Thousands of Oklahoma archery hunters have Oct. 1 in their sights when they will kick off a season of deer and turkey archery hunting.
The whitetail deer is by far the most sought after big game animal in Oklahoma, with thousands of hunters taking to the woods each year and thousands of deer harvested. Last year, archery hunters harvested 20,480 of the 109,314 deer checked by hunters, for a total of about 19 percent of the total harvest.
This year’s drought may have an effect on the hunting season, but according to Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, it is no reason to stay out of the woods this October. Shaw said the warmer temperatures associated with early fall archery season can be used to hunters’ advantage.
“The high temperatures can help focus deer movement to the hour or so just after dawn and then again to the final hour of daylight as deer, like the rest of Oklahoma, try to limit their activities during the heat of the day,” Shaw said.
“From a biological standpoint, hunters might notice reduced weights for some deer as the drought takes its toll on food availability and nutritional content,” Shaw said, adding that dry vegetation is not as digestible or nutritious as lush, green browse.
“Acorns may also be scarce in many areas, forcing hunters to adapt their stand location strategy,” Shaw said. “While there are still plenty of very warm days still ahead of us, hunters should not let the temperatures keep them from going to the woods. In fact, the smart hunter will use the heat to their advantage, focusing on available water sources to help increase their odds.”
Shaw advises early fall hunters to pack plenty of water, wear loose fitting clothing, and carry bug-proof headnets and gloves to protect against insects during the long hours often invested by hunters.
Additionally, Shaw said hunters should be prepared for the proper care of game meat that is harvested in warmer temperatures. One tip he offers is to place bags of ice in the chest cavity of a field dressed deer right away.
“Also, if you plan to use a deer processor, call before your hunt to make sure that they will be open for you to drop off your harvest,” Shaw said. “Many processors have greatly different hours of operation for archery season as opposed to muzzleloader or gun seasons.”
To hunt deer during archery season, resident hunters must have an appropriate hunting license and a deer archery license for each deer hunted or proof of exemption. Resident youth hunters 16 or 17 years old must purchase a hunting license, and all youth hunters under 18 years of age may purchase a youth deer archery license. Nonresident deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license while hunting deer, but they must possess a nonresident deer archery license. Holders of nonresident lifetime hunting and lifetime combination licenses are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses.
Deer archery season runs through Jan. 15, and archers who hunt from Jan. 1-15 must possess a deer archery license for the current calendar year and either a fiscal-year license or current annual license.
The archery season harvest limit is six deer, which may include no more than two antlered deer. Deer taken by hunters participating in archery season are included in the hunter’s combined season limit of six deer. Deer taken from Jan. 1-15, 2012, count toward the 2011 season limit.
All hunters who harvest a deer must immediately attach their name, license number and date and time of harvest securely to the carcass. Annual license holders who harvest deer must also complete the “Record of Game” section on the license form.
Hunters must check their harvested deer within 24 hours of leaving the hunt area either online at wildlifedepartment.com, at the nearest open hunter check station or with an authorized Wildlife Department employee Once checked, the animal will be issued a carcass tag or an online confirmation number that must remain with the carcass to its final destination or through processing and/or storage at commercial facilities.
Turkey fall archery season runs concurrent with deer archery season, and hunters must possess an appropriate resident or nonresident hunting license and a turkey license for each bird hunted, unless exempt. Nonresident lifetime license holders are required to purchase a nonresident annual hunting license and turkey license. The nonresident five-day hunting license is not valid for hunting turkey.
The turkey fall archery season limit is one turkey of either sex, statewide, and all hunters who harvest a turkey must immediately attach their name and license number securely to the carcass. Annual license holders must also include the date and time of harvest with their field tag and complete the “Record of Game” section on the license form. Additionally, turkeys harvested east of I-35 must be checked within 24 hours of leaving the hunt area. Turkeys harvested west of I-35 will not be checked.
Seasons on public lands for both deer and turkey may vary from statewide season dates. For full details and regulations, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available free online at wildlifedepartment.com or anywhere hunting licenses area sold.
To learn more about deer hunting in Oklahoma or to purchase a hunting license, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.