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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2018: Oregon Deer

Oregon 2018 deer application strategy article

Oregon's 2018 deer application overview

Jump to: New for 2018 State Information Draw System Mule Deer Breakdown Columbian Blacktail Deer Breakdown Columbian Whitetail Deer Breakdown Whitetail Deer Breakdown

Oregon is truly unique because there are four distinct subspecies of deer located across the state: mule deer, Columbian blacktail deer, Columbian whitetail deer and whitetail deer. With some planning and some luck you could eventually hunt all of them depending on your goals when it comes to the trophy caliber you are after and how primitive of a weapon you are willing to hunt with. Oregon is a preference point state, which means whoever has the most points draws the tag; however, they do set aside 25% of the tags each year for a random drawing making it possible to draw a permit even in the best units with zero points. Oregon is not typically considered a nonresident friendly state and often gets overlooked—even with hunters who apply for most of the western states. The reason boils down to a few key factors. Nonresidents are required to purchase a $167 hunting license prior to applying each year. This, along with the fact that only up to 5% of the deer tags can be drawn for nonresidents, results in some of the premier locations in the state being a very long-term goal or just blind luck. There are a number of opportunities that a hunter could plan for with a few points and some great over-the-counter (OTC) options, particularly if you are willing to hunt with archery equipment.

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 Rocky Mountain elk, Roosevelt elk, antelope, California bighorn sheep and mountain goats. For only $10 per species per year, you can be applying for each of them. Oregon also has a major price break for youth hunters. The juvenile hunting license is only $10 per year (9 to 17 years old), which makes this state hard to pass up if you are looking to get your kids set up for the future. Youth are allowed to begin applying for a “point only” application at 9 years old, but cannot hunt big game until they are 12 and must 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% or half of these licenses in the outfitter pool, which are drawn 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. 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.



Why Oregon for deer in 2018

  • There are four different subspecies of deer to hunt in Oregon.
  • There are opportunities to hunt 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 allow youth to get started as early as 9 years old.
  • Nonresident military members, which includes National Guard and Reserves, can purchase their hunting license for 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 aged 14 and 15.
  • There are two new 600 series (antlerless deer) hunts: SE Beulah Agri and NE Owyhee Agri. Reference the state regulations for hunt boundaries as well as changes to the boundaries for the 600 series hunt in Harney Basin.
  • The Oregon Department of Fish and Game (ODFG) 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 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. 

Antlerless mule deer draw odds

Find your resident antlerless mule deer draw odds here

Find your nonresident antlerless mule deer draw odds here

Antlerless blacktail deer draw odds

Find your resident antlerless blacktail deer draw odds here

Find your nonresident antlerless blacktail deer draw odds here

Antlerless whitetail draw odds

Find your resident antlerless whitetail deer draw odds here

Find your nonresident antlerless whitetail deer draw odds here



State information

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.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 having the maximum point status, chances are high that it will actually still take more than five years to draw because it may take more than five years to get through all of the applicants that have more points than you.

Oregon State Profile Mule Deer Profile Columbian Blacktail Deer Profile Columbian Whitetail Deer Profile Whitetail Deer Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

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 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 this is your goal, 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 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

Oregon late April 2018 drought monitor status

Source: US Drought Monitor

Oregon late April 2018 snow water equivalent

Oregon snow water equivalent percent of normal as of April 30, 2018. Source: NRCS

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 late 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
 

Oregon wolf use map December 2016
Oregon wolf use map December 2016. Source: ODFW

As of 2016, 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.


Premium hunts

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 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 deer hunts in 2017

  • L39-Metolius (1,447 applicants)
  • L75-Interstate (853 applicants)
  • L69-Steens Mt (836 applicants)
  • L41-White River (819 applicants)
  • L72-Silvies (748 applicants)

Least applied for premium deer hunts in 2017 with good public access

  • L17-Stott Mt (105 applicants)
  • L27-Chetco (103 applicants)
  • L29-Evans Creek (103 applicants)
  • L26-Powers (93 applicants)
  • L20-Siuslaw (79 applicants)

Least applied for premium deer hunts in 2017 with limited access

  • L25-Sixes (76 applicants)
  • L11-Scappoose (117 applicants)
  • L40-Maupin (119 applicants)
  • L23-Melrose (122 applicants)
  • L15-Willamette (123 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: It is not recommended to apply as a group in Oregon as there are so few tags available. 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 mule deer breakdown

Mule deer buck taken with Aims High Hunting

Mule deer buck taken with Aims High Hunting — A goHUNT Business Member

In 2017, Oregon only conducted mule deer population surveys on 33 of the 49 units that are normally counted. These surveys concluded that there was a decrease of 12% in total deer numbers across the state in these units, which equaled a loss of 18,770 deer since 2016. The winter was primarily to blame in this dramatic decrease. The most notable changes were in the Pine Creek and Keating Units (Units 62 and 63) with a loss of over 70%, leaving these herds with just over 700 deer total in each unit. The Ochoco unit (Unit 37) saw the greatest number of deer loss with 6,226 fewer deer counted in 2017 than in 2016. There were a few units with an increase; the most notable was Unit 75 Interstate, which saw an increase of 1,820 deer, bringing this herd up to just over 6,500 strong. Out of the 33 units surveyed, eight units showed no change in population at all. The statewide buck:doe ratio was consistent with prior years at 20 bucks for every 100 does and the fawn:doe ratio was also consistent with prior years at 46 fawns to every 100 does. The winter fawn survival weathered a major drop from mid-to-high 70% in 2015 and 2016 to only a 58% rate of survival in 2017. Overall, the winter of 2016/2017 had a major effect on the Oregon deer population. There were many areas that went unaffected and many hunters will notice no change this coming fall, but, if you are planning a hunt in the few units listed above, be prepared for fewer deer per day while you are hunting.

This, along with continued predation that can be traced back to 2007 when a bill was passed making it illegal to hunt bears or mountain lions with dogs, has had a lasting negative effect on the mule deer populations in the Beaver State.

OREGON MULE DEER POPULATION SIZE - Updated 2018

Oregon statewide mule deer hunters and harvest - 2017 app strategy

OREGON STATEWIDE MULE DEER HARVEST - BUCKS & DOES (1952-2011)



How to uncover hidden gem deer units

Locating a hidden gem in Oregon is as simple as picking up your bow and heading out into the mountains. There are a number of OTC units that have trophy potential of 180"+ Boone and Crockett (B&C). They are listed below. What this means is that you can hunt every year if that’s what you want to do. An applicant can apply for the best units in the state each year and plan on using an OTC hunt as a backup if you are unsuccessful in the draw, but keep in mind that there are always units flying under the radar so don't use 180"+ trophy potential as an end all solution to finding the perfect hunt for you.

The other method for locating a hidden gem is by using Filtering 2.0 and Draw Odds. It has never been easier to help you locate a unit that fits your individual goals. You can pour over information like trophy potential, draw odds percentages, buck:doe ratios, and percentage of 4 point or better per hunt and unit. You will also be able to analyze the number of applications that are submitted each year as well as the number of tags drawn to show you how a specific unit is trending. With all of these tools at your disposal, it has never been easier to locate your perfect hunt.

Oregon mule deer units to consider for 180" or better mule deer and OTC archery permits
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Buck:doe
ratio
%4pt or
better
Public land
%
37 - Ochoco 180"+ 16:100 21% 54%
39 - Metolius 180"+ 27:100 32% 67%
64 - Lookout Mt 180"+ 14:100 35% 38%
65 - Beulah 180"+ 14:100 23% 57%
66 - Malheur River 180"+ 13:100 27% 68%
67 - Owyhee 180"+ 12:100 32% 81%
68 - Whitehorse 180"+ 22:100 47% 90%
69 - Steens Mt 180"+ 28:100 55% 64%
70 - Beatys Butte 180"+ 9:100 39% 83%
71 - Juniper 180"+ 50:100 35% 89%
72 - Silvies 180"+ 11:100 30% 67%
 

Top units for mule deer buck:doe ratios

Unit Buck:doe
ratio
Trophy
potential
General Controlled
71 - Juniper 50:100 180"+ X X
42 - Hood 36:100 160"+ X X
40 - Maupin 28:100 170"+ X X
69 - Steens Mt 28:100 180"+ X X
39 - Metolius 27:100 180"+ X X
34 - Upper Deschutes 26:100 170"+ X X
41 - White River 26:100 160"+ X X
36 - Maury 26:100 180"+   X
77 - Fort Rock 25:100 170"+ X X
35 - Paulina 24:100 170"+ X X
38 - Grizzly 24:100 170"+ X X

B&C entry trends for Oregon mule deer


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 mule deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Malheur 2 51, 65, 66, 67, 68
Baker 1 51, 52, 53, 62, 63, 64, 65
Harney 1 66, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72
Jefferson 1 38, 39 
Wheeler 1 37, 38, 43, 45, 48

Map of Oregon's typical mule deer B&C all time entries 2018

Total number of Typical B&C mule deer entries since 2000 - Oregon 2018

Oregon's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for nontypical mule deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Lake 2 35, 36, 70, 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77
Malheur 1 51, 65, 66, 67, 68

Map of Oregon's nontypical mule deer B&C all time entries 2018

Total number of Nontypical B&C mule deer entries since 2000 - Oregon 2018


 

Managing points and expectations

Oregon buck deer preference point totals going into 2018

I have 0 deer preference points. What can I expect?

Welcome to the Oregon deer draw. Lucky for you: Oregon is a state of opportunity hunting first and foremost, which means that, regardless of what your goals are, there is probably a hunt that fits the bill. Whether you decide to apply for the best tags in the state until you draw and/or the premium hunts or you want to get into the field as soon as possible, with some fantastic OTC hunts—Oregon has something for everyone. Be aware that when hunting these OTC areas you will have some company and it is going to take a few days in the field—or even a couple of years—to get past the learning curve of that unit. Use Filtering 2.0 to narrow down what areas to look towards first and have confidence that you are in an area that has a high buck:doe ratio as well as the trophy potential you are after.

There are two different general rifle permits that you can purchase in Oregon: one is for the units closest to the coast; the other is for the Cascade Mountains. As a rule, none of these units have few if any pure mule deer living in them. All units east of the Cascade Mountains that are considered and managed as mule deer units do not have a general rifle season attached to them. This is not the case for the archery season as there are many OTC opportunities for mule deer if you are willing to hunt with your bow. All units except Units 36, 54, 55, 56, 74 and the southwest quadrant of Unit 68 (the Trout Creek Mountains) have general archery seasons. The season is Aug. 25 to Sept. 23 with the only exception being in Unit 46-Murderers Creek, which has a designated 35.5 square mile area that has a traditional archery only hunt running Aug. 25 to 31 and an any legal archery equipment hunt running Sept. 1 to 23.

There are 59 different selections to choose from when considering a rifle mule deer hunt. Ten of these selections are considered limited access so apply carefully if you are coming to Oregon for the first time or planning on hunting a new area. 55 of these hunts take place on the main rifle hunt which happens Sept. 29 to Oct. 10. There are three late rifle hunts that run Nov. 10 to 21 and take place in Units 41-White River, Unit 42-Hood, and Unit 54-Mt Emily. There is an early rifle hunt Sept. 8 to 16 in Unit 41-Hood as well as a specific tag that allows the applicant the opportunity to hunt within the Starkey Forest Experiment in Unit 52-Starkey for the first five days of the main rifle hunt. If you are unsuccessful in the first five days, then you are allowed to continue hunting in the remaining areas of the unit.

There are 14 different selections to choose from when looking to hunt a controlled archery season. Seven of these hunts take place during the normal archery season, which runs Aug. 25 to Sept. 23. There are five selections that are considered rut hunts and have all—or a large portion of—their season dates in November. Unit 68-Whitehorse, which is listed as the Trout Creek Mountain in the state regulations, is a traditional archery only hunt and is unlimited so no matter how many applicants choose to apply for this hunt they will all draw. Last year there were only 35 hunters who applied for this hunt. The remaining two selections are both in Unit 70-Hart Mt. and have season dates of Aug. 2 to 10 and Aug. 11 to 19.

If you are looking for a muzzleloader hunt there are 12 different selections to consider. Seven of these hunts occur Oct. 13 to 21. Three of the hunts have some portion of the season dates inside of November on the front or back of the month and are considered rut hunts. The remaining two hunts take place in Unit 70-Hart Mt, which coincides with the main rifle hunt that runs Sept. 29 to Oct. 10, and Unit 39-Metolius, which has a late hunt that occurs Oct. 20 to 26.

Residents

There are six different hunts available to you at this time with 180”+ trophy potential and a better than 50% chance of drawing. Two of these hunts—Unit 68-Whitehorse and Unit 74-Warner—can be drawn as a second choice and you can continue to build your points. If you are looking for a rut rifle hunt plan on applying for many years.

Top hit list units to consider for 180" or better mule deer with 0 points and >50% draw odds for residents
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Buck:doe
ratio
%4pt or
better
Public land
%
Draw odds
w/ 0 points
36 - Maury
(archery)
180"+ 26:100 30% 58% 97%
65 - Beulah
(rifle)
180"+ 14:100 23% 57% 58%
68 - Whitehorse
(trad. archery)
180"+ 22:100 47% 90% 100%
71 - Juniper
(rifle)
180"+ 50:100 35% 89% 81%
74 - Warner
(archery)
180"+ 22:100 27% 70% 100%

Find your resident mule deer controlled hunt draw odds with 0 points here

Nonresidents

If you are looking for a home run on a big deer, then plan on this process taking a number of years. With only up to 5% of the tags being drawn for nonresidents and 75% of those tags going to the maximum point holders, there are not any top shelf units available right out the gate. However, if you are looking to hunt sooner than later, there are 12 different hunts with 100% drawing odds and include hunts in every weapon choice except muzzleloader. You can see this list of units here.

Find your nonresident mule deer controlled hunt draw odds with 0 points here

What can I expect with 5 to 6 deer preference points?

Residents

If you have been waiting for a rifle permit you are in luck. There are 33 different units with 170”+ trophy potential with 100% draw odds for those who have 6 points for the early rifle hunt. Check out Filtering 2.0 to see what these units have to offer. You are still a number of years away from having a crack at a rifle rut hunt, but, if you are willing to hunt with your bow, look at Unit 68-Whitehorse. Last year’s odds were 57% with six points.

Find your resident mule deer controlled hunt draw odds with 6 points here

Nonresidents

As we have talked about before, Oregon is the land of opportunity. With five or six points, you have a number of options to consider. There are many different archery, muzzleloader, and early rifle hunts to consider. Using Filtering 2.0 you can search through different aspects, including trophy potential, buck:doe ratios, success rate, and many other helpful factors. To speed up your search, check out Unit 72-Silvies, which has a population of just over 8,000 deer. 30% of the successful hunters took a deer with at least 4 points on one side. This is exactly the type of hunt many out-of-state hunters should be looking towards when they begin to apply in Oregon.

Find your nonresident mule deer controlled hunt draw odds with 6 points here

What can I expect with 10 plus deer preference points?

Residents

Unfortunately, if you have made up your mind that it’s either the best tag in the state or bust, you are truly in no man’s land as things have not changed much at all for you in the last four years. All of the hunts that were available are obviously still available and there really any other exciting news as far as additional opportunities. Hopefully, you have been taking advantage of some opportunities either in the general areas or on some second choice options over the years because, the reality is, you could be another 8+ years from drawing a tag in the more sought after hunts in the state. If you are looking for a rut hunt, take a look at Unit 68-Whitehorse for a late November archery hunt or Unit 32-Klamath Falls muzzleloader for an early November hunt. With so many hunt options available, take your time with the different tables in this article as well as some time using Filtering 2.0 as now is definitely decision time.

Find your resident mule deer controlled hunt draw odds with 10 points here

Nonresidents

Out of 17 different controlled archery hunts, you now can draw seven of them. The only late hunt that is offered is in Unit 31-Keno. Be wary of this unit as this year’s survey only counted 3,000 mule deer in the entire unit and the trophy potential is 160”+. You also have 10 different muzzleloader hunts out of the 12 available to choose from; however, none of them are in November.

The good and bad news is that other than Unit 69-Steens and Unit 74-Warner, you could draw a rifle permit in any of the other units in the state. The bad news is none of these are rut hunts. Plan on it taking another six to eight years before you have a crack at any rifle hunting in November.

Find your nonresident mule deer controlled hunt draw odds with 10 points here



Oregon's 2018 Columbian blacktail deer breakdown

Although the locals would consider many of the deer in the central part of the state “Cascade blacktails” or “Bench legs” B&C only recognizes a Columbian blacktail if it was taken west of a predetermined boundary, which more or less runs north and south along the western border of the Mt. Hood, Willamette, and Umpqua National Forest. It continues south to Medford, Oregon and then onto Oregon’s southern border. Even so, we are going to focus primarily on those far western units in this breakdown. The minimum score for a Columbian blacktail to be entered into B&C is 125” net and 155” net for a nontypical buck. With such a dramatic difference in minimum score, it is easy to see that if there is any blacktail blood in the deer it is near impossible for them to grow large enough to qualify for the mule deer books and is more than likely the exact reason you rarely see a B&C mule deer come out of Oregon that was not taken in the far eastern side of the state.

There are 19 different units that are either entirely or have portions of the unit that fall within this boundary. We are going to focus this article primarily on these units because you need to hunt these units and west of the boundary to shoot a qualifying Columbian blacktail deer.

Units west of the B&C boundary in Oregon for Columbian blacktail deer

Unit Trophy
potential
%4pt
or better
Harvest
success
10 - Saddle Mt 120"+ 12% 27%
11 - Scappoose 120"+ 16% 10%
12 - Wilson 120"+ 18% 66%
14 - Trask 120"+ 18% 43%
15 - Willamette 140"+ 17% 6%
16 - Santiam* 150"+ 21% 63%
17 - Stott Mt 110"+ 13% 16%
18 - Alsea 110"+ 17% 43%
19 - McKenzie* 150"+ 17% 60%
20 - Siuslaw 140"+ 20% 42%
21 - Indigo* 130"+ 21% 68%
22 - Dixon* 140"+ 21% 76%
23 - Melrose* 140"+ 18% 16%
24 - Tioga 130"+ 21% 35%
25 - Sixes 130"+ 16% 33%
26 - Powers 130"+ 25% 50%
28 - Applegate 150"+ 28% 60%
29 - Evans Creek 150"+ 22% 46%

* These units are half or less inside the B&C predetermined boundary.

Out of the 19, units every one of them has some sort of general OTC hunt at some point during the season and 11 of them have at least one controlled hunt option to apply for. In total there are 31 different controlled hunt options to apply for in these units. Typically, the general seasons in these units are less than ideal season dates, but allow a hunter to get very familiar with a unit while they build points for a future rut hunt.

Current herd condition

Conducting an accurate count on Columbian blacktail deer has proven to be very difficult for ODFW over the years as the areas where these deer roam is not conducive to helicopter counts. Biologists are left to conduct counts from the ground and then enter their findings into complex math equations to estimate what the true populations are. The long and short of their findings is that it is believed that, at one point in the early 1980s, there were close to a half a million blacktail deer living in Oregon. This number has steadily decreased over the years and it is now believed that the state herd is somewhere between 300,000 and 350,000 total deer.



How to uncover hidden gem Columbian blacktail deer units

Columbian blacktails live in very thick places and, if you have not spent a lot of time learning how to hunt these deer, you may find that the learning curve is a bit long. To locate a hidden gem, we recommend studying the harvest success in each of the different units. It stands to reason that if other hunters are finding success, then your learning curve will shorten in these units. 

To see all available options, check out Filtering 2.0 and sort by harvest percentage.

Top harvest success percentages in Oregon for Columbian blacktail deer west of the B&C boundary
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Harvest
%
%4pt
or better
Public land
%
21 - Indigo
(muzzleloader late)
130"+ 64% 21% 68%
21 - Indigo
(controlled rifle late)
130"+ 50% 21% 68%
21 - Indigo
(controlled rifle early)
130"+ 49% 21% 68%
21 - Indigo
(muzzleloader early)
130"+ 48% 21% 68%
22 - Dixon
(muzzleloader late)
140"+ 50% 21% 76%
22 - Dixon
(controlled rifle late)
140"+ 50% 21% 76%
22 - Dixon
(controlled rifle early)
140"+ 49% 21% 76%
23 - Melrose
(controlled rifle late)
140"+ 50% 18% 16%
23 - Melrose
(controlled rifle early)
140"+ 49% 18% 16%
28 - Applegate
(muzzleloader)
150"+ 49% 28% 60%
24 - Tioga
(controlled rifle)
130"+ 49% 21% 35%
25 - Sixes
(general rifle)
130"+ 46% 16% 33%

 


 

B&C entry trends for Oregon Columbian blacktail deer


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 Columbian blacktail deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Jackson 8 22282930
Clackamas 4 15, 16
Douglas 3 20212223242629
Lane 3 15, 18, 19, 20, 21

Map of Oregon's typical columbia blacktail deer B&C all time entries 2018

Total number of Typical B&C Columbia blacktail deer entries since 2000 - Oregon 2018

Oregon's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for nontypical Columbian blacktail deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Linn 1 15, 16, 19

Map of Oregon's nontypical columbia blacktail deer B&C all time entries 2018

Total number of nontypical B&C Columbia blacktail deer entries since 2000 - Oregon 2018

Top hit list units to consider for 140" or better Columbian blacktail deer
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
%4pt or
better
General Controlled
31 - Keno 160"+ 19% X X
41 - White River 160"+ 28% X X
16 - Santiam 150"+ 21% X X
19 - McKenzie 150"+ 17% X X
28 - Applegate 150"+ 28% X X
29 - Evans Creek 150"+ 22% X  
30 - Rogue 150"+ 29% X X
42 - Hood 150"+ 12% X X
15 - Willamette 140"+ 17% X X
20 - Siuslaw 140"+ 20% X X
22 - Dixon 140"+ 21% X X
23 - Melrose 140"+ 18% X X
27 - Chetco 140"+ 20% X X

* Note: The majority of these general offerings are archery hunts. See Filtering 2.0 for more details.
 


Managing points and expectations

Columbian blacktail deer in Oregon have many different OTC hunt options to consider. However, as you can see from the table above, the success rates for the controlled hunts are much better year in and year out. It would be a good plan to consider hunting a unit that offers a general hunt with the equipment you prefer to hunt with (i.e.; archery or rifle) and get some boots-on-the-ground experience while you wait your turn to hunt during the prime dates. Please note that Units 21 through 24 do have a tendency to be tougher to draw. This is because applicants are also looking to hunt Columbia whitetail deer in these four units. It does not necessarily mean that the blacktail hunting in these units is superior to any of the others.

I have 0 deer preference points. What can I expect?

With zero points you do not have a controlled hunt available that has at least a 50% success rate. However, if you want to get into the field sooner than later, you are in luck as there are two different rifle options to consider.

  • General rifle option 1: Season dates are Sept. 29 to Oct. 12 and, if unsuccessful, Oct. 20 to Nov. 2. This general tag is good for a deer with no less than one forked antler in Units 16, 19, 21, 22, 29 and 30.
  • General rifle option 2: Season dates are Sept. 29 to Nov. 2. This tag is good for a deer with no less than one forked antler in Units 10, 1112, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28.

Note: Remember that unless your tag has whitetail deer listed in the bag limits whitetails are prohibited from being harvested in all units in and west of the Cascade Mountains.

There are six different general archery options to consider if you are planning a Columbian blacktail hunt in Oregon.

  • General archery option 1: Season dates are Aug. 25 to Sept. 23. With this tag, it is valid to take one buck with no less than one forked antler in Units 11, 12, 14, 22, 24, 26, 27 and 28.
  • General archery option 2: Season dates are Aug. 25 to Sept. 23. The tag is good for one deer in Unit 21-Indigo with the same hunt boundaries as the muzzleloader hunt 121M listed in the regulations as South Indigo.
  • General archery option 3: Season dates are Aug. 25 to Sept. 23 and, if unsuccessful, Nov. 10 to Dec. 2. The tag is valid for one deer with no less than one forked antler in Units 25, 29 and 30.
  • General archery option 4: Season dates are Aug. 25 to Sept. 23 and, if unsuccessful, Nov. 10 to Dec. 2. You are allowed to take one deer with this tag in Unit 23 – Melrose.
  • General archery option 5: Season dates are Aug. 25 to Sept. 23 and, if unsuccessful, you can also hunt Nov. 10 to Dec. 2. The tag is valid for one deer with no less than one forked antler in Units 10, 17, 18 and 20.
  • General archery option 6: Season dates are Aug. 25 to Sept. 23 and, if unsuccessful, Nov. 17 to Dec. 9. You are allowed to take one deer with this tag in Units 15, 16, 19, and the portion of Unit 21- Indigo north of the line described in the ODFW regulations for muzzleloader hunt 121M.

Note: Remember that unless your tag has whitetail deer listed in the bag limits whitetails are prohibited from being harvested in all units in and west of the Cascade Mountains.

Controlled hunt breakdown

There are three selections offered for a controlled rifle hunt in the Cascade Mountains and the far western side of the state.

Hunt 119A listed as the “West High Cascade” hunt in the state regulations allows the successful applicant the chance to hunt the higher elevations in all of the same units as the western general seasons earlier in the year. The season dates for this hunt are Sept. 8 to 16 and, if you are unsuccessful on this hunt, you may continue hunting the normal season dates as they are listed in the regulations for the western general season.

The two remaining hunts are for Unit 23-Melrose and allow the successful applicant the chance to harvest either a Columbian whitetail or a Columbian blacktail. Or you can simply purchase an OTC rifle tag for this same unit. Unless your goal is to take a whitetail, then it is pointless to apply for these hunts. Outside of being able to hunt the last week of December on the second season, there is nothing special at all about drawing one of these tags if your focus is on blacktail.

There are two controlled archery hunt options—both of which are located in Unit 23-Melrose. These permits also allow the successful applicant the chance to harvest either a Columbian whitetail or blacktail with the tag. If your focus is on blacktail, then avoid applying for this tag and simply purchase your OTC general archery tag and go hunting.

There are six different muzzleloader options in Oregon on the western side of the state. These hunts are intended to be prime rut dates for the most part and the season dates are primarily in November. There is a specific hunt code, which is in Unit 23-Melrose, that allows the applicant to harvest a Columbian whitetail or blacktail. Avoid this selection if your goal is for a blacktail as there is another code for the same unit that is blacktail only and much easier to draw. Other opportunities are on the south side of Unit 21-Indigo, Unit 27-Chetco, and Unit 28-Applegate. The last remaining selection is a hunt listed as 100M “North Muzzleloader” in the regulations. This hunt allows the hunter to hunt a broad area across the northwestern half of the state, including areas in Units 14, 15, 19 and the north side of Unit 21 with specific season dates attached to each of the listed areas.

Residents

There are 10 different hunts that are drawing at 100% with zero points across seven different units west of the B&C boundary. They are August archery hunts in Units 21-24, November muzzleloader hunts in Units 23-Melrose and 25-Sixes, and September rifle hunts in Units 16-Santiam, 19-McKinzie, 21-Indigo, 22-Dixon.

Find your resident Columbian blacktail deer controlled hunt draw odds with 0 points here

Nonresidents

There are no controlled archery permits drawing for nonresidents with zero points. There are six different hunt options across six different units to consider if you are interested in hunting with either your rifle or muzzleloader. They are a November muzzleloader hunt in Units 23-Melrose and 25-Sixes as well as September rifle hunts in Units 16-Santiam, 19-McKinzie, 21-Indigo, 22-Dixon.

Note: Study up on Filtering 2.0 and pay close attention to success rates in each of these hunts as some of the hunts listed here for applicants with zero points have success rates lower than 10%.

Find your nonresident Columbian blacktail deer controlled hunt draw odds with 0 points here

What can I expect with 5 to 6 deer preference points?

Residents

With six points you have many options to consider. You now have 25 controlled hunt options to consider in 11 different units. Seven of these hunt options have a success rate of over 45%. They are listed in the table below. The only hunts out of reach at this point are the late rifle hunts in Units 21 through 23, which is because you are competing with hunters looking to one day have a chance at the Columbian whitetail deer. If this is not your goal you are now more or less simply donating money to the state of Oregon for every year you choose to apply point only.

Hunts with greater than 45% success rates and have some portion of the unit west of the B&C boundary
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Season %4pt
or better
Success rate
21 - Indigo* 130"+ September rifle 21% 49%
21 - Indigo 130"+ Early November
muzzleloader
21% 48%
21 - Indigo 130"+ Late November
muzzleloader
21% 64%
22 - Dixon* 140"+ September rifle 21% 49%
23 - Melrose* 140"+ September rifle 18% 49%
24 - Tioga* 130"+ September rifle 21% 49%
28 - Applegate 150"+ November muzzleloader 28% 49%

*Drawing a tag for this hunt allows the applicant to hunt all four of these units.

Find your resident Columbian blacktail deer controlled hunt draw odds with 6 points here

Nonresidents

With six points there is not an archery hunt out of reach and there are only two muzzleloader hunts that you cannot draw at this point. They are late November hunts in Unit 28-Applegate and unit group 21, 22 and 23.

For the rifle hunters, you now have one additional rifle option in Unit 15. You are still a long way from drawing the Unit-23 late rifle permit, but, unless you are serious about hunting blacktails in late December, there really is no reason to be waiting on this tag as you are primarily competing with hunters focused on hunting Columbian whitetails once they draw this tag.

Find your nonresident Columbian blacktail deer controlled hunt draw odds with 6 points here

What can I expect with 10 plus deer preference points?

Residents

With 10 points, you now have enough points for any of the archery or muzzleloader hunts in the state. For rifle, your options have not changed much and you need to plan on a few more years to be in a maximum point’s status for the November rifle hunt in Units 21-Indigo22-Dixon, and 23-Melrose, which allows you to hunt for a Columbian whitetail as well.

Find your resident Columbian blacktail deer controlled hunt draw odds with 10 points here

Nonresidents

Not much has changed in the last few years. You are still out of reach for any muzzleloader hunts in Units 21 through 23 and it’s going to take a number of years to plan on a rifle hunt in any of these units. If you goal is to hunt blacktails, you may want to consider some of the other options in the state as you are competing with lots of applicants looking to hunt Columbian whitetail deer in these units.

Find your nonresident Columbian blacktail deer controlled hunt draw odds with 10 points here

Additional opportunities at Columbian blacktail deer in units that would not qualify for entry in B&C
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
%4pt
or better
Public land
%
30 - Rouge 150"+ 29% 58%
31 - Keno 160"+ 19% 41%
41 - White River 160"+ 28% 46%
42 - Hood 150"+ 12% 55%


Oregon's 2018 Columbian whitetail deer breakdown

Oregon has the only delisted populations of Columbian whitetail deer in the world. Although there are whitetails scattered up and down the Northwest, the southwest corner of Oregon holds populations of approximately 2,000 + deer. After they were delisted in 2013, ODFW started offering hunts in Units 21-Indigo, 22-Dixon, 23-Melrose and 24-Tioga. There are very few tags available each year and is the reason that these units can be rather difficult to draw.

Oregon Columbian whitetail deer units
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
%4pt
or better
Public land
%
21 - Indigo 120"+ 21% 68%
22 - Dixon 120"+ 21% 76%
23 - Melrose 120"+ 18% 16%
24 - Tioga 120"+ 21% 35%

 


Managing points and expectations

When applying, there are only four different hunt choices to choose from for Columbian whitetail deer:

  • Archery hunt in late August to Late September that allows the successful applicant to hunt all four units.
  • Archery hunt that spans the middle of September in Units 21 through 23.
  • Rifle hunt that starts late September and goes into the first week and a half of October that is good in all four units.
  • Muzzleloader hunt during the last week of November in Units 21 through 23.
  • Late rifle hunt during the last week of December in Units 21 through 23.

Residents

With zero points, a resident can draw the early archery hunt. Once you have acquired three points you now have enough to draw the second archery as well as the early rifle hunt. At this point, it’s going to take some time. Expect for some point creep by the time you get to the muzzleloader and late rifle hunt, but, currently, they are drawing with 11 points for the muzzleloader hunt and 13 points for the late rifle.

Find your resident Columbian whitetail deer controlled hunt draw odds here

Nonresidents

Outside of the archery hunts, this is going to take some time. The demand definitely outweighs the supply for the muzzleloader and rifle hunts. Currently, a nonresident can draw the second archery hunt with three points and the early archery hunt with just four points. As of 2017, applicants with 13 points drew at 100% for both the muzzleloader and late rifle hunt. It took 15 points for the early rifle.

Find your nonresident Columbian whitetail deer controlled hunt draw odds here



Oregon's 2018 whitetail deer breakdown

There are currently 21 units in Oregon that have established populations of whitetail deer. All of these units are located in the northeast corner of the state. If you have either a general or controlled deer tag for any of these units, it is legal to fill your tag as the permit is not species-specific; it is simply a deer tag. The trophy potential in Oregon typically does not exceed 130” B&C very often. Although there is always the anomaly, it wouldn’t be wise to plan a trip to Oregon in search of a giant whitetail. There are established populations of whitetails in each of the Units 44 through 65, except Unit 50. If you are on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains and you see a whitetail deer, the tag you have in your pocket will be legal to use on that deer. However, there are a few options to consider if you are looking to target these deer specifically. The hunt options listed below are whitetail specific if you were to draw.

Controlled rifle

  • Unit 57- Sled Springs listed as the Lower Wallowa Valley in the regulations (Nov. 12 to 21) Note: This hunt has 0% public land and centerfire rifles are prohibited for this hunt so you will need to plan accordingly. (82 applicants for 33 tags in 2017.)

Controlled archery

  • Unit 56-Wenaha listed as the North Wenaha Bow selection in the regulations (Nov. 12 to 25) (22 applicants for 30 tags in 2017.)

Controlled muzzleloader

  • Unit 51-Sumpter listed as “Baker” in the regulations (Nov. 12 to 25) (104 applicants for 80 tags in 2017.)
  • Unit 53-Catherine Creek listed as “Union Co” in the regulations (Nov. 12 to 25) (470 applicants for 440 tags in 2017.)
  • Unit 56-Wenaha listed as “North Wenaha – East Sled Springs in the regulations (Dec. 1 to 9) (254 applicants for 303 tags in 2017.)

Oregon whitetail deer units with 130"+ trophy potential
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
%4pt
or better
Public land
%
54 - Mt Emily 130"+ 36% 47%
55 - Walla Walla 130"+ 34% 33%
56 - Wenaha 130"+ 21% 73%
57 - Sled Springs 130"+ 25% 21%

Use Filtering 2.0 for more information about these units and others that have established herds of whitetail deer.

Oregon's top B&C producing counties all time for typical whitetail deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Wallowa 3 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62
Umatilla 2 44, 48, 49, 54, 55, 56
Union 1 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 60

Map of Oregon's typical whitetail deer B&C all time entries 2018

Oregon's top B&C producing counties all time for nontypical whitetail deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Grant 1 37, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 66, 72

Map of Oregon's nontypical whitetail deer B&C all time entries 2018

Find your resident whitetail deer controlled hunt draw odds here

Find your nonresident whitetail deer controlled hunt draw odds here

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