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Oregon hunt deadline approaches

04/30/15 -- ODFW is telling hunters not to miss a chance to hunt premiere deer and elk hunts, pronghorn or draw once-in-a-lifetime tag. Some of Oregon’s best hunting opportunities are limited-entry -- including most rifle elk and all rifle deer hunting in eastern Oregon, and all pronghorn, bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goat hunts. Don’t forget to apply for one of these controlled hunts by May 15 at 11: 59 p.m. PT.

Ron Wold with a buck taken in the Columbia Basin Unit., photo courtesy of ODFW
Ron Wold with a buck taken in the Columbia Basin Unit. Wold created the Oregon Tag Draw Percentages website to help hunters understand their odds

Apply online, at a license sales agent (pdf), or by mail or fax using this application form (pdf). Applications are $8 per hunt series (buck deer, antlerless deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, Rocky Mtn. goat, and bighorn sheep). A 2015 annual hunting license is required to apply; it can be purchased at the same time as the application.

Bull elk taken in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Photo by Gib Earl
Bull elk taken in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Photo by Gib Earl

Tag numbers should be similar to last year, when ODFW offered 72,137 deer, 59,568 elk, 2,492 pronghorn, 20 mountain goat and 95 bighorn sheep tags. See the 2015 Oregon Big Game Regulations for information on hunts available. Final tag proposals will be posted on ODFW’s Hunting Resources webpage in early May, with final adoption by the Fish and Wildlife Commission on June 5 in Salem.

The Gilmore brothers of Salem with their mule deer taken at Summer Lake. Photo by Jeremy Gilmore
The Gilmore brothers of Salem with their mule deer taken at Summer Lake. Photo by Jeremy Gilmore

Get more information about the fall season and how big game herds are doing by attending one of ODFW’s public meetings being held around the state in early May. Local district wildlife biologists will present tag information, survey results and discuss potential changes to the 2016 regulations at these meetings.

About controlled hunts
ODFW limits the number of tags for some hunts to control hunting pressure and fairly distribute tags for popular hunts. Hunters who apply for a tag and don’t draw it receive a preference point for that hunt series, which increases their chances the following year.

While the most sought after hunts can take more than 10 years to draw, every hunter has a chance to draw each year. Only 75 percent of tags are awarded based on preference points; the remaining 25 percent are awarded randomly among first choice applicants.

Bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goat tags are not awarded based on preference points. Hunters have the same odds every year they apply and they may only draw these tags once in their lifetime.

Hunters with questions about how the controlled hunt process works are encouraged to watch ODFW’s new four-part seminar on YouTube. Or join ODFW at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Salem on May 1 for the last of several controlled hunt seminars the department offered this year.

Several outside sources also provide books and a website to help hunters understand the draw process and their odds. These include the book Oregon Tag Guide and website Oregon Tag Draw Percentages.

Software engineer Ron Wold created the Oregon Tag Draw Percentageswebsite after he didn’t draw a tag he was sure he would get. Wold’s key tips for understanding the process are:

  • Remember the non-resident quota—a maximum of 5 percent of deer and elk tags and 3 percent of antelope tags can go to non-residents. Remember one half of non-resident deer and elk tags drawn the previous year may go to guides and outfitters.
  • Don’t waste points on hunts that could be drawn as second choices. Look for hunts with more tags than applicants as second choices, keeping in mind that applicant numbers can change every year.
  • Maximize your kids’ points by purchasing preference points beginning at age 9 and registering for the Mentored Youth Hunter Program each year they are eligible.

For more tips from Wold, see The Insider’s Guide to Controlled Huntspublished in the May-June 2015 issue of Oregon Hunter magazine.

Deanna Erickson, ODFW licenses services manager, urges hunters not to wait for the last minute to apply. “Avoid the long lines in the days leading up to the deadline,” she said. She also reminds hunters to double-check applications before leaving a license sales agent and make sure party leader, hunt number and other personal information is correct.

Hunters have until June 1 to correct mistakes. The draw will take place soon after the June 5 Commission meeting and results will be available at the My Hunter Information website or via telephone (1-866-947-6339) no later than June 20.

More information on controlled hunts is available at this website.

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