While deer gun season is still more than a month away, thousands of Oklahoma deer hunters have the October 1 archery deer season opener in their sights. Last year, an estimated 74,194 Oklahoma archery hunters harvested 11,090 deer with the bow and arrow, of which about 80 percent were taken before the start of deer gun season.
“Archery hunters have a great opportunity to get out there and see the woods and deer activity before everyone else,” said Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
According to Shaw, the state’s 2008-09 archery season looks good for hunters in terms of deer population and herd health, and after last year’s tough hunting conditions, hunters can expect another successful year in the woods.
Last year’s total deer harvest, including those taken during muzzleloader and gun season, was 95,891 deer, down from the year previous when a record-setting 119,349 deer were harvested.
According to Shaw, last year’s heavy spring rains led to thick vegetation and abundance of natural food sources that kept many deer isolated and concealed, making it difficult for hunters to harvest them.
The secret to harvesting a deer early in the archery season, according to Shaw, is really no secret at all and is something all hunters know is important — scouting and knowing the area where a hunt will take place. Harvest management is an important part of deer management.
This year’s archery season will see some changes from previous years, particularly in the last 15 days of the season (Jan. 1-15) when harvest will no longer be limited to antlerless deer. Additionally, hunters will enjoy an increased archery season limit of six deer, of which two may be bucks.
Archery season in Oklahoma runs from October 1 – January 15. Resident archery deer hunters must possess an Oklahoma hunting license, a fishing and hunting legacy permit and a deer archery license for each deer hunted or proof of exemption. All resident youth hunters under 18 years old may purchase a $10 youth deer archery license, and resident youth 16 or 17 years old must also purchase a hunting license, unless exempt.
Hunters age 10-35 who have not completed hunter education can use the Wildlife Department’s apprentice-designated license program to hunt while accompanied by a licensed hunter 21 years old or older who has completed the hunter education course, or a licensed hunter 21 years old or older who is otherwise exempt from hunter education (includes those 36 years old or older, those honorably discharged or currently active in the Armed Forces or members of the National Guard). Hunters under 10 years old must complete a hunter education course to hunt big game or to buy any big game hunting license. For more information on apprentice designated hunting licenses and deer licenses, consult page 8 of the “2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
Nonresident archery deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license, but they must possess a nonresident deer archery license for each deer hunted as well as a fishing and hunting legacy permit or proof of exemption. Nonresident lifetime license hunters are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses.
Upon harvesting a deer, all annual license holders are required to complete the “Record of Game” section on the license form. In addition, all hunters, including lifetime license holders, must immediately attach their name and hunting license number to the animal. The attached item can be anything, such as a business card, that will remain secure to the animal until checked at the nearest open hunter check station.
All hunters who harvest a deer must check in their animal at the nearest open hunter check station or with an authorized Wildlife Department employee. A county-by-county listing of hunter check stations is available in the “2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or at wildlifedepartment.com.
The archery deer season limit is six deer, of which no more than two may be antlered deer. Deer harvested during the archery season are included in the hunter’s combined season limit of no more than six deer, of which two may be antlered deer.
For additional regulations, check station locations, other deer season dates and a wealth of other deer hunting information, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.