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YOUTH APPLICATION STRATEGY — Take Your Kids Hunting Part 3

Youth Application Strategy Part 3


This is the third article in our Youth Application strategy series. If you missed the first two that cover other Western states, you can check out Part 1 and Part 2 below:


Your INSIDER account offers draw odds specifically for youth in states where those opportunities exist. To explore those odds, log into your INSIDER account and hover over the INSIDER icon in the header bar. Then, when the pop up box appears, select “draw odds.” Next, select the state you are researching. Then, when the options for residency show, select the “youth” option(s). Finally, select the species you are interested in researching. 


Age and hunter’s education

Youth must be 12 years old to hunt on their own permit; however, youth can apply when they are 11 if they will turn 12 prior to their hunt beginning. Youth nine to 11 years old can apply for points only if they have a social security number and purchase a hunting license. In Oregon, a hunter education course is required for all new hunters age 17 and younger unless hunting on land owned by a parent or legal guardian or unless participating in the Mentored Youth Hunter Program. If you are between the ages of 14 and 17, you are required to carry a copy of your hunter’s education card with you in the field.

A youth may participate in the mentored youth hunter program without first passing an approved hunter education program. Youth aged nine to 15 can register for the program and must be accompanied by a supervising hunter who is 21 years of age or older who has a valid license and tag(s) for the dates, area and species being hunted.

Permit transfer

Hunters cannot transfer tags to anyone else.

Weapon information

Bowhunters must draw a minimum of 40 lbs draw weight for all species. Muzzleloaders are primitive; no scopes, sabots, jacketed bullets or centerfire primers are allowed. Round balls and open ignition systems are required.

Oregon youth application, license and permit costs (under 17 years old)

Youth hunting license$10.00$10.00
Youth sports pack (fishing, shellfish and hunting license; spring turkey, cougar, general or
controlled bear tag, elk and deer tags; upland bird and waterfowl validations
Application fees (per species)$8.00$8.00
Bighorn sheep$142.00$1,513.50
Mountain goats$142.00$1,513.50

What makes Oregon a great state for youth hunting? 


Oregon is a tough state to justify applying for as an adult; however, for youth, it’s a little easier to justify due to the price to apply. You have to purchase a hunting license to apply, which is only $10 for youth. Application fees are only $8 per species. Tags are not exactly cheap, but for as little as $50 you can apply your kid for those species listed above. 


Oregon utilizes a preference points system for limited entry deer, elk and antelope where 75% of the tags are given to maximum point holders and the other 25% are allocated randomly with no consideration to the number of points applicants have. There is no point system for bighorn sheep and mountain goat, making those very good options for nonresidents. If you can afford the $1,513.50 bighorn sheep or mountain goat permit should your youth draw, it’s definitely worth applying. For deer, elk and antelope, Oregon generally manages more for quantity rather than quality. With their draw system, the better hunts have odds that are very tough. It may be worth applying your youth given the cost, but odds are very long for the better permits.

Oregon does have elk, deer and antelope youth controlled hunts with some very good dates. For deer, they have both mule deer and blacktail youth opportunities with the rut happening in November and December through January hunt dates. For elk, all but one youth hunt is for antlerless elk only. Antelope hunts are typically early to mid-August. Take a look at these youth only options if you are interested in applying for your youth in Oregon. Use the youth draw odds and unit profiles to decide on the best plan of action.

Oregon has one more resident youth opportunity worth talking about called the Youth “First Time” Program. For this program, a youth must be 12 to 17 and a resident of Oregon. They must have applied and been unsuccessful in the controlled hunt drawing for a hunt in the 100, 200 or 600 series that year. They must have also never drawn a permit for that respective series. If they meet those requirements, they can apply beginning July 1 and possibly receive a 100 series buck deer permit, an antlerless elk 200 series permit and an antlerless deer 600 series permit. They can obtain all three in one year or space them out year by year.

Overall, Oregon is a good option for nonresidents to apply given the cost is low. It makes good sense for bighorn sheep and mountain goat as long as you can afford the cost of permit.


Age and hunter’s education

Prior to purchasing their first Washington state hunting license, youth must show proof that they have completed a hunter education class. A one time deferral option is available and interested individuals ages 10 and older may apply for a once-in-a-lifetime, one license-year deferral of hunter education training. Individuals receiving a deferral may hunt in general seasons through March 31, 2021, but are not eligible to apply for special permit hunts. Individuals requesting a deferral may hunt only under the immediate supervision of an experienced hunter who has held a Washington hunting license for the prior three years and is over 18 years of age. Before applying for any permits, Washington requires all applicants to first verify their hunter's education information. The state warns that this process can take some time so first-time applicants will want to plan ahead for this. You can send a photocopy of your certificate to with your WILD ID or name and date of birth or visit any Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife dealer location with your certificate and the dealer can enter the certificate into your WILD account

A "youth" is defined as a resident or nonresident under 16 years of age at the time of license purchase. There is no minimum age to apply or hunt in Washington.

Permit transfer

Hunters cannot transfer tags to anyone else.

Weapon information

Bowhunters must draw a minimum of 40 lbs draw weight to hunt big game. Muzzleloaders are primitive; no scopes, sabots, or jacketed bullets are allowed. Round balls and open ignition systems are required. Muzzleloaders must be at least .45 caliber with open or peep fiber sights. Ignition must be wheel-lock, matchlock, flintlock or percussion cap. Modern caps are legal.

Washington youth application, license and permit costs (under 16 years old)

Youth Special Permit Application (per species category)$3.80$3.80
Deer license$22.30$22.30
Elk license$22.30$22.30
Moose permit$57.00$57.00
Bighorn sheep permit$57.00$57.00
Mountain goat permit$57.00$57.00

What makes Washington a great state for youth hunting? 


As you can see in the table above, Washington is a great state in terms of cost. The general licenses are relatively inexpensive and the applications for the special draw permits are only $3.80. The moose, bighorn sheep and goat permits are only $57.00 for youth, which is an incredible price. The odds are very tough for permits in Washington, which we will touch on in the opportunity section below, but the cost is definitely cheap when compared to many western states. 


Washington’s draw system is somewhat complex. We will do our best to streamline it so you can decide if you want to apply or not. Special hunting permit applications are available for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose and bighorn sheep. The draws work on a weighted bonus point (squared) system where the number of points you have increases your chance of drawing, but the draw is random. Residents and nonresidents are in the same pool for permits and the odds — although long — are the same for both residents and nonresidents. Bonus points are accumulated automatically if unsuccessful in the draw. You can also apply for points only, but we highly suggest that you apply for hunts since you will get a point anyway if you are unsuccessful in the draw. When applying for deer, elk or bear, applicants must front the tag fees while tag fees are not charged for moose, bighorn sheep or mountain goat unless the applicant is successful. Washington does not offer refunds for any hunting license purchases. 

There is a two part step to applying for special permits. First, you must purchase the special permit application and then submit that application with your four choices. That can all be done online. All four of your choices will be considered before moving to the next application; therefore, it is possible that you could draw any of your four choices. 

Youth can apply for trophy hunts for bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat, deer and elk, but they can also apply for youth only hunts. There are many opportunities for youth only for almost all species. We recommend that you review the odds for youth within your INSIDER account and apply your kids in Washington. It may not be a great option for nonresident adults because the cost is high and the odds are terrible, but for youth, it’s definitely worth a long look. The cost is cheap and there are many youth only hunt options!


Age and hunter’s education

Big game hunting is prohibited to youth under the age of 12 although there is no age limit to buy a hunting license as long as the youth has completed hunter’s education. Applicants must be 12 years old by July 1 in the license year in which they apply for deer, elk and antelope. Applicants must be 16 by July 1 to apply for bighorn sheep. Everyone who applies for big game permits must have completed a hunter’s education course. To qualify for a junior hunting license, a hunter must be less than 18 years of age as of July 1 of the license year for which they are applying.

California youth application and permit costs (12 to 16 years old)

Junior hunting license$13.53$13.53
Application fee$8.13$8.13
Bighorn sheep$443.25$1,641.00

What makes California a great state for youth hunting? 


The cost of a hunting license to apply is quite cheap and the application fee per species is, too. For under $50, you can apply your youth for all four species. Resident license costs are also pretty inexpensive. For elk, bighorn sheep and antelope applications you must buy the hunting license and pay the application fee per species. For deer, you must also front the cost of the permit and, if you are unsuccessful in the draw, you will be refunded the cost of the permit.


California uses a modified preference point system. Applicants will get a point for every year they apply and are unsuccessful in the draw. For youth deer hunts, half of the permits are allocated to the applicants with the most points and the other half are randomly allocated. For elk, antelope and bighorn sheep, if there are four or more permits for a hunt, 25% will be randomly allocated and 75% will be given to maximum point holders. Hunts with less than four permits will allocate one randomly and the others will go to maximum point holders.  

Generally, nonresidents do not consider applying in California for elk, antelope or bighorn sheep and here’s why: There is typically only one permit for each one of those species allocated statewide for nonresidents. With their draw system, that means if any antelope permit or any elk permit (including a cow elk) is drawn and awarded to a nonresident, all other nonresident applications will be rejected for these species. This makes the odds of drawing in California some of the toughest odds in the country for these species. This is the same for desert bighorn sheep. For adults, it likely doesn’t make sense because the hunting license cost to apply is expensive. For youth, though, it may be worth applying for a random chance at one of those permits. You’ll have to decide, the odds are extremely long, but it might be worth for thought.

Deer hunting is still decent in parts of California and there are youth only hunts. Review the odds and see what is available within your INSIDER account. There may be better states to hunt for deer, but if you are a resident or live close enough to California to travel, it’s worth some research.

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