All About Hunting In Oregon

Oregon, a U.S. state located on the west coast, is well-known for many marvelous facts and its numerous quirky and unique traditions that are practiced even today.

The state also houses the famous Mills End Park. Oregon has been nicknamed “The Beaver State” since the beaver is the official state animal. Oregon bestows a plethora of game animals to the hunters, such as deer, elk, bear, cougar, and pronghorn.

To have a unique hunting experience, hunters are required to follow all the hunting norms and regulations mentioned on the official website. 

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1. Hunting Seasons

Hunting seasons in Oregon are mainly defined by taking into consideration certain important factors such as breeding or nesting, age or gender distribution, economic and recreational concerns.

The simple formula is that if the animal population is large, the hunting dates are defined in such a way to offer the hunters a greater hunting advantage.

However, if the animal population is dwindling, the moderators will time it to give the animals a greater survival advantage. 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has divided the hunting season into two: Big Game Hunting Season and Small Game Hunting Season.

1.1 Big Game Hunting Season

Big-game species in Oregon consists of black bear, cougar, pronghorn, Rocky Mountain goat, deer, and elk. The general season for each is enumerated below.

  • The general season to hunt black bear commences from April 1 and ends on May 31.
  • Cougars can be hunted from January 1 to December 31.
  • Pronghorns can be hunted between August 15 and December 27.
  • Bighorn sheep can be hunted from August 1 to October 31.
  • The deer hunting season is from August 29 to September 27 for bowhunters.
  • Elks can be hunted by bowhunters from August 29 to September 27.

1.2 Small Game Hunting Season

Small game species in Oregon mainly include western gray squirrel, badger, coyote, nutria, opossum, porcupine, spotted and striped skunk, weasel, and so on. 

  • The western gray squirrel can be hunted from September 15 to October 31.
  • For other small game species like a badger, coyote, nutria, opossum, porcupine, skunk, and weasel, the hunting season is open and can be hunted throughout the year. 

2. What Species to Hunt in Ohio?

2.1 Black Bear

Oregon has a healthy black bear population of about 30,000. They are quite fast and agile, which aids them to swim and climb efficiently.

Female bears are slim and have more pointed faces than males. Their body is covered by dense and coarse fur. In Oregon, hunters must have proper permits to hunt black bears. 

2.2 Cougar

Cougars are also known as mountain lions, and Oregon boasts of a healthy population of about 6000 cougars. They are solitary creatures.

In Oregon, it is unlawful to hunt spotted kittens or female cougars with spotted kittens. The bag limit is one cougar per tag. 

2.3 Pronghorn

Almost 25,000 pronghorn antelope inhabit Oregon. They have white fur on their breasts, rump, bellies, and across their throats. It is the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere and has the ability to run 35 mph for 4 min.

In Oregon, pronghorn tags must be purchased no later than the day before the hunt begins. 

2.4 Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn sheep are named so because of its large and curved horns. Their skin coat ranges from light brown to chocolate brown, with a white rump and lining on the legs. They may weigh up to 60 to 90 kg.

In Oregon, an individual may draw only one bighorn sheep tag in their lifetime.

2.5 Deer

Oregon shelters Rocky Mountain mule deer and Columbian black-tailed deer. They have long and sprightful legs, a short tail, and long ears. They are superb jumpers and swimmers. The bag limit is one buck with a visible antler.

2.6 Elk

Oregon boasts of two subspecies of elk, that is, Roosevelt elk and Rocky Mountain elk. Roosevelt Elk can be found in the denser part of the forest. They weigh between 700 to 1000 pounds.

The average population of Roosevelt elk is about 59,000. Rocky Mountain elks are relatively easier to spot since they roam around the open lands and not much on the dense lands.

They are smaller in size than Roosevelt elk, with antlers weighing up to 40 pounds. The bag limit is one elk. 


2.7 Small Game Species

Squirrels are largely found throughout the state of Oregon. The daily bag limit for squirrel is 3, with a possession limit of 6.

Other small game animals such as badger, coyote, nutria, opossum, porcupine, skunk, and weasel have an open hunting season throughout the year with relatively relaxed bag limits. 

3. Where To Hunt In Oregon?

3.1 Public Lands

Over 50% of the state of Oregon is publicly-owned. Thanks to the diverse terrain of Oregon, unlimited hunting opportunities are available.

The following points enumerate certain public hunting lands that offer a wide variety of options to the hunters.

  • Willamette National Forest, of 1.7 million acres, provides the hunters with enormous opportunities to hunt deer, elk, bear, and mountain lion.
  • Umpqua National Forest, of 983,000 acres of land, offers deer, elk, and bear hunting options. 
  • Tillamook State Forest, of 19100 acres, provides good big game hunting scopes.
  • Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, of 2.3 million acres of land, has excellent hunting and fishing options to offer to the hunters. 
ODFW Apply for Hunts: How to (2020)

3.2 Private Lands

Oregon has a program called Oregon Open Fields Program by which the landowners are paid on a per-acre basis to emphasize public hunting on private land.

However, permits are required to hunt on Open Fields Access Areas and can be obtained from self-serve permit boxes located on each property. 

The Oregon Legislature devised the Access & Habitat (A&H) Program in 1993 to improve landowner-hunter relations and shoulder the responsibility to engage landowners in the conservation of fish & wildlife.

Prior permission from the landowner is a must to hunt on private hunting lands. 

Asking Permission to Hunt Private Land: How to

4. License Requirements

To go hunting in Oregon, a hunting license is a must (depending on your age). However, you are required to complete the Oregon hunter education certification requirements, and then only you will be able to obtain the hunting license.

4.1 Types of Hunting License

4.1.1 Oregon Resident

You will be considered as a resident only if you have lived in Oregon for at least 6 months. It is compulsory for all the residents, ages 12 or older, to have a resident hunting license. 

4.1.2 Non-Resident

For non-residents ages 12 or older, it is mandatory to possess a non-resident hunting license. 

4.1.3 Youth Hunting License

The reduced-fee Youth License can be purchased by the residents and non-residents of ages 12 to 17. Besides, youth between the ages of 9 to 13 may also take part in the Mentored Youth Program.

4.1.4 Senior Hunting License

The reduced-fee Senior Hunting License or Senior Combination Angler and Hunter License can be purchased by Oregon residents of ages 70 or older, provided that they were residents of Oregon for at least 5 years.

The reduced-fee Pioneer Combination License can be availed by the residents who are 65 years or older and have been residents for at least 50 years. 

4.1.5 Disability License

Hunters having physical disabilities may purchase the Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit. 

4.1.6 Military and Veteran License

The Uniformed Services Hunting License maybe and game species tags may be purchased at a resident rate by the active-duty military members stationed at Oregon.

Also, there is a special provision for the active-duty military members stationed elsewhere by which they can purchase the reduced-fee Uniformed Services Hunting License while on leave.

The free Disabled Veteran Combination License can be purchased by resident veterans who have at least 25% disability. 

What are Hunting License and Tag Fees?

4.2 License Expiration

Hunting licenses are valid till December 31 of each year.

5. Hunter Education Courses

In Oregon, it is mandatory to complete the Hunter Education course by all-new hunters of ages 17 and younger unless hunting on land owned by a guardian or a parent, or unless taking part in the Mentored Youth Program.

The course is immensely beneficial since it teaches vital skills to the hunters like wildlife management, preparation for the hunt, firearm safety, and other ethics. 

5.1 Conventional Classroom

The classroom model of Hunter Education Course involves 14 to 16 hours of classroom instruction and a field day when students are taught live-fire exercise and a hands-on evaluation of safe firearms handling. A fee of $10 is charged per student.

5.2 Online Course

There are 4 courses in online mode, and the duration of each is 6 hours, with varying fees depending upon the provider. Youth receiving this course are also required to take a field day, which is not mandatory for the adults.

5.3 Self-directed Workbook

In addition to the required field day, this format also involves six-hour classes with no fee charged. You are required to mention the number of workbooks you need and mail the authorities your name and address. 

6. Rules and Regulations

6.1 Distance Regulations

In Oregon, firearm hunting must be at least 50 yards from a road, and you cannot hunt from or across a roadway. 

6.2 Legal Hunting Hours

In Oregon, the legal hunting hour commences from 30 minutes before the sunrise to 30 minutes after the sunset. 

6.3 Hunter Orange Requirement

In Oregon, wearing a blaze orange hat or vest is necessary for rifle big game and upland bird hunters under age 17 and is strongly recommended for everyone.

Deer and elk are color blind and will not be able to see the orange color, but the other hunters will be able to do so. 

6.4 Bag Limit

Depending on the size of the game animal, the bag limit or tag permits vary. If the size of the animal is small, the bag limit is more and vice-versa.

6.5 Can You Hunt at Night?

In Oregon, neither the landowners nor their agents require a permit from ODFW to spotlight predatory animals on land they own or lawfully occupy. However, casting artificial light upon any game animal is not allowed.

Raccoon, bobcat, and opossum can be hunted at night, provided that the light is not dispelled from any motor vehicle or does not include laser lights or battery-operated lights, or infrared lights. 

7. Bowhunting

To hunt during the archery season, a hunter is required to complete the Oregon Bowhunter Education Course in which they are introduced to bowhunting, taught to be responsible, and several bowhunting techniques like hunting from elevated stands.

Students can either opt for the conventional class or online class with field day. Actually, bowhunters who have completed the course are more successful at harvesting deer and elk than those who have not. 

7.1 Bow and Arrow Requirements

  • For hunting game animals, only recurve, longbow, or compound bows can be used. 
  • Broadheads must be unbarbed and at least 7/8” wide. 
  • Broadheads with movable blades that get folded when withdrawn are not considered to be barbed. 
  • It is illegal to hunt animals with bows having a draw weight of less than 40 pounds.
  • It is unlawful to hunt game mammals with any device which is secured to or supported by the bow that maintains the bow at full draw.
  • Animals can not be hunted with any electronic device attached to the bow or arrow, except lighted arrow nocks that have no such function other than to increase the visibility of the arrow. 

8. Game Calls

Game calls refer to the signals emitted by the hunters to tempt the animals to the trap. There are two kinds of game call: hand-held and electronic. Hand-held game calls can be carried out with the aid of wood or plastic and are extremely cost-friendly.

Electronic game calls are, however, not always considered legal. Recorded or amplified sounds can not be used to hunt any non-game bird or non-game mammal, except raccoons or coyotes. 


Oregon has a lot to offer, thanks to its diverse terrain and a rich variety of wildlife. The vast hunting opportunities at Oregon attract avid hunters from every part of the world.

However, to obtain a truly rich and unique experience, hunters are advised to follow all the hunting norms and regulations strictly.

For further information, please visit the official website of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife:


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