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Statewide deer harvest could top 100,000, again!

While breaking the annual harvest record may be a long shot, Oklahoma
deer hunters could break the 100,000 deer mark for the third time in just
a four-year span.

After tallying harvest totals from the recent deer gun season, personnel
from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation registered a
preliminary harvest total of 87,241 deer, which is 3,853 deer ahead of
last year’s tally at this time. That number does not include deer that
will be taken in the late archery season, the special antlerless deer
season, controlled hunts or on land enrolled in the Deer Management
Assistance Program.

“We’re on track for another great harvest. If past performance holds
true, our final harvest figure should be very close to 100,000 deer,” said
Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Department. “Our deer herd
is in good health and the weather conditions as well as the timing of the
rut were generally favorable to hunters.”

According to Shaw, all five wildlife regions reported an in increase in
harvest over last year, with the exception of the northeast region, which
was down by two percent.

“Although it is still a little too early to tell, it looks like hunters
took advantage of the new 16-day season. Hunting pressure seemed to be
spread out over all three weekends,” Shaw said. “Once we have all the
data, we will do a statewide analysis of harvest by day so that we can
better understand the effects of the 16-day season.”

There is still plenty of opportunity for deer hunters to harvest a deer
during the special antlerless deer gun season.

"Right now about 38 percent of the harvest is antlerless deer, but we
would like to see it around 45 percent. So it is important that hunters
get out and participate in this season,” said Shaw. “These special
antlerless deer gun seasons were established to better manage the state's
deer population, and so far they have been a success. By increasing the
antlerless deer harvest, hunters will be helping to balance the state's
deer population with available habitat, improve buck to doe ratios for
better herd health, reduce agricultural depredation and reduce
deer/vehicle collisions.”

The first three-day hunt, to be held Dec. 19 through 21, will be
restricted to the northcentral and northwestern portion of the state. Much
of the state, except for the far southeast and panhandle, will also have
three days of antlerless-only gun hunting running from Dec. 26 through 28.
Hunters should consult the antlerless deer hunt zone map on page 14 of the
“2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” to determine which areas will offer the
special antlerless deer gun seasons.

Hunters who participate in the special antlerless deer gun season must
possess a special antlerless deer gun license in addition to their annual
hunting license. Lifetime hunting and combination license holders are
exempt and do not need to buy the special antlerless deer gun license.

The statewide season limit during the special antlerless deer gun season
is one antlerless deer. All hunters participating in the special gun
season must comply with the same blaze orange requirements as set forth
for the regular deer gun season, as well as tagging and checking
requirements. Archery deer hunters afield in areas open to the special
antlerless gun hunting and those hunting other species (quail, squirrel,
pheasant, etc.) must wear either a blaze orange hat or vest.

To learn more about the special antlerless gun season and deer management
in Oklahoma, consult the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to the
ODWC's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com<.





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