One Week Until Deer Gun Season in Oklahoma

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With several exceptional bucks already harvested this year by archery and muzzleloader hunters, the Nov. 22 opener of deer gun season looks promising as thousands of men, women and children will head to the woods and fields for the biggest hunting day of the year.

Two years ago, 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. Last year, the total harvest was down slightly, but two state records were taken during the gun season.

Hunters participating in the 16-day deer gun season will have from Nov. 22 through Dec. 7 to harvest up to one antlered and two antlerless deer. If a hunter harvests two antlerless deer, at least one must be taken in antlerless zone 2. A map of antlerless deer zones as well as dates open to antlerless deer hunting are available on page 21 of the current "Oklahoma Hunting Guide," available anywhere hunting licenses are sold, or on the Wildlife Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.

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 hunting license and a deer gun license for each deer hunted, unless exempt. Resident youth under 16 years of age are exempt from the purchase of a hunting license and fishing and hunting legacy permit, but they must purchase a deer gun license for each deer hunted. Unless exempt, all hunters under 18 years of age must possess a valid deer gun license, but they have the option of purchasing a $10 youth deer gun license (antlered or antlerless) rather than the $20 deer gun license.

"Resident youth can use unfilled youth deer gun season licenses to hunt deer during the regular deer gun season," said Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

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 can 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.

Those ages 10-35 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 9 and under must successfully complete a hunter education course to hunt deer in Oklahoma.

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 wildlifedepartment.com.

Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Wildlife Department, reminds deer gun hunters to put safety first while deer hunting.

"Remember to apply what you've learned in your hunter safety course, and you should have a safe, rewarding hunting season," Meek said. "Remember to wear the appropriate amount of hunter orange clothing, secure your treestands properly and know your target and what lies beyond your target in all situations."

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.

"One final safety tip for deer gun hunters, or any deer hunters for that matter, is to wear a safety harness while hunting from a treestand," Meek said.

Safety harnesses are available at sporting goods dealers that sell hunting equipment.

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 "2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" available at all license dealer locations, or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.