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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2019: Oregon Deer

2019 Oregon deer application strategy article

Oregon's 2019 deer application overview


Main writer: Jordan Christensen of The Draw

Jump to: New for 2019 State Information Draw System Mule Deer Breakdown Columbian Blacktail Deer Breakdown Columbian Whitetail Deer Breakdown Whitetail Deer Breakdown

This is the only state in the country with four different species of deer to hunt: mule deer, Columbian whitetail, Columbian blacktail and northwest whitetail. All four call the Beaver State home. This is truly incredible and, even better, if you happen to be a bowhunter, then hunting each one of them requires very little waiting as most of the state has over-the-counter (OTC) opportunities and the points required for the controlled archery hunts are very low. If muzzleloader or rifle is more up your alley then the same applies to you, too, except for Columbian whitetail deer, which will take some serious luck if you are intent on hunting them with anything other than archery equipment.

Oregon is a modified preference point state, which means that whomever has the most points draws the bulk of the tags. However, they do set aside 25% of the tags each year in 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 by hunters who apply for other 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 and only up to 5% of the deer tags can be drawn by nonresidents. Drawing a tag in some of the premier locations in the state is a very long term goal outside of blind luck.

Taking everything into account, if you are looking for a place to hunt deer more frequently, then Oregon is a state that is worth considering. Success rates may be less than ideal, but there are many different units in the state that have above average trophy potential for mule deer and Columbian blacktail and, well, there isn’t anywhere else in the world that has a huntable population of Columbian whitetail.

The cost per application after you have purchased your hunting license is very low. It would be a mistake not to apply for all species of interest to get the most value out of your license as there are some fantastic opportunities for Rocky Mountain elk, Roosevelt elk, antelope, California bighorn sheep and mountain goats. For only $8 per species per year, you can apply for each of these species. Oregon also has a major price break for youth hunters: the juvenile hunting license is only $10 per year (nine 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 nine years old, but cannot hunt big game until they are 12 years old and 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’s 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 is a draw that happens 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 as 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, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. PST and all applications must be submitted online.


Why Oregon for deer in 2019

  • There are four different subspecies of deer to hunt in Oregon.
  • There are OTC opportunities if you are unsuccessful in the draw.
  • You have a chance to draw the best tags in the state even if it’s your first year applying.
  • 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.
  • There are inexpensive youth license and application fees that you can get started at nine years old.

New for 2019

  • Mechanical broadheads are now allowed for archery hunting. Broadheads must be unbarbed and at least 7/8" wide. Broadheads with moveable blades that fold/collapse when withdrawn are not considered barbed.
  • The minimum archery draw weight was reduced to 40 lbs for all big game.
  • A hunter cannot hunt within eight hours of having been transported by, communicating with or having received information on the location of a game mammal from an aircraft.
  • It is now unlawful to hunt, locate or scout for the purpose of hunting any wildlife with infrared or other night vision sight or equipment except trail cameras.
  • It is now unlawful to hunt with or have in possession while hunting, sabots or bullets with plastic or synthetic parts. Cloth, paper or felt patches are allowed.
  • Limitations on controlled hunt party size have been removed.
  • Youth must obtain the controlled hunt tag before the hunt begins.
  • There are new regulations related to transporting cervid carcasses into Oregon.
  • Hunters who turn in poachers can now receive preference points as a reward.
  • There is a new electronic licensing system with the ability to tag your animal with your smartphone. Verify your account at MyODFW.com. See page 4 of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) big game regulations.
  • Starting in 2019, leftover tags will only be sold online.
  • There are now two options for tagging game mammals for which a tag is issued: paper tags and electronic tags. Hunters must choose one option at the time of purchase.

Antlerless opportunities

Remember that goHUNT has 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 fee go to the Oregon state profile; it also 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 that you are currently five points from being in the maximum point status, chances are high that it will actually take more than five years to draw as 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, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. PST for online applications.
  • Results will be made available on or before June 20, 2019.
  • 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 the goal is 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 December 1 through May 15 and again from July 1 through November 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 into ODFW prior to applying to get an updated list of available tags.

Drought and snowpack in Oregon

What a bounce back! With over 30% of the state considered in a moderate drought rating in 2018, things have definitely taken a turn for the better when looking at moisture levels for 2019. Currently, the state has only 23.3% of its ground posting as abnormally dry with only the northern portion of the Harney Basin is considered under a moderate drought rating.

Snow water equivalent

2019

Oregon snow water equivalent as of April 2019

Oregon snow water equivalent as of April 30, 2019. Source: NRCS

2018

Oregon late April 2018 snow water equivalent

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

Drought status

2019

Oregon drought monitor status as of April 2019

Oregon drought monitor status as of April 30, 2019. Source: US Drought Monitor

2018

Oregon late April 2018 drought monitor status

Oregon drought monitor status for April 24, 2018. Source: US Drought Monitor

Like many states in the West, Oregon has had its fair share of moisture this winter and early spring. As these maps show you, there is substantially more snow in the mountains this year in the majority of the state and excess in a number of areas is causing some concern over flooding, etc. However, antler growth should be exceptional this year and conditions if they will continue to get warm as we push through the spring should be fantastic in all areas of the state.

Wolves in Oregon

Areas of known wolf activity in Oregon as of December 2018

Areas of known wolf activity in Oregon as of December 2018. Source: ODFW

The most exciting news concerning wolves in Oregon is that there is a proposed wolf management plan that is being considered by the state. This plan will be voted on this year on June 7. The specifics about this plan do include the use of hunting by controlled hunts by licensed hunters to help manage populations in regions as necessary.

Overall, there has been an increase of over two dozen more wolves documented in Oregon, which brings the total of observed wolves in the state to 137. As there is no math equation used to determine this number—and for this number to show an increase, a confirmed new wolf has to be observed—it is commonly believed that the number documented is actually much lower than the actual number of wolves inhabiting the state.


Premium hunts

In 2016, Oregon introduced a new method of applying called premium hunts. These hunts are 100% randomly drawn 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, then the tag would be good for whichever species you decided to take. This application and tag, if drawn, 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 so, with a little luck, maybe you could even have one of these tags in your pocket over consecutive years. Remember that 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 2018:

  • L39-Metolius (1,183 applicants)
  • L75-Interstate (930 applicants)
  • L69-Steens Mt (718 applicants)
  • L41-White River (775 applicants)
  • L72-Silvies (678 applicants)

Least applied for premium deer hunts in 2018 with good public access:

  • L27-Chetco (120 applicants)
  • L17-Stott Mt (157 applicants)
  • L26-Powers (171 applicants)
  • L22-Dixon (174 applicants)
  • L33-Sprague (177 applicants)

Least applied for premium deer hunts in 2018 with limited access:

  • L25-Sixes (101 applicants)
  • L23-Melrose (142 applicants)
  • L40-Maupin (150 applicants
  • L15-Willamette (187 applicants)
  • L11-Scappoose (201 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 any applicant’s second through fifth choice is considered. An applicant will only lose his/her preference points if their first choice was 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 10 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 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, essentially, you will only have one raffle ticket with everyone’s name written on it. You do not get the total number of party members who are applying with 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 and, if there is 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 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 2019 mule deer breakdown

In 2018, the state of Oregon released a count of every unit in the state. Overall, this study, while it was incomplete in 2017, it’s hard to say how dramatic the shift year over year has been other than to say it definitely hasn’t been good. In 2016, Oregon’s mule deer count came in at 226,775, which is about 100,000 deer below objective. The total count in 2018 came in at 190,445 deer, which is a drop of over 30,000 deer in just two years. The only unit in the state that has a deer herd that is over objective is Unit 73 Wagontire, which isn’t saying much since that objective is a modest 2,500 and there were 2,543 deer counted. Multiple units are over 10,000 deer below objective and seem to be on a neverending downward spiral. In a nutshell, the mule deer herds in Oregon are suffering and, with a 78% over winter fawn survival in 2018, these figures just don’t add up. If you are looking to hunt the Beaver State for mule deer, there are still a number of areas of the state with decent overall populations; however, the age class in these areas is tough to find and is very inconsistent.

OREGON MULE DEER POPULATION SIZE - Updated 2019

Oregon statewide mule deer hunters and harvest - 2017 app strategy

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


Hidden gems for Oregon mule deer

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 & Crockett (B&C). They are listed below. What this means is you can, if you would prefer to, hunt every year. An applicant can apply for the best units in the state each year and plan on using one of these hunts as a backup when unsuccessful in the draw.

The other method in locating a hidden gem is with resources like 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" trophy potential and OTC archery permits
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Buck:doe
ratio
% 4pt or
better
Public
land %
37 - Ochoco 180"+ 20:100 26% 54%
39 - Metolius 180"+ 24:100 48% 67%
64 - Lookout Mt 180"+ 19:100 45% 38%
65 - Beulah 180"+ 14:100 32% 57%
66 - Malheur River 180"+ 13:100 29% 68%
67 - Owyhee 180"+ 22:100 41% 81%
68 - Whitehorse 180"+ 43:100 56% 90%
69 - Steens Mt 180"+ 32:100 48% 64%
70 - Beatys Butte 180"+ 13:100 38% 83%
71 - Juniper 180"+ 10:100 43% 89%
72 - Silvies 180"+ 14:100 27% 67%
 

Top units for mule deer buck:doe ratios

Unit Buck:doe
ratio
Trophy
potential
General Controlled
68 - Whitehorse 43:100 180"+ X X
42 - Hood 36:100 160"+ X X
69 - Steens Mt. 32:100 180"+ X X
74 - Warner 30:100 180"+   X
40 - Maupin 28:100 180"+ X X
43 - Biggs 28:100 160"+ X X
55 - Walla Walla 27:100 170"+   X
41 - White River 26:100 160"+ X X
36 - Maury 24:100 180"+   X
39 - Metolious 24:100 180"+ X X
75 - Interstate 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
Crook 1 35, 36, 37, 38, 72
Harney 1 66, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72
Jefferson 1 38, 39 
Wasco 1 38, 40, 41, 43
Wheeler 1 37, 38, 43, 45, 48

Map of Oregon's typical mule deer B&C all time entries 2019

Total number of Typical B&C mule deer entries since 2015 - Oregon 2019

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 2019

Total number of Nontypical B&C mule deer entries since 2015 - Oregon 2019

Managing points and expectations

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

Hunting mule deer in Oregon is not difficult at all and, because this is a very opportunity driven state, if you are just looking for a chance to get out and hunt, there is always an option to fall back on. You may have to pick up a more primitive weapon and you may have to hunt away from ideal dates, but, even with a struggling herd, there are a number of areas of the state that have some fantastic trophy potential even though the success rates overall may be less than ideal. Whether you decide to apply for the best tags in the state until you draw and/or the premium hunts or you are looking to get into the field as soon as possible, no matter your luck, there are some fantastic OTC hunts available that you can make as your home base until you draw. Know going in that when hunting these OTC areas you will have some company and it’s going to take a few days in the field—or even a couple of years—to get past the learning curve of that unit. Using Filtering 2.0, you can narrow down what areas to look at 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 hunts that you can choose from in Oregon: the first is closer to the coast and the second is in the Cascade Mountains. Typically, if you are looking for a mule deer, then you would need to stick closer to the Cascades and know going in that the genetics in this part of the state are less than pure and that the idea of taking a giant mule deer buck is less likely as there is some level of Columbian blacktail genetics in the family tree. Most all of the units have a general archery season except for a few exceptions in the southwest quadrant of the state.

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. 28 to Oct. 9. There are three late rifle hunts: Nov. 9 to 20, which take place in Unit 41-White River, Unit 42-Hood and Unit 54-Mt Emily. There is an early rifle hunt Sept. 7 to 15 in Unit 41-White River 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 they are unsuccessful in the first five days, then they 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 of Aug. 24 to Sept. 22 . There are five selections that are considered rut hunts and have all or a large portion of their season dates in November either on the front or back half of the month. Unit 68-Whitehorse, which is listed as the Trout Creek Mountain in the state regulations, is a traditional archery only hunt. It is unlimited, which means that 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 – Beatys Butte and have season dates of Aug. 1 to 9 as well as Aug. 10 to 18.

If you are looking for a muzzleloader hunt, there are 12 different selections to consider. Seven of these hunts take place on Oct. 12 to 20. 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 – Beatys Butte, which coincides with the main rifle hunt that runs Sept. 28 to Oct. 9 and Unit 39 – Metolius, which has a late hunt that happens Oct. 19 to 25.

Residents

There are six different hunts available to you at this time with 180+ trophy potential and a better than 50% chance of drawing. Three of these hunts (Unit 68-Whitehorse, Unit 74-Warner and Unit 36 - Maury) could have been drawn as a second choice in 2018 allowing the applicant to retain their points for future years. 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"+ 2:100 49% 58% 100%
65 - Beulah
(rifle)
180"+ 14:100 32% 57% 77%
67 - Owyhee
Rifle
180"+ 22:100 41% 81% 61%
68 - Whitehorse
(trad. archery)
180"+ 43:100 56% 90% 100%
71 - Juniper
(rifle)
180"+ 10:100 43% 89% 68%
74 - Warner
(archery)
180"+ 30:100 40% 70% 100%

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

Nonresidents

There are a number of options to consider when looking to hunt mule deer the first year you apply as a nonresident. In 2018, there were 14 different hunts that had a 100% chance of drawing for a nonresident. All of the available hunts were with either rifle or archery equipment. Two of these units have 180”+ trophy potential and another six had a 170”+ trophy potential. As far as top producing areas of the state, plan on this taking some time as only 5% of the permits drawn are for nonresidents and 75% of that 5% are going to maximum point holders. However, between the regular draw and opting into the premium tags option, your name could be in the hat two different times for a top shelf hunt and crazier things have happened.

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

There are now 12 different units with hunts for both archery and rifle and the majority of them you can draw with 100% odds in units that have 180”+ trophy potential. You are still a long ways out from drawing a rut hunt, but there are starting to be some above average hunts to consider like Unit 64 – Lookout Mt. that had a 60% success rate on its early rifle hunt with 45% of the bucks harvested having 4 points or better on at least one side.

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

Nonresidents

With six points, a nonresident has some real decisions to consider as there are now 46 different units— most of them with multiple hunts available, ranging across all three weapon selections. There are now 12 different units with controlled hunts available that have a 180”+ trophy potential—many of them are rifle hunts. Using Filtering 2.0, you can scan data like harvest success percentages as well as buck to doe ratio to narrow down exactly the type of hunt you are after.

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

What can I expect with 10 plus deer preference points?

Residents

Very little has changed for you in the last number of years as you are still a very long ways away from drawing one of the best tags in the state. However, you are drifting into no man’s land where you have more points than you need for most of the hunts in the state and are behind a point creep for the most sought after hunts the Beaver State has to offer. The only two rut hunts that you have to consider at this time would be the traditional archery hunt in Unit 68-Whitehorse as well as the archery hunt in Unit 31- Keno. You can’t kill them if you aren’t hunting them. With so many hunt options available, take your time with the different tables in this article as well as some time in the Filtering 2.0 feature as now is definitely decision time.

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

Nonresidents

There are now 26 different hunts across 12 different units that all have 180”+ trophy potential and many more to consider in units that do not have as high of a trophy potential. Now is really decision time as the idea that you will catch the point creep for the top producing units in the state is unlikely and, for all intents and purposes, you probably have just as good a crack at drawing a premium tag as you do drawing an elite tag early. Your odds are going to stay low for a very long time—maybe forever depending on the unit and hunt you are applying for. What do you have to lose by drawing a permit and getting right back into the draw next year, swinging for the fence on the top unit? Your points are getting you very little value—if any—so what are you waiting for?

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


Oregon's 2019 Columbian blacktail deer breakdown

If you are an Oregon resident, you most likely refer to the deer in the Cascades as “Cascade blacktails” or “bench legs” as this is what deer in this part of the state often look like. Most have the same characteristics of a blacktail deer. B&C does not recognize them because there is a chance that they may not have pure blood and, quite possibly, even have some level of mule deer genetics in their bloodstream, which would inherently lend itself to a larger antlered deer. However, we will focus primarily on the units in the state that are in the western or mostly western portion of the boundary determined by B&C. The minimum score for a Columbia blacktail deer to qualify for B&C is 125” net for a typical buck and 155” net for a non-typical. All things considered, if you are looking for a chance to harvest a deer with this many inches of antler, you have come to the right state. Oregon has some of the best Columbian blacktail hunting up and down the coastal units.

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 as you will need to be hunting in these units and west of the boundary to shoot a qualifying Columbian Blacktail deer.

Out of the 19 units every one of them has some sort of general over the counter hunt at some point during the season. Out of the 19 units 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.

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

Unit Trophy
potential
%4pt
or better
Harvest
success
(rifle general)
Public
land %
10 - Saddle Mt 120"+ 17% 17% 27%
11 - Scappoose 120"+ 25% 19% 10%
12 - Wilson 120"+ ---- 13% 66%
14 - Trask 120"+ 16% 15% 43%
15 - Willamette 140"+ 19% 18% 6%
16 - Santiam* 150"+ 22% 13% 63%
17 - Stott Mt 110"+ 14% 22% 15%
18 - Alsea 110"+ 15% 19% 43%
19 - McKenzie* 150"+ 17% 17% 60%
20 - Siuslaw 140"+ 22% 21% 42%
21 - Indigo* 130"+ 25% 26% 68%
22 - Dixon* 140"+ 23% 30% 76%
23 - Melrose* 140"+ 27% 36% 16%
24 - Tioga 130"+ 18% 23% 35%
25 - Sixes 130"+ 20% 36% 33%
26 - Powers 130"+ 16% 29% 50%
27 - Chetco 140"+ 20% 20% 83%
28 - Applegate 150"+ 29% 26% 60%
29 - Evans Creek 150"+ 25% 31% 46%

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

Current herd condition

Obtaining an accurate count on the Columbian blacktail deer in the coastal states has proven near impossible using normal counting practices as the dense vegetation makes it very difficult to see and count deer populations. Instead, the states are left to conduct on-the-ground surveys and assess hunter success year over year to make adjustments in the number of permits allocated each year. It is believed that at one point in the early 1980s, there were close to 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 around 300,000 to 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.


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 2019

Total number of Typical B&C Columbian blacktail deer entries since 2010 - Oregon 2019

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 2019

Total number of Nontypical B&C Columbian blacktail deer entries since 2010 - Oregon 2019

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

There a many different OTC options to consider when looking to hunt Columbian blacktail deer in Oregon. As you can see from the table below, the overall success on the controlled hunts are often much higher because of better season dates and a smaller number of participants, which makes the success rate easier to stay high. It is worth considering an OTC hunt in a unit which has a controlled hunt on prime dates that may take a few points because it gives you the opportunity to get to know the area and hit the ground running on the year that you finally pull that prime dates hunt. Often, there are archery or rifle or both available OTC in these areas. Units 21-24 do have a tendency to be tougher to draw. This is because an applicant may be trying 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 rather than later you are in luck as there are two different rifle options to consider.

  • General rifle option 1: Season dates are Sept. 28 to Oct. 11 and, if unsuccessful, you can come back and hunt Oct. 19 to Nov. 1. 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. 28 to Nov. 1. This tag is good for a deer with no less than one forked antler in Units 10, 11, 12, 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. 24 to Sept. 22 and 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. 24 to Sept. 22 and are valid to take 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. 24 to Sept. 22 and, if unsuccessful, you can also hunt Nov. 9 to Dec. 1 for one deer with no less than one forked antler in Units 25, 29 and 30.
  • General archery option 4: Season dates are Aug. 24 to Sept. 22 and, if unsuccessful, you can also hunt Nov. 9 to Dec. 1. You are allowed to take one deer with this tag in Unit 23 – Melrose.
  • General archery option 5: Season dates are Aug. 24 to Sept. 22 and, if unsuccessful, you can also hunt Nov. 9 to Dec. 1 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. 24 to Sept. 22 and, if unsuccessful, you can also hunt Nov. 16 to Dec. 8. 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. 7 to 15 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. However, you can simply purchase an OTC rifle tag for this same unit and, 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— 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 in 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 that includes 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 draw 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 and 22-Dixon.

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

Nonresidents

There are no controlled archery permits drawn 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 and 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%.

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

The only hunts out of reach at this point are the late rifle hunts in Units 2123, which is because you are competing with hunters looking to one day have a chance at the Columbian whitetail deer. If this is not the 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 25% 59%
22 - Dixon* 140"+ September rifle 23% 59%
23 - Melrose* 140"+ September rifle 27% 59%
24 - Tioga* 130"+ September rifle 18% 59%
28 - Applegate 150"+ November muzzleloader 29% 59%

*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, 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. As for rifle, your options have not changed much and you need to plan on a few more years to be in a maximum point status for the November rifle hunt in Units 21 - Indigo22 - Dixon23 - 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 over the last few years. You are still out of reach for any muzzleloader hunts in Units 21-23 and it’s going to take a number of more years to plan on a rifle hunt in any of these units. If you goal is to hunt blacktails, then 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 information 

There are four different units that we have not covered, which, if you are not interested in entering your deer in the record books, may be the right hunt for you. Understand that there are established herds of mule deer in each of these units and if a blacktail is the goal, be sure of your target before you pull the trigger. Pay close attention to the details of the body as even the most seasoned blacktail hunter can have a hard time identifying a mule deer versus a blacktail on antlers alone, especially on the hoof.

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"+ 34% 58%
31 - Keno 160"+ 22% 41%
41 - White River 160"+ 29% 46%
42 - Hood 150"+ 26% 55%

Oregon's 2019 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 Pacific 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"+ 25% 68%
22 - Dixon 120"+ 23% 76%
23 - Melrose 120"+ 27% 16%
24 - Tioga 120"+ 18% 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, 22, and 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 on the last week of November in Units 21, 22, and 23.
  • Late rifle hunt on the last week of December in Units 21, 22, and 23.

Residents

With zero points, as a resident, you can expect to draw the early archery season to hunt these unique deer. With a success rate of 39% in units Unit 21 and 23, this is a choice worth considering if you are up for an archery hunt. You will need three points to draw the early rifle hunt, 11 points to draw the muzzleloader hunt, which is in late November, and 13 points to draw the late December rifle hunt based upon the 2018 odds.

Find your resident Columbian whitetail deer controlled hunt draw odds here

Nonresidents

In 2018, there were only two nonresident applicants that applied for the early archery season. They both drew, making this a 100% chance in 2018. However, the odds have normally not been this good this early for nonresident and, overall, as a nonresident, you should plan on this permit taking a few years. If your goal is to hunt with a muzzleloader or a rifle, then buckle up as you are going to be here for a while. If you’re already purchasing your hunting license each year to build points for this hunt, it makes sense to throw your name into the premium hunts as well as the bighorn sheep and mountain goat hunts because the odds are as good or as bad (however you look at it) in drawing one of those hunts as it is the muzzleloader or rifle hunts for Columbian whitetail deer.

Find your nonresident Columbian whitetail deer controlled hunt draw odds here


Oregon's 2019 Northeastern whitetail deer breakdown

Oregon has a growing population of whitetail deer in the northeast portion of the state and currently has 21 units in the state that have established populations. 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 and, although there is always the anomaly, it wouldn’t be wise to plan a trip to Oregon in search of a giant whitetail. However, in 2018, there was an absolute giant taken by an archery hunter that green scored 159 ⅜” gross netting unofficially 151 ⅞”, potentially crushing the archery state record by over 15”.

There are established populations of whitetails in Units 4465 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. 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, which is listed as the Lower Wallowa Valley in the regulations (Nov. 11 to 20). Note: This hunt has 0% public land and centerfire rifles are prohibited for this hunt so you will need to plan accordingly (46 applicants for 33 tags in 2018).

Controlled archery

  • Unit 56 – Wenaha, which is listed as the North Wenaha Bow selection in the regulations (Nov. 11 to 24) (28 applicants for 30 tags in 2018).

Controlled muzzleloader

  • Unit 51-Sumpter, which is listed as Baker in the regulations (Nov. 11 to 24) (123 applicants for 80 tags in 2018).
  • Unit 53- Catherine Creek, which is listed as Union Co in the regulations (Nov. 11 to 24) (487 applicants for 440 tags in 2018).
  • Unit 56- Wenaha, which is listed as North Wenaha – East Sled Springs in the regulations (Nov, 30 to Dec. 8) (254 applicants for 303 tags in 2018).

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"+ 40% 47%
55 - Walla Walla 130"+ 34% 33%
56 - Wenaha 130"+ 24% 73%
57 - Sled Springs 130"+ 32% 21%

Use Filtering 2.0 for more information about these units and others that have established herds of northwestern 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 2019

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 2019

Find your resident whitetail deer controlled hunt draw odds here

Find your nonresident whitetail deer controlled hunt draw odds here

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