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ODFW to hunters: Check for access as deer season kicks off Saturday

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SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon’s largest hunting season (any legal weapon deer) begins on Saturday, with general season hunting in Western Oregon and controlled deer hunting in Eastern Oregon. Last year, 105,481 hunters participated in these seasons.

Hunters, remember to pick up your deer tag no later than Friday, Oct. 2, which is also the deadline to purchase cougar tags and your first fall bear tag. If you got a Sports Pac, you still need to pick up your tag by the deadline at a license agent or “purchase” it (at no additional cost) on the licensing system (find how-to here )

Many public lands are still closed due to Oregon’s unprecedented wildfires, including parts of Willamette National Forest and parts of Mt Hood and Umpqua National Forest. Santiam State Forest is also closed. Some BLM lands are closed including all public lands east of I-5 in Multnomah, Clackamas and Marion counties.

Hunters need to check with the land manager where they intend to hunt for the latest on access and fire restrictions before they go hunting. Access can change quickly so check back often. This information is online at: - US Forest Service (national Forests) - Bureau of Land Management  - Oregon Department of Forestry including fire restrictions - Private industrial timberland - InciWeb major incidents (may include closure maps)

The most common fire restrictions hunters are likely to encounter are:

  • Campfires are either prohibited or restricted to certain areas.
  • Smoking and off -road driving is also prohibited in most areas, which includes motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.
  • Vehicles must have either a gallon of water or a fully charged and operational 2½-pound fire extinguisher and shovel (except when travelling on state highways or county roads).
  • ATVs must have a charged and operational 2½-pound fire extinguisher.
  • Roads and areas may be closed while firefighters are actively fighting a fire

Many private lands are open to access  through ODFW’s Access and Habitat program, find out more at Recently adopted Weyerhaeuser Access Project and Hancock Westside Access Area (both part of Stott Mtn/North Alsea TMA) are open to hunters for walk in access at IFPL 3. Please be conscientious and respectful to landowners when hunting on private land.

“With millions of acres closed due to Oregon’s unprecedented wildfires, hunters may not be able to hunt in their usual spot this year, especially on those national forests that are closed due to fires,” said Kevin Blakely, ODFW Wildlife Division Assistant Administrator. “We appreciate hunters’ flexibility this year, and respect for forest closures and fire restrictions.” 

For hunters who lose all reasonable access to their entire hunting area for the whole hunting period, ODFW makes decisions on refunding tags and reinstating preference points after a season ends. More information on this policy is available at


ODFW offices remain closed to visitors due to Covid-19 precautions, but anyone who needs help with their account or tag can reach out to Licensing via email or phone (, 503-947-6101) or ODFW on social media (@MyODFW on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

Remember you can purchase your tag online and print it directly (or choose e-tagging)  from home by going to ODFW’s new licensing page, Sports Pac holders can “purchase” their tag (at no additional cost) through ODFW’s licensing system.

Hunters who already have a Pioneer or Disabled Veteran license do not need to come into an ODFW office to renew it. Pick it up at any license sale agent or login to your account to get your 2020 license. Applications for these special licenses are available online at

If you are using e-tagging, revisit these tech tips before heading out into the field, including being sure you are updated to the latest MyODFW app (version 2.3.1) and login before leaving cell reception.


Don’t forget these new hunting regulations for 2020 big game seasons, more at

Western Oregon General Deer bag limit: Western Oregon any-weapon deer hunters can take a spike now as the new bag limit is “any buck with visible antler.” There are sufficient bucks in the population to support increased harvest.

Centerfire seasons are now known as “Any Legal Weapon” seasons: This change was made to make it more clear to hunters that they are not limited to only using a rifle for these hunts; it is legal for hunters to use any legal weapon (so also a shotgun, bow, muzzleloader, or handgun; see page 18 of Regulations for more about weapon regulations).

General Season Antlerless Elk Damage Tag: Hunters with access to private land in areas of chronic elk damage (see map)  can choose this new tag as their one elk hunt (200 series tag). This new hunt is meant to address chronic elk damage and address increasing private land elk populations. Do not get this tag unless you already have arranged a place to hunt.

Cascade General Elk Season (now called West Cascade Elk): Hunt boundaries have shifted and now align with general Western Oregon deer season; units in the eastern flank of the Cascades are now controlled hunts.

Rocky Mt. Elk Seasons: General season tags for the any-weapon seasons are now only available for the spike hunts in northeast Oregon (Rocky Mt. Elk 2nd season tag). The Hood-White River-Maupin-Biggs-Columbia Basin units are controlled hunts now or part of the General Season Antlerless Elk Damage Tag areas.

Commercial cervid attractants (deer and elk urine) banned: Hunters may not possess or use a commercial cervid attractant that contains or is derived from cervid urine, a regulation passed by the Oregon State Legislature to protect Oregon’s deer, elk and moose from Chronic Wasting Disease. More info

Fall bear: Season dates of Aug. 1-Dec. 31 are now consistent statewide. Also, the additional fall bear tag is valid statewide. Hunters who purchase their first fall bear tag by Oct. 2 can get this extra tag which allows the harvest of a second bear during the fall season.

Cougar and bear check-in requirements: Special regulations regarding check-in remain in place due to Covid-19. For now, successful hunters are not required to check in their animal at an ODFW office, but still need to report basic information (their name, ODFW ID number, date of harvest, wildlife management unit where harvested, sex of animal and confirmation number for electronic tags) within 10 days. Call the district office closest to where you live ( to report this information or send an email to  Hunters who want age data for their bear or cougar should call their local office to coordinate possible sample collection.

CWD check stations: ODFW will host check stations near Prineville and Biggs during the last few days of Rocky Mountain elk first season to test for Chronic Wasting Disease. Hunters who harvested a deer or elk in Oregon and wish to have it tested for CWD can also contact their local ODFW district office to arrange for testing. Hunters will be notified if their animal tests positive for CWD, which to date has never been detected in Oregon.

Article Topic Follows: Outdoors

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