A male sage grouse puffs up its chest and fans out its tail. The bird is brown on the back, tail and wings and white on the chest. It has two yellow air sacks on it's chest that it puffs out.
Southeast Area

Sage-grouse hunting in Oregon

August 7, 2019

Better known for their elaborate courtship displays, greater sage-grouse also offers the wingshooter a unique hunting experience. This is a small, well-regulated hunt by permit only. Permit applications are due in mid-August each year.

Why sage-grouse hunting

Sage-grouse hunting takes you to some of the most beautiful and remote places in southeast Oregon, places you wouldn’t necessarily visit if you didn’t have an excuse to go.

Add to that, the unique chance to harvest sage-grouse and you might just have the upland bird hunting trip of your lifetime.

Sage-grouse tags are very limited and require an application for choosing between several hunt areas. Before you apply, make sure you have the will and/or ability to travel to wild, remote places.

What you need to know: 2019 sage-grouse permits

Hunt No. Open Area 2018 Permits 2018 1st Choice Applicants 2019 Permits
J51 SUMPTER UNIT 0 0 0
J64 LOOKOUT MT UNIT 0 0 0
J65 BEULAH UNIT 150 47 150
J66 MALHEUR RVR UNIT 100 62 100
J67 OWYHEE UNIT 75 31 75
J68A TROUT CREEK MTNS New   25
J68B E. WHITEHORSE* 70 66 70
J69 STEENS MT UNIT 75 104 45
J70 BEATYS BUTTE UNIT 150 212 80
J71 JUNIPER UNIT 0 0 0
J72 SILVIES UNIT 20 21 20
J73A N. WAGONTIRE* 20 96 20
J73B S. WAGONTIRE* 0 0 0
J74 WARNER UNIT 80 122 60

The entire wildlife unit is open unless indicated by an asterisk(*). See Oregon Big Game Regulations for descriptions of unit boundaries.
Highlighted text indicates changes from last year.
Hunt descriptions:
*J68A the part of Unit 68 south of Whitehorse Ranch Rd.; west of Hwy 95, and east of Fields-Denio Rd.
*J68B Unit 68 excluding that area described for Hunt 68A.
*J73A the part of Unit 73 north of Christmas Valley-Wagontire Co. Rd.
*J73B the part of Unit 73 south of Christmas Valley-Wagontire Co. Rd.

 

Seasons, bag limits, licenses

  • While the application period begins on July 1, permit numbers for each hunt unit are not posted until early August, after population surveys are complete.  Applications are due Monday closest to August 20th every year. It costs $4 to apply for a permit, plus another $2 to buy the permit if you’re successful. 
  • Results are available on August 30 and the 9-day season usually spans the first and second weekends of September. The 2019 season is Sept. 7-15.
  • Hunters are limited to a daily and seasonal bag limit of two birds, of either sex.
  • In addition to the sage-grouse permit, hunters also must have a hunting license and an upland bird validation.
  • If you are successful in the permit draw, ODFW will send you a wing-return envelope for one wing from each of your harvested birds.  This information is critical to managers, offering important data about the population. 

map showing 2019 areas open sage-grouse hunting

Tips for hunting sage-grouse

Sage-grouse hunting, like most upland bird hunting, is about understanding the habits of the bird and the habitats it prefers. Here are a few tips to help with your hunt:

  • Before applying for a permit, check out the recent sage-grouse harvest statistics to gauge previous hunter success and to help decide what unit(s) you’d like to apply for.
  • Before hunting, use satellite imagery to find likely spots to hunt.
  • Key in on water sources. In September, sage-grouse will still be found near water sources such as streams, seeps and stock ponds (you’re in cattle country here).
  • Look for islands of green vegetation where sage-grouse will be feeding on broad-leaved plants and insects. Though sage-grouse eat a lot of sage, they prefer forbs and bugs when they can get them.
  • As the days warm up, look for birds in shady spots higher up the slopes.
  • Walk the top of the rims, too. Even in September, birds might be higher than you think.
  • Watch for birds moving from their roosts to water sources early and late in the day. If you take the time to watch, you may able to figure out their pattern and key in on it the next day.

Hunting impact on sage-grouse populations

Oregon’s sage-grouse hunting season is based on a long history of monitoring, surveying and research. Each year the department projects the fall population of sage-grouse based on using information from lek counts and wing-return data. Hunting seasons are set so potential harvest is less than 5 percent* of the fall population, though actual harvest is usually less than 3 percent of the fall population.

*Peer-reviewed management guidelines have found that harvest rates below 11 percent are unlikely to have an important influence on local populations.

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