OREGON COAST — Unlike general season hunts where anyone can buy a tag over the counter, controlled hunts are limited entry hunts that require you to apply in advance for the opportunity to draw a tag in a random computerized drawing.
Much of Oregon’s rifle deer and elk hunting is limited entry, along with all antelope, sheep and goat hunting and some game birds. The deadline to apply for a big game controlled hunt is May 15.
Step 1: Choose a hunt
Controlled hunts are broken down by species and location. All hunts are listed in the Oregon big-game regulations, and each hunt has a unique hunt number. You can choose up to five hunts per series (first choice, second choice, third choice, etc.), though most tags run out after the second-choice drawing is completed.
You can get an idea of your odds of drawing a hunt by looking at the big-game regulations, where you will see the number of tags and number of first-choice applicants from the previous year. The number of tags and applicants can change from year to year, but usually not by much. A point to consider: hunts that have more first-choice applicants than tags available will never be drawn as anything other than a first-choice hunt.
ODFW’s online point summary reports can also help you figure out your odds. You can also visit the Oregon tag draw percentages website (note the Oregon Tag Guide book has ceased publication). Neither of these resources are affiliated with ODFW.
Each application purchased is assigned a random 10-digit number. Members of the public are invited to ODFW headquarters to randomly choose a 10-digit draw seed number for each hunt series. (Call 503-947-6108 to participate in the drawing.)
Applicants for each hunt are grouped by preference points and first-choice hunt selected.
Tags are awarded in each preference point group beginning with the applicant whose 10-digit number matches, or is closest to and above, the seed number. The selection continues with the applicant having the next higher 10-digit number, until 75 percent of the tags have been awarded or until all first-choice applicants have received tags.
All remaining first-choice applicants are rearranged solely by 10-digit random number, and the remaining 25 percent of tags are awarded randomly among all first-choice applicants for the hunt.
If there are tags left, the process restarts for second-choice hunt applicants.
Any applicant who failed to draw their first-choice tag is awarded a preference point for the next year’s draw; the point will appear in the system on Jan. 1 of the following year.
Step 2: Decide if you're applying as an individual or in a party
Many hunters choose to join together with family and friends and apply for a hunt as a party. This means that either everyone in the party will draw a tag or no one will. When applying as a party, individual preference points are combined and then averaged for the group. If you are new to hunting, it helps to go with more experienced family and friends. Keep in mind that if you are just joining a long-established hunting party, your low points could reduce their chances at drawing a tag. (Make it up to them by being a good addition at hunting camp!)Party members must submit their party leader’s Hunter/Angler ID# on their application.
Step 3: Get a hunting license
To apply, you must first purchase an annual hunting license. You can purchase the hunting license at the same time you apply for a controlled hunt.
Step 4: Complete your tag application and apply by May 15
Once you have completed steps 1-3 above, you are ready to apply for your tag. You can apply online, at a license sales agent, or at ODFW offices that sell licenses. Use the Oregon Controlled Hunt Application Worksheet (pdf) to organize your information.
Step 5: Wait for draw results
Results are available by June 20.
Step 6: After the draw
If you drew the tag, congratulations. But don’t forget to pick up your tag by the deadline, which is the day before the first hunt period begins. If you purchased a Sports Pac, you still need to pick up the tag for your particular hunt. If you didn’t get your first-choice hunt, you now have a preference point for that hunt series in next year’s draw. Points are affiliated with a hunt series, not a particular hunt number, so even if you change your mind and choose a different area to hunt next year, your point will count toward your new choice.