APPLICATION STRATEGY 2019: Oregon Elk and Antelope
Oregon's 2019 elk and antelope application strategy
Oregon is rarely anyone’s top pick when applying to hunt out West. This is largely due to the preference point system that is in place and makes drawing top-shelf hunts in the state unreachable for a new applicant without blind luck. However, if you were to apply for the Beaver State one of the reasons you may be interested is because of the elk hunting and, more specifically, the Roosevelt elk hunting. If that is the case, then you’re in luck since there isn’t really any other place like Oregon when it comes to public land and the overall number of elk to hunt. Considering that a Roosevelt elk hunt outside of the lower 48 can run anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, for many, it is worth the effort. Oregon also has a great herd of Rocky Mountain elk that live on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains as well as a growing population of antelope that is beginning to produce more and more trophy bucks each year.
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. It is modified because 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.
Oregon is a state that requires you to purchase your hunting license before you can actually apply and Oregon’s license is one of the more expensive ones, costing $167 for adults. If you decide to pull the trigger and get your name in the hat with 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 for four different species of deer, California bighorn sheep and mountain goats. With an application fee of only $8 per species, it is a good idea to get started with points for deer 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 (nine to 17 years old), 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 nine years old, but cannot hunt big game until they are 12 as long as they have passed 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 or half of these licenses in the outfitter pool, which is a draw that 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 as 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, 2019 at 11:59pm PST and all applications must be submitted online.
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.
- There are inexpensive youth license and application fees that you can get started on at nine years old.
- Nonresident military members, including the National Guard and Reserves, can purchase their hunting license for resident fees ($33.50). Learn more here.
New for 2019
- Mechanical broadheads are now allowed for archery hunting. Broadheads must be unbarbed and at least 7/8" wide. Broadheads with moveable blades that fold/collapse when withdrawn are not considered barbed.
- The minimum archery draw weight has been reduced to 40 lbs for all big game.
- A hunter cannot hunt within eight hours of having been transported by, communicating with or having received information on the location of a game mammal from an aircraft.
- It is now unlawful to hunt, locate or scout for the purpose of hunting any wildlife with infrared or other night vision sight or equipment except trail cameras.
- It is now unlawful to hunt with or have in possession while hunting sabots or bullets with plastic or synthetic parts. Cloth, paper or felt patches are allowed.
- Limitations on controlled hunt party size have been removed.
- Youth must obtain the controlled hunt tag before the hunt begins.
- There are new regulations related to transporting cervid carcasses into Oregon.
- Hunters who turn in poachers can now receive preference points as a reward.
- The new electronic licensing system gives you the ability to tag your animal with your smartphone. Verify your account at MyODFW.com. See page 4 of the ODFW Big Game regulation.
- Starting in 2019, leftover tags will only be sold online.
- There are now two options for tagging game mammals for which a tag is issued: paper tags and electronic tags. Hunters must choose one option at the time of purchase.
Antlerless draw odds
Remember that goHUNT has 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 fee, go to the Oregon state profile. It 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 from being in the maximum point status, chances are high that it will actually take more than five years to draw as 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, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. PST for online applications.
- Results will be made available on or before June 20, 2019.
- 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 that 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 the goal is to draw on a second choice and 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 can only 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 into the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) prior to applying to get an updated list of available tags.
Drought and snowpack in Oregon
What a bounce back! With over 30% of the state with a moderate drought rating in 2018, things have definitely taken a turn for the better when looking at moisture levels for 2019. Currently, the state has only 17.3% of its ground posting as abnormally dry and only the northern portion of the Harney Basin overlapping into what was under a moderate drought rating last year at this time.
Like many states in the West, Oregon has received its fair share of moisture this winter and early spring. As these maps show you, there is substantially more snow in the mountains this year in the majority of the state with a number of areas causing some concern over flooding due to the excess. The antler growth should be exceptional this year and conditions, if they will continue to get warm as we push through the spring, should be fantastic in all areas of the state.
Wolves in Oregon
The most exciting news concerning wolves in Oregon is that there has now been a proposed wolf management plan that is being considered by the state. This plan will be voted on this year on June 7. The specifics about this plan do include the use of hunting under controlled hunts by licensed hunters to help manage populations in regions as necessary.
Overall, there has been an increase of over two dozen more wolves documented in Oregon, bringing the total of observed wolves in the state to 137. As there is no math equation used to determine this number and for this number to show an increase a confirmed new wolf has to be observed it is commonly believed that this number documented is actually much lower than the actual number of wolves inhabiting the state.
In 2016, Oregon introduced a new method of applying called premium hunts. These hunts are 100% randomly drawn 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 a 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, so, with a little luck, maybe you could even have one of these tags in your pocket in consecutive years. Remember that 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 2018:
- M56-Wenaha (1,907 applicants)
- M54-Mt Emily (1,779 applicants)
- M55-Walla Walla (1,118 applicants)
- M37-Ochoco (905 applicants)
- M57-Sled Springs (850 applicants)
Least applied for premium elk hunts in 2018 with good public access:
- M32-Klamath Falls (87 applicants)
- M33-Sprague (96 applicants)
- M74-Warner (130 applicants)
- M29- Evans Cr (133 applicants)
- M22-Dixon (139 applicants)
Least applied for premium elk hunts in 2018 with limited public access:
- M40-Maupin (92 applicants
- M43-Biggs (110 applicants)
- M15-Willamette (130 applicants)
- M44-Columbia Basin (114 applicants)
- M23-Melrose (177 applicants)
Most applied for premium antelope hunts in 2018:
- N70B-W Beaty’s Butte (1,277 applicants)
- N74-Warner (1,225 applicants)
- N71-Juniper (929 applicants)
- N69-Steens Mt (953 applicants)
- N68-Whitehorse (824 applicants)
Least applied for premium antelope hunts in 2018 with good public access:
- N32-Kalamath Falls (197 applicants)
- N38-Grizzly (251 applicants)
- N36-Maury (294 applicants)
- N35-Paulina (322 applicants)
- N65-Beulah (389 applicants)
Least applied for premium antelope hunts in 2018 with limited public access:
- N40-Maupin/W Biggs (88 applicants)
- N33-Sprague (102 applicants)
- N44-Col. Basin/E Biggs (108 applicants)
- N47-Northside (111 applicants)
- N51-Sumpter (133 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 any applicant’s second through fifth choice is considered. An applicant will only lose his/her preference points if their first choice was 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, which will be valid for both the general archery elk season and controlled archery season. Tags must be purchased prior to the day that the 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 is 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 2019 Rocky Mountain elk breakdown
With many different OTC opportunities to offer, the Beaver State just might be the best kept secret in the country for avid elk hunters. Between both archery and rifle hunts, there is something for everyone if you are willing to put in the work. There is always a learning curve when hunting a new area and what Oregon has to offer is no different. However, with one of the largest elk herds in the country, Oregon isn’t a bad choice at all if simply getting in the field is the ultimate goal and you are not as concerned with the size or age class of the bulls you will be chasing.
Current Rocky Mountain elk herd condition
At the time this article was written ODFW had not released any elk population surveys completed in 2018 or 2019. However, based on the last surveys that were conducted, the overall elk population in Oregon was down only 1% in 2017 since 2016. The population of Rocky Mountain elk in Oregon is estimated at just over 70,000 animals, which encompasses the units on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains and moving east to the Idaho border. The 2017 survey showed only 15 bulls for every 100 cows on average across the state. The calf:cow ratio has followed this same trend with it as high as 28:100 in 2014, but dropping each year with the 2017 survey finding 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. This is hard not to point directly to the fact that, in 2007, a bill was passed making it illegal to hunt bears or mountain lions with dogs in the Beaver State. Predation on calves is definitely having an impact on the sustainability of Oregon’s elk herd.
Hidden gems for Oregon 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 Filtering 2.0, you can narrow down exactly the type of hunt you are after. By considering things like success rates, trophy potential and draw odds ,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 into the unit profile and dive a little deeper to see 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
Bull:cow ratios and why they're important
Studying the bull:cow ratios in each of the different units has never been easier than using 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 overall population of elk in the unit can really fasttrack 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.
Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are considered if any part of the unit is found within any part of the county. Data provided below courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club.
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|
Hit list units for Rocky Mountain elk in Oregon
Top hit list units to consider for 320" or better Rocky Mountain elk
|56 - Wenaha||360"+||10:100||45%||73%|
|54 - Mt Emily||350"+||17:100||14%||47%|
|37 - Ochoco||340"+||19:100||43%||54%|
|55 - Walla Walla||340"+||14:100||32%||33%|
|57 - Sled Springs||330"+||13:100||49%||21%|
|59 - Snake River||330"+||5:100||36%||94%|
|36 - Maury||320"+||29:100||36%||58%|
|44 - Columbia Basin||320"+||38:100||45%||6%|
|46 - Murderers Creek||320"+||21:100||37%||67%|
|48 - Heppner||320"+||11:100||13%||36%|
|52 - Starkey||320"+||8:100||30%||64%|
|58 - Chesimnus||320"+||23:100||53%||49%|
|60 - Minam||320"+||16:100||41%||74%|
Top units for Rocky Mountain elk success rates on controlled rifle hunts
|55-Walla Walla||340"+||14:100||Oct. 23 to Nov. 10||59%||33%|
|54-Mt Emily||350"+||17:100||Oct. 23 to Nov. 10||72%||47%|
|56-Wenaha||360"+||10:100||Oct. 23 to Nov. 10||63%||73%|
|52-Starkey||320"+||8:100||Nov. 2 to 10||58%||83%|
|67-Owyhee||270"+||23:100||Nov. 4 to 11||54%||94%|
Top units for Rocky Mountain elk success rates on controlled archery hunts
|56-Wenaha||360"+||10:100||Aug. 24 to Sept. 22||50%||73%|
|55-Walla Walla||340"+||14:100||Aug. 24 to Sept. 22||37%||33%|
|54-Mt Emily||350"+||17:100||Aug. 24 to Sept. 22||44%||47%|
|52-Starkey||320"+||8:100||Aug. 24 to Sept. 22||29%||21%|
|57-Sled Springs||330"+||13:100||Aug. 24 to Sept. 22||28%||49%|
Top units for Rocky Mountain elk success rates on general rifle and archery hunts
Oct. 23 to Nov. 30
Oct. 23 to Nov. 30
Oct. 23 to 27
Aug. 24 to Sept. 22
Aug. 24 to Sept. 22
Aug. 24 to Sept. 22
Managing points and expectations
When looking to apply for Rocky Mountain elk in Oregon it can become a little confusing even when you are referencing the state regulations. Here’s what you need to know: 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. Instead, we 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 be 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 way to get to the public land. There are 15 units that offer a controlled rifle hunt both early and late. The season dates for these hunts are Oct. 23 to 27 (early) and Nov. 2 to 10 (late). 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. These 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. 26 to Nov. 3, 2019.
Note: For another view of the preference point breakdown using tables, visit the Oregon Rocky Mountain Elk Species Profile. The table view will allow for an easier readout of the higher point totals.
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 as well. Who knows? You could hit a home run your first year.
These general rifle season dates for Rocky Mountain elk are:
- Oct. 23 to 27: Tag valid for Units 40-42 and the portion of Unit 43 west of the John Day River.
- Oct. 23 to Nov. 29: Tag valid for portion of Unit 43 east of the John Day River and Unit 44.
- Nov. 2 to 10: 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. 24 to Sept. 22
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 Rvr.).
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.
Aug. 24 to Sept. 22
Exceptions: Starkey Experimental Forest except by controlled elk archery tag.
Aug. 24 to 30 traditional archery only (recurve or longbow)
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. 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. 23 to 27) and late (Nov. 2 to 19) 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.
When considering getting started with an elk application in Oregon, it is best to consider why you are starting and what your goal is prior to getting started versus simply getting started down a path towards the best units in the state that. Unfortunately, they have very little chance of success given the low drawing odds as well as the very limited number of permits allocated to nonresident hunters. Having a few points will dramatically increase the number of hunts that you will have the option to consider while having a lot of points does very little in the way of creating more opportunity. As you will see, once you are past approximately five points, you are heading into no man’s land and your point total will not be increasing the number of hunts you can draw for a very long time if ever. It would be best to swing for the fence with the premium hunt choice while targeting a much more realistic goal that you could hunt on a more regular basis than blindly applying for a hunt that is likely to continue to creep indefinitely.
What can I expect with 5 to 6 elk preference points?
There are only nine 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, but it’s worth knowing now that if you currently have five or six points and you are over the age of 18, it’s 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 and, 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.
Drawing one of the big three units this early in Oregon, Units 54-Mt Emily, Unit 55-Walla Walla or Unit 56-Wenaha, would be about as likely as answering the door tomorrow morning to a man with an oversized check with a large number written on it wanting to take your picture. Essentially, it’s less than 1% at this time and isn’t probably ever going to get higher than that. Using Filtering 2.0, you can narrow down a realistic goal with the type of hunt you are looking for and start planning. 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 few number of tags issued each year by the state, 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 all five units. You can see that list here.
Like 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 instead. You can currently draw 15 out of the 18 available archery hunts, but you are still a long ways away 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 or more. 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 chance at a tag in one of these top three units you should. For only an additional $10, you have equal odds with everyone, which is better than what you have in the normal state draw.
Oregon's 2019 Roosevelt elk breakdown
There are many different areas to hunt up and down the western coast of North America. Starting in California and making your way north, these amazing elk can even be found on a few of the islands off of the coast of mainland Alaska. However, Oregon should be one of your top considerations when looking to check a Roosevelt elk off of your bucket list. B&C only recognizes Roosevelts if they were harvested west of Interstate-5 in Oregon. Regardless, we will cover 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 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
Just like the Rocky Mountain elk we discussed earlier, ODFW has not released any new populations surveys since 2017. That survey showed that the estimated herd size was just over 40,000 animals spread up and down the coast and into the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains. Overall, it seems that the Oregon Roosevelt elk herd is slightly hurting. Although there has not been any significant decrease in numbers year over year, there has been a steady decline in population surveys for the past few 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 has 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. Again, not to call out the law change in 2007, which made it illegal to pursue and take black bears and mountain lions with the aid of hounds in the Beaver State, has to be a major factor when looking for a place to point your finger on a declining population.
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 that no matter where you plan your hunt, you are going to have some company on these OTC hunts. However, 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 seem to be much higher as a rule on the controlled hunts. Your best bet would be to get your eyes set 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 a few different options to consider. The archery hunt has four different options to purchase that allows the hunter to hunt for a mature bull. 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. 24 to Sept. 22
- 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. +)
General rifle options:
Oct. 12 to 18
Nov. 9 to 12
Nov. 16 to 22
Top hit list units to consider for 290" or better Roosevelt elk on general rifle hunts
|11 - Scappoose||300"+||11:100||6%||Early: 18%|
|12 - Wilson||290"+||11:100||12%||Early: 9%|
|14 - Trask||290"+||11:100||13%||Early: 11%|
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|
Hit list units for Roosevelt elk in Oregon
Top picks for controlled hunt options for Roosevelt elk
|10 - Saddle Mt|
(controlled rifle early and late)
|16 - Santiam|
( controlled muzzleloader)
|14 - Trask|
( controlled muzzleloader)
|19 - McKenzie|
Managing points and expectations
For another view of the preference point breakdown using tables, visit the Oregon Roosevelt Elk Species Profile. The table view will allow for an easier readout of the higher point totals.
I have 0 elk preference points. What can I expect?
There are a number of different options to consider, which makes it 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 rather 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, four muzzleloader hunts, and a late archery hunt that you could draw with zero points. You can see this list on Filtering 2.0.
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 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 that you cannot draw with six points other than Unit 23-Melrose, which is going to 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 and make the best of it.
Not much has changed since 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 2019 antelope breakdown
Oregon has done an incredible job in growing its antelope herd across the state. As recently as 2012, there were less than 5,000 antelope in the whole state. Today there is estimated to be nearly 12,000. This is another incredible conservation story where hunters and the funds they are able to generate have been able to help a struggling species. However, unfortunately, Oregon is not a standalone state when considering antelope. If you are purchasing a hunting license for any other species, for the small application fee, it’s worth throwing your name in the hat for the draw as well as the premium hunts as you could get lucky and there are currently six units that have an 80”+ trophy potential. If you are simply looking for a place to hunt antelope, this state should be way down your list.
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 the 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
There has not been a proper survey conducted in Oregon for antelope in the last three years. However, the overall population of antelope in Oregon has steadily been increasing since 2012 and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. With very high fawn counts and mild winters, things have been moving in the right direction.
Hidden gems for Oregon antelope
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|
|Harney||6||65, 66, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72|
|Lake||5||35, 36, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77|
|Baker||3||51, 63, 64, 65|
|Malheur||2||51, 65, 66, 67, 68|
|Deschutes||1||35, 36, 38, 72, 73|
Hit list 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 your goal is to hunt the Beaver State for antelope with a rifle, you had best get comfortable because you are going to be here for a while without some serious luck. Currently, the first available rifle hunt for a resident hunter based on last year’s odds was going to take eight points. They are in Unit 75 - Interstate and Unit 77 - Fort Rock. If you are looking to secure an antelope permit as fast as possible you are in luck as 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 25% 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 residents, if the goal is to hunt antelope with your rifle you are going to be here a while and, hopefully, you are getting the most out of your hunting license and applying and building points in all species available. With one point last year, nonresidents had 100% drawing odds at a region of units in the south-central part of the state for archery permit. They would have been hunting Unit 32, 33 and 75. There were only four total applications for this permit, so, if you feel a little lucky an antelope hunt in Oregon may not be that far out of the question. It comes down to simply what your goal is and if you are willing to take on a hunt like this. You are going to need closer to five points before any muzzleloader hunts become available and even longer for a hunt with your rifle.
What can I expect with 5 to 6 antelope preference points?
There are now 10 different archery options to consider that had 100% odds in 2018. Out of these 10 options, seven of them are in units with 75”+ trophy potential. As of 2018, there are also five different units that you can draw to hunt with a muzzleloader and no rifle hunts that you would be in a maximum point status for. In 2018, it took 10 points to have three different rifle options to consider so if this is the style of hunt you are looking for you are still a way out and, without a lot of luck, won’t have an Oregon antelope hunt happening in the near future.
Unit 76-Silver Lake and Unit 77- Fort Rock are now available for a muzzleloader hunt. 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. There a number of different archery hunts to choose from with Unit 67-Owyhee being the stand out, showing a 35% success rate on the archery hunt this past season. All others were sub 20% success rates with Unit 33-Sprague coming in at the bottom showing a 0% success rate on last year’s archery hunt.
What can I expect with 10 plus antelope preference points?
You finally did it! You have enough points to draw a rifle antelope hunt in your home state. It may not be for the best unit the state has to offer, but it’s still a rifle hunt in a state that it is very difficult to draw a permit in. At ten points, you can now take you pick of almost any archery permit in the state. There is only one archery permit out of reach and it is in Unit 71 – Juniper. You currently have enough to draw any of the six different muzzleloader hunts offered in the state and could also choose to hunt one of the three different rifle options that are now within reach. Unit 38-Grizzly, Unit 46 – Murderers Creek, and both Units 76 and 77 which make up the E Fort Rock – Silver Lake hunt option.
There are now eight different archery options to consider and six of them are in units that have a 75”+ trophy potential or better with one of those Unit 73- Wagontire being the one option in a unit with a history of producing 80”+ bucks. There are six different hunt options to consider with a muzzleloader and, if you are waiting for a rifle permit, you now have two to choose from. Unit 46-Murderers Creek 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 as last year Unit 73-Wagontire drew 100% with 16 points.