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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2021: Oregon and New Mexico spring black bear overview

This is the second article in the series on spring black bear hunts. The first article showcased ways to use Filtering 2.0 to find a draw black bear hunt. If you missed that article, you can check it out here.

Up next in this series is Oregon and New Mexico’s 2021 black bear application strategy overview.

Application strategy 2021 Oregon and New Mexico black bear

Jump to: Oregon New Mexico

Notable upcoming black bear application deadlines:

  • February 10 - New Mexico black bear at 5 p.m. MST
    • Draw results available by February 24
  • February 10 - Oregon black bear at 11:59 p.m. PST 
    • Draw results available February 20
  • February 15 - Idaho spring black bear controlled hunts at 11:59 p.m MST
    • Draw results available no later than March 10
  • February 23 - Utah black bear at 11:00 p.m. MST
    • Draw results available March 3
  • February 28 - Washington black bear at midnight PST
    • Draw results available around March 11


In Oregon, the coveted bear tags per se are the spring controlled hunts. In total Oregon has 54 draw bear units (made up of 14 spring controlled hunts). All spring hunts are controlled and all fall hunts are over the counter. The great part about Oregon, hunters can take up to three bears in one year and populations are very, very healthy with the state estimating about 25,000 to 30,000 black bears.

The application deadline is February 10 at 11:59 p.m. PST. You can apply online here.

State information

Below you’ll find important information and links to an overview of Oregon’s rules/regulations, the draw system, tag and license fees. Once at the State Profile you can find even more information on applying in Oregon. Remember that goHUNT now has 3D maps on the web. This is a phenomenal way to plan and research a unit you are considering to apply for.

Oregon State Profile Black Bear Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0 goHUNT MAPS

Important dates and information

  • The deadline to apply online is Feb. 10, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. PST.
  • Draw results available February 20
  • Point only period:
    • The main preference points only period in Oregon is from July 1 through November 30.

Median ages of black bears from hunts in Oregon (1987-2010)

Tag options:

  • Controlled spring black bear is the 700 series tag
    • The tag sale deadline is March 31
  • General season fall tag
    • The tag sale date is October 1
  • Additional general season fall tag

Note: Hunters may obtain one controlled spring black bear tag, one general season black bear tag and one additional fall bear tag.

Bear limit

In Oregon, you get one bear per tag. Note: it is unlawful to take cubs less than one-year-old or sows with cubs less than one-year-old.

Within a calendar year, and during authorized seasons, a hunter may take:

  • One bear with a general fall black bear tag
  • One bear with an additional fall black bear tag
  • One bear with a controlled spring black bear tag

Baiting and dogs prohibited

In Oregon, the use of bait and dogs for hunting is illegal.

Bear meat

Bear meat must be kept in Oregon.


Oregon Bear Fees 2021

Hunting license$34.50$172.00
Black bear tag$16.50$16.50
Controlled hunt
application fee

You must have an annual hunting license in order to apply in Oregon.

Mandatory check for all bears

Oregon is a mandatory check-in state for bears. The skull of any bear taken must be presented to an ODFW office or designated collection site within 10 days of the kill to be checked and marked; the hunter is responsible to have it presented.

  • The bear skull must be unfrozen when presented for check-in and to mouth propped open so the tooth can be accessed. Inserting a stick or dowel between the molars prior to freezing/drying out will help keep the jaw open.
  • Check-in at ODFW offices must occur by appointment during normal business hours (Mon. - Fri., 8-5). Please call ahead to make arrangements to have the bear checked.
  • Hunters are required to check-in the skull only.
  • Hunters are requested but not required to submit the reproductive tract of any female bear taken.
  • At check-in, hunters must provide:
    • Date and location including Wildlife Management Unit of harvest.
    • Complete hunter information including the issued date and time of a paper tag or the confirmation number of an electronic tag; a completed “Wildlife Transfer Record Form” is an alternative for providing the needed information.
    • Hunters must still complete mandatory reporting via the internet.

Controlled hunts

Any legal weapon controlled 700 series spring hunts

Season dates: April 1 - May 31

Unit nameUnits2021 tags
NW Oregon10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 191,365
Alsea - Stott Mtn17, 18275
SW Oregon20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 304,840
South Central31, 32, 33, 74, 75, 76, 77400
White River - Hood41, 42330
S Blue Mtns37, 38, 45, 46, 47, 48, 50, 51, 65, 66, 72770
Starkey - Ukiah49, 52250
Mt Emily - Walla Walla54, 55210
Wenaha Unit56263
Sled Springs - Chesnimnus57, 58289
Snake River Unit59436
Minam - Imnaha60, 61265
Pine Cr - Keating - Catherine Cr53, 62, 63428
Lookout Mtn Unit6442


Youth only controlled 700 series hunts

Season dates: April 1 - May 31

Unit nameUnits2021 tags
Wenaha Unit Youth5650
Sled Springs - Chesnimnus Youth57, 5880
Minam - Imnaha Youth60, 6152

Where should you apply?

When it comes to what controlled hunt is right for you, that is definitely left up to your personal goals. Last week I covered how to use Filtering 2.0 to find a bear draw hunt and used Oregon as an example. You can use some of those same examples/methods in that article to find out what controlled hunt to apply for. But if you want to base things strictly on draw odds The Mt Emily - Walla Walla (Units 54, 55) is the one that takes the most points to draw at 6 points as a nonresident. Then when you take all your controlled bear hunts in Oregon and sort them by the number of bears killed, you'll see that Unit 20 is at the top of the list at 126 bears.

Top Oregon controlled bear hunts sorted by the number of bears taken

Unit# TakenPublic land %
Unit 20 - Siuslaw12642%
Unit 24 - Tioga8735%
Unit 21 - Indigo4768%
Unit 59 - Snake River3594%
Unit 54 - Mt Emily3447%
Unit 28 - Applegate2660%
Unit 62 - Pine Creek2376%
Unit 27 - Chetco2283%
Unit 58 - Chesnimnus2149%
Unit 23 - Melrose2016%

For a detailed look at your options, jump over to our standalone draw odds page.

Find your draw odds here

And once again, if you need some help figuring out what unit to apply for, our Filtering 2.0 research tool is going to give you a leg up.

New Mexico

The state of New Mexico might not be at the top of your list for black bear hunting opportunities, but the state still manages to hold a large number of hunts. The application for all draw bear hunts is February 10 at 5 p.m. MST. You can apply online here.

In total there are 57 units in New Mexico that hold bear hunts. 56 of those hold over the counter archery hunts (all with fall hunting dates). 57 of the units hold over the counter late summer/fall hunts. And finally, there are five units that hold draw hunts. The draw hunts are typically held the month of August, but Unit 55A does have a spring hunt with an April 15 opening. Note: in terms of draw hunts, a nonresident can only apply for Units 54, 55A or 57.

State information

Below you’ll find important information and links to an overview of New Mexico’s rules/regulations, the draw system, tag and license fees.

Once at the State Profile you can find even more information on applying in New Mexico. You can also view the New Mexico Black Bear Species Profile to access additional information.

New Mexico State Profile Black Bear Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0 goHUNT MAPS

Important dates and information

  • The deadline to apply online is Feb. 10, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. MST.
  • Draw results will be available by February 24

New Mexico Black Bear Population - March 2020

New Mexico bear information

Bear Management zones and harvest limits

New Mexico is divided into 14 different bear management zones, which allows New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) to better manage regional bear populations.

Each zone has two harvest limits:

1) the total number of bears that may be harvested (total limit)
2) the number of female bears that may be harvested (female limit).

Harvest limits for each bear management zone are listed in the table toward the end of the article. Note: bear management zones close when harvests reach 90% of the total limit, 90% of the female limit, or when the season has ended—whichever occurs first. 

Check for zone closure

Before hunting, hunters must verify their preferred zone is still open. You can check this information online here or by phone: 1-877-950-5466.

Legal bear definition

No cub younger than one-year-old or any female accompanied by a cub(s) may be taken. 

Electronic calls

Electronic calls are allowed for bear hunting. 

Proof of sex

Proof of sex must remain naturally attached to the hide and be readily visible until the hide has been inspected and pelt tagged by a NMDGF representative. According to NMDFG, hunters must keep the testicles, penis and/or baculum of a male, or the vulva of a female. NMDGF will pelt tag a harvested bear only if proof of sex is attached to the hide and readily visible to the tagging official. Bears presented to NMDGF for tagging without proof of sex attached will be seized. 

Closed areas

Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River Area, including Taos Valley Overlook; all wildlife management areas (WMAs are open only to hunters with a valid bear draw permit and bear hunting license during draw seasons for that area.); and unit 6B (Valles Caldera National Preserve). 

Use of dogs

Dog use is not allowed on wildlife management areas (WMAs) or during September bow seasons. Dog use is allowed to hunt bears elsewhere during hunts that allow any legal weapon. See the table toward the bottom of the article. When dogs are used to hunt bears, the hunter who takes the bear must be present continuously from the time any dog is released. Dogs may only be released during legal hunting hours. There is no pursuit or training season outside the regular open season. 

Baiting and trapping prohibited

Baiting and trapping are not legal methods for taking black bear in New Mexico.

Pelt tags required

Bears must be both carcass tagged and pelt tagged. The carcass tag must be properly notched and attached immediately after the animal is taken. The hunter must present the carcass tag, skull, and hide for pelt tagging to any conservation officer or any NMDGF office within five days of killing the bear before the pelt can be frozen, processed, tanned or salted by a taxidermist or before transporting the hide outside New Mexico, whichever occurs first. Hunters who appoint a designee to transport the harvested bear for pelt tagging are required to contact a conservation officer prior to pelt tagging to receive a designee code. Hunters or their designee are required to present the unfrozen skull of any bear killed with the mouth fixed open for removal of a premolar tooth. Hunters or their designee must provide all required information at the time of pelt tagging including, but not limited to, sex of the animal, and date and location of harvest. The pelt tag must remain attached to the hide until the hide is processed. Improperly tagged hides will be seized by NMDGF.


Successful applicants must purchase a 2021-22 game-hunting license or a game-hunting & fishing license, plus the applicable over-the-counter license and stamp(s) beginning on March 24. Carcass tag required unless the E-Tag option is chosen. 

2021 New Mexico bear fees

Big game
hunting license
Application fee$7$13
Bear license$47$260
Habitat stamp$5*$5*

* Habitat stamps are $5 if purchased prior to April 1, 2021. If purchased on or after April 1, 2021, the fee will be $10

Youth only opportunity

New Mexico has a youth season for black bears in Unit 2A, 2B, 2C from Aug. 1-31, but with that said, there are only five permits available.

See youth opportunities here

Bow only opportunity

New Mexico is fairly unique in that it has a bow only hunt. That hunt is on Unit 57 with season dates of August 1 through the 31.

Bear draw permits in New Mexico

Successful applicants must purchase an over-the-counter bear license with tags unless the E-Tag option is chosen. A game-hunting license or game-hunting & fishing license and applicable stamps are required. Licenses and tags are available at NMDGF offices, license vendors, online and by phone. Online and phone purchases must be made at least 14 days prior to the hunt start date to allow the mailing of tags unless the E-Tag option is chosen. Tags include instructions for proper tagging. 

Bear draw permits are available for the areas listed in the table below. Only New Mexico residents may apply for WMA bear draw permits. You may hunt during the over-the-counter season if you have not taken a bear during a draw hunt. 

New Mexico draw bear hunt information

Unit 2 (2A, 2B, 2C)
(Youth only)
AnyAug. 1-315Res: 9.5%
Unit 4**
(Sargent WMA only)
AnyAug. 1-3110Res: 4.2%
Guided: 33%
Unit 4**
(Humphries WMA only)
AnyAug. 1-315Res: 6.6%
Unit 9**
(Marquez WMA only)
AnyAug. 1-315Res: 6.7%
Unit 54, 55A*AnyAug. 1-3132Res: 12%
Nonres: 4.3%
Guided: No apps in 2020
Unit 55A
(Valle Vidal only)
AnyApril 15 to
May 20
20Res: 6.5%
Nonres: 2.4%
Guided: 100%
Unit 57Bow
Aug. 1-315Resident: 6.9%
Nonres: 0%

*Urraca, E.S Barker and Colin Neblett WMAs, and Valle Vidal
** Residents only
Any = any legal weapon

Over the counter black bear hunting in New Mexico

An over the counter bear license may be purchased at license vendors, NMDGF offices, online, or by phone at 1-888-248-6866. If you're planning to hunt within 14 days of an online or hone purchase, you may be required to obtain tags at a licensed vendor or NMDGF office, unless the E-Tag option is chosen. 

Note: Bear licenses must be purchased at least two calendar days before hunting. 

New Mexico over the counter bear season information

Dog use
Total bear
Female bear
Date zone closed
in 2020
Zone 14, 5, 6,
7, 51, 52
Sep. 1-24 - (bow only)
Sep. 25- Nov. 15 - (any)
15863Nov. 15
Zone 22
(2A, 2B, 2C)
Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
Sep. 25-Nov. 15 (any)
156Oct. 7
Zone 349, 50, 53Aug. 16-31 (any)
Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
Sep. 25-Nov. 15 (any)
6526Nov. 15
Zone 445, 46, 48Aug. 16-31 (any)
Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
Sep. 25-Nov. 30 (any)
10943Nov. 30
Zone 554, 55Aug. 16-31 (any)
Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
Sep. 25-Nov. 15 (any)
9237Nov. 15
Zone 639-43, 47, 59Aug. 16-31 (any)
Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
Sep. 25-Nov. 15 (any)
3313Nov. 15
Zone 756, 57, 58Aug. 16-31 (any)
Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
Sep. 25-Nov 15 (any)
3514Aug. 21
Zone 88Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
Oct. 15-Nov. 15 (any)
114Nov. 15
Zone 99, 10Aug. 16-31 (any)
Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
3614Nov. 15
Zone 1012, 13, 15-18,
20-24, 26, 27
Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
Sep. 25-Dec. 15 (any)
14658Oct. 13
Zone 1137, 38Aug. 16-31 (any)
Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
Sep. 25-Nov. 30 (any)
3614Oct. 19
Zone 1234Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
Sep. 25-Dec. 15 (any)
3313Oct. 20
Zone 1336Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
Sep. 25-Nov. 30 (any)
166Nov. 30
Zone 1414Sep. 1-24 (bow only)
Oct. 15-Nov. 15 (any)
197Nov. 5

Bear management zones will close when harvests reach 90% of the total limit, female harvest reached, or when the season has ended—whichever occurs first. You'll notice in the above table some zones closed early in 2020.

What unit is right for you?

With only five units with a draw for bear hunts, there isn't a bunch of available options. Then when you consider a nonresident can only apply for Units 54, 55A and 57, the options narrow down even further. Draw odds for all bear hunts as a nonresident are under 5% unless you go in the guided draw and hunt with an outfitter. If you're seriously looking at a New Mexico bear hunt, weigh your options with all the information presented in this article and dive into Filtering 2.0.

New Mexico draw bear hunts sorted by the number of bears taken

UnitNumber of bears takenPublic land %

Find your draw odds here


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