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Application Strategy 2023: Oregon elk and antelope

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OREGON'S 2023 ELK & ANTELOPE APPLICATION STRATEGY

Note: The application deadline in Oregon for all species is May 15 at 11:59 p.m. PT and all applications must be submitted online or at a license sales agent.


New for 2023

  • There is a new multi-unit, controlled youth archery elk hunt. 
  • Antelope hunts in the Beatys Butte Unit have changed. See details out below.
  • Vehicles transporting wildlife or wildlife parts must now stop at signed inspection stations if encountered.
  • Controlled hunt draw results will be out on June 12.

ANTLERLESS DRAW ODDS

Remember that GOHUNT has Draw Odds for all female species.


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. 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 was drawn last year at five points, it's possible that it may require six points this year due to the fact that there are more applicants than permits available. Be aware of that as you evaluate the draw odds. It helps to review the detailed draw odds pages where you can see five years worth of draw data to help evaluate the likelihood of point creep.

IMPORTANT DATES AND INFORMATION

  • You can apply online here.
  • The deadline to apply is May 15, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. PT. 
  • Results will be available by June 12, 2023.
  • If you made an error on your application, corrections can be made up to May 25.
  • You are required to purchase a hunting license prior to applying.
  • Applicants do not have to front the cost of the permits they apply for.
  • If you are successful, you will receive a notification to purchase your tag.
  • Hunters 17 years old or younger need to have a hunter’s education certificate unless they are ages nine to 15 and enrolled in the youth mentor program.
  • Oregon elk and antelope draw tags are allocated on a hybrid preference point system. 
  • 75% of the tags are allocated to maximum point holders; 25% are randomly allocated with no regard to points.
  • Point only codes are as follows:
    • 299: elk point saver
    • 499: antelope point saver
  • 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 a hard to draw hunt in the state so, if you do happen to get lucky, it will be in a top-shelf unit with excellent dates.)
  • Points can also be purchased during a separate timeframe from July 1 to Nov. 30.

Oregon cost to apply and tag fees

UnitResidentNonresident

Hunting license

$34.50

$172

Juvenile hunting license

$10

$10

Application fee/per species

$8

$8

*Elk (controlled or general)

$49.50

$588

*Antelope

$51.50

$395.50


* Tag fees only required if you are successful in the draw. You have the option to purchase the tag if successful in the draw.

Weather conditions

2023 Snowpack

Oregon current snow water equivalent as of April 25, 2023. Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

In 2023, Oregon has seen winter and spring conditions like most of the western U.S. In terms of the current snowpack, every portion of the state is well over 100% and most of the state is greater than 150%. Oregon was in dire need and, just like its neighboring states, it’s much appreciated.  This should work wonders for the feed needed to keep these animals healthy through the summer and into the fall seasons.

2023 drought

Oregon drought status as of April 18, 2023. Source: US Drought Monitor

The drought outlook has shown a massive improvement since this time a year ago. I would expect this to get better at least for the next month or so with the expected runoff. The very central part of the state is still in the most need of water, but way better than last year. Going into the hunting seasons of 2023, I would expect to see a big improvement on antler growth and overall herd health.

2022 Snowpack
 

Oregon current snow water equivalent from April 6, 2022. Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

2022 drought

Oregon drought status from April 19, 2022. Source: US Drought Monitor


The Oregon draw system

UNDERSTANDING THE DRAW

Oregon’s draw for elk and antelope is a preference point hybrid system. There is both a preference point and a random draw portion. Out of the total tags, 75% are allocated to the highest point holders who apply for any given hunt and the other 25% are randomly allocated with no weight given to the number of points that you have. On the random side of that draw, every applicant is on a level playing field for those tags.

Note: if there are only three or less for any particular hunt, those will be given to the highest point applicants with no random tag available. 

As nonresidents, is Oregon a good state to apply for? What are the tag splits? This is where Oregon gets tricky as nonresidents are only allocated a maximum of 3% of the antelope tags and a maximum of 5% of the elk tags. It gets even worse: out of those tag percentages, 2.5% of these are allocated prior to the main draw in the guides and outfitters program. At best, there are only 2% of the elk tags and .5% of the antelope tags that can be allocated to nonresidents in the main draw and, for the good hunts, there are so few tags that NO tags are randomly allocated. If you are not a high point holder, the good tags in Oregon are essentially off limits for nonresidents. 

Oregon is also relatively expensive for a nonresident adult to apply in. As previously stated, you have to buy the $172 hunting license and then pay the $8 application fee per species. In our opinion, the juice may not be worth the squeeze unless you live in an adjacent state and are willing to research the odds and hunts available and know what you are getting into before starting down the road of the Oregon application process.

PREFERENCE POINT ONLY

If applicants wish to build points only, then they can apply with the point only code as their first choice. In this scenario, applicants will use the point saver code 299 for elk and 499 for antelope as their first choice. Applicants can also apply for points only in the summer months from July 1 to Nov. 30.

CHOICES

Oregon will allow applicants to enter five hunt choices. Every applicant's first choice is considered before moving to an applicant's second choice, so on and so forth. Preference points are only purged if an applicant draws their first choice. There is no waiting period for reapplying for elk or antelope if you drew a tag the previous year.

GROUP APPLICATIONS

Oregon will allow group applications for elk and antelope of any size. A group application will have their points averaged and will round up to the next whole number if the average is .51 or above and down to the whole number if the average is .50 or below. A group application is treated as a single application where, if selected, all applicants will receive a tag provided there are enough tags to satisfy the size of the group. If there are not enough tags, no one on that application will receive a tag.

PURCHASING TAGS AND TAG RETURN

If you are successful in drawing a tag, you have up until the day before the earliest hunt starts to purchase the tag. Once you have purchased the tag, you cannot return the tag for refund. If you draw your first choice, your preference points will be purged so make sure you actually want the permit you apply for.

OREGON'S PREMIUM HUNTS 

In addition to the regular controlled hunt drawing, Oregon offers a separate draw for hunts that they call premium hunts. This is a completely separate hunt drawing that allows tag holders to hunt extended season dates with any weapon. These hunts are 100% randomly drawn each year and there are no preference or bonus points attached to the application. There are no party applications and no resident or nonresident quota. 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 species (hunt code).


Oregon's 2023 elk breakdown

Oregon has both Roosevelt and Rocky Mountain elk hunting opportunities with the Roosevelt units located along the Coastal and Cascade ranges in the western part of the state and Rocky Mountain elk units in the central and eastern portion of the state. When researching elk hunts in Oregon within your Insider account, to look at Roosevelt elk hunts, you will need to select “Roosevelt Elk” from the species list. If you select “Elk” you will see the Rocky Mountain elk hunts only that are located in the central and eastern portions. 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) manages most of the state for opportunity rather than trophy potential. There are a few units/hunts for both Roosevelt and Rocky Mountain elk that are managed for a trophy caliber bull, but the odds of drawing a Rocky Mountain bull tag for those is very low and, in some cases, nonexistent for the bulk of nonresidents. The Roosevelt trophy caliber hunts are somewhat easier to draw, but will still require a good number of points to guarantee a tag. 

There are good opportunity over-the-counter (OTC) hunts throughout the state for both species. The new archery controlled hunts from the 2022 season now have odds tied to them, which are displayed in one of the following tables.

The controlled Oregon youth bow hunt is a new youth hunt for 2023. This tag is valid statewide except in Units 54 to 58.


Hit list units for Rocky Mountain elk in Oregon

Oregon offers very little to the nonresident Rocky Mountain elk applicant who is just getting started in the point game. The best hunts in the state offer very few permits and the point creep is so significant that you may never catch up. Be aware of that as you review the hit list and associated odds. 

The state still offers really good OTC hunting for both species and we will cover the better opportunities for those hunts below. Also be sure to take a look at the new archery controlled hunts that were made available for the 2022 season. There are plenty of good archery opportunities that are attainable with little to no points.

Top hit list units to consider for 320”or better Rocky mountain elk
(not in order of quality)

UnitTrophy
potential
Harvest
success
Resident points to draw
Nonresident points to
draw

56 - Wenaha

360"+

Archery: 38%
Rifle: 68%

100% with 22
50% with 20

100% with 27
100% with 25

54 - Mt Emily

350"+

Archery: 55%
Rifle: 71%

44% with 18
49% with 20

25% with 23
100% with 27

55 - Walla Walla

340"+

Archery: 48%
RIfle: 79%
Rifle: 35%

100% with 18
38% with 18
48% with 14

100% with 24
100% with 24
100% with 20

37 - Ochoco

340"+

Archery: 14%
Rifle: 23%
RIfle: 34%

38% with 1
100% with 7
76% with 7

100% with 2
80% with 7
75% with 7

57 - Sled Spring

330"+

Archery: 32%
Rifle: 31%

61% with 7
38% with 4

25% with 12
36% with 6

58 - Chesnimnus

320"+

Archery: 14%
Rifle: 23%
RIfle: 24%

64% with 2
25% with 2
71% with 2

100% with 4
53% with 3
100% with 3

46 - Murderers Creek

320"+

Archery: 9%
Muzzleloader: 5%
Rifle: 17%
Rifle: 21%

100% with 0
98% with 1
66% with 2
100% with 4

100% with 1
46% with 1
50% with 3
100% with 6

 

Archery Controlled Odds

UnitTrophy
potential
Harvest
success
Resident points
to draw
Nonresident points
to draw

46 - Murderers Creek

320"+

Archery: 9%

100% with 0

100% with 1

47 - Northside

310”+

Archery: 12%

100% with 0

100% with 1

48 - Heppner

320”+

Archery: 17%

100% with 0

100% with 1

49 - Ukiah

310”+

Archery: 14%

100% with 0

100% with 1

50 - Desolation

310”+

Archery: 7%

100% with 0

100% with 1

51 - Sumpter

310”+

Archery: N/A

100% with 0

100% with 1

52 - Starkey

320”+

Archery: 14%

100% with 0

100% with 1

53 - Catherine Creek

300”+

Archery: 20%

100% with 0

100% with 0

59 - Snake River

330”+

Archery: 18%

100% with 0

100% with 0

65 - W. Beulah

300”+

Archery: 15%

100% with 0

100% with 0

66 - N. Malheur River

290”+

Archery: N/A

100% with 0

100% with 1

72 - Silvies

310”+

Archery: 11%

100% with 0

100% with 1

 

Top hit list units to consider for Roosevelt elk
(not in order of quality)

UnitTrophy
potential
Harvest
success
Resident points to
draw
Nonresident points to
draw

10 - Saddle Mt

300"+

Archery (general): 17%
Rifle: 25%
RIfle: 20%

N/A
100% with 0
100% with 0

N/A
100% with 0
100% with 0

14 - Trask

290"+

Archery (general): 13%
Muzzleloader: 22%
Rifle (gen): 10%

N/A
79% with 2
N/A

N/A
N/A
N/A

25 - Sixes

290"+

Archery (general): 30%
Rifle: 40%
Rifle: 47%

N/A
64% with 1
95% with 1

N/A
33% with 8
100% with 6

26 - Powers

290"+

Archery: 24%
Rifle: 30%

100% with 3
41% with 3

50% with 12
100% with 14

24 - Tioga

280"+

Archery (general): 14%
Archery: 11%
Muzzleloader: 37%
Rifle: 20%
Rifle: 16%

N/A
100% with 0
90% with 2
87% with 0
84% with 0

N/A
100% with 0
88% with 2
87% with 0
84% with 0

27 - Chetco

280"+

Archery (general): 17%
Rifle: 38%
Rifle: 27%

N/A
54% with 2
100% with 2

N/A
50% with 5
100% with 2

 

Good general OTC season elk hunting opportunities

UnitTrophy
potential
Harvest
success
Bull:Cow
ratio
% bulls
6 pt. +
Public land
%

51 - Sumpter

310”+

Archery: 14%

17:100

25%

46%

64 - Lookout Mt

300”+

Archery: 23%

14:100

45%

38%

10 - Saddle Mt

300”+

Archery: 17%

22:100

11%

27%

11 - Scappoose

300”+

Archery: 16%
Rifle: 18%
Rifle: 16%

8:100

14%

10%

25 - Sixes

290”+

Archery: 30%

19:100

25%

33%

27 - Chetco

280”+

Archery: 17%

5:100

26%

83%

19 - McKenzie

290”+

Archery: 5%

4:100

43%

60%

17 - Stott Mt

280”+

Rifle: 8%

7:100

10%

15%


Managing points and expectations

I HAVE 0 ELK PREFERENCE POINTS. WHAT CAN I EXPECT?

Residents

Rocky Mountain elk

Residents with no points could have drawn 65 different hunts. Out of those, 25 were archery (three traditional archery only), which is a big jump from years past due to the newly added controlled archery hunts. I would expect most of those to see some creep going into this next year. There was one Unit 60 muzzleloader hunt and the rest were rifle hunts. Out of the 25 archery hunts, three were valid for spike bull only. There were a total of nine rifle spike bull hunts up for grabs as well.

A quick search within the Insider research platform shows that rifle hunters have nine units that have harvest success of 20% or greater that also have 100% odds with no points.

Applicants interested in hunting Roosevelt bulls might research Unit 10, 14, 24 and 26. Out of those, Unit 10,14 and 24 had controlled rifle success greater than 20%. The other areas had success at or greater than 10%. Before applying for these, make sure you use your GOHUNT maps and research public land percentages.

Nonresidents

If your goal is to hunt a trophy caliber bull, Oregon is probably not the state to pursue. The units that can produce that caliber of bull are few and the odds of drawing one of those is slim to none due to the extremely low number of tags allocated to nonresidents. We would advise applicants to consider their objectives, draw system, odds and the cost before they decide to apply. We do not consider Oregon a must apply state for Rocky Mountain elk. 

There are some options if you just want to give Oregon elk hunting a try. Applicants looking at Rocky Mountain elk hunting opportunities with no points might research Units 48 and 60. Both had rifle hunts that were drawn with no points and harvest success rates approaching or greater than 20%. Unit 60 encompasses the famed Eagle Cap Wilderness; however, be prepared if you plan on taking on this remote terrain. 

The newly added controlled archery elk hunts had a total of six hunts that were drawn last year with no points.

There were a couple other rifle hunts for spike bulls only that were drawn with no points in Unit 54 and 55 that had 22% and 24% harvest success. If you live in a border state those may be of interest, but there are likely better opportunities in other states like Colorado or Utah. 

Nonresidents who are interested in hunting Roosevelt bulls might consider Unit 24 archery. Rifle hunters should consider Unit 10, 24 and 26. Harvest success is good for those and the public land percentages are 27%, 35% and 50%, respectively. Applicants will want to do some research into public land options and access before applying.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT WITH 5 TO 6 ELK PREFERENCE POINTS?

Residents

Residents with five to six points have many options to draw a tag and go hunting. Unit 58 and 48 archery tags could be drawn with five points. It’s worth noting that there are a pile of other archery hunts that take way fewer points. The best muzzleloader hunts within this range are 34/39/77 and 35/77. Both of those could have been drawn with two to three points. 

Out of the 78 rifle hunts, 69 had 100% odds at five points. Within those, the best options are rifle hunts in Unit 49, 48, 57, 38, 65, 61, 58 and 46

The best Roosevelt hunt options with five to six points would be archery in Unit 26, muzzleloader in Unit 14 and the rifle hunts in 26 and, possibly, 15/18.

Nonresidents

Nonresident bowhunters have many options, but will be giving up several points to draw them. The best option is likely Unit 52, 48 and 58, which required four to six points last year. 

The best muzzleloader hunts for this point range are 34/38/39/77, 35/77, 66/67/68 and 60. Those hunts were all drawn with fewer points last year. Rifle hunters should consider Unit 36, 38, 46, 48, 49, 58, 61 and 65.

If you are interested in burning your points on a Roosevelt elk hunt, there are only a few hunts you cannot draw. Those that can’t be drawn are the archery hunt in Unit 26 and the rifle hunts in Unit 23 and 26. Some of the better options for your points are rifle hunts in 15/18 and one of the two hunts in 25 and 27.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT WITH 10 PLUS ELK PREFERENCE POINTS?

Residents

Every archery hunt could be drawn except for the big three: 54, 55 and 56. Those required between 18 and 22 points to draw in 2022. If you have 10 points and decide you do not want to continue to play the point game, Unit 57 was drawn with eight points. 

All muzzleloader hunts were available with 10 points except Unit 48, which took 11 points. Rifle hunters might consider Unit 37. Unit 59 required seven points. 

Rifle hunts in Unit 54 required 21 points. Unit 55 has two rifle seasons that require 15 and 19 points. Unit 56 took 21 points.

Nonresidents

Archery elk hunters considering Unit 54 and 56 should know that those took 24 and 27 points. 

Rifle hunters should consider Unit 37, which was drawn with eight points. Rifle hunts in 54 and 56 had hunts that took 27 and 25 points. One of the better options is Unit 59, which requires 10 points.

Explore your draw odds here


Oregon's 2023 antelope breakdown

Oregon has done a great job of managing their antelope herds. The overall state population has been maintaining pretty well since the last conducted survey in 2021 and it’s reflected in the increased tag numbers for the 2023 season. The new hunts in Beaty’s Butte have now been changed to include all of Unit 70, excluding the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.

Trophy potential is generally really good in most units with a few standing out almost every year. The most highly sought after units are the Whitehorse, Beatys Butte, Steens Mt, Juniper, Wagontire and Warner. All of those units produce 80”+ bucks most years, but almost every unit in the state can produce a trophy caliber buck with decent moisture. Compared to last year, the moisture and snowpack in Oregon are much better and should produce healthy horn growth for the 2023 season (refer to the drought data above). 

There is some bad news for antelope hunting in Oregon: only 3% of the tags can be drawn by nonresidents and good tags will take 15 to 25 years to draw. If you are a nonresident who is buying the nonrefundable hunting license to apply for other species, it’s a good idea to also apply for antelope for the minimal application fee.


Hit list units for antelope in Oregon

Top hit list units to consider for 75” or better antelope
(not in order of quality)

UnitTrophy
potential
Harvest
success
Resident points to
draw
Nonresident points to
draw

70 - Beatys Butte

80"+

Archery (HM): 41%
Archery (BB): 81%
Rifle (BB): 55%
Rifle (BB):- 97%
Rifle (HM): 97%
80% with 15
70% with 9
44% with 17
30% with 17
35% with 24

100% with 20
100% with 14
100% with 25
100% with 24
100% with 27

74 - Warner

80"+

Archery: 60%
Rifle: 82%
Rifle: 92%

92% with 11
30% with 18
100% with 17

100% with 23
100% with 25
50% with 23

68 - Whitehorse

80"+

Rifle: 85%

100% with 16

100% with 23

71 - Juniper

80"+

Archery: N/A
Rifle: 89%
Rifle: N/A

80% with 15
73% with 19
35% with 24

100% with 20
100% with 25
14% with 26

69 - Steens Mt

80"+

Rifle: 68%

23% with 15

50% with 20

73 - Wagontire

80"+

Archery: 67%
Muzzleloader: 70%
Rifle (NW): 75%
Rifle (SW): 82%

100% with 10
80% with 12
17% with 16
100% with 18

100% with 11
100% with 15
100% with 20
50% with 21

72 - Silvies

75"+

Rifle: 80%
Rifle: 71%

89% with 14
13% with 13

100% with 18
100% with 19

36 - Maury

75"+

Archery: 14%
Rifle: 72%

31% with 3
67% with 14

100% with 4
67% with 14

76 - Silver Lake

75"+

Muzzleloader: 66%
Rifle: 60%

58% with 5
44% with 11

100% with 9
100% with 15

75 - Interstate

75"+

Archery: 11%
Archery: 35%
Muzzleloader: 20%
Rifle: 62%

64% with 1
100% with 0
71% with 6
62% with 12

100% with 2
100% with 4
100% with 13
100% with 13

66 - Malheur River

75”+

Archery: 11%
Rifle: 71%
Rifle: 68%

100% with 3
29% with 13
53% with 12

100% with 5
33% with 17
50% with 15


Managing points and expectations

I HAVE 0 ANTELOPE PREFERENCE POINTS. WHAT CAN I EXPECT?

RESIDENTS

Unit 77 was the only archery antelope hunt that had 100% odds with no points. There were four other units that had double digit odds, including Unit 32, 66, 67 and 75. Unit 75 does, however, include a lot of private land. Applicants can consider applying for the top trophy units and hope to get lucky in the draw or explore the hunts listed above.

Muzzleloader and rifle hunters have no guarantee to draw. The muzzleloader hunt on 32/33/75/77 had random odds of 4.7%. Unit 76/77 also had 6.6% random odds. No rifle hunt had random odds greater than 3% with no points.

NONRESIDENTS

Unit 77 archery had 100% odds with no points, but the harvest success for the last two years has been 0%. No other archery hunt had odds greater than 2.9% with no points. In fact, the only two hunts that had random archery odds with no points were Unit 35 and 73.

Unit 35 was only one hunt that offered a random chance to nonresident muzzleloader hunters. Only six of the total rifle hunts offered a random chance at a tag. The Unit 47 rifle hunt had the best random odds at .93%.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT WITH 5 TO 6 ANTELOPE PREFERENCE POINTS?

RESIDENTS

Archery hunts in Unit 35, 36, and 67 are all good options. Muzzleloader hunters should consider the 32/33/75 and 76/77 hunts. Rifle hunters are still at a random level with five to six points. The best odds are in Unit 45 with 3%.

NONRESIDENTS

Five archery antelope hunts could be drawn, including Unit 36 and 66, which are the best options for bowhunters in that range.

No muzzleloader hunts were available in 2022 at this point level. Rifle hunters can consider applying for one of the eight units that had a random tag available to nonresidents. Those are Units 38, 40, 45, 47, 51, 62/63, 64 and 75. None of those had odds greater than 1%.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT WITH 10 PLUS ANTELOPE PREFERENCE POINTS?

RESIDENTS

The best options for residents who have waited a decade to possibly draw are the archery hunts in Unit 70 (BB), 73 and, possibly, Unit 74 although it’s likely to take 11 or 12 points this year. There are also some good muzzleloader hunts, including Unit 35 and, possibly, 73 although it’s likely to require 11 or 12 points. Rifle hunters finally have a hunt they can draw with 10 points: Unit 45. At 11 to 14 points, applicants can consider Unit 36, 37, 40/43/44, 46, 47/48, 51, 66, 72, 75 and 76/77. Applicants with 15 to 20 points should research Unit 35, 62/63, 64, 65, 67 68, 69, 70, 73, 72 and 74. Review the hit list above for a more detailed review of the possible options.

NONRESIDENTS

The best archery hunt available is in Unit 73, which now takes 11 points. The Unit 70 (BB) required 14 points last year. Both offer good hunts if you do not wish to burn your points on lesser units.

Muzzleloader hunters might consider Unit 35 and 76 which were available at 10 points. The other muzzleloader hunts were drawn at the 12 to 15 point levels. Rifle hunters had options with 10 to 11 points, including hunts in Unit 45 and 47/48. There are a few more options available in the 12- to 15-point level. Review the draw odds to see your best bets. The best hunts in the state will require 20 to 26 points.

Explore your draw odds here

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