When hunting, all hunters must know the specific rules and regulations, especially when it comes to licensing and tags when big game hunting. The regulations are very specific to what type of animal can be hunted during what time of the season and where you are able to legally hunt (controlled unit vs general unit). If you are found guilty of hunting without a license and/or the appropriate tag, the penalties can include jail time, fines and fees, a suspension of your hunting license, and the forfeiture of the firearm, ammunition, and even vehicles used during the time of the offense.
According to the ODFW 2016 regulations, license requirements in Oregon are as follows:
- Must have a valid hunting license. (See exceptions for youths participating in the Mentored Youth Hunter Program at odfw.com/education/mentored_youth)
- Hunting licenses are valid through December 31 of each year. Hunts extending into or beginning in the following calendar year require a new hunting license.
- No one may possess more than one valid annual hunting license. However, for the purpose of acquiring preference points under the controlled hunts system and hunting big game, a youth between the ages of 9 and 12 may hold both a free youth license and a youth hunting license.
- Hunters, 12 years of age and older, who will be hunting predators on public land, and western gray squirrels, unprotected mammals, and unprotected birds on public or private land must have a valid hunting license. No tags are required.
- Any hunter with a valid Oregon or Idaho hunting license may hunt in the waters or on the islands of the Snake River, where the river forms the boundary between the two states. All laws and rules of the respective states apply.
- To apply for controlled hunts, all hunters must purchase a current hunting license.
- To hunt big game you must have in possession a valid hunting license and a big game tag valid for the dates, area, and species being hunted.
- Licenses, tags, and controlled hunt applications can only be obtained at license agents throughout the state, via the internet
(www.odfw.com/online_license_sales), or through the headquarters office by mail, fax, or in person.
- Licenses and tags may be purchased for you by a family member or friend.
- Obtaining hunting, combination, or Sports Pac license.
- A person who has resided in Oregon at least six months immediately prior to the date of making application for a license, tag or permit issued by the State Fish and Wildlife Commission. Temporary absence from the state for a purpose other than establishing residency outside the state shall not be considered in determining whether a person meets the residency requirement.
- These requirements are waived for certain active members of the uniformed services and for some foreign exchange students (see OAR 635-010-0015(4) for details). Submitting a false application is a crime.
Nonresidents (Including Nonresident Members of Uniformed Services)
- Must obtain a valid nonresident hunting license or nonresident youth hunting license if 12 years of age or older.
- Must obtain a valid nonresident tag for each species they will hunt.
- A nonresident license, or a nonresident uniformed services license, and/or tag may be purchased for a person by a family member or friend directly from a license agent or by mail, via the internet (www.odfw.com/online_license_sales), or fax.
Youth (Resident and Nonresident)
- License, controlled hunt application and big game tag requirements.
- All hunters 12 years of age and older must purchase a hunting license to apply in the big game controlled hunt drawing, to purchase a tag and hunt in any big game season and to apply for and receive landowner preference tags.
- Youth 11 years of age are allowed to purchase a youth hunting license provided they will turn 12 at the time they hunt.
- Youth 9-12 must purchase a hunting license to participate in the point saver program. See Licenses, Controlled Hunt Application and Tags.
- No one 11 years of age and younger may hunt for big game.
- See exceptions for youths participating in the Mentored Youth Hunter Program at odfw.com/education/mentored_youth.
- Tags and applications requirements.
- Youth 11 years of age and younger are required to obtain a free license in order to purchase turkey tags or apply for sage grouse hunts and waterfowl reservations.
- Hunters 17 years of age or younger can buy a youth hunting license.
- Youth 11 years of age and younger while hunting on property other than land owned by parent or legal guardian must be accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older.
- Youth 17 and younger must have a Hunter Education Certificate or a department issued document (ex. hunting license) which includes their Hunter Education Certificate Number in their possession to hunt anywhere except on land owned by their parent or legal guardian. See www.dfw.state.or.us/education/hunter/ for Hunter Education information.
- Hunters ages 17 and under must wear a hunter orange exterior garment (shirt, jacket, coat, vest, or sweater) or hat when hunting game mammals or upland birds (except turkey) with any firearm. The exterior garment or hat must have hunter orange visible in all directions (360 degrees).
- A resident does not need a license to hunt on land upon which the person resides and is owned by the person or a member of the person’s immediate family, unless they are hunting a species for which a tag is required.
- If landowners are purchasing big game tags, applying in the big game controlled hunt drawings or applying for landowner preference tags, a hunting license is required.
- All landowners (residents and nonresidents) eligible for landowner preference must send in appropriate landowner preference forms, purchase a valid hunting license, and apply by specified deadlines to receive landowner preference tags. See Licenses, Controlled Hunt Application and Tags for details.
- A landowner or landowner agent does not need a hunting or trapping license to take predatory animals on land they own, lease, lawfully occupy, possess, or have charge of or dominion over. See Definitions for the definition of a predatory animal.
If you have any further question and/or concerns about licensing or tags prior to your hunt, you can contact ODFW at (503) 947-6000 or (800) 720-6339. If you have found yourself in need of legal representation after being charged with hunting without a license, contact our office to schedule an initial consultation.