Focus On Mule Deer In Oregon


Published: May - 2007

Oregon may not be the first place you think of for mule deer, but this species is readily found from the crest of the Cascades all the way to the Idaho border. As for trophy potential, every year, a few hunters take bucks here in the 165- to 200-inch B & C class. To be sure, the average mature buck taken scores between 130 and 165 inches. However, efforts by the Oregon Fish and Game Department the last few years have led to increased trophy quality, with bucks in the 22- to 27-inch spread becoming common in some hunt areas and more 30-inchers being seen.

There are seven units in Oregon that merit special attention from the hunter looking for a big mulie: Sumpter Unit, Desolation Unit, Northside Unit, Murderer's Creek Unit, Beulah and Southeast Beulah Unit, Lookout Mountain Unit and Malheur Unit. They run contiguously from northeastern Oregon to central eastern Oregon and fall in an area bounded by Burns/Hines and Dayville on the west; by Monument and Baker City on the north; and the Idaho border on the east. Harvest percentages in all seven areas are high, and there is good opportunity for both veteran and novice.

All of these units have a mix of private and public land, and the hunting can be very good on both. There are several reasons for this. One is that these are all controlled hunt units, meaning you must draw a tag to hunt them. Oregon Fish and Game controls the number of hunters in each unit and manages the areas specifically to provide uncrowded hunting conditions with buck management objectives of 15 to 25 bucks per 100 does. So, even though some of these units are over 50 percent public land, they've been managed to improve deer numbers and quality over the years, and the results are showing. Incidentally, the deadline to apply for this year's controlled hunt is May 15, which is coming up fast so you will need to move quickly. See below for details.

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