William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge


Great hunting opportunities are available at many of the State and Federal Refuges.   In Oregon we are very fortunate to have many of both.   The O.D.F.W. has setup the opportunity of applying for a tag for a specific hunt and refuge, such as Hart Mountain.   As I am directing this article of a specific Federal Refuge, the application process has to be done via the website of the refuge.   There are two (2) different O.D.F.W. tags that can be used for the hunting of elk at the refuge and the over-the-counter general elk tag for the area.

Though you can not shoot bulls, there are a great deal of them to look at and call for fun…

The Federal Refuge that is mentioned is the WILLIAM L. FINLEY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, located south of Corvallis, Oregon off of Highway 99.   The refuge is approximately 5400 acres, with many ponds, creeks and trails.  It is well known for the birds and waterfowl that live there and migrate through.  The Roosevelt Elk that dwell there -in good herd numbers- is unique, in that the majority of the land near the refuge is flat farm land to the east, south, and north, plus being close to a large city.

The hunting of Roosevelt Elk at William Finley is for cows only, mostly an archery hunt, though, in Zone 1 a shotgun can be used during certain time periods.   So there are two (2) zones for hunting the refuge with Zone 2 being the largest.   Zone 2 is intertwined with Scrub Oak trees, Douglas Fir, Cottonwoods, Beaked Hazelnut, Big Leaf Maples and grasslands.   Very diversified land profile for sure.

I believe it could be a great hunt for anyone that wants to work hard and do some pre-scouting, although the elk will travel many miles and even venture off the refuge into Weyerhaeuser properties that are to the west of Zone 1.  I have found the elk to be quite habit forming in movement.   Elk can work extremely large areas in their feeding routine.

In the past month, since we are now into April,  (Closed to foot traffic November 1st-March 31st) we allowed to go past the gates in most of the refuge, I have found the well-worn trails made by vast herds.  In my opinion, I would hunt Zone 2 since the area is so much larger with a greater opportunity to find Elk.

In a recent scouting trip, we spotted a very large herd of elk with at least 100 head.   It took me about an hour to close the distance of a mile out, give or take a few yards, getting to within 100 yards.  It took so long to get to them because I was wading in water from 2” to 20” over uneven terrain. When the herd finally decided to move out, there was a single file of elk that was about a ¼ miles long. It was simply an amazing sight and the camera did not do justice to what the eye saw.   There were still a couple of spikes with their antlers, and a few new-growth antlered bulls.   It was fun to use my onX HUNT mobile APP and Garmin GPS and mark waypoints of trails and sightings.

I have attached a link to WILLIAM L. FINLEY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE  (Note: 2018 hunting applications will be available in May 2018. If you are interested in hunting for elk, there is still time to get an application in for the 2018 Hunting Season.   Make sure you have plenty of time to scout, have a good set of boots, and, just in case, a roll-up pair of stocking chest waders for crossing creeks.

Bedded down earlier in the Oaks… Roosevelt Elk

A small tidbit, Blacktail Deer hunting is also available at the refuge, either sex in this case.  One could maybe have a two (2) species hunt…

Bwana Bubba