Game Birds: Ducks (including mergansers), geese, coots, snipe, mourning dove, and band-tailed pigeon.
  • Motor Vehicle or Motor-Propelled Vehicle is any land vehicle or device which has a motor, either permanently or temporarily affixed, is capable of either motor-assisted-propulsion or self-propulsion and is capable of transporting a person or persons or any material or cargo.
  • Raptor: Any vulture, kite, eagle, hawk, caracara, falcon, or owl listed in 50 CFR 10.13 or hybrid thereof.
  • Sea Ducks: Harlequin, scoters, long-tailed and eider ducks.
  • Shotgun: A smooth bore firearm, including muzzleloaders, designed for firing birdshot and intended to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel length of 18 inches or more, with an overall length of 26 inches or more.
  • Upland Game Birds: Pheasant, quail, partridge, grouse, and wild turkey.
  • Waterfowl: Ducks (including mergansers), geese and coots.
  • Western Oregon: All cos west of the summit of the Cascades, except Klamath and Hood Rvr cos.
  • White Geese: Snow and Ross’ geese.

Hunter Orange

No person younger than 18 years of age shall hunt with any firearm for any game mammal or upland game bird (excluding wild turkey) unless the person is wearing in a manner visible from all directions a hat or exterior garment of hunter orange. “Exterior garment” means a shirt, jacket, coat, vest, or sweater. Hunter orange camouflage patterns are acceptable. “Hat” means any head covering.

Decoys and Calls

It is unlawful to:

  • Hunt game birds or crows by the use or aid of any live birds for decoys.
  • Hunt game birds (except for crows) by the use or aid of recorded or electrically amplified bird calls or sounds, or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird calls or sounds.
  • Hunt game birds with the use of decoys powered by motor, battery, or other self powered methods. Quiver magnets are also illegal. Decoys with parts that are moved solely by human actions (for example, via a cable or pull-string) or the wind are allowed.­

Legal Weapons & Ammunition for Hunting Game Birds, Crows, and Western Gray Squirrels

Below are the requirements for weapons that can be used to hunt game birds, crows, and western gray squirrels. In addition to these restrictions some WAs, NWRs, RHAs and other special areas may have further weapon restrictions.

Game Birds, including Wild Turkey, and Crows (except Ruffed and Blue Grouse) may only be hunted with:

  • Shotguns, including muzzleloading shotguns, (see definition on General Hunting Regulations) that are 10 gauge or smaller, and which are incapable of holding more than three shells (plugged), or
  • Any recurve, long, or compound bow1 using any type of arrow or point.

Ruffed and Blue Grouse may only be hunted with:

  • Any of the weapons listed in the previous section, or
  • Any rimfire firearm.

Western Gray Squirrel may only be hunted with:

  • Any rifle, handgun or shotgun that is not fully automatic, or
  • Any non-matchlock muzzleloader, or
  • Any recurve, long, or compound bow1 using any type of arrow, small game point or broadhead, except if broadheads are used they must be unbarbed and at least 7/8" wide. Broadheads with movable blades that fold/collapse when withdrawn are not considered barbed.

Additionally, game birds and crows may be taken by licensed falconers using raptors (see Falconry Regulations).

Game birds and crows may not be hunted with airguns. Game birds, crows, and western gray squirrels may not be hunted with crossbows or any other method not listed in the previous sections.

Ammunition Restrictions:

  • Game birds, except wild turkey, may not be hunted with steel shot larger than F or shot composed of other material larger than BB.
  • Wild turkey may not be hunted with shot (any material) larger than No. 2.
  • Tracer shells may not be used to hunt game birds, crows, or western gray squirrel.
  • Game birds may not be hunted with shotgun slugs.
  • Western gray squirrel may not be hunted with full-metal jacket bullets.
  • Waterfowl and snipe may not be hunted with lead shot or while lead shot is in the hunter’s possession. Shot used for hunting waterfowl and snipe must be federally approved nontoxic shot. Additionally, on certain WAs, NWRs, and RHAs (State Wildlife Area Regulations) all hunters using shotguns must use federally approved nontoxic shot.

1 Hunters shall not use any electronic device(s) attached to bow or arrow except lighted arrow nocks that have no function other than to increase visibility of the arrow and cameras that have no other function (such as range-finding) are allowed.

Shooting Hours

All game birds may only be hunted between times specified in the shooting hours table on Shooting Hours, except as noted. Western gray squirrels may only be hunted from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.


It is unlawful to hunt on private property without permission from the landowner. See ORS 105.700 and 498.120.

Aircraft, Boats, Drones, and Motor Vehicles

It is unlawful to:

  • Hunt or shoot game birds from a motor driven land conveyance or aircraft of any kind.
  • Hunt or shoot game birds with use of a sink box or any other type of low floating device having a depression affording the hunter a means of concealment beneath the surface of the water.
  • Drive, rally, or chase any game bird from any motor driven land, water, or air conveyance or sailboat.
  • Use drones for the following purposes related to the pursuit of wildlife:
    • Hunting, trapping, or angling.
    • Aiding hunting, trapping, or angling through the use of drones to harass, track, locate or scout wildlife.
    • Interfering in the acts of a person who is lawfully hunting, trapping, or angling.
  • Shoot game birds from or with the help of any motorboat or sailboat unless the motor has been shut off and/or sail furled and its progress therefrom has ceased. Sail and motor-propelled craft may be used only to pick up dead or crippled birds. Crippled birds may not be shot from such craft under power.
  • Hunt or harass any wildlife from a motor propelled vehicle.
  • Operate a snowmobile or ATV, unless firearms and bows are unloaded except for the following circumstances:
    • A person who is licensed to carry a concealed handgun in Oregon
    • A current or honorably retired law enforcement officer

For this regulation “unloaded” means:

  • Revolver — no live cartridge in the chamber that is aligned with the hammer
  • Muzzleloader — not capped or primed
  • Bow — all arrows in the quiver
  • All Other Firearms — no live cartridge in the chamber

See ORS 821.240 for complete statute language.

Protected Birds

All birds except European starling, house sparrow, Eurasian collared-dove, and rock pigeon are protected by federal and/or state laws and may not be taken without authorization. Contact the law enforcement branch of the USFWS for Federal regulations regarding take at 503-682-6131.


It is unlawful to hunt game birds by aid of baiting, or on, or over a baited area where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area has been baited. A baited area is considered to be baited for 10 days after complete removal of any bait. Baiting includes placing, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering of salt, grain, or other feed that could serve as a lure or attraction for game birds to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them.

Disguising Sex

It is unlawful to disguise the sex or kind of any wildlife while in the field or in transit from the field. The head or one fully feathered wing must be left attached to all game birds in the field or while in transit to the place of permanent residence of the possessor.

Note: Private hunting preserves are excluded from this regulation. Further restrictions apply to the Northwest Oregon Permit Goose Zone, see Northwest Permit Goose Season.


All game birds killed or crippled must be retrieved immediately, if possible, and kept by the hunter in the field except for internal organs. All crippled birds reduced to possession must be immediately killed.

It is unlawful to waste any game birds or edible portions thereof. Waste means to allow any edible portion of any game bird to be rendered unfit for human consumption, or to fail to retrieve game birds from the field. “Edible portions” of game birds means, at a minimum, the meat of the breast associated with the sternum. The duty to retrieve and to not waste does not justify otherwise criminal conduct including but not limited to trespass.

Possession and Transport

Possession limit means the maximum number of birds that a person may lawfully possess (includes fresh, frozen, or otherwise processed) in the field or in transit to place of permanent residence. Game birds shipped or given to another person for transport during the season or within 48 hours after the season closes must be accompanied by a written note listing the number and kinds; date killed; name and address of possessor; and signature, address and hunting license number of the hunter. Birds transported more than 48 hours after the season closes must bear a shipping permit or metal seal from ODFW. Shipping permits or metal seals are available at any ODFW regional or district office and any Oregon State Police office.

Field Possession Limit: No person may possess, have in custody, or transport more than the daily bag limit or aggregate daily bag limit, whichever applies, of migratory game birds, tagged or not tagged, at or between the place where taken and either (a) automobile or principal means of land transportation; or (b) personal abode or temporary or transient place of lodging; (c) migratory bird preservation facility; (d) Post Office; or (e) common carrier facility.

Hunting Prohibited

It is unlawful to:

  • Hunt on any refuge closed by state or federal government.
  • Hunt within corporate limits of any city or town (unless otherwise authorized, see OAR 635-051-0048); public park or cemetery; or on any campus or grounds of a public school, college, or university.
  • Hunt or shoot from or across a public Rd, Rd right-of-way or railroad right-of-way, except persons legally hunting on Rds closed to use of motor vehicles by the public.
  • Hunt in any safety zones created and posted by ODFW.

Other Restrictions

It is unlawful to:

  • Take furbearers, except in compliance with furbearing mammal regulations.
  • Disturb or remove the traps or snares of any licensed trapper while that person is trapping on public lands or on other land by landowner’s permission.
  • Use an artificial light for hunting any wildlife, except raccoon, bobcat and opossum provided the light is not cast from or attached to a motor vehicle. This includes laser sights or any other sights which project a beam to the target, including scopes with electronic rangefinders and scopes that receive information from a rangefinder or any electronic device. This does not include battery operated sights which only light the reticle.
  • Sell, trade, barter, exchange, or offer for sale, trade, barter, or exchange any game bird parts, or game bird feathers thereof EXCEPT as identified in OAR 635, Division 200.
  • Disturb, damage, remove, alter, or possess any official ODFW sign.
  • Knowingly provide false information to the Department or Commission on any report required by law.
  • Counsel, aid, or assist in any violation of the wildlife laws, or share in any of the proceeds of such violation by receiving or possessing any wildlife. Any person who violates this rule shall incur the penalties provided for the person guilty of such violation.
  • Release without a permit any wildlife brought from another state or country, or raised in captivity in this state.
  • Refuse inspection of any license, tag, or permit, and any wildlife taken, by an employee of ODFW, any person authorized to enforce wildlife laws, or a landowner or agent of the landowner on their land.
  • Refuse inspection of any gear used for the purpose of taking wildlife by an employee of the ODFW, or any person authorized to enforce wildlife laws.

Columbia and Snake River Boundary

  • To hunt the Oregon portion of the Columbia Rvr, including that portion of the Lewis and Clark NWR and other islands in Oregon in the Columbia Rvr, hunters must possess a valid Oregon Resident or Oregon Nonresident Hunting License.
  • To view a map of the boundary between Oregon and Washington in the Columbia Rvr visit,
  • Any hunter with a valid Oregon or Idaho hunting license may hunt in the waters or on the islands of the Snake Rvr, where the Rvr forms the boundary between the two states. All laws and rules of the respective states apply.

Field Dressing of Game Birds — What’s Legal?

Hunters understand the importance to care for meat while in the field to protect it from spoiling. However, what is not understood by many is the legal requirements necessary to transport dressed birds from the field. Some hunters commonly practice “breasting” birds out and discarding the rest of the carcass before getting home. This is not legal and hunters need to note the following:

The head or one fully feathered wing must be left attached to all game birds in the field or while in transit to the place of permanent residence of the possessor. Further restrictions apply to the Northwest Oregon Permit Goose Zone, see Northwest Permit Goose Season.

So why is this necessary? There are many restrictions on sex and species of birds that can be included in your daily bag. Leaving a head or wing attached allows law enforcement personnel to identify the birds taken by a hunter. You can be cited if it is not possible to determine the types of birds in your possession.

The edible portion of a game bird means, at a minimum the meat of the breast associated with the sternum. However, the Department encourages hunters to consume meat from the leg (drumstick), thigh, and wing when practicable. Many hunters don’t realize how much meat is lost when just the breast is consumed. On most game birds, 25% to 35% of the meat is found on just the legs and thighs, with only 55% to 60% found on the breast.

Pages 11-14 of this booklet outlines the important regulation for hunting game birds in Oregon. Please familiarize yourself with all these regulations.