Oklahoma Deer Gun Season Opens Nov. 17

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With deer muzzleloader season behind us and the current deer archery season open through Jan. 15, 2008, hunters statewide have already had ample opportunity to harvest a deer, but the most popular deer season in Oklahoma is still to come.

The opening day of deer gun season is Nov. 17 and will attract hundreds of thousands of sportsmen to the woods for 16 days of hunting.

Last year deer gun hunters made state history with a record gun season harvest of 72,263 deer. That total contributed to a combined season harvest record of 119,349 deer, over 18,000 more deer than in 2005, and more than 17,000 more deer than the previous combined season harvest record set in 2000.

According to Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Nov. 17-Dec. 2 deer season could be the best time to harvest a deer this year.

"There hasn't been a lot of deer movement noted during archery and muzzleloader season so far this year," Shaw said. "But the cooler it gets and the closer it gets to the rut, the more we'll start seeing deer on the move."

Resident deer gun hunters must have a hunting license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit or proof of exemption to hunt deer in Oklahoma. In addition, they must possess a deer gun license (antlered or antlerless) or proof of exemption for each deer hunted.

Resident youth hunters age 16 or 17 years old must purchase a youth hunting license and a $10 youth deer gun license (antlered or antlerless) for each deer hunted, unless exempt. Resident youth under 16 years of age are exempt from the purchase of a hunting license, but they must purchase a youth deer gun license for each deer hunted. All resident hunters under 18 years of age are exempt from the purchase of a fishing and hunting legacy permit.

One important thing for resident youth to remember is that they can use unfilled youth deer gun season licenses to hunt deer during the regular deer gun season. Additionally, those youth who did harvest a deer during the youth deer gun season can still hunt during the regular deer gun season as long as they purchase another youth deer gun license for each deer hunted and they stay within their legal annual combined limit of six deer, of which only two may be antlered.

Nonresident deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license, but they must possess a nonresident deer gun license (antlered, antlerless or combination) for each deer hunted and a fishing and hunting legacy permit, or proof of exemption. Holders of nonresident lifetime hunting and lifetime combination licenses are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses.

New this year, those ages 16-35 who have not completed a hunter education course can purchase an apprentice-designated hunting license and go deer hunting with an accompanying adult who is a licensed hunter age 21 or older and who possesses a certificate of hunter education. Persons 21 years old or older who are exempt from either hunter education or hunting license requirements may also accompany an apprentice hunter. Youths age 15 and under must successfully complete a hunter education course to hunt deer in Oklahoma.

Another new change for this year is that those hunting in northwest Oklahoma (Zone 2) will have an opportunity to take another antlerless deer. At least one antlerless deer must be taken in northwest Oklahoma (Zone 2) if hunters take their deer gun season limit of one antlered and two antlerless deer. Additionally, antlerless deer may only be harvested on specified days and in zones open to antlerless harvest. Antlerless zone boundaries as well as dates open to antlerless deer hunting can be viewed on page 17 of the current "Oklahoma Hunting Guide," available at hunting license dealers, or on the Wildlife Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Upon successfully harvesting a deer, annual license holders must complete the Record of Game section of the universal license, and 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. 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 www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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 as long as 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 "2007-08 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" available at all license dealer locations, or log on to the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.