If you do not see a Table of Contents on the left hand side, click the logo above to go to the main page.

Deer hunters looking forward to 16-day deer gun season

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 bucks.

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 extra effort.

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 deer harvest

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 wildlifedepartment.com<.





< <