Deer hunters looking forward to 16-day deer gun
Not since the 1960s have deer hunters had the opportunity to
hunt a full 16 days during the deer gun season. Running Nov. 22
through Dec. 7, the deer gun season is undoubtedly Oklahoma s most
popular hunting event and this year hunters have reason to be
excited about the upcoming season.
It seems like there is a good number of hunters who are
excited about the longer deer season, said Mike Shaw, wildlife
research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation. I hope many of them will take the opportunity and
extra time to take a trophy deer and pass on some of the younger
More than 161,000 gun hunters took to the woods last fall,
harvesting 59,824 deer. With good weather, hunters can again look
forward to excellent opportunities to harvest a deer this fall.
It s a bit of good news - bad news situation when it comes to
the weather this year, Shaw said. The bad news is that warm weather
has meant that muzzleloader and archery season have been relatively
slow. The good news is that colder weather is on its way. This means
that the rut could start heating up by the deer gun season.
According to Shaw, pre-season scouting gives hunters a big
advantage on opening morning. It allows them to pattern deer
movements and pinpoint areas of high activity. Keying on the right
food source could make a big difference for hunters who put in the
It appears like we have had a excellent acorn crop across much
of the state, Shaw said. The availability of acorns, along with the
presence of green browse, may mean that deer will be hanging pretty
tight to food sources and not moving across a large territory in
search of food.
Shaw added that the overall condition of the deer and that
early reports point to good reproduction, although it is important
that hunters continue to take advantage of antlerless hunting
opportunities. In 2002, does accounted for 44 percent of the total
Hunters play a vital role in the management of the deer herd
by taking does and keeping the buck to doe ratios in proportion,
which ensure that the herd remains healthy, Shaw said.
Hunters have an opportunity to take an antlerless deer in all
77 counties during the regular gun season and a special antlerless
deer gun season is open in late December across much of the state.
For antlerless deer hunt zones and dates open to antlerless hunting,
pick up a copy of the 2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide.
Oklahoma residents must have an
annual hunting or combination license, lifetime hunting or lifetime
combination license, senior citizen hunting or senior citizen
combination license or proof of exemption. In addition, hunters must
possess a deer gun (antlered or antlerless) license for each deer
hunted, or proof of exemption. Resident hunters under 18 years of
age may purchase either the youth deer gun license or the regular
deer gun license.
All nonresident deer hunters must possess a nonresident deer
gun (antlered, antlerless or combo) license for each deer hunted or
proof of exemption. Holders of nonresident lifetime hunting and
lifetime combination licenses are not exempt from purchasing deer
licenses. Nonresident deer hunters are exempt from purchasing an
annual nonresident hunting license.
Hunters may take a total of two deer, which may include no
more than one antlered deer and one antlerless deer. Antlerless deer
may only be harvested on specified days in certain zones. Harvest of
antlerless mule deer is prohibited during deer gun season.
Upon successfully harvesting a deer, all license holders,
including lifetime license holders, must immediately attach anything
with their name and license number to the carcass. What the hunter
attaches can be anything, as long as it contains the hunter's name
and hunting license number and remains securely attached to the
animal until it is checked at a hunter check station or with an
authorized Wildlife Department employee.
Annual license holders, upon harvesting a deer, must complete
the Record of Game section on the back of the universal license. The
information must be recorded on the license form prior to moving or
field dressing the animal. To do this they must tear out one of the
notches on the license and print in ink the time, date, type of game
and method of harvest on the notched line in the appropriate
columns. Lifetime license holders are not required to complete the
Record of Game section on the back of the universal license.
All successful hunters must check their deer at the nearest
hunter check station. A county by county listing of hunter check
stations is provided in this year's hunting guide.
Deer gun hunters should always remember to keep safety the
first priority. All deer gun hunters must conspicuously wear both a
head covering and an outer garment above the waistline, both
totaling 500 square inches or more of clothing, both consisting of
daylight fluorescent orange color totaling at least 400 square
inches. Camo-fluorescent orange is legal, if the total orange meets
or exceeds the required 400 square inches.
Hunting hours during deer gun season are one-half hour before
official sunrise to one-half hour after official sunset.
For additional regulations, antlerless zones, check station
locations, season dates and a wealth of other information be sure to
pick up a copy of the 2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" available at all
license dealer locations or log on to the Department's Web site at