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A Comprehensive Guide

% Public Land
Species Available
# of Hunters

2024 Oregon Big Game

Oregon offers multiple big game hunting opportunities through both over the counter and limited draw hunts. High desert terrain covers a large portion of eastern Oregon. This area is characterized by arid conditions, sagebrush, and juniper trees. The rugged terrain can make hunting challenging, but it provides excellent cover for animals such as mule deer, antelope, and sage grouse. The high desert is also popular for upland bird hunting.

The coastal forests of western Oregon are dense and lush, providing excellent habitat for deer, elk, and black bears. The terrain is hilly and can be quite steep, making it challenging to navigate. This is especially true in the Cascade Range which also has a number of wilderness areas within national forest boundaries.

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Species to Hunt


Black Bear

Blacktail Deer

California Bighorn


Mountain Goat

Mountain Lion

Mule Deer

Rocky Mtn Bighorn

Whitetail Deer


Spring Black Bear                       February 10th

Controlled Hunts                         May 15th

Point Only Purchase                   November 30th

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Over the Counter Hunts

Fall black bear, deer, elk and mountain lion can be pursued over the counter by both residents and nonresdients. There is ample public land, both national forest and Bureau of Land Management land. Rocky mountain elk throughout the eastern 2/3rds of the state and Roosevelt elk are found in the western third of the state. Over the counter deer hunts are limited to the western third of the state where black-tailed deer are found.  There are several large tracts of wilderness for those wanting a remote hunting experience.

Limited Entry Hunts

Oregon's controlled hunts offer better opportunity to harvest deer and elk than over the counter hunts. Antelope, bighorn sheep and mountain goat hunts are all limited draw only. If you draw a ram bighorn sheep or mountain goat hunt, the license is a once in a lifetime draw and you are no longer eligible to draw again. Spring black bear hunts are also limited draw only now.

Some species have multiple hunt categories and hunters can submit a separate application for each hunt category. Because of this, it is possible to draw multiple licenses for a single species. For instance, you could draw a license for both Buck Deer and Antlerless Deer.

There are Premium license draws for deer, antelope and elk. A single license is available in every or nearly every unit for each species and can be drawn in addition to a general or controlled hunt license. Premium license holders can hunt for the species during any open hunting season in the unit.

The Draw

For premium hunts, bighorn sheep and mountain goat Oregon uses a random draw or lottery system. Every applicant has the same odds of drawing which are determined by the available quota and number of applications.

All other hunts use a combination of preference points and random draw to award quota. 75% of the quota for a hunt is awarded to applicants with the most preference points. A preference point can be purchased or awarded when an applicant is unsuccessful. The following year, the preference point allows an applicant to rank higher than other applicants with fewer points. Every application is assigned a random number and where there are multiple applicants with the same number of points, they are sorted from lowest to highest random number. 

1st choice applicants are considered first and after the preference point quota is awarded, the remaining 25% of the quota is awarded randomly. Remaining 1st choice applicants are reranked by the random number only and licenses awarded. If there is any remaining quota, second, third, fourth and fifth choice applications will be considered in order and licenses awarded until there is no quota remaining.


A minimum of 97% of antelope licenses are awarded to residents while a minimum of 95% of elk and deer and black bear licenses are awarded to residents. For bighorn sheep and mountain goat hunts, between 5-10% of the overall quota will go to nonresidents. Premium hunts are simply awarded randomly without respect to residency.

A final note is that guides and outfitters can be awarded up to 50% of the nonresident quota for a particular hunt. A special draw occurs in February for these licenses and available quota is based on prior year nonresident license allocations.

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