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The hot streak continues for Oregon waterfowl hunters

Thirteen is turning into a lucky number for Oregon waterfowl hunters, who are poised this fall to extend their record run of the longest duck seasons possible.

Solid duck counts along the Pacific Flyway, as well as decent local duck production, means Oregon hunters again will have 107 days of duck hunting this fall and winter, the 13th year in a row with a maximum-length season.

Similarly, good goose counts mean Oregon will continue its 100-day goose season, with open hunting dates staggered around the state.

That should make for some fine early-season duck hunting and very good late-season goose hunting in the vast public lands and waters of Klamath County.

"Based on our good local production in concert with the fall flight, it should be a good opener," says Tom Collom, a wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Klamath Falls District.

Klamath and Agency lakes are lower than in recent years, and hunters likely won't find much interior marsh to hunt, Collom says. But success should be good along the available marshes for ducks until late November's cool weather sends birds south, he says.

Seasons are based on frameworks crafted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which offers states a range of hunting opportunities annually on migratory birds.

The duck and merganser season opens Oct. 10 and runs through Nov. 29 in Zone 2, which includes Klamath and Lake counties, as well as most of Eastern Oregon. After a short break, hunting resumes Dec. 2 and runs through Jan. 31.

Duck hunting in Jackson County and the rest of Western Oregon opens Oct. 17 and runs until Oct. 25. Hunting then re-opens Oct. 28 and runs through Jan. 31.

The staggered seasons are designed to make better use of weather conditions for hunting in the different zones.

The bag limits also are more liberal than even last year's limits.

The daily limit of pintails in Oregon will be up from one to two this year, while hunters also will be allowed one canvasback. There was no canvasback limit during the 2008-09 season. The scaup limit this year is three, which is up one. The scaup season will run 86 days, the same as last season.

For goose hunters, the season kicks off with the resident Canada goose season, which opens Sept. 5 and runs through Sept. 14 and targets resident birds. The bag limit is five geese.

In the southwest Oregon region — which includes Jackson and Josephine counties — the regular goose season opens Oct. 17 and runs through Nov. 29, then reopens Dec. 12 and runs through Jan. 31.

Klamath County's season for geese runs Oct. 10 through Nov. 29, then Dec. 19 through Jan. 22. The goose season for Lake, Harney and Malheur counties runs Oct. 10 through Nov. 29 and Dec. 19 through Jan. 31.

The goose bag limits will vary, with four dark geese and six white geese the most common.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission also adopted a few other changes to game-bird hunting rules beginning this year.

To reduce what hunters call "skybusting" — the practice of shooting birds too far away and losing track of where they fall — waterfowl hunters now will be required to retrieve killed or crippled birds immediately, if possible.

Also, a change in state statutes will open the door for ODFW employees to immediately evict anyone found to break agency rules or regulations while on a state-owned wildlife area, such as the Denman Wildlife Area.

The change will give department employees the authority to banish anyone who breaks any rule or if their continued presence could threaten the rights and safety of others on the property.

Also, public access to large swaths of the Summer Lake Wildlife Area will be closed for a week before the hunting season begins — a move designed to curb disturbance of birds before the opener. The change does not affect campgrounds or roads.

All the changes will be printed in the game-bird hunting synopsis now available at Point of Sale license outlets statewide, ODFW spokesman Rick Hargrave says.

New for upland game-bird hunters this year is a pheasant season that opens Oct. 10 to coincide with the opening of chukar and quail hunting in Eastern Oregon. The hunts will close Dec. 31, which is 20 days later than normal for pheasants.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

The hot streak continues for Oregon waterfowl hunters