APPLICATION STRATEGY 2018: Oregon Elk and Antelope
Oregon's 2018 elk and antelope application overview
There is no better state for a nonresident to apply in if you are looking to hunt Roosevelt elk. While Oregon’s system isn’t too friendly to nonresidents, it is better than Washington, making it your best chance at hunting this amazing species of elk. Oregon is very much an opportunity driven state. There are few units that are managed for an upper age class of bulls. If you are looking to hunt Rocky Mountain elk or antelope in the Beaver State and only want the best, be prepared to apply for many years as this state is a modified preference point state, which means that whoever has the most points is going to draw the tag. 25% of the tags are set aside for a random drawing each year; however, with the limited number of tags overall and the fact that only up to 5% of the elk tags and 3% of the antelope tags are allowed to be drawn for nonresidents, the demand heavily outweighs the supply.
If you decide to pull the trigger and get your name in the hat, because of the minimal cost per application after you have purchased your hunting license, it would be a mistake not to apply for all species of interest as there are some fantastic opportunities in Oregon that include four different species of deer, California bighorn sheep, and mountain goats. With an application fee of only $10, it’s a good idea to start building points for deer, too, and throw your name in the hat for bighorn sheep and mountain goat tags.
Oregon also has a major price break for youth hunters. The juvenile hunting license is only $10 per year for youth ages 9 to 17, which makes this state hard to pass up if you are looking to get your children set up for the future. Youth are allowed to begin applying for a “point only” application at 9 years old, but must wait until they are 12 to hunt big game; they also have to pass a hunter’s education course. They are allowed to apply when they are 11 years old, but must be 12 by the time their hunt starts. Remember that any tag holder under the age of 18 is required to wear hunter orange on their head as well as an exterior garment while hunting with a firearm.
If you are interested in hunting with an outfitter, Oregon sets aside 2.5% for elk and 1.5% for antelope, which is basically half of these licenses, in the outfitter pool. This draw happens before the regular state draw. Typically, a hunter can expect to hunt a better than average unit in much less time when planning a hunt this way. This also means that with the limited number of permits in some of these units it is very important to pay close attention to units that only offer one permit a year to nonresidents. Otherwise, every other year that permit will be gone and you will have applied for a tag that has already been awarded to an outfitted hunter.
Note: The application deadline in Oregon for all species is May 15, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. PST and all applications must be submitted online here.
Why Oregon for elk and antelope
- There are two different subspecies of elk to hunt in Oregon.
- Oregon has some fantastic antelope hunting in multiple units after you finally draw a tag.
- There are opportunities to hunt elk over-the-counter (OTC) even if you are unsuccessful in the draw.
- You have a chance to draw even the best tag with zero points.
- There are premium hunt opportunities through a secondary draw that doesn’t affect your points.
- You only lose your points if you draw your first choice. Purchasing an OTC permit or drawing on your second through fifth choice does not affect your points.
- Inexpensive youth license and application fees help young hunters get started at 9 years old.
- Nonresident military members that include National Guard and Reserves can purchase their hunting license at the resident fee ($33.50). Learn more here.
New for 2018
- Beginning January 1, 2018, the eligible age for the mentored youth program has been extended two years to include youth 14 and 15 years of age.
- The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is sponsoring a new “Take a Friend Hunting” contest to encourage mentoring among adult hunters. Mentors and mentees must be at least 18 years of age or older. To be eligible, mentees must have 1.) not had a hunting license prior to 2017 or only had a hunting license in 2016; or 2.) not had a hunting license in the past five consecutive years (i.e., since 2012). To see the full eligibility and contest rules and for information on prizes, visit the contest page here.
New for goHUNT
For 2018, goHUNT has added Draw Odds for all female species.
Cow Rocky Mountain elk draw odds
Cow Roosevelt elk draw odds
Doe antelope draw odds
To view more important information, including a state overview of Oregon’s rules/regulations, the draw system, draw odds and license fees go to the Oregon state profile or check out Filtering 2.0 which also includes an interactive map where you can research unit boundaries and data on a unit by unit basis.
Note: Like other preference point states, there is point creep in the more popular units of the state. What this means is if you see a unit where you are currently five points away from hitting the maximum point status, chances are high that it will actually still take more than five years to draw. This is because it may take more than five years to get through all of the applicants that have more points than you.
Important dates and information
- You can apply online here.
- The deadline to apply is May 15, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. PST for online applications.
- Results will be made available on or before June 20, 2018.
- Tags must be purchased (or picked up as part of a SportsPac) no later than the day before the hunt begins.
- Apply for points only under the "points saver" program, which is species specific. Below are the codes used:
- 199 = buck deer point saver
- 299 = elk point saver
- 499 = antelope point saver
- 699 = antlerless deer point saver
- 799 = spring bear
- You cannot apply for a second through fifth choice if you choose to apply for a point saver as your first choice. (If this is the goal, list it as a second choice and, to retain your points, always apply for the hardest to draw unit in the state so if you do happen to get lucky it will be in a top shelf unit with excellent dates.)
- Points only can be purchased from Dec. 1 through May 15 and again from July 1 through Nov. 30 if you didn't apply in the controlled hunt drawing.
- Tags awarded to outfitters, but not sold by April 15 of the application year, are available in that year’s drawing. Call ODFW prior to applying to get an updated list of available tags.
Drought and snowpack in Oregon
Like many states, Oregon is having a mild winter and has less than 50% of their average snowpack in a few areas of the state. The majority of the center of the state is under a moderate drought with some abnormally dry areas reaching beyond that. These reports are from mid-April and typically we should see some decent moisture as we press on into the spring. Overall, there is nothing too alarming about the conditions across the state.
Wolves in Oregon
As of 2016, the state of Oregon recognized a minimum of 112 wolves in the state. They are broken down into 13 different packs and three additional breeding pairs. ODFW has recently confirmed an additional two wolves in the northern portion of the cascades (Wasco County).
In 2016, the wolves that were east of Hwy 395-78-95 were delisted from the Endangered Species Act and placed under the care of the state wildlife officials. There is no current plan for any hunting of these wolves at this time.
Any wolf located on the western side of Hwy 395-78-95 is still protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.
Since Jan. 1, 2017, there have been a total of 22 confirmed wolf depredations on livestock in Oregon with four of those happening this year. Although the total number of wolves in Oregon is much less than other states they are definitely making their presence known.
In 2016, Oregon introduced a new method of applying called Premium Hunts. These hunts are 100% random draw each year and there are no preference or bonus points attached to the application. There is one permit set aside in each unit and the recipient can be either resident or nonresident. The season dates for the lucky tag holders are Aug. 1 to Nov. 30 each year. Standard application fees exist and the applicant can apply for five different choices on their application. They are only allowed to apply once per hunt code series. Essentially, you are allowed to apply once for deer, once for elk, and so on through each hunt code series offered in the state. The hunter is allowed to harvest any species for that hunt code in that unit. For instance, if you are in a unit that happens to have Columbian whitetail deer and Columbian blacktail deer or even mule deer, the tag would be good for whichever species you decided to take. If drawn, this application and tag is considered an extra tag and does not interfere with your draw applications in any way. If you happen to have very good luck you could end up having two tags in the same unit in the same year for the same species. Also, there is no waiting period for these premium tags and they are not considered once-in-a-lifetime. With a little luck, maybe you could have one of these tags in your back pocket for consecutive years. Remember when applying for these premium hunts that the tag is good through the rut and even a unit that isn’t normally considered a premier location can produce an exceptional representation of the species when it’s the right time of year and the weather cooperates.
Most applied for premium elk hunts in 2017
- M54-Mt Emily (2,339 applicants)
- M56-Wenaha (2,177 applicants)
- M37-Ochoco (1,017 applicants)
- M10-Saddle Mt (801 applicants)
- M55-Walla Walla (739 applicants)
Least applied for premium elk hunts in 2017 with good public access
- M32-Klamath Falls (45 applicants)
- M29-Evans Creek (64 applicants)
- M28-Applegate (65 applicants)
- M76-Silver Lake (67 applicants)
- M33-Sprague (80 applicants)
Least applied for premium elk hunts in 2017 with limited public access
- M15-Willamette (35 applicants)
- M44-Columbia Basin (41 applicants)
- M23-Melrose (56 applicants)
- M40-Maupin (74 applicants
- M43-Biggs (78 applicants)
Most applied for premium antelope hunts in 2017
- N70B-W Beaty’s Butte (1,247 applicants)
- N74-Warner (1,199 applicants)
- N71-Juniper (1,135 applicants)
- N69-Steens Mt (1,020 applicants)
- N68-Whitehorse (919 applicants)
Least applied for premium antelope hunts in 2017 with good public access
- N38-Grizzly (111 applicants)
- N32-Klamath Falls (130 applicants)
- N35-Paulina (215 applicants)
- N36-Maury (238 applicants)
- N65-Beulah (260 applicants)
Least applied for premium antelope hunts in 2017 with limited public access
- N33-Sprague (54 applicants)
- N47-Northside (68 applicants)
- N40-Maupin/W Biggs (79 applicants)
- N51-Sumpter (80 applicants)
- N44-Col. Basin/E Biggs (95 applicants)
The Oregon draw system
Understanding the draw
Oregon’s draw system is quite simple. Each applicant is allowed to list up to five different hunt options on their application. Everyone’s first choice is considered prior to the consideration of any applicant’s second through fifth choice. An applicant will only lose his/her preference points if their first choice is awarded. 75% of the tags are set aside for the applicants with the highest number of preference points and 25% of the tags are awarded at random. Essentially, if you are not a maximum point holder for that particular hunt and you are in the random drawing your accrued points will not give you an extra advantage. An example would be if a hunt typically takes ten points to draw and you have seven points. Your odds of drawing in the random will be the same as a first-time applicant. Each applicant that does not have the maximum points essentially has one raffle ticket in the bucket regardless of how many actual points you have.
Unlocking Oregon's system
Oregon’s controlled tags are awarded through a software-based tag lottery. Each application can list up to five choices on their application. The application is then assigned a random number. If you apply as a party, which is allowed with up to 18 individuals for deer and elk and two for antelope, essentially, you will only have one raffle ticket with everyone’s name written on it. You do not get up to 18 tickets in the bucket when applying as a group. The computer automatically awards 75% of the tags to the applicants with the highest number of preference points. The remaining 25% of the tags are then awarded to the applicants with the lowest random number assigned to their application.
Note: Successful applicants for controlled elk archery hunts will need to purchase their controlled archery elk tag that will be valid for both the general archery elk season and controlled archery season. Tags must be purchased by the day before general archery season begins. Hunters who harvest an elk during the general archery hunting season may not hunt in the controlled archery season.
Note: It is not recommended to apply as a group in Oregon as there are so few tags available and if there are not enough tags left when your application is pulled, then you will be rejected and they will move onto another applicant until the exact number of tags allotted is issued.
- Preference points are considered only for first choice hunts.
- In each hunt choice, 75% of tags are issued to applicants who have preference points.
- Applicants who have more preference points than others are drawn first.
- 25% of tags for each hunt choice are issued by random.
- Leftover tags after the preference point drawing are added to the 25% of random tags.
- Tags issued to outfitters’ clients are part of the nonresident quota.
- A maximum of 5% of deer and elk tags and 3% of antelope tags are issued to nonresidents.
- There is no minimum quota of deer, elk or antelope tags drawn by nonresidents.
- Hunters may apply for just a preference point rather than a tag if they do not want to hunt in a given year.
- Hunters should not apply for any tag they do not want. Select your first hunt choice wisely because all accumulated preference points are forfeited if you draw your first choice tag.
Oregon's 2018 Rocky Mountain elk breakdown
If you are looking to get into an elk hunt sooner than later you have come to the right place. Oregon has many OTC opportunities for archery and rifle hunters. Although it may take a few years to get past the learning curve in these units, there are some great opportunities with some decent success rates even when hunting OTC.
Current Rocky Mountain elk herd condition
In 2017, ODFW conducted elk population counts in 20 specific units as well as two different regions that they label as the High Desert, which includes eight different units as well as a region they have named South Central this encompasses four different units in the south-central part of the state. Typically, these population counts include an additional 13 different units, but, for some reason, they were not included in this past year’s surveys. When comparing the units and regions that were counted, it was concluded that there was a 1% population decrease in the number of Rocky Mountain elk found in the state. Based on the plus or minus factor of the equations used in their models, it is safe to say there really wasn’t much of a change at all. However, there were five units and both regions that came back at exactly the same population as last year’s count and 11 different units that had 100 or less change plus or minus in their respective units over 2016. All in all, this is good news. The most dramatic changes came in Unit 53-Cathrine Creek with an increase of 850 animals bringing that population up to a total of 1,750 elk. The largest drop in population came in Unit 62—Pine Creek, which came in at only 445 elk in 2017 compared to 1,418 elk in the 2016 survey.
The bull:cow ratio has continued to decrease since 2015 when it was at 23:100. The 2017 survey found only 15 bulls for every 100 cows as the average across the state. The calf:cow ratio has followed this same trend with the highest report in 2014 at 28:100. Since then, the ratio has dropped each year with the 2017 survey finding only 23 calves for every 100 cows. Overall, calf recruitment is quite low and, even at its peak, was not what is typically considered an acceptable number. It is hard not to point directly to the fact that in 2007 a bill was passed making it illegal to hunt bears or lions with dogs in the Beaver State. Predation on calves is definitely having an impact on the sustainability of Oregon’s elk herd.
How to uncover hidden gem Rocky Mountain elk units
The overall management plan for the state of Oregon is to create opportunities to go hunting. They have very few units—three to be specific—that are standouts for older age class bulls. Outside of these three units, there are ample places to hunt either OTC or with a few points. Using goHUNT’s Filtering 2.0, you can narrow down exactly the type of hunt you are after. Take into consideration things like success rates, trophy potential as well as Draw Odds and it won’t take long to locate a hunt that fits your individual goals. Remember that Oregon is a preference point state so if you are looking to hunt one of the three top units plan on this taking well into two decades of applying outside of blind luck. Remember: once you have filtered to the selections that fit your goals click the Unit Profile and dive a little deeper into what you are up against in each of the different units.
General hunts for Rocky Mountain elk
Top hit list units to consider for 320" or better Rocky Mountain elk on general hunts
2nd choice Rocky Mountain elk units with 100% draw odds
Resident - 2nd choice controlled Rocky Mountain elk units with 100% draw odds
|52 - Starkey*||320"+||7:100||18%||9|
|47 - Northside||310"+||12:100||17%||55|
|45 - Fossil||300"+||13:100||20%||See apps here**|
|32 - Klamath Falls||260"+||13:100||100%||22|
|33 - Sprague||260"+||13:100||20%||48|
The only choice for a nonresident wanting a second choice controlled elk permit is 45 - Fossil at 42% draw odds.
Bull:cow ratios and why they're important
Studying the bull:cow ratios in each of the different units has never been easier thanks to Filtering 2.0. Simply filter this selection and you will have the top units in the state listed from the best to the worst immediately. This statistic, when comparing to the overall population of elk in the unit, can really fast track you into a quality hunt. If the unit you are gearing up for has a low bull to cow ratio expect a more difficult hunt. Whether you are chasing bugling bulls in the rut and it seems like every bull has a harem of cows or you are hunting in the late season and it feels like you are might as well be hunting unicorns, studying the bull to cow ratios can help you avoid these very frustrating units and improve the probability that when you do find elk there will, in fact, be a bull somewhere close.
Top bull:cow ratios in units with at least a 300"+ trophy potential
B&C entry trends for Oregon Rocky Mountain elk
While Oregon may not be home to the biggest elk in the West, it does offer many great hunts that can occasionally produce record book animals. Below is a list of the top record book producing counties found in the state.
Oregon's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for typical Rocky Mountain elk
|Units found within county|
|Union||2||49, 52, 53, 54, 56, 57, 60, 63|
Oregon's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for nontypical Rocky Mountain elk
|Units found within county|
|Umatilla||1||44, 48, 49, 54, 55|
|Wallowa||1||53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62|
Hitlist units for Rocky Mountain elk in Oregon
Top hit list units to consider for 320" or better Rocky Mountain elk
|56 - Wenaha||360"+||17:100||23%||73%|
|54 - Mt Emily||350"+||6:100||25%||47%|
|37 - Ochoco||340"+||16:100||28%||54%|
|55 - Walla Walla||340"+||6:100||22%||33%|
|57 - Sled Springs||330"+||11:100||22%||21%|
|59 - Snake River||330"+||10:100||28%||94%|
|36 - Maury||320"+||13:100||14%||58%|
|44 - Columbia Basin||320"+||11:100||24%||6%|
|46 - Murderers Creek||320"+||24:100||21%||67%|
|48 - Heppner||320"+||11:100||13%||36%|
|52 - Starkey||320"+||7:100||18%||64%|
|58 - Chesimnus||320"+||21:100||16%||49%|
|60 - Minam||320"+||17:100||32%||74%|
Top units for Rocky Mountain elk success rates on controlled rifle hunts
|55-Walla Walla||340"+||6:100||Oct. 24 to Nov. 11||84%||33%|
|54-Mt Emily||350"+||6:100||Oct. 24 to Nov. 11||80%||47%|
|56-Wenaha||360"+||17:100||Oct. 24 to Nov. 11||77%||73%|
|70-Beaty's Butte||250"+||139:100||Oct. 24 to 30||60%||83%|
|59-Snake River||330"+||10:100||Nov. 4 to 11||34%||94%|
Top units for Rocky Mountain elk success rates on controlled archery hunts
|56-Wenaha||360"+||17:100||Aug. 25 to Sept. 23||57%||73%|
|55-Walla Walla||340"+||6:100||Aug. 25 to Sept. 23||54%||33%|
|54-Mt Emily||350"+||6:100||Aug. 25 to Sept. 23||47%||47%|
|57-Sled Springs||330"+||11:100||Aug. 25 to Sept. 23||40%||21%|
|58-Chesnimnus||320"+||21:100||Aug. 25 to Sept. 23||32%||49%|
Top units for Rocky Mountain elk success rates on general rifle and archery hunts
Nov. 3 to 11
Oct. 24 to Nov. 30
Oct. 24 to 28
Aug. 25 to Sept. 23
Aug. 25 to Sept. 23
Aug. 25 to Sept. 23
Managing points and expectations
When applying for Rocky Mountain elk in Oregon it can become a little confusing even when you are referencing the state regulations. The long and short of what you need to know is this: Oregon has a number of units and hunts that they deem to be limited access. We have not included these few opportunities or any private land only, spike, or antlerless permits and have chosen to only focus on the hunts that allow you to hunt for a mature bull in units with good public access.
Here’s how it breaks down: There are a total of 64 opportunities on a controlled rifle hunt to apply for Rocky Mountain elk in Oregon that are not private land only, spike, or antlerless hunts. Out of those 64 hunts, 13 of these hunts are still located in units that ODFW believe to be limited access. If you choose to apply for one of these permits please make sure to reference state maps and have a solid plan before applying as you would hate to show up and not be able to hunt because of no access to the public land. There are 15 units that offer a controlled rifle hunt with both early and late season dates. These hunts run are early Oct. 24 to 28 and late Nov. 3 to 11. They are in Units 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 58, 60, 65, 66, 72, 74, 75, 76 and 78. There also early hunts available in Units 41, 45, 46, 49, 52 (two options), 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 61, 62 and 63. There are a few units that also have only a late hunt available. They are Unit 46 East and West and Unit 59. The last remaining hunt is located in Unit 55. It is labeled as Mill Cr Watershed and the tag is valid for either an antlerless elk or a bull with 3+ points. The season date for this hunt is Oct. 27 to Nov. 4.
I have 0 elk preference points. What can I expect?
There are few options to consider when looking towards a controlled hunt in Oregon with zero points. Depending on your goals, it may be a good idea to look towards the many general seasons the state has to offer. In the meantime, do not simply throw a dart at Oregon and head out on your hunt. Studying Filtering 2.0 will allow you to locate a general season in a unit that has a high success controlled hunt with a few points. This way, when you eventually draw the controlled hunt, you will already have some great boots-on-the-ground experience and be able to hit the ground running. It’s a great idea to apply for the Premium hunt, too. Who knows? You could hit a home run your first year.
These general rifle season dates for Rocky Mountain elk are:
- Oct. 24 to 28: Tag valid for Units 40-42 and the portion of Unit 43 west of the John Day River.
- Oct. 24 to Nov. 30: Tag valid for a portion of Unit 43 east of the John Day River and Unit 44.
- Nov. 3 to 11: Tag valid for Unit 40-42 and the portion of Unit 43 west of the John Day River.
The general archery season dates for Rocky Mountain elk are:
Aug. 25 to Sept. 23: Units 35, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 50, southern portion of Unit 51, 53, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73 east 77 (that portion east of Hwy 97), Ritter portion of Unit 48 (that part of 48 south and east of N Fork John Day River.).
Exceptions: Unit 44 is closed to all archery hunting beginning at Vinson at the intersection of Hwy 74 and Butter Creek Rd, west on Hwy 74 to Sandhollow Rd, north on Sandhollow Rd to Baseline Rd, west half mile to Sandhollow Rd, north on Sandhollow Rd to Hwy 207, north and east on Hwy 207 to Butter Creek Junction, south on Butter Creek Rd to Hwy 74 at Vinson.
Exceptions: Starkey Experimental Forest except by controlled elk archery tag.
Aug. 25 to 31: Traditional archery only (recurve or longbow) / Sept. 1 to 23: Canyon Cr –100% public lands. Approximately 35.5 square miles in Unit 46.
Out of the eight controlled archery hunts, only three of them allow the hunter to harvest a mature bull. The remaining five hunts are for spike bull. They are Units 59-Snake River, 36-Maury, 74-Warner.
There are 18 different controlled rifle hunts that allow the hunter to harvest the best bull they can find. There are a number of other controlled rifle hunts available, but they are for spike bulls only. Out of the 18 available, seven of them are located in units with very limited access. Look to hunt the any bull hunts both early (Oct. 24 to 28) and late (Nov. 3 to 11) located in Unit 32-Klamath, Unit 33- Sprague, Unit 60-Minam, Unit 74-Warner, Unit 76-Silver Lake, and the early hunt in Unit 75-Interstate. These units have good access and allow you the opportunity to hunt a mature bull.
Welcome to the Oregon elk draw. Now is the time to make a decision. There are not many options to consider when it comes to controlled hunts, but, with a few points, your options increase dramatically outside of the three best units in the state. If you know you would like to hunt sooner than later, study Filtering 2.0 to look over general hunts available in units that have high success rates and the trophy potential you are after. If you apply for this hunt while planning on hunting the general season on the years you are unsuccessful you will be way ahead of the curve when the time comes to draw the controlled hunt. You will be able to take full advantage of the points you have accrued.
The only choice for a nonresident looking to hunt a controlled archery hunt with zero points is Unit 52-Starkey. Although we show it having 64% public land expect some access issues. It is highlighted as such in the state regulations.
There were 28 controlled rifle hunts that nonresidents could draw with 100% in 2017. Out of these 28 hunts, only seven of them allow the hunter to hunt for the best bull he can find. The remaining hunts are spike bull hunts. They are the early and late controlled rifle hunts on Units 33-Sprague, Unit 60-Minam, Unit 76-Silver Lake and the early hunt on Unit 75-Interstate.
There were no muzzleloader hunts that had 100% odds for nonresidents in 2017.
What can I expect with 5 to 6 elk preference points?
There are only eight controlled rifle hunts that you currently do not have enough points to draw. The unfortunate reality is this: if you are waiting to draw a rifle tag in Units 54-Mt Emily, Unit 55-Walla Walla or Unit 56-Wenaha, the likelihood of ever achieving a maximum point status is approximately 0%. These three units continue to creep each year and you are not gaining any ground. You could get lucky and draw one of the random tags; however, it’s worth being aware that even if you currently have five or six points and you are over the age of 18, it is still next to impossible to plan on hunting these hunts without blind luck.
Units 36-Maury, 46-Murderers Creek, and 48-Heppner each have a trophy potential of a 320”+ bull. If this is the type of bull you are looking for your wait may be over. Check out all the details in Filtering 2.0. If they line up with your goals, your wait may be over.
For muzzleloader hunts, you can draw any of the six hunts except for Unit 48 - Heppner, which will take roughly three more years.
Nonresident available units follow quite closely at this point to the residents. You can expect the same available hunts and units with your current points status. Also similar to the residents, if you are looking to hunt one of the big three in Oregon—Units 54-Mt Emily, Unit 55-Walla Walla or Unit 56-Wenaha—you are really in for a long wait that has no finish line. Plan on drawing one of these tags like you plan on winning the Powerball. If it’s a hunt on one of these units you are waiting on, then hopefully you are taking advantage of the other opportunities Oregon has to offer as this goal may take a while. Use Filtering 2.0 so you can narrow down a realistic goal and find yourself in the mountains sooner than later. There are many different available rifle hunt options to consider. Check out Units 36-Maury, 46-Murderers Creek, and 48-Heppner for some of the better trophy potential, but be prepared for a serious number of hunters in these units while you are there.
What can I expect with 10 plus elk preference points?
There hasn’t been much movement at all in the last four years, but if you currently have ten points, hoping to pull a tag in one of the premier units isn’t completely out of reach. Unfortunately, with the current level of applicants and how few of tags the state is issuing each year, you may still be about 10 to 15 years out, but that’s better than never.
For muzzleloader hunts, you're at 100% draw odds for six units. You can see that list here.
Like the residents, things haven’t got much better for you and I hope that the reason you have not come to hunt Oregon is because your life has been too busy and not because you are waiting on a miracle to happen. You can currently draw 15 out of the 18 available archery hunts, but you are still a long way from drawing a tag in Unit 54 - Mt Emily, Unit 55 - Walla Walla, and Unit 56 - Wenaha. All of the muzzleloader hunts are available now expect Unit 48-Heppner, which could take another decade plus. And, other than Unit 52-Starkey, which could take another decade of applying, you can draw any controlled rifle hunt in the state except for the three you have more than likely been applying for.
Note: If you are not applying for the Premium Hunts in Oregon for a tag in one of these top three units you should. For only $10 additional dollars you have equal odds with everyone, which is better than what you have in the normal state draw.
Oregon's 2018 Roosevelt elk breakdown
If hunting a Roosevelt elk is on your bucket list and you are not applying to hunt in Oregon you are making a mistake. With hunts on Vancouver Island going for over $20,000 and the absolutely impossible task of drawing a nonresident permit in California, Oregon is hands down the best place to be putting your effort. Oregon has close to 100 more Roosevelt elk entries in B&C than any other state or province and, with the option to hunt DIY, it’s pretty tough not to make this your home base when it comes to planning a Roosevelt hunt. B&C only recognizes Roosevelts if they were harvested west of Interstate-5 in Oregon. However, we will be covering all of the units that are or have portions of the unit west of the Cascade Mountains. If you are looking to enter your Roosevelt elk into the record books, then you will need to hunt exclusively west of Interstate-5 in Units 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29. Unit 29 only has a small portion of the unit west of I-5 so plan carefully if you are planning a hunt there.
Current Roosevelt elk herd condition
Between 2013 and 2015, Oregon conducted population surveys in 23 different areas of the state. The average number of elk in those three years dropped by approximately 500 animals per year and, overall, averaged 59,798 animals. In 2016, the state ended up only counting 16 different areas and came up with a population of 41,550 total elk in that survey. This was a drop of 1,849 elk in the surveyed areas and a dramatic decrease from the very similar numbers of prior years. In 2017, ODFW added one more area to this count and released a population survey of 42,100. The additional unit added 550 elk to the survey, which was an increase of 50 head from the last time that area had been surveyed in 2015. All of the remaining 16 areas surveyed turned in identical numbers from the 2016 survey. Overall, it seems that the Oregon Roosevelt elk herd is slightly hurting. There has been a steady decline in population surveys for the past number of years and this trend seems to be continuing. The 2017 bull:cow ratio was up to 18 bulls for every 100 cows with some units turning in counts as high as 30 bulls to every 100 cows. The calves:cow ratio was down slightly at 32 calves for every 100 cows. This ratio had previously been as high as 37 calves in 2014 and as low as 30 calves in 2013, but, in a broad sense, this year’s count is about average.
How to uncover hidden gem elk units
The real gems when looking to hunt Roosevelt elk in Oregon are the general archery and rifle seasons that are offered in every single unit. The reality is no matter where you plan your hunt you are going to have some company on these OTC hunts, but with some time in the field and boots-on-the-ground experience you can get past the learning curve in any given unit and find success. The success rates do seem to be much higher as a rule on the controlled hunts. Your best bet would be to set your eyes on the controlled hunt that fits your goals and start hunting one of the general seasons in that unit to get familiar with the area and the elk. Once you draw your controlled hunt you will be able to hit the ground running and be able to take full advantage of the tag you have been waiting for.
General rifle hunts
When looking to plan a general hunt there are few different options to consider. The archery hunt has four different options that allow for a mature bull hunt. There are three different options to consider when looking to hunt the general rifle—each with a different season date and each encompassing a different number of units.
General archery options:
- Aug. 23 to Sept. 23:
- Unit 15, 20, 23, 25, 28 (one elk)
- Unit 11, 12, 14, 17, 18, 27 (one bull elk)
- Units 16, 19, 21, 22, 29, 30 (One bull elk, or one elk outside of USFS lands)
- Unit 10 and 24 (One bull 3 pt. plus)
General rifle options: Oct. 13 to 19:
Nov. 10 to 13:
Nov. 17 to 23:
Top hit list units to consider for 290" or better Roosevelt elk on general rifle hunts
|11 - Scappoose||300"+||11:100||7%||Early: 18%|
|16 - Santiam||300"+||17:100||22%||5%|
|12 - Wilson||290"+||11:100||5%||Early: 10%|
|14 - Trask||290"+||11:100||10%||Early: 13%|
|19 - McKenzie||290"+||32:100||26%||6%|
Top 10 units for Roosevelt elk bull:cow ratios
|19 - McKenzie||32:100||X||X|
|10 - Saddle Mt||24:100||X||X|
|20 - Siuslaw||24:100||X|
|30 - Rogue||22:100||X||X|
|22 - Dixon||19:100||X||X|
|31 - Keno||18:100||X|
|16 - Santiam||17:100||X||X|
|21 - Indigo||17:100||X||X|
|29 - Evans Creek||16:100||X||X|
B&C entry trends for Oregon Roosevelt elk
Oregon ranks #1 for the most Roosevelt elk B&C entries in the West. Below is a list of the top record book producing counties found in the state.
Oregon's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for Roosevelt elk
|Units found within county|
|Douglas||9||20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 29|
|Coos||6||24, 25, 26|
Hitlist units for Roosevelt elk in Oregon
Top picks for controlled hunt options for Roosevelt elk
|10 - Saddle Mt|
(rifle early and late)
|16 - Santiam|
|14 - Trask|
|19 - McKenzie|
Managing points and expectations
I have 0 elk preference points. What can I expect?
There are a number of different options to already consider, which means it’s time to make your decision. If you are looking for a top shelf hunt you need to plan on this taking some time. In the meantime, if you are up for that hunt sooner than later swing for the fence and maybe you can beat the odds. Plan on hunting on a general tag this season and use that time to get ready for a future controlled hunt—maybe even in the same unit.
There are currently four controlled rifle hunts, two muzzleloader hunt, and a late archery hunt that you could draw with zero points. You can see this list here.
There are two different units offering hunts for nonresidents with zero points. They are Unit 10-Saddle Mt. late rifle, and all of the controlled hunts in Unit 24-Tioga. Pay close attention to the success rates in each of these hunts. It may be a good idea, depending on your goals, to let your points mature a little. With a few years of acclimated points, the caliber of hunt you can plan is much higher.
What can I expect with 5 to 6 elk preference points?
Well, what are you waiting for? There is not a Roosevelt elk tag in the state you cannot draw with six points other than Unit 23-Melrose, which will take about five to six more years if it doesn’t creep in the meantime.
Other than Unit 23-Melrose, there isn’t a tag in the state you cannot draw at this point. However, take a close look at this unit before you commit to waiting. With only a 260” trophy potential and an eight month season, outside of an airtight plan for a big bull, this hunt doesn’t line up with what most hunters are looking for when waiting out the hard to draw areas.
What can I expect with 10 plus elk preference points?
If you are waiting out Unit 23-Melrose you are getting very close to your goal. With 10 points you had a 22% chance last year and with 11 it was 100%. Good luck! When it happens, make the best of it.
Not much has changed since when you had six points. You can still hunt any other tag in the state except Unit 23-Melrose and it is likely going to be another 10+ years before you draw this extended season tag.
Oregon's 2018 antelope breakdown
Antelope hunting in Oregon is not for the weak of heart. Plan on this goal taking some time if you are looking to hunt with a rifle. There are a growing number of applications and the demand doesn’t equal the supply. There are currently six different units in the state that have the potential to produce 80”+ antelope and, although this goal may take some time, when it does happen you are in for a top-shelf experience in many areas of the state. With the length of time it will take to secure a rifle permit in Oregon, you shouldn’t focus your antelope goals on this state alone as there are a number of other states with high-quality antelope hunting that takes a fraction of the time. However, if you are going to purchase your hunting license and get started accumulating points for another species it would be a shame not to spend the extra $10 and put another hunt in your pipeline for the future.
There are 31 different rifle hunts that allow the successful applicant the opportunity to hunt for a buck. 11 of these 31 are an either-sex permit. 10 of these units are in areas of the state that ODFW highlights as limited access. There are 12 different archery options with only three of these being buck only permits and only two located in limited access areas. There are six different muzzleloader hunts with all but two being either sex permits and only one unit highlighted as limited access.
Current antelope herd conditions
The last surveys, which were completed in 2016, found a winter pronghorn population trend as well as a summer population composition. Each of these surveys were not conducted in all of the units across the state so in an effort to get a bit of an idea on where things are at we broke down the side by side comparison with the units that were surveyed in both 2015 and 2016.
In the winter survey, the population increased across the 12 units that were counted in both years by 1,936 animals. The most notable increase was in Unit 70-Beatys Butte, which had an increase of 2,167 animals. The total count in the units surveyed on both years was 13,388 total antelope.
In the summer survey, the population increased across the 11 units that were surveyed in both 2015 and 2016 by 3,231 animals with the largest increase coming from Unit 70-Beatys Butte. There was an increase of 2,154 animals in this unit alone and only three survey areas in the state showed a decrease in population and even those were minimal. The total number of antelope surveyed in this study was 9,911.
The buck:doe ratio was at 33 bucks for every 100 does and about average from previous counts. The high was in 2015 with 39 bucks and the low was in 2014 with 27 bucks. Fawn counts were down to 37 fawns to every 100 does. In 2014 and 2015, these counts were as high as 50 and 51 fawns, but the winters of 2015 and 2016 are likely the reason for this dip.
Between the two different studies in 2016, the average population was 11,650, which does not include counts in 11 different units that have previously produced population counts from as little as 12 antelope to as high as 1,010, depending on the unit and year. In a nutshell, the antelope herd in Oregon is doing well with a number of mature bucks being taken each year and the population trend seems to be increasing year over year.
How to uncover hidden gem antelope units
Finding a hidden gem in Oregon for antelope is as simple as picking up your bow or even your muzzleloader. There is a number of archery hunts available to residents even with zero points and nonresidents have some archery options with as little as two points.
Top 10 units for antelope buck:doe ratios
|64 - Lookout Mt||107:100||75"+|
|51 - Sumpter||80:100||75"+|
|36 - Maury||72:100||75"+|
|72 - Silvies||56:100||75"+|
|71 - Juniper||51:100||80"+|
|70 - Beatys Butte||48:100||80"+|
|69 - Steens Mt||40:100||80"+|
|74 - Warner||39:100||80"+|
|65 - Beulah||30:100||75"+|
|66 - Malheur River||28:100||75"+|
B&C entry trends for Oregon antelope
Oregon's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for antelope
|Units found within county|
|Lake||5||35, 36, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77|
|Harney||4||65, 66, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72|
|Baker||3||51, 63, 64, 65|
|Malheur||2||51, 65, 66, 67, 68|
|Deschutes||1||35, 36, 38, 72, 73|
Hitlist units for antelope in Oregon
Top hit list units to consider for 75" or better antelope
|68 - Whitehorse||80"+||15:100||90%|
|69 - Steens Mt||80"+||40:100||64%|
|70 - Beatys Butte||80"+||48:100||83%|
|71 - Juniper||80"+||51:100||89%|
|73 - Wagontire||80"+||23:100||84%|
|74 - Warner||80"+||39:100||70%|
|66 - Malheur River||75"+||28:100||68%|
|67 - Owyhee||75"+||22:100||81%|
|32 - Klamath Falls||75"+||NA||36%|
|36 - Maury||75"+||72:100||58%|
Managing points and expectations
I have 0 antelope preference points. What can I expect?
If you are interested in hunting antelope with a rifle you had better pull up a chair as this is going to take some time. Currently, the first available rifle hunt you could draw without relying on pure luck in the random would be Unit 51-Sumpter and it took nine points to draw last year. If you are looking to secure an antelope permit as fast as possible there are two archery hunts that, even with zero points, drew at 100% odds last year. They are in Unit 75 - Interstate and Unit 77 - Fort Rock. Unit 77-Fort Rock even had a chance to draw this permit on a second choice in previous years. With a success rate of 33%, this isn’t a bad option to consider.
Plan on approximately five to six years before you have any options for muzzleloader to consider.
Like the residents, if your goal is to hunt antelope with your rifle you are going to be waiting a while. Hopefully, you are getting the most out of your hunting license and applying and building points in all species available. It is going to be two years before you have any options to consider, but, with two points, there are five different archery hunts to consider. If this is your goal, it won’t take long. It is going to take approximately five years before you have any muzzleloader options and nine years before you will have a 100% chance at a rifle tag. If you are looking for the best tag in the state your best bet is to begin applying for it now. Who knows? Maybe you will get lucky.
What can I expect with 5 to 6 antelope preference points?
Out of the 12 different archery options, you can now draw all but three of them. The only archery hunts out of reach at this point are Unit 73-Wagontire, Unit 70-Beatys Butte, and Unit 74-Warner. There are now three different muzzleloader options across five units to consider as well. They are Unit group 32, 33, 75, Unit 35 and Unit group 76, 77. You are still approximately three years away from your first 100% odds rifle hunt in Unit 51-Sumpter.
If you are still waiting on a rifle permit, continue to apply for the best tag in the state as your odds of drawing it are similar to your odds of drawing any of the rifle tags. If you come out of the hat early it may as well be for a premier location. In the meantime, there are now seven different hunt options to consider with your bow and one muzzleloader option. You can find the list of available units here.
What can I expect with 10 plus antelope preference points?
At ten points, you can now take your pick of almost any archery permit in the state. You are still slightly out of reach for Unit 71 - Juniper. Currently, this tag is drawing with 14 points. The only muzzleloader hunt out of reach is Unit 73-Wagontire early season, which will be an option with 11 points.
There are now six different hunt options to consider with both early and late rifle on Unit 51-Sumpter as well as hunts in Unit 66-Malheur River, Unit 75-Interstate, Unit group 76, 77, and Unit 46-Murderers Creek. You currently have less than a 2% chance at drawing any of the units that have 80”+ trophy potential. Unit 68-Whitehorse will be your first option for this in approximately three more years if it doesn’t creep in the meantime.
The only two archery options out of reach are Unit 74-Warner and Unit group 70, 71. You have half of the muzzleloader options to consider, which include Unit 35-Paulina, Unit 73-Wagontire (second season) and Unit group 76, 77.
If you are waiting for a rifle permit you now have two to choose from. Unit 51-Sumpter and Unit group 76, 77. If you are still waiting for a rifle hunt in a unit that has 80”+ trophy potential plan on waiting for another six to seven years. Last year, Unit 73-Wagontire drew 100% with 16 points.