Oklahoma Deer Hunters Hit Record Harvest

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Oklahoma deer hunters have already achieved a record harvest for the state in 2006 — 104,000 and counting — but their opportunities to take deer are far from being over. The state's special antlerless deer season is just around the corner. Scheduled for Dec. 22-24 and Dec. 29-31, these opportunities allow hunters to harvest does outside their combined season limit.

According to Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, hunters across the state have already harvested 104,346 deer in 2006, surpassing the previous record of 102,100 deer taken in 2000. That total stands to increase with the remainder of archery and special antlerless seasons still to go. Shaw said other factors will raise the numbers as well, such as final counts from controlled hunts and Deer Management Assistance Program cooperators.

Shaw said a number of circumstances have led to the record harvest, such as the good hunting weather and peak rutting times that fell right in line with this year's rifle season.

But even with the record numbers, Shaw encourages hunters to participate in the special three-day antlerless hunts.

"We need to really focus on increasing the number of antlerless deer harvested, especially in areas that have less desirable buck-to-doe ratios," Shaw said. "And participating in the special antlerless deer season would be an excellent way to do that."

The first three-day period of the special antlerless season will be limited to the northcentral and northwestern portions of the state, excluding most of the panhandle. The second three-day period will be open for hunting in the same areas as the first part of the season, but also in most of the remainder of the state. The panhandle will again be excluded, as will the far southeastern counties. For a map of Oklahoma's antlerless deer hunt zones and to see which counties will be open for the special season, hunters should refer to page 14 of the "2006-07 Oklahoma Hunting Guide."

To participate in the special antlerless deer season, hunters must possess a special antlerless deer gun license as well as an annual hunting license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit. Resident lifetime hunting or combination license holders are exempt from purchasing these licenses.

In addition, hunters participating in the special antlerless deer season must comply with the hunter orange requirements set forth for the regular deer gun season. Archery hunters and those hunting most other species in open special antlerless zones must wear either a hunter orange hat or upper garment while hunting.

To learn more about this year's special antlerless deer season, refer to the "2006-07 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" or log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com.