Late August marks the opening of bow hunting season, which continues through late September. Almost all of October is devoted to shot gun hunting (no rifles). If you visit the refuge during this period, it would probably be a good idea to wear clothing that notifies others of your presence, especially if you go out into the trails area where hunting is allowed. Making a little more noise than would normally be desirable for bird watching may also be advisable.
There are certain parts of the refuge where hunting is not allowed at all, and these areas are well marked with signs, as seen in the photo. These areas include the all-year trails, and therefore if you plan to just stay on those, then you are extremely unlikely to have any problems.
Maps of the refuge with hunting and non-hunting areas marked are posted in a number of different places on the refuge during hunting season, incluidng the refuge headquarters and several of the popular viewing locations, as well as the hunting permit kiosks.
It is also possible to find these maps on the refuge web site.
Bow hunting season: one deer of either gender per hunter is allowed. Shot gun hunting: one buck per hunter only is allowed. No other animals may be hunted at this point.
No overnight camping or other after-hours access is allowed on the refuge.
All hunters must obtain a self-service special permit from the refuge (there are several kiosks scattered around the refuge for filling out the form and getting the permit) and have current Oregon state hunting licence and deer tags. Hunters under 17 must have a hunter safety card.
Hunting is not permitted from the bird blinds, boardwalks, or other structures.
It should be noted that the type of poison oak we have on the west coast of the USA is Rhus diversiloba, which is a different plant that what is found in the eastern USA.
Believe it or not, poison oak is a very attractive plant. The leaves on the lower growth turn a wonderful shade of red after a time, the flowers are fairly attractive, the fruit is white, and otherwise the plant looks like a fairly innocent shrub, or a climbing vine, or as a spindly plant. The several different forms that it can take make it a bit difficult to try to identify strictly on the shape of the plant.
The irritating oil is present on the stalks in the winter as well, so also learn to recognize the stalks if you plan to grab something in winter that doesn't have leaves. Also, the dead plants can retain the oil for several years, so even if it is dead you still should not touch it.
In summertime, look out for leaves that look a little bit like oak leaves, but not quite, and arranged in a pattern of three leaves, but usually not equally shaped - most of the ones I have seen are one on each side that are near mirror images and one in the center that points outward halfway between the other two. Of course that attractive red color that people really like - until they touch the plant!
There are quite a number of things that can look like poison oak, but really aren't. Wild strawberry, for example, is sometimes confused with it when the leaves grow in a three position fashion. The larger bushy form can certainly look like a young oak tree. Generally, if you don't know what it is, it is best not to touch it.
Also, tolerance fades away over time. In other words, the more you touch it the more likely you are to eventually develop a severe reaction. Therefore, even if you accidentally touch it and your body doesn't respond with severe itching, you shouldn't rely on that in future encounters with the plant.
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