Oklahoma archery hunters are looking to Oct. 1 as the opener to what will hopefully be another memorable deer hunting season.
Bowhunters made history when they harvested a season record of 24,908 of the 112,863 deer checked by hunters – about 22 percent higher than the previous record set in 2010.
The state has been in a drought, and while biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation agree that it would have been better to have more rain spread throughout the summer, the rainfall that the state did receive was well timed for deer.
“A lot of the rainfall we received arrived during the spring when young fawns could benefit from the nutritious, lush browse that resulted,” said Erik Bartholomew, big game biologist for the ODWC Wildlife Department. “And does got a good start on regaining their weight after carrying fawns and giving birth.”
According to Bartholomew, archery hunters should focus on patterning deer and scouting out areas that have been productive in the past. Recent rains will likely kick start cool season plants and provide additional food for deer, giving early season hunters places to focus their efforts.
To hunt deer during archery season, resident hunters must have an appropriate hunting license and a deer archery license for each deer hunted or proof of exemption. Resident youth hunters 16 or 17 years old must purchase a hunting license, and all youth hunters under 18 years of age may purchase a youth deer archery license. Nonresident deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license while hunting deer, but they must possess a nonresident deer archery license. Holders of nonresident lifetime hunting and lifetime combination licenses are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses.
Deer archery season runs Oct. 1 through Jan. 15, and archers who hunt from Jan. 1-15 must possess a deer archery license for the current calendar year and either a fiscal-year license or current annual license.
The archery season harvest limit is six deer, which may include no more than two antlered deer. Deer taken by hunters participating in archery season are included in the hunter’s combined season limit of six deer. Deer taken from Jan. 1-15, 2012, count toward the 2011 season limit.
All hunters who harvest a deer must immediately attach their name, license number and date and time of harvest securely to the carcass. Annual license holders who harvest deer must also complete the “Record of Game” section on the license form.
Hunters must check their harvested deer within 24 hours of leaving the hunt area either online at wildlifedepartment.com, at the nearest open hunter check station or with an authorized Wildlife Department employee. Once checked, the animal will be issued a carcass tag or an online confirmation number that must remain with the carcass to its final destination or through processing and/or storage at commercial facilities.
Archery hunters can also hunt turkeys during the turkey fall archery season, which runs concurrent with deer archery season. Hunters must possess an appropriate resident or nonresident hunting license and a turkey license for each bird hunted, unless exempt. Nonresident lifetime license holders are required to purchase a nonresident annual hunting license and turkey license. The nonresident five-day hunting license is not valid for hunting turkey.
The turkey fall archery season limit is one turkey of either sex, statewide, and all hunters who harvest a turkey must immediately attach their name and license number securely to the carcass. Annual license holders must also include the date and time of harvest with their field tag and complete the “Record of Game” section on the license form. Additionally, turkeys harvested east of I-35 must be checked within 24 hours of leaving the hunt area. Turkeys harvested west of I-35 will not be checked.
Seasons on public lands for both deer and turkey may vary from statewide season dates. For full details and regulations, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available free online at wildlifedepartment.com or anywhere hunting licenses area sold.
To learn more about deer hunting in Oklahoma or to purchase a hunting license, visit wildlifedepartment.com.