Deer Harvest up 8.5 Percent

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If you haven’t been deer hunting yet this year, you’re missing out on what is shaping up to be a great season. The numbers don’t lie - hunters have already taken 31,825 deer according to preliminary deer harvest totals, an 8.5-percent increase over this same time last year.

Archery hunters have taken 6,954 deer. During the youth season, young hunters took 1,577 deer. Muzzleloader hunters accounted for 23,294 deer, including nearly 14,000 bucks.

There is still plenty of time for hunters to head to the woods with the second half of archery season and the upcoming special antlerless seasons. The most anticipated opener of the year, deer gun season, is also right around the corner. Running Nov. 19 through Dec. 4, the deer gun season has undoubtedly been marked on hunter’s calendars for months.

With good weather, hunters can again look forward to excellent opportunities to harvest a deer this fall, according to Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC).

Hunter’s who spend some time scouting deer feeding areas are likely to increase their odds of taking a deer this year.

“Across most of the state we had a good to excellent acorn crop depending on local conditions. That is good for the deer but it could make it a little harder for hunters to pattern deer this year,” Shaw said.

More than 158,000 gun hunters took to the woods last fall, harvesting 58,733 deer for a 37 percent success rate.

Oklahomans must have an annual hunting or combination license, lifetime hunting or lifetime combination license, disabled veteran’s lifetime, 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 the youth deer gun license.

Unless exempt, hunters must possess a fishing and hunting legacy permit.

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. Nonresident hunters must also possess a fishing and hunting legacy permit unless exempt.

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. For antlerless deer hunt zones and dates open to antlerless hunting, pick up a copy of the “2005-06 Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”

Upon successfully harvesting a deer, all license holders, including lifetime license holders, must immediately attach 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 and the most up-to-date check station listing is available at wildlifedepartment.com.

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, 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 “2005-06 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" available at all license dealer locations or log on to the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.

The Wildlife Department is continuing to monitor the state’s deer herd for chronic wasting disease as it has since 1999. To date, all of the 4,102 deer sampled statewide have tested negative for the disease. However, ODWC biologists will sample an additional 2,000 deer during this year’s deer hunting seasons.