Big game hunting season review

June 17, 2020

ODFW has been reviewing big game hunting to simplify regulations, provide fair and consistent opportunity and ensure biological objectives are met. Here's how you can be a part of the review process.

Sign up for email or text updates

The Department has been working for several years to conduct a complete review of big game hunting seasons and associated regulations.

This year’s review has been focused on eastern Oregon deer and elk archery seasons and the timing of West Cascade deer and elk season.

Changes being considered for 2021 deer and elk hunting seasons

ODFW is collecting input on the following changes we are considering proposing:

  • Eastern Oregon archery elk seasons: Move to controlled hunting – Originally designed as a liberal season due to low hunter interest and harvest, archery hunting has increased in popularity over the last 40 years. This has led to high hunter density in popular units creating elk distribution concerns and growing inequity in opportunity and harvest. This change would also better align seasons with actual hunter preference (hunters surveyed would prefer to rifle hunt, but bull elk archery participation/harvest now exceeds rifle in many units.)

  • Eastern Oregon archery deer seasons: Move to controlled hunting – A general season with unlimited tags is no longer an appropriate management tool considering mule deer population have declined nearly 50% in past few decades.
  • Timing of West Cascade general deer and elk seasons – Improve hunt quality for this low success elk hunt by moving season from October to early November, which would also eliminate the week-long break in Western Oregon deer hunting in the Cascades.  Another options suggested by hunters is keeping elk season the same date but allow deer season to continue (so hunters can pursue both deer and elk at the same time).

Other Draft proposals for review – 2021 hunting regulations

June 25, 2020 Presentation to Oregon Sport Group Leaders

2021 Proposed Controlled Hunts (incl. tag numbers)

How to comment on changes being considered

The Department’s Wildlife Division and wildlife biologists are collecting hunter input on the changes that are being considered.  We will use this input to inform the development of final proposals for 2021 big game hunting seasons. 

Submit a comment on potential changes to 2021 big game regulations

Due to COVID-19 safety measures, ODFW is not hosting public meeting around the state.  Hunters can provide input to Department staff via this online form.  In addition to state level public outreach, ODFW district biologists will be conducting local outreach.  If you have area specific questions or input, you can contact ODFW district wildlife staff at the these locations.

Process for developing 2021 hunting season proposals

  • Information on hunter opinions and preferences was collected via a 2019 survey and 2020 online public forum and survey
  • Department staff, in coordination with OSP, reviewed information collected, management challenges with existing seasons, and developed potential changes to 2021 hunting seasons
  • Department staff conduct public outreach on potential changes to 2021 hunting seasons from late-June to early-August 2020
  • Department staff collect hunter input on potential changes being considered and use input to inform development of final proposed changes to 2021 hunting seasons
  • Final Department proposed changes to 2021 hunting seasons posted online by mid-August for the public to submit comments to the Commission
  • Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission meet on September 11, 2020 to review and adopt 2021 hunting seasons and controlled hunt tag allocations

Collecting input on hunter opinions and preferences

As part of the Big Game Review, the Department prioritized collecting unbiased information on the preferences and opinions of Oregon’s deer and elk hunters. Responsive Management, a survey and research firm specializing in hunting, fishing and natural resources survey work, was contracted to survey Oregon hunters. Survey efforts began in 2019 with over 2,000 randomly selected hunters being surveyed on their satisfaction, weapon preferences, factors influencing hunt choices, and other issues important for the Department to know. 

In early 2020, an online public forum was launched for 30 days so all hunters could provide input on deer and elk hunting season and other issues that were important to them. The forum provided an opportunity for hunters to share ideas and opinions prior to the Department developing proposed changes to 2021 hunting seasons. Following the online forum, another survey was conducted of 4,000 randomly selected Oregon resident deer and elk hunters. This survey focused on preferences and opinions on specific issues related to changes being considered for 2021 hunting seasons.

2020 Online public forum results

2020 Resident deer and elk opinion survey final report

2019 Oregon Resident Deer and Elk Hunter Preferences and Opinions Final Report

Final proposal for Commission and how to submit comment

Final Department proposed 2021 hunting seasons and controlled hunt tag numbers will be posted to this website by mid-August. Once this information is available, hunters can submit comments to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission by email at

Hunters are encouraged to wait until final proposals are posted, so they are commenting on final Department proposals. Find more information on how to submit comments to the Commission or testify in-person.

Explore Related Articles

Buying a license or permit

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife owns or manages nearly 200,000 acres of land set aside for wildlife use...

How to hunt big game

The four options below are designed for self-motivated students with good reading and comprehension skills - just choose one. All four course...

Where to hunt big game

All funds raised by deer and elk auction and raffle tags go directly to the Access and Habitat Program....