play_circle_outline Watch mule deer hunting & packrafting in Owyhee canyon country

We need your help to begin a locally-driven dialogue, that highlights the needs and interests of all stakeholders while prioritizing the fish and wildlife values that make the Owyhee country important for hunters and anglers.

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Known for its picturesque landscape, with thousand-foot sheer cliffs and volcanic tuff formations, Oregon’s Owyhee canyon country is home to native redband rainbow trout, chukar, mule deer, elk, large unbroken prairie for the greater sage grouse and the largest free-roaming herd of California bighorn sheep.

Hunters and anglers value this wildlife rich landscape and are working locally with important stakeholders to discuss the best way to secure long-term conservation policies that protect its rugged character, solitude, and the hunting and angling opportunities that drive our family traditions. We believe that the Owyhee Plateau is a landscape that should be safeguarded for future generations of American sportsmen and women. Our organizations support the multiple uses of public land in this region and recognize that good stewardship means sustainable ranching, wildlife habitat management, public access and meaningful resource conservation.

Watch mule deer hunting & packrafting in Owyhee canyon country

Kayakers in Owyhee Plateau river

Where is the Owyhee?

Owyhee canyon country covers millions of acres in the three corners region of Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada. The Owyhee River, a tributary of the Snake, weaves for 346 miles through the region, and its watershed covers 11,049 square miles.

The name “Owyhee” comes from an early anglicization of the name for Hawai’i and natives from the islands were known as Owyhee. In 1819, three Owyhee joined Donald Mackenzie’s Snake expedition, which went out annually into the Snake country for the North West Company. The three Hawaiians left the main party during the winter of 1819-20 to explore the then unknown terrain of what since has been called the Owyhee River and mountains. They disappeared and were presumed dead; no further information regarding their whereabouts has been found. In memory of these Native Hawaiians, British fur trappers started to call the region “Owyhee” and the name stuck.

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Owyhee country also provides some of the best big game and upland hunting in Oregon.

Its rugged topography provides outstanding wildlife habitat and the remote nature of its wild places, largely unchanged by the hand of man, create the perfect conditions for robust population health. Protecting the habitat of California bighorn sheep in the Lower and Upper Owyhee Canyon will be critical if the rare and unique opportunity to hunt them is to be sustained. This part of Oregon also provides quality hunting opportunities for mule deer, elk and pronghorn in the massive Owyhee and Whitehorse Wildlife Management Units. Opportunities for upland game bird hunting in this open country are also outstanding. Eastern Oregon leads the state in chukar production and harvest while pheasants, California quail, waterfowl and mourning doves are highly sought-after species. Core populations of greater sage grouse also call this terrain home and we are invested in working with our partners to continue the long history of stewardship from ranchers, sportsmen, tribes and wildlife managers implementing thoughtful conservation policies on the ground.

The Owyhees support important populations of genetically-pure redband trout. 

These hardy desert fish have evolved to survive warmer temperatures found in the clear alkaline waters of several important streams including the West Little Owyhee River and the North Fork of the Owyhee River south and east of Burns Junction, Oregon. Maintaining these critical streams is important for the survival of redband trout—a native Oregonian—and important to anglers from across the state and region.



The Owyhees are home to genetically pure Redband trout.

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The Owyhee watershed is home to native interior redband trout, an iconic species known for its persistence in harsh desert climates. The Owyhee system also holds populations of native bull trout and a world-renowned brown trout tailwater fishery below the Owyhee reservoir. Smallmouth bass can be found in the Owyhee reservoir and main stem Owyhee above the reservoir and the entire reach has great opportunities for rafting, canoeing and kayaking.


The Owyhee Plateau is known for its wide-open spaces and unique topography that creates the conditions for high quality hunting experiences. Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) for the Owyhee’s are the Owyhee unit 67 and the Whitehorse unit 68. These WMUs provide hunters with quality opportunities to pursue chukar and other upland bird species, mule deer, pronghorn, and a once in a lifetime chance to hunt for California Bighorn Sheep.



In 2011 more than 703,000 hunters and anglers in Oregon (more than the population of Portland) spent over $929 million on hunting and fishing supporting important rural economies like those in the Owyhees in particular.


Hunters and anglers in Oregon support more local jobs than the combined employment of Nike and Hewlett- Packard (14,769 vs. 11,500 combined jobs).


In the Owyhees for 2014 alone, upland bird hunters chocked up 12,000 hunter days and harvested approximately 15,000 chukar and pheasants; 276 big game hunters harvested 199 pronghorn; and 907 hunters harvested 426 mule deer.



The rugged Oregon Owyhee country and its wild waters represent one of the most significant opportunities for stewardship and conservation collaboration in the entire West. They are an integral part of the entire sagebrush steppe landscape that supports more than 350 species of wildlife including California bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk, chukar, greater sage grouse, and important fisheries like native redband trout. With such incredible fish and wildlife values, the Owyhees not only nourish some of Eastern Oregon’s most cherished landscapes; they also feed the traditions of hunters and anglers lucky and adventurous enough to make their way here.

Hunters and anglers have been working on the ground here for decades in both Oregon and Idaho to advance conservation solutions that keep these landscapes intact. By working together in Idaho, a diverse group of stakeholders was able to advance legislation to secure protection for 517,000 acres of the Owyhees’ vast upper highlands. While much of the river itself has been designated Wild and Scenic, the pristine backcountry lands in Oregon that flank her banks are still vulnerable to development interests such as uranium mining and energy exploration. We believe that by working with partners like ranchers, hunters, anglers, tribes, local governments, and state and federal land and wildlife management agencies, we can develop thoughtful ways to secure long-term landscape-level conservation policies that keep this place as it is—special. We must ensure that these measures elevate consideration for fish and wildlife habitat, protect or enhance access and promote land management policies that balance resource development, active habitat management needs and the interests of all stakeholders.


By working together in Idaho, a diverse group of stakeholders was able to advance legislation to secure protection for 517,000 acres of the Owyhees’ vast upper highlands.



Hunters and anglers know that the Owyhees are a special place. That’s why we are working locally to encourage a productive dialogue that protects the important values of this place. Whether it’s our Western traditions of hunting and fishing, collaborating with ranchers to keep working landscapes working, or helping the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife ensure that active management policies are prioritized, we want to work together to advance long-term conservation measures for the Owyhees that keep it like it is while providing balance and greater certainty for fish and wildlife and our outdoor heritage.

Act today and join the conversation. We need your help to convene a meaningful locally-driven dialogue that highlights the needs and interests of all stakeholders while prioritizing the values that make the Owyhee country a place where family traditions are enjoyed and spirits are rejuvenated.

Join the Dialogue