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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2018: Oregon Sheep and Mountain Goat

2018 Oregon bighorn sheep and mountain goat application strategy article

Oregon's 2018 sheep and mountain goat application overview

Jump to: New for 2018 State Information Draw System Rocky Bighorn Breakdown Cali Bighorn Breakdown Mountain Goat Breakdown

Odds are for the weak! If you don’t believe this, then Oregon may not be a good fit for you because you are up against some brutal odds when applying for bighorn sheep or mountain goat in the Beaver State. Without a point system in place, you can rest assured that you have just as much a chance of drawing as any other applicant. Oregon sets aside a minimum of 5% and a maximum of 10% of their bighorn sheep and mountain goat tags for nonresidents each year. The units where these tags are available and the number that will be issued is predetermined each year. What this means is you should not simply apply for any unit you are interested in because there are only six different bighorn sheep selections for nonresidents and two different selections for mountain goat. If you are a resident, there are 72 California bighorn sheep tags available in 2018, six different Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep tags and 22 mountain goat tags.

Note: The application deadline for all species in Oregon is May 15, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. PST and all applications must be submitted online here.



Why Oregon for bighorn sheep and mountain goat

  • Equal odds of drawing even if it is your first time applying.
  • Great trophy potential in many units.
  • Affordable youth license and application fee.
  • Nonresident military members, which includes National Guard and Reserves, can purchase their hunting license for a 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 14 and 15 years of age.
  • The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) 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.


State information

View important information and an overview of Oregon’s rules/regulations, the draw system, draw odds, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map on our State Profile. You can also view the Oregon species profiles to access historical and statistical data to help you locate trophy units. 

Oregon State Profile Rocky Bighorn Profile Cali Bighorn Profile Mountain Goat 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.

Drought and snowpack in Oregon

April 2018 Oregon drought monitor
Source: US Drought Monitor

Oregon April 25 2018 snow water equivalent

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 mid-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 also confirmed two additional 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 January 1, 2017, there have been a total of 22 confirmed wolf depredations on livestock in Oregon with four of those occurring this year. Although the total number of wolves in Oregon is much less than other states they are definitely making their presence known.

Breakdown of Oregon tags

Resident and nonresident tags in Oregon

Species Resident
tags
Nonresident
tags
Rocky bighorn 6 1
California bighorn 72 5
Mountain goat 22 2


The Oregon draw system

Understanding the draw

The draw system for bighorn sheep and mountain goats in Oregon is as different as it can be from the deer, elk, and antelope system. Instead of a preference point system, these two applications are 100% random draw and there is no preference regardless of how many years you have been applying. What this means is you are not behind a point curve for these two species and have just as good a chance at drawing the first year you apply as any other applicant. It truly is a bucket of raffle tickets and who knows? Maybe they will pull your ticket! You will be able to list up to five different selections on your application, but only your first choice will be considered until everyone’s first choice has been considered. What this means is there is almost a 0% chance of drawing a tag on a second choice as all of the tags have been allocated before anyone’s second choice would be considered. Choose your first choice carefully as it really is the only one that will matter.

Note: Party or group applications are not allowed for either bighorn sheep or mountain goat applications.



Oregon's 2018 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep breakdown

There are five different selections to choose from when looking to hunt Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep across four different hunt areas. One of those five has a tag set aside for nonresident applicants. This tag is located in Unit 64 -Lookout Mountain in the northeast portion of the state, bordering the famous Hells Canyon of Idaho and producing similar caliber of rams. If you are looking to take a Boone & Crockett (B&C) ram in Oregon, then this is the unit you need to be applying for. This herd of bighorn sheep is the only herd ODFW has been consistently counting each year since 2010. They have watched this herd grow from 127 sheep in 2010 to 275 sheep in 2016. In fact, it is the only herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep they have counted since 2013.

Current Rocky bighorn sheep herd condition

ROCKY MOUNTAIN BIGHORN SHEEP HERD SIZE IN OREGON (2010 - 2016)

Note: in the graph above, the survey data was incomplete from 2013 to 2016 and surveys were not conducted in the majority of herds.



How to uncover hidden gem Rocky bighorn sheep units

If you are a nonresident this is simple: apply for the only selection that has nonresident tag. If you are a resident it doesn’t get much better, but, often, if you look for units that tend to be more physically demanding or are getting some negative attention due to sickness or a worry of sickness, that will often deter a number of applicants from applying for these units. Obviously, you are taking some risk when applying for units like this, but, if you are chasing the best odds you can find, it will often be in units like these. Another option to consider is to locate a unit that has a large swing in the number of applicants every few years. Often, when the number dips low the following year, there will be a large number of applicants who jump on that unit as the odds were so good, which, essentially, wrecks the odds. If you consistently apply for the unit that has the largest swing in applications, you will be in the hat the year it swings low and, although this won’t make a huge difference, at least you are being as aggressive as you can get with a good plan in place.

Top hit list units to consider for 170" or better Rocky bighorn sheep
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Ram:ewe
ratio
Harvest
success
Public
land %
58 - Chesnimnus 180"+ NA 100% 49%
59 - Snake River 180"+ 33:100 100% 94%
64 - Lookout Mt 180"+ 44:100 100% 38%
60 - Minam 170"+ 34:100 100% 74%
61 - Imnaha 170"+ NA 100% 75%
62 - Pine Creek 170"+ NA 100% 76%
63 - Keating 170"+ NA 100% 57%

 

Top units for ram:ewe ratios

Unit Ram:ewe
ratio
Trophy
potential
64 - Lookout Mt 44:100 180"+
60 - Minam 34:100 170"+
59 - Snake River 33:100 180"+

 



B&C entry trends for Oregon Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep


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 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Baker 12 62, 63, 64
Wallowa 3 59. 60, 62
Wasco 3 43
Gilliam 1 43
Malheur 1 68

Malheur, Wasco and Gilliam counties hold California bighorns.
 


Managing expectations for Rocky bighorn sheep

You, my friend, are an application warrior and we salute you. Drawing a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep tag in Oregon is likely to be a pinnacle moment in your hunting career and silly odds won’t get in the way of you and your goal. The best part about this plan is that even if this is the first year you are applying you have the exact same chance as every other applicant. If you are a resident and you have a couple of options to consider, use Filtering 2.0 and our Draw Odds features to help you locate some of the trends and details that you will need when making your final decision. Note: for 2018, the only rocky bighorn sheep unit a nonresident can apply for is Unit 64 - Lookout Mountain No. 2.

Find your resident Rocky bighorn controlled hunt draw odds here

Find your nonresident Rocky bighorn controlled hunt draw odds here



Oregon's 2018 California bighorn sheep breakdown

There are only five selections offered to nonresident hunters in Oregon looking to hunt a California bighorn sheep. There are a total of 31 hunt options for residents to consider. There are 12 selections listed as limited access areas in the state regulations and two of them have nonresident tags available. These are East John Day River No. 2 as well as the West John Day River No. 2; however, if you know that you are going to be securing an outfitter for this hunt regardless of where you draw, then this should be of little concern as you will simply need to find the outfitter that has access after the tag is drawn. That shouldn’t be too hard as they will be more than likely contacting you.

There are only five tags issued to nonresidents in 2018. The list of nonresident options are found below.

Unit 43 - Biggs - East John Day River #2
Unit 43 - Biggs - West John Day River #2
Unit 70 - Beatys Butte - Heart Mt Refuge
Unit 70 - Beatys Butte - East Beatys Butte/Alvord Peaks #2
Unit 75 - Interstate - South Central #1

Current herd condition

The last bighorn sheep population survey was published by ODFW in 2016. The bad news is that the count was incomplete as they only surveyed 20 different areas of the state, leaving six of them unsurveyed. The good news is this is the most complete count they have done since 2011 when all areas were counted.

California bighorn sheep herd size in Oregon - updated 2018

When looking at the survey results in 2015 versus 2016, only 10 areas were counted in both years. The population in these ten areas increased by 3.1% with only one herd—the Coleman River herd—showing a decrease in bighorn sheep, dropping from 44 sheep in 2015 to only 30 sheep in 2016. In an effort to get an idea of what the total California sheep population looks like in Oregon, we added up last year’s count with the last reported number out of all of the units (most of them occurring in 2015) and came up with a total population of 3,162 sheep. Considering there was an increase of 3.1% in the units surveyed in both 2015 and 2016, it’s safe to say that this is a close estimate. The 2016 survey showed a ram:ewe ratio of 62.9 rams for every 100 ewes, which was slightly down from last year’s 71.9, but was close to average over the five previous years. The lamb:ewe ratio is holding steady at 38 lambs for every 100 ewes and has been this high for the past several years. Overall, the California bighorn sheep population in Oregon is stable.



How to uncover hidden gem California bighorn sheep units

The truth is that all of Oregon's California bighorn sheep units are capable of fulfilling dreams of a 160”+ ram. What makes a unit a true gem is finding the hunt choice that fits your needs and specific criteria. Read through the Unit Profiles to settle on a unit that meets your physical requirements or limitations.



B&C entry trends for Oregon California bighorn sheep

B&C classifies California bighorns as Rocky Mountain bighorns. So the B&C table is the same as the one above in the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep section. 



 

Top hit list units to consider for 165" or better California bighorn sheep
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Ram:ewe
ratio
Public land
%
43 - Biggs 175"+ 63:100 12%
46 - Murderers Creek 170"+ 47:100 67%
48 - Heppner 170"+ 75:100 36%
69 - Steens Mt 170"+ 46:100 64%
71 - Juniper 170"+ 46:100 89%
73 - Wagontire 170"+ 46:100 84%
74 - Warner 170"+ 53:100 70%
75 - Interstate 170"+ 46:100 56%
68 - Whitehorse 165"+ 52:100 90%
70 - Beatys Butte 165"+ 19:100 83%
51 - Sumpter 160"+ 61:100 46%

 

Nonresident California bighorn sheep options
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Season Ram:ewe
ratio
Public land
%
# of applicants
in 2017
43 - Biggs
(E John Day R No. 2)
175"+ 10/29-11/6 63:100 12% 588
43 - Biggs
(W John Day R No. 2)
175"+ 10/29-11/6 63:100 12% 422
70 - Beatys Butte
(Hart Mt. Refuge)
165"+ 9/4-9/17 19:100 83% 378
70 - Beatys Butte
(E Beatys Butte/
Alvord Peak No. 2)
165"+ 9/4-9/17 19:100 83% 418
75 - Interstate
(S Central No. 1)
170"+ 8/18-8/31 46:100 56% 291

 

Hidden gems for California bighorn sheep

With so few of options and high demand, it is unlikely that a hunter will locate an under the radar hunt when looking at bighorn sheep options. Often, you can find better odds when looking at how physical a particular unit may be or if the sheep herd happens to be struggling. This will deter a large number of applicants and, therefore, create better odds. Use Filtering 2.0 to research each of these units and learn more about the unit and what to expect. Another thing to consider is looking for a unit that is a rollercoaster in the number of applicants who choose to apply for it. Chances are that the year after the odds are at their best, there will be a large number of applicants the following year, but if you get consistent in applying for that unit, chances are that the odds will dip again at some point and your name will be in the hat when it does. Overall, in Oregon, this won’t affect your odds of drawing by much, but every little bit counts. 



Managing expectations for California bighorn sheep

As we have already discussed, the main reason to look towards applying for bighorn sheep in Oregon is because there is not a point system and you have the same odds as every applicant even the first year you apply. However, it’s important to note that Unit- 75 Interstate, or hunt South Central No. 1 hunt, had the least amount of nonresident applicants last year at 291, making your odds of drawing an amazing 0.34%.

To give you some perspective: a nonresident with 20 points/years of applying for desert bighorn sheep in Utah’s best odds unit has a 0.19% chance of drawing. So, before you turn your nose up at Oregon, just think: you have twice as good a chance of drawing even your first year and you can’t win if you don’t play.

Remember, for 2018, nonresidents only have five options to apply for:

Unit 43 - Biggs - East John Day River #2
Unit 43 - Biggs - West John Day River #2
Unit 70 - Beatys Butte - Heart Mt Refuge
Unit 70 - Beatys Butte - East Beatys Butte/Alvord Peaks #2
Unit 75 - Interstate - South Central #1

Find your resident California bighorn controlled hunt draw odds here

Find your nonresident California bighorn controlled hunt draw odds here



Oregon's 2018 mountain goat breakdown

Applying for mountain goats in Oregon is similar to lighting a $10 bill on fire because, either way, all you’ve really accomplished is losing $10. If you have read the other strategy articles about Oregon you will see an overlying message, which is if you choose to commit to purchasing the hunting license in Oregon—whether the original plan is to go on an over-the-counter elk hunt or you have a specific hunt you are planning for—to not apply for all species of interest would be a mistake. With no point system in place for this species you have equal odds with all other applicants during your first year and while those odds are rough, if you were to draw you truly have a strong chance at taking a world-class mountain goat. There are a total of 24 mountain goat tags available in 2018 and two of these are set aside for nonresidents in two different units. There were 1,370 applicants between the two nonresident selections and your odds were less than 0.2% last year in both units.

Current herd condition

There has not been a formal count of the mountain goat population in Oregon since 2012; however, the population across the state is considered stable.


 

B&C entry trends for Oregon mountain goat

While Oregon may not be home to the biggest mountain goats 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 mountain goat

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Wallowa 4 56, 59, 60
Baker 3 51
Union 1 52, 53, 54, 60

 


 

Managing expectations for mountain goats

Residents

There are 14 different hunt selections for resident hunters and they are spread out with different season dates across nine different hunt areas.

Resident mountain goat hunts offered in Oregon
(not in order of quality)

Unit 2017 # of
applicants
Draw
odds
Public land
%
Unit 46 - Murderers Creek
Strawberry Mountain
1,360 0.07% 67%
Unit 50-51
Elkhorn No. 1
2,481 0.12% 86%
46%
Unit 50-51
Elkhorn No. 2
1,184 0.08% 86%
46%
Unit 50-51
Elkhorn No. 3
1,326 0.23% 86%
46%
Unit 56 - Wenaha
North Wenaha
356 0.28% 73%
Unit 59 - Snake River
Hat Point No. 1
1,138 0.30% 94%
Unit 59 - Snake River
Hat Point No. 2
726 0.28% 94%
Unit 59 - Snake River
South Snake River No. 1
745 0.27% 94%
Unit 59 - Snake River
South Snake River No. 2
269 0.37% 94%
Unit 60 - Minam
East Hurricane Creek
509 0.20% 74%
Unit 60 - Minam
West Hurricane Creek
262 0.38% 74%
Unit 60 - Minam
Goat Mountain No. 1
762 0.26% 74%
Unit 60 - Minam
Goat Mountain No. 2
332 0.30% 74%
Unit 61 - Imnaha
Cusick Mountain
564 0.18% 75%

Find your resident mountain goat controlled hunt draw odds here

Nonresident

As there is no point system for mountain goats in Oregon it is purely a luck of the draw each year. The two selections that are available to nonresidents are:

Unit 51-Sumpter listed as Elkhorn No. 2 in the state regulations. This is the second hunt of the year in this hunt area and the season date is set for Sept. 17 to 25. There were 786 applicants for this hunt in 2017.

Unit 59-Snake River listed as Hat Point No. 1 in the state regulations. This hunt is the first hunt of the year in this hunt area and the season date is set for Sept. 8 to 23. There were 584 applicants for this hunt in 2017.

Find your nonresident mountain goat controlled hunt draw odds here

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