Youth hunters and their mentors have been heading to the woods for the youth deer gun season for an entire decade now, and over the years this hunting opportunity has become an important part of Oklahoma’s outdoor heritage.
This year, the unique chance for youth to hunt deer with a firearm before anybody else runs Oct. 18-20.
The youth deer gun season made its debut as a three-day antlerless hunt in 2003. Since then it has grown in popularity and has also become an opportunity for youth to hunt both bucks and does in the same season, enjoying a limit of two deer (no more than one of which can be a buck). Last year, youth gun season hunters killed almost 5,000 deer.
The youth season is open to hunters under 18 years of age who are accompanied by a hunter 18 years or older.
“The youth deer gun season is a win-win for Oklahoma,” says Erik Bartholomew, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “It provides an opportunity for youth to go hunting and emphasizes mentorship in the sport of hunting. It’s also good practice for the regular deer gun season because if they don’t harvest a deer, they can use their unfilled youth deer gun license during the regular deer gun season in November.”
Hunters who kill a deer during the youth deer gun season may purchase another youth deer gun license and kill a deer during the regular gun season.
Complete details and regulations for the season, including information about the apprentice-designated hunting license that allows certain youth to hunt without having first completed the Oklahoma hunter education course, can be found online at wildlifedepartment.com or anywhere hunting licenses are sold.