Hunting in Oregon

If you’re on the hunt for a new adventure, look no further – we’re delving deep into the bountiful world of hunting in Oregon.

Imagine vast and breathtaking landscapes that extend beyond the horizon, teeming with a variety of wildlife. Oregon is a true haven for big game hunters, where they can encounter majestic animals such as cougars, elk, black bears, and deer.

But in the spirit of sustainability and respect for our animal brethren, Oregon implements controlled hunts for most big game species.

If you’re looking to explore Oregon’s hunting opportunities or if you’re simply eager to learn more, you’re in the right place! This blog post will serve as your one-stop resource for everything you need to know about hunting in Oregon.

Hunting Seasons in Oregon

Hunting in Oregon is a thrilling pastime that offers the chance to experience the state’s rich wildlife diversity and stunning natural beauty.

Whether you’re an experienced hunter or just starting, understanding the hunting seasons in Oregon is crucial.

Big Game Season

Dear HuntingArchery: Late August to late September
Firearm: Early October to early November
Elk HuntingArchery: Late August to late September
Firearm: Early to late November
Black Bear HuntingEarly August to late December
Pronghorn HuntingMid-August to mid-October
Rocky Mountain Hunting
Bighorn Sheep Hunting
Early August to late October
Cougar HuntingYear-Round

Small Game Season

Wild Turkey HuntingSpring Season: Mid-April to late May
Fall Season: Early October to late January
Pheasant HuntingBadger, Coyoter, Nutria, Opossum
Porcupines, Skunk, and Weasel
Quail and Grouse HuntingEarly September to late January
Squirrel HuntingEarly September to late October
Badger, Coyote, Nutria, Opossum
Porcupines, Skunk, and Weasel

Remember, exact dates can vary yearly, and a tag lottery system controls some hunts. Before heading out, check the current Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) regulations.

Whether you’re an avid hunter or just getting started, Oregon’s hunting opportunities are as varied as the landscape itself. The state is known for its robust wildlife populations and various hunting seasons. Here are a few of the most popular hunts in Oregon and why hunters belove them:

Elk Hunting

Elk hunting is one of Oregon’s most popular forms of big game hunting. The state is home to Rocky Mountain and Roosevelt Elk, making it a great destination for elk hunters.

The elk population in Oregon is robust, thanks to the diverse habitats that range from coastal rainforests to high desert lands. This wide distribution means that wherever you are, you’re likely not far from elk territory.

  • Rocky Mountain elk are primarily found in eastern Oregon.
  • Roosevelt elk inhabit the western part of the state.

As for regulations, Oregon requires all hunters to have a hunting license and a big game tag to hunt elk. The tag must be specific to the type of elk, the season, and the area you are hunting in. Some tags are sold over the counter, while others are issued through a controlled hunt draw system.

ODFW manages elk populations to ensure a healthy and sustainable herd. As such, they may implement antler restrictions or antlerless seasons in certain areas to help maintain a balanced sex and age ratio within the pack.

Black-Tailed Deer Hunting

Native to the Pacific Northwest, black-tailed deer offers a distinctly different hunting experience than their white-tailed and mule deer relatives.

Black-tailed deer may be small, but they are highly elusive and can easily disappear in dense cover, making them challenging prey for hunters. Their graceful and beautiful appearance adds to their appeal, making them a highly sought-after species.

Oregon is home to a healthy population of black-tailed deer, thanks to the state’s lush forests providing an ideal habitat for these deer. They are predominantly found in the coastal and Cascade mountain ranges, although they can be found throughout the state to some degree.

For the regulations, Oregon requires hunters to have a hunting license and a deer tag. The state offers both general season tags, which are sold over the counter, and controlled hunt tags.

Upland Bird Hunting

Upland bird hunting in Oregon offers a rich and dynamic hunting experience filled with diverse species, beautiful landscapes, and the joy of working with hunting dogs.

Oregon offers a variety of upland bird species, making it a prime location for hunters who enjoy the challenge of these quick and agile targets. Oregon’s primary upland game birds include pheasant, quail, grouse, and chukar.

Oregon’s upland bird populations are generally healthy, offering good hunting opportunities. The habitat diversity across the state provides a variety of environments that support different species, allowing hunters to bag multiple species in a single trip.

The state requires a valid hunting license and an upland game bird validation to hunt upland game birds. And species like sage and sharp-tailed grouse can only be hunted with lottery-based permits.

Cougar Hunting

Oregon is home to one of the largest cougar populations in the United States, providing a significant hunting opportunity. Cougar are elusive and primarily nocturnal, making them a challenging and thrilling species to hunt. This, along with their impressive size, makes hunting them a unique experience that attracts many hunters.

As for regulations, Oregon requires a hunting license and a cougar tag to hunt these big cats. Another great thing is that cougar hunting in Oregon is not a controlled hunt – meaning you can buy a tag over the counter instead of entering a lottery.

Oregon Controlled Hunting

In Oregon, many of the most sought-after hunting opportunities are managed through controlled hunts. These hunts are a way for the ODFW to maintain sustainable animal populations and ensure quality hunting experiences.

They limit the number of hunters in a given area during a specific time, which helps reduce overcrowding and manage the impact on wildlife.

Spring Bear Hunting

Black bears are abundant in Oregon, inhabiting various ecosystems. However, spring bear hunts in the state are managed as controlled hunts, meaning the number of tags issued is limited.

The adoption of this management approach serves two main purposes. Firstly, it ensures a stable bear population by limiting the number of bears hunted during their post-hibernation phase. Secondly, it strives to offer a top-notch hunting experience by reducing hunting pressure and overcrowding.

The application period for spring bear hunts typically starts in December and ends in mid-February. It’s a lottery system, so while you’re not guaranteed a tag, everyone has a fair shot.

If you’re successful in the draw, you must purchase the spring bear hunt tag.

Bighorn Sheep and Rocky Mountain Goats Hunting

These hunts are unique, challenging, and highly sought after due to the relatively small populations of these animals and the rugged, breathtaking habitats they live in. They represent some of the most prized hunting opportunities in the state.

Oregon is home to both Rocky Mountain and California bighorn sheep. Their habitats range from the steep, rocky cliffs in the northeast part of the state to the desert canyons in the southeast. Meanwhile, Rocky Mountains goats inhabit some of Oregon’s most rugged and remote mountain ranges.

Due to the limited populations of these species, all bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goat hunts in Oregon are controlled hunts. Remember, these hunts are a rare opportunity, so you will not be eligible to apply for another tag for that species again if you’ve successfully harvested one.

The window for applying to these hunts usually starts in December and closes in mid-May. Once selected, you’ll have to buy the right tag for either bighorn sheep or Rocky Mountain goat.

Pronghorn Hunting

Pronghorn hunting is a thrilling experience due to the animal’s keen eyesight, making it challenging to approach. These animals prefer open country and can spot potential threats from miles away.

In Oregon, pronghorn populations are primarily found in the eastern and southeastern parts of the state. Due to their relatively smaller population size than deer and elk, all pronghorn hunting in Oregon is controlled.

This management strategy ensures sustainable pronghorn populations while providing a quality hunting experience with less crowding and competition.

The application period for pronghorn hunts typically opens in December and ends in mid-May. And to hunt pronghorns, you’ll need a valid Oregon hunting license and a pronghorn tag.

Top Oregon Hunting Locations

Oregon is a hunter’s paradise with diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and well-managed hunting opportunities. Whatever species you’re after, Oregan has a place for you.

Here are the prime hunting locations that open hunters to exciting possibilities.

Heppner Unit

The Heppner Unit is a premier hunting destination in the picturesque northeastern part of Oregon, particularly renowned for its elk and mule deer populations.

The diverse landscapes range from fertile agricultural valleys to mountainous terrain over 5,000 feet. This variety in habitat allows for a healthy and sustainable population of game species.

Most of the Heppner Unit’s hunting seasons follow Oregon’s general big game regulations, providing both general seasons and controlled hunts. The unit offers controlled hunts for spring bears and wild turkeys, enhancing the variety of species hunters can pursue.

Steen Mountain

Located in the high desert of Southeast Oregon, Steens Mountain offers an adventurous hunting experience.

This expansive landscape, characterized by rugged canyons and stunning vistas, is a prime habitat for bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, and mule deer. The remoteness and challenging terrain add intensity to the hunt that many sportsmen and women find rewarding.

Due to the relatively smaller populations of bighorn sheep and pronghorns, hunting for these species in the Steens Mountain area is managed exclusively through controlled hunts.

The area is predominantly public land that the Bureau of Land Management manages. This vast, open space allows hunters to experience solitude and a genuine backcountry hunting experience.

Tioga Unit

Nestled in the southwest region of Oregon, the Tioga Unit offers some of the best black-tail deer hunting in the state. The terrain is a diverse mixture of coastal forests, rolling hills, and agricultural lands, creating an ideal habitat for these elusive deer.

The Tioga Unit offers both general and controlled hunting seasons for deer. Controlled hunts for elk and spring bears also provide additional opportunities for hunters seeking different species.

The unit includes a mix of public lands and private properties, with several large tracts of industrial timberland that generally allow public hunting.

Oregon Hunting Regulation

Hunting in Oregon is a beloved pastime, allowing one to explore the state’s diverse landscapes and participate in a tradition passed down through generations.

The regulations set by the ODFW aim to ensure sustainable populations of game species, fair access for all hunters, and the safety of both people and wildlife.

Hunting License and Permits

All hunters must possess a valid Oregon hunting license. The state offers different license types to cater to every hunter’s demography and preferences.

Specific tags or permits are also required to hunt particular species, with some tags available for general seasons and others allocated through controlled hunts.

License Type

Regular Hunting$34.50$172.00
Youth Hunting$14.50$14.50
Sport Pac$196.50N/A
Combination License$73.00N/A

Permit/Tag Type

Spring Bear$16.00$16.00
Bighorn Sheep
Rocky Mountain Goat
Pronghorn Antelope$57.00$394.00
Upland Game Bird$26.50$88.50

Hunter Education

One crucial step before you venture into the wild is completing your hunter education. It’s more than a good idea—it’s a requirement in Oregon if you were born on or after January 1, 1972, and want to purchase a hunting license.

Now, you might wonder, why hunter education? The answer is simple: it’s all about ensuring safety for you and everyone else enjoying the great outdoors. Plus, this course is tailored to make you understand the importance of ethical, responsible hunting and wildlife conservation for future generations.

The course covers everything from firearms safety and hunting ethics to wildlife identification and survival skills. It’s more than just about aiming and shooting. It’s about becoming a responsible and knowledgeable outdoor adventurer.

Game Check and Reporting

In Oregon, it’s important to validate your tag immediately after you’ve harvested an animal. You’ll need to notch the tag to show the harvest date. In addition to that, all hunters who purchase a tag for deer, elk, cougar, bear, pronghorn, or turkey must report their hunt results to the ODFW.

Even if you didn’t bag an animal or didn’t go hunting, you still have to report. Reporting no-hunt activity is as important as reporting a successful hunt because it gives the ODFW valuable information about hunting pressure and success rates.

Hunters can report online or by phone, and it’s best to do it soon after the end of the hunt. If you report your results by January 31 following the hunting season, you’ll avoid a $25 late fee when you purchase next year’s hunting license.

Ethics and Fair Chaise

Hunting isn’t just about chasing down your desired hunts; it’s about respect for the animal and the environment, fairness, and preservation of the hunting tradition.

Oregon’s hunting regulations strongly adhere to the fair chase principles defined by the Boone and Crockett Club. This means that the pursuit and taking of any native North American big game animal should be done properly and lawfully without giving the hunter an improper advantage over the animals.

Let’s go over some of the main points:

  1. Respect for Wildlife: It’s important to treat all wildlife respectfully and never cause unnecessary suffering. A quick, clean kill should always be your goal.
  2. Respect for the Law: Always follow all hunting laws and regulations. They’re in place to protect wildlife populations, maintain hunting opportunities, and ensure everyone gets a fair chance.
  3. Respect for Others: Respect the rights of non-hunters and other hunters. Try not to disturb others or disrupt their experience.
  4. Fair Chase: Don’t use unfair methods to take game species. This means you should not use methods that give you an undue advantage or make the game unnecessarily vulnerable.
  5. Game Handling: Once the game species is taken, you must care for the meat properly and not let it go to waste.
  6. Land Respect: Respect the land where you hunt, and don’t damage property. Always seek permission to hunt on private land.


Embarking on a hunting adventure in Oregon invites you to explore breathtaking landscapes, engage with a diverse array of wildlife, and participate in a deep-rooted tradition of respect for nature.

Do you want to explore more hunting opportunities in other US states? Then, our hunt-by-state guide is just for you!