Oklahoma Deer Season in Full Swing

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Sooner state bowhunters helped make Oklahoma deer hunting history last year when their harvest of 17,567 deer contributed to an all-time annual state harvest record of 119,349 deer. And according to Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the 2007 archery season looks promising for hunters as well.

"The state looks good this year as far as deer health is concerned," Shaw said. "All the rain has caused there to be a lot of food still available that usually is gone by this time of year, so the deer in the state are eating very well."

Shaw said the key to harvesting an early-archery-season deer is the same as most years — scouting. Some parts of the state experienced a late frost last year, hurting the crop of some mast-bearing tree species, but trees such as red oaks, which bloom later in the year than other oaks, may provide good sites for locating deer. Also, according to Shaw, bowhunters may find that areas hunted in previous years are just as productive as usual, but those areas may look different than normal because of the plant growth and other factors created by the unusually wet conditions. Being prepared to adjust tactics according to the hunting conditions may make the difference in harvesting a deer or not for some hunters.

"Successful hunters should be able to do what they've always done, but they should get out to their hunting spots before the season so they can see just how different the woods may look this year," Shaw said. "In other words, hunters shouldn't wait until opening morning to sneak into an area they haven't seen since last year's archery season. They should get out there now, look it over and be ready to make changes in the way they hunt as the season progresses."

Archery season in Oklahoma runs from Oct. 1-Jan. 15 (Jan. 1-15, antlerless only). Resident archery deer hunters must possess an Oklahoma hunting license, a fishing and hunting legacy permit and a deer archery license for each deer hunted or proof of exemption. All resident youth hunters under 18 years old may purchase a $10 youth deer archery license, and resident youth 16 or 17 years old must also purchase a hunting license, unless exempt.

New to this year's hunting seasons is Oklahoma's apprentice-designated hunting license for individuals who have not completed the Wildlife Department's hunter education course. Hunters age 16-35 who have not completed hunter education can buy an apprentice-designated hunting license and hunt while accompanied by a licensed hunter 21 years old or older who has completed the hunter education course, or a licensed hunter 21 years old or older who is otherwise exempt from hunter education (includes those 36 years old or older, those honorably discharged or currently active in the Armed Forces or members of the National Guard). Hunters under 16 years old must complete a hunter education course to hunt big game or to buy any big game hunting license.

Nonresident archery deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license, but they must possess a nonresident deer archery license for each deer hunted as well as a fishing and hunting legacy permit or proof of exemption. Nonresident lifetime license hunters are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses.

Upon harvesting a deer, all annual license holders are required to complete the "Record of Game" section on the license form. In addition, all hunters, including lifetime license holders, must immediately attach their name and hunting license number to the animal. The attached item can be anything, such as a business card, that will remain secure to the animal until checked at the nearest open hunter check station.

All hunters who harvest a deer must check in their animal at the nearest open hunter check station or with an authorized Wildlife Department employee. A county-by-county listing of hunter check stations is available in the "2007-08 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" or on the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com .

The archery deer season limit is four deer, of which no more than two may be antlered deer. Deer harvested during the archery season are included in the hunter's combined season limit of no more than six deer, of which two may be antlered deer.

For additional regulations, check station locations, other deer season dates and a wealth of other deer hunting information, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.