Small Game Hunting
Western Gray Squirrel
The western gray squirrel is a “Game Mammal”. A hunting license is required to hunt western gray squirrels. Western gray squirrels can only be hunted during the seasons listed below. Exception: No bag limit or closed season in that part of Unit 30 south of Rogue Rvr and S Fork Rogue Rvr and north of Hwy 140.
North - Central Oregon
Open Season: Sept. 15 - Oct. 31
Bag Limit: 3 squirrels daily.
Possession Limit: 6 in possession.
Open Area: Units 34, 35, 39, 41 and 42.
Remainder of the State
Open Season: Sept. 1 - Nov. 15
Bag Limit: 5 squirrels daily.
Possession Limit: 15 in possession.
Open Area: Units 10-33, 36-38, 40, 43-77.
See Big Game Regulations for entire WMU boundary descriptions.
Small game species provide a variety of hunting opportunities throughout the state and are an excellent way to introduce new hunters to hunting. Only the appropriate hunting license is necessary to hunt small game (no tags or permits). The western gray squirrel is a game mammal with specific season dates described on Falconry Regulations. Many species of what hunters consider “small game” are “unprotected mammals”.
Unprotected mammals are not covered under the game mammal, furbearer, or sensitive species rules. For unprotected mammals, there are no closed seasons or bag limits. However, a hunting license is required and all general hunting regulations still apply. Commonly hunted unprotected mammals include coyote, cottontail rabbits, black-tailed jackrabbit, opossum, nutria, California ground squirrel, and Belding’s ground squirrels.
- Coyote: Both mouth-blown and electronic call are legal. Note, if calling coyotes and interested in taking a bobcat, fox, bear, or cougar, if they come to the call, it is necessary to have the appropriate licenses and tags. Bear and cougar require tags, Fox and bobcat require a Hunting License for Furbearers; bobcat also require a Bobcat Record Card.
- Ground Squirrel Hunting:
- In eastern Oregon, the medium sized Belding’s ground squirrels (often referred to as “sage-rats”) are typically hunted from February – July, then they return to their burrows, where they spend the next six to eight months. Most “sage-rat” hunting is in pastures and alfalfa fields so getting permission from the landowner is necessary.
- California ground squirrels (“gray diggers”) can be found in western and central Oregon; they are one of the larger ground squirrels. While they can climb, if startled they head for their burrow, which is another way to distinguish California ground squirrels from tree squirrels species that are protected and usually climb a tree to escape. For more information on Oregon’s squirrels, check myodfw.com/wildlife-viewing/species/squirrels-chipmunks-and-marmots.
- Rabbits and Hares are found throughout Oregon.
- Brush rabbits (a variety of cottontail) inhabit the Coast Range, western valleys, and foothills of the Cascades. They can be found feeding and sunning in open areas but will rarely be far from cover. Walking closed logging roads with overgrown vegetation, especially very early in the morning, can produce encounters. While brush rabbits are small, they make for tasty table fare.
- Mountain cottontails are found throughout eastern Oregon, primarily in areas with rock outcrops or rimrock where they use the small gaps between rocks to escape.
- Black-tailed jackrabbits are primarily hunted in eastern Oregon in the most open, driest “desert” habitats. Black-tailed jackrabbits can also be hunted around the outside of alfalfa fields where they forage during the night.
- Snowshoe Hares inhabit the mountain ranges of Oregon. Some snowshoe hares, particularly in the Coastal Range, may not turn white in the winter. Few people hunt for snowshoes in Oregon, they tend to live at high elevations where access is difficult in the winter. In western Oregon snowshoe hares take advantage of dense cover to escape. More information can be found online at myodfw.com/wildlife-viewing/species/pikas-rabbits-and-hares.