2002 Whitetail Articles


 



Wildlife Department to recommend suspending import of deer and elk (5/23/02)

In an effort to protect Oklahoma's deer herd against the spread of diseases from outside states, personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will recommend that the Wildlife Conservation Commission suspend the importation of deer and elk from states where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been identified in free ranging deer.

The Commission will hear the recommendation at its regularly scheduled meeting at 9:00 a.m. on June 3 at Wildlife Department headquarters in Oklahoma City.

The recommendation rises from concerns about captive herds and the possible spread of diseases, particularly chronic wasting disease. CWD is an infectious disease of wild and captive elk and deer that results in progressive degeneration of the brain tissue in infected animals. First recognized in 1967, the disease has been found in wild herds in limited areas of several western and northern states. There is no evidence that CWD has ever been transmitted to people, livestock or other kinds of animals.

"Although this disease has never been documented in wild deer or elk herds in Oklahoma, it is important that we be proactive in our approach to ensure the safety of the deer herd," said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Wildlife Department.

Shaw said the whitetail deer is part of a rich hunting heritage in the state and also provides a significant annual economic impact. A recent survey showed the total economic impact from deer hunting in Oklahoma exceeded $600 million annually.

Over the past three years biologists and veterinarians have examined 399 deer and elk taken during Oklahoma's hunting seasons as part of the CWD monitoring program. All samples have tested negative. Department personnel will continue to closely monitor the deer and elk herd for signs of the disease.

"The proposed import suspension, along with the continuation of the surveillance program, will help ensure a healthy future for one of Oklahoma's prized natural resources," Shaw said.

According to current research, there is no scientific evidence linking CWD to human diseases. Shaw recommends that hunters practice standard safety practices when handling any wild game including the use protective gloves when dressing animals and avoiding consumption of brain and spinal cord tissue as general precautionary measures.

The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department, and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

Commission approves antlerless deer dates (5/9/02)

Oklahoma sportsmen will once again have plenty of opportunity to harvest a whitetail deer next season.

At its regular monthly meeting, held May 6 in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to establish antlerless deer hunting dates in each of the state's 10 deer hunting zones. They again approved a special antlerless gun season in late December for much of the state. Boundaries of the deer hunting zones have not changed and seasons coincide with last year's dates, adjusted to coincide with changes in the calendar. For a complete list of 2002 antlerless hunting dates and zones go to www.wildlifedepartment.com

Oklahoma hunters had another outstanding deer season according to Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

"Hunters harvested 101,612 deer in 2001 despite poor weather conditions in both muzzleloader and modern gun seasons," Peoples said.

Peoples also pointed out the success of last year's special antlerless seasons. Almost 8,500 deer, or eight percent of the total deer harvest were taken during the antlerless seasons.

"We were also pleased to see the doe harvest percentage increase from 40 percent in 2000 to 44 percent in 2001," Peoples said. "This is important because the harvest of does helps to maintain the overall health of the herd."

The total deer harvest in 2001 was down only slightly from 102,100 in 2000.

Commissioners also approved regulations for private land elk hunts in Kiowa, Comanche and Caddo counties. These dates will also coincide with last year's dates. For a complete list of those dates go to the hunting link at www.wildlifedepartment.com

Fisheries chief Kim Erickson presented the Commission with a report on the Oklahoma trout program. The Department recently conducted a scientific survey of 3,800 trout anglers to aid in future management decisions for the popular program.

In other action, the commission approved a resolution to declare June 1-2 Free Fishing Days in Oklahoma. Oklahoma was the first state in the nation to offer free fishing days 22 years ago and have since been followed by dozens of other states that have established similar free fishing days.

"Free fishing days are a great opportunity to introduce family and friends to fishing or to go and try it yourself," said David Warren, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department.

State fishing permits are not required on the free fishing days, although anglers should note that local or municipal permits may be required on those days.

Wildlife Department Director Greg Duffy updated the Commission on the status of wildlife legislation in this year's legislative session. A bill that would raise lifetime license fees was not passed by the Legislature. Several bills have already passed both houses and have been signed by the Governor, while other bills such House Bill 2329 which establishes a game bird stamp, are being heard in conference committees. For an updated list of bills affecting wildlife and fisheries in Oklahoma, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com/legislation.htm.

In the Director's awards presentation, Duffy recognized Lonnie Cook, Manning Fish Hatchery manager, for his 35 years of service to the Department. Among many accomplishments, Cook developed a technique for raising channel catfish to a catchable size in one growing season instead of two. Cook's techniques improved hatchery efficiency and have saved the Department thousands of dollars in catfish production.

The Commission will hold a special meeting on June 2 to discuss the 2003 budget. The next regular scheduled meeting will be held on June 3 in Oklahoma City at 9 a.m.

Commission suspends import of deer and elk (6/6/02)

The Wildlife Conservation Commission has suspended the importation of deer and elk from states where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been identified in free-ranging deer in an effort to protect Oklahoma's deer herd against the spread of the disease.

The Commission made the ruling at its regularly scheduled meeting on June 3 at Wildlife Department headquarters in Oklahoma City.

The importation suspension pertains to live animals only, not legally harvested animals from other states. The decision rises from concerns about captive herds owned by commercial enterprises and private individuals and the possible spread of diseases, particularly chronic wasting disease. CWD is an infectious disease of wild and captive elk and deer that results in progressive degeneration of the brain tissue in infected animals. First recognized in 1967, CWD is not a new disease and has been found in wild herds in limited areas of several western and northern states. There is no evidence that CWD has ever been transmitted to people, livestock or other kinds of animals.

"Although this disease has never been documented in wild deer or elk herds in Oklahoma, this is an important proactive step to ensure the safety of the native deer herd," said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Wildlife Department.

Shaw said the whitetail deer is part of a rich hunting heritage in the state and also provides a significant annual economic impact. A recent survey showed the total economic impact from deer hunting in Oklahoma exceeded $600 million annually.

There is also a significant economic impact that coincides with the detection of the disease. As an example, Saskatchewan has spent approximately $30 million in attempts at eradicating the disease in infected commercially operated game farms. In Colorado, a supplemental appropriation of $300,143 has been made to help combat the disease and more appropriations are being considered.

Over the past three years biologists and veterinarians have examined 399 deer and elk taken during Oklahoma's hunting seasons as part of the CWD monitoring program. All samples obtained from animals taken from the wild have tested negative and biologists will continue to closely monitor the deer and elk herd for signs of the disease.

"This import suspension, along with the continuation of the surveillance program, will help ensure a healthy future for one of Oklahoma's prized natural resources," Shaw said.

Department personnel have worked in cooperation with the Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture, who have developed similar import suspension rules. By suspending import of potentially infected animals, the Department hopes to avoid the consequences of the disease on the health of the wild deer herd and avoid the potential costs of controlling CWD. The detection of the disease has had immense economic impact on states such as Wisconsin where the disease was discovered last year. Within the first month after detection, the Wisconsin wildlife management agency spent approximately $250,000 in control and public information efforts. The agency continues to try to control the spread of the disease and has plans to kill 15,000 animals in the focal area where infected animals have been found.

According to current research, there is no scientific evidence linking CWD to human diseases. Shaw recommends that hunters practice standard safety practices when handling any wild game including the use protective gloves when dressing animals and avoiding consumption of brain and spinal cord tissue as general precautionary measures.

The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

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Archery season coming soon (9/19/02)

The cooler temperatures have many Oklahomans anticipating the Oct. 1 archery deer opener.

The first of Oklahoma's big game seasons, the archery deer season is one of the most popular activities available to Oklahoma hunters. The season occurs in two segments, from Oct. 1-Nov. 22 and Dec. 2-Jan. 15, allowing 98 days of hunting opportunity.

According to Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, it should be another great season for archery hunters.

"The combination of relatively mild summer temperatures and timely rainfall across the state will benefit the deer herd," Shaw said. "Both the amount and quality of forage available to deer is excellent and that will have a positive effect on antler growth, as well as the deer's overall health going into the winter."

During the 2001 archery deer seasons, bowhunters harvested 12,907 white-tailed deer, of which 6,509 were bucks. The archery harvest contributed 14 percent of the total deer harvest.

Though one of the safest outdoor pursuits, bowhunting has some risks that can result in accidents if the hunter doesn’t practice safe treestand operation. Most of those are not caused by mishandling a bow or misidentifying a target, but from falling out of treestands. More than half of Oklahoma's bowhunters use treestands to gain better visibility over their hunting areas, said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

"Hunters using an elevated stand should be extremely cautious," said Meek. "By taking a few extra precautions, hunters can virtually eliminate the threat of tree stand related accidents this autumn. All it takes is some common sense and paying a little extra attention to detail."

One of the most important hunting gear items is a safety strap or harness, especially when getting in and out of stand. They cost between $20 - $60 and should be considered standard equipment by all hunters who use elevated stands.

Before heading afield, be sure to pick up a copy of the “2002-2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" available at all license dealer locations.

Hunters can also find updated check station locations, season dates, and a wealth of other information by logging on to the Department's web page at wildlifedepartment.com.

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Venison: the real trophy for deer hunters (10/17/02)
 

Although some say taking a deer is the highlight of every hunt, many feel that the best part of deer hunting comes later, at the dinner table.

To get the most enjoyment from your harvest, however, you need to take proper care for the meat. If properly handled, you'll be able to enjoy many meals of lean, high-protein meat that is 100-percent natural, with no additives or preservatives.

Preparing and eating wild game with friends and family is an essential part of the hunting experience. Many hunters say that consuming harvested game gives them a deeper respect and reverence for that animal than those who don't understand that connection.

Upon harvesting a deer, the first thing you must do is attach a proper tag to the carcass as required by law. The next step is to field dress your deer as soon as possible. Keeping the meat clean and cool will payoff when it comes time to serve venison for dinner.

There are literally hundreds of recipes for venison that can be found in cookbooks or on the Internet. Following are a few recipes you can try this winter or just let your culinary imagination run wild.

Ground venison foil wrap

Take a 12" square piece of foil. Put venison patties (about the size of a hamburger patties) on middle of foil. Pull up sides of foil to form a bag. Add 1/4 inch slices of potatoes to top of meat, then add onion slices, put about a teaspoon of butter and 1/8 cup of water in foil. Close foil and put in hot charcoaler for about 20-30 minutes. Or you can cook at 350 degrees in an oven for about the same time. Add other vegetables if desire.

Venison stew paprika

2 1/2-3 lbs. venison stew meat cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup flour
3 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. butter
2 med. onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1-11 oz. can stewed tomatoes or 1 can tomato sauce
1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature
1/2 cup wine or 7-Up

Shake meat cubes in plastic bag with the flour, paprika, salt and pepper. In Dutch oven, melt butter and sauté coated venison cubes until browned. Remove cubes to warm dish and in the same Dutch oven, sauté onions and garlic with 2 T paprika until soft. Then add tomatoes and wine or 7-Up. Add browned venison cubes and simmer over low heat until meat is tender (45 min-1.5 hours). Just before serving, stir in 1/2 C sour cream. Serve with egg noodles or rice.

Deer Roast

Venison roast (1-3 lbs.)
3-4 potatoes - cut into chunks
3 sliced carrots
1 sliced bell pepper
black pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
1 tbs. flour
1/2 cup of water

Arrange ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours on high for four to six hours or until meat is tender.

Basic deer hunting seminars to be held (10/03/02)

Ever thought about giving deer hunting a try? You can find all the information you need to know at a series of basic deer hunting seminars which will be held throughout the state this fall. The seminars are aimed at helping beginning deer hunters learn more about the sport and improving their chances for success this fall.

"These seminars are a great resource for hunters," said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "The seminars will cover everything from finding a hunting spot to field care of venison."

Peoples added that other topics to be covered at the seminars include introduction to scouting techniques, basic regulations and permit requirements, biology of deer and more. Each seminar will be led by an Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation biologist and a state game warden, both of whom will be able to answer questions about deer and deer hunting.

For more information about deer hunting in Oklahoma, log onto www.wildlifedepartment.com/deer.htm. To find a hunter education course in your area look us up on the web at www.wildlifedepartment.com. The on-line schedule of classes is updated weekly. You can also check the local sports page in your newspaper or watch the OUTDOOR OKLAHOMA television show on OETA.

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Basic Deer Hunting Seminar Schedule

October 14, 2002 at 7:00 p.m.

Shawnee: Gordon Cooper Technology Center, 1 John C. Burton Blvd. (SE corner of I-40 and Hwy. 18 intersection).

October 15, 2002 (All seminars begin at 7:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted).

Alva: Northwest Technology Center, 1801 S. 11.
Ardmore: Southern Oklahoma Technology Center, 2610 Sam Noble Pkwy.
Atoka: Atoka Technology Center, Hwy 3.
Bartlesville: Highland Park Baptist Church, 300 SE Washington St.
Beaver: First Security Bank, 15 S. Douglas.
Broken Bow: Idabel Technology Center,Hwy 259 & Idabel By-Pass.
Hugo: Choctaw County Courthouse.
Kingfisher: Kingfisher Co. Fairgrounds, Exhibit Bldg., 300 S. 13th St.
Lawton: Lawton Public Library, 110 SW 4th.
Muskogee: Indian Capitol Tech Center, Room 500.
Oklahoma City: ODWC Auditorium, 1801 N. Lincoln, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Okmulgee: East Central Electric Co-operative. South Wood Drive (Hwy 75).
Ponca City: Conoco Phillips, 4th St Clubhouse.
Pryor: Ag Center, Old Hwy 20 East.
Sallisaw: Sallisaw Civic Center, 111 N. Elm.
Stillwater: Life Science West Bld, Rm 103.
Tahlequah: Indian Capitol Tech Center, 240 Vo-Tech Rd.
Tulsa: Broken Arrow Tech Center, E Base room, 4600 S. Olive.
Vinita: Chamber of Commerce Hospitality room, 125 S Scraper.
Woodward: Northwestern Electric, 2925 Williams Ave.
Yukon: Yukon High School Auditorium, 1000 Yukon Ave.

October 17, 2002 at 7:00 p.m. (unless otherwise noted).

Ada: Pontotoc Technology Center, Seminar Room C, 601 W 33rd St.
Altus: Altus Public Library, 421 N. Hudson.
Antlers: Push County Community Building 204 SW 4th.
Chickasha: Canadian Valley Technology Center, Room B, 1401 Michigan Dr.
Duncan: Stephens County Fairgrounds, 1618 S. 13th.
Durant: Bryan County Vo-Tech 810 Waldron Rd.
Elk City: Carnegie Hall, 215 Broadway.
Enid: Central Fire Station.
Guymon: OSU Extension Building, 301 N. Main.
McAlester: McAlester Technology Center, 301 Kiamichi Dr.
Miami: Miami Civic Center, Banquet Room, 129 5th St.
Norman: Moore-Norman Technology Center, Seminar Room, Franklin Ave. and 12th Ave., 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.

Poteau: Poteau Technology Center , Hwy 271 South.
Watonga: Blaine Co. Fair Grounds, Foley Building.
Weatherford: City Hall, 201 SW Main.

Deer gun season looks promising (11/14/02)

Falling leaves and falling temperatures signal one thing to Oklahoma hunters, the much-anticipated deer gun season is right around the corner.

Running Nov. 23 through Dec. 1, the deer gun season is undoubtedly Oklahoma’s most popular hunting event in terms of overall participation. Modern firearms hunters also enjoy the greatest success in terms of harvest. In 2001, for example, more than 160,000 gun hunters checked in more than 55,000 deer, about 55 percent of last year’s total harvest. With good weather, hunters can again look forward to excellent opportunities to harvest a deer this fall, according to Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

As always, pre-season scouting gives hunters a big advantage because it allows them to pattern deer movements and pinpoint areas of high activity. By spending a little extra time afield before the season starts, hunters can position themselves for an outstanding deer season. Keying on the right food source could make a big difference for hunters who spend some time doing a little legwork.

“It appears like we have had a good acorn crop in many areas of the state,” Shaw said. “The availability of acorns, along with the presence of green browse, may result in the deer being more spread out and make them a little harder to pattern. It will be important for hunters to know what type of food items are available for deer, which ones they are using and how the deer are moving in the areas where they plan to hunt.”

Shaw added that the overall condition of the deer is good due to a good growing season, although it is important that hunters continue to take advantage of antlerless hunting opportunities. In 2001, does accounted for 44 percent of the total deer harvest

“Hunters play a vital role in the management of the deer herd by taking does and keeping the buck to doe ratios in proportion, which ensure that the herd remains healthy,” Shaw said.

Hunters have an opportunity to take an antlerless deer in all 77 counties during the regular gun season and a special antlerless deer gun season is open in late December across much of the state. For antlerless deer hunt zones and dates open to antlerless hunting, pick up a copy of the “2002-2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”

Oklahoma residents must have an annual hunting or combination license, lifetime hunting or lifetime combination license, senior citizen hunting or senior citizen combination license or proof of exemption. In addition, hunters must possess a deer gun (antlered or antlerless) license for each deer hunted, or proof of exemption. Resident hunters under 18 years of age may purchase either the youth deer gun license or the regular deer gun license.

All nonresident deer hunters must possess a nonresident deer gun (antlered, antlerless or combo) license for each deer hunted or proof of exemption. Holders of nonresident lifetime hunting and lifetime combination licenses are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses. Nonresident deer hunters are exempt from purchasing an annual nonresident hunting license.

Hunters may take a total of two deer, which may include no more than one antlered deer and one antlerless deer. Antlerless deer may only be harvested on specified days in certain zones. Harvest of antlerless mule deer is prohibited during deer gun season.

Upon successfully harvesting a deer, all license holders, including lifetime license holders, must immediately attach anything with 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.

Annual license holders, upon harvesting a deer, must complete the Record of Game section on the back of the universal license. The information must be recorded on the license form prior to moving or field dressing the animal. To do this they must tear out one of the notches on the license and print in ink the time, date, type of game and method of harvest on the notched line in the appropriate columns. Lifetime license holders are not required to complete the Record of Game section on the back of the universal license.

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.

Deer gun hunters should always remember to keep safety the first priority. All deer gun hunters must conspicuously wear both a head covering and an outer garment above the waistline, both totaling 500 square inches or more of clothing, both consisting of daylight fluorescent orange color totaling at least 400 square inches. Camo-fluorescent orange is legal, if the total orange meets or exceeds the required 400 square inches.

Persons hunting with archery or muzzleloader equipment during deer gun seasons must have a deer gun license and must comply with blaze orange requirements for deer gun season.

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 “2002-2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" available at all license dealer locations or log on to the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.

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Deer season is state's biggest single-day recreation attraction (11/14/02)

It attracts more Oklahomans than the number of football fans attending sold out home games at Lewis Field, Owen Field, and Skelly stadium - combined! It draws more participants than the busiest day of the Oklahoma State Fair or the Tulsa State Fair. It may surprise many, but the state's largest single-day recreational attraction is arguably the opening day of Oklahoma's deer gun season. Hunting in Oklahoma is big business, all totaled spending from hunters pumps $573 million annually to the state’s economy.

The gun deer opener, Saturday, Nov. 23 this year, will draw an estimated 200,000 hunters and their non-hunting companions. The nine-day season, which runs through Sunday, December 1, will see these thousands of orange-clad hunters heading into Oklahoma's forests and prairies in search of the state's number one game animal, the white-tailed deer.

Through deer hunting license statistics and license holder surveys, officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) say at least 160,000 people hunt deer during the modern firearms season. When combined with non-hunting relatives, who participate in camping and other deer season related activities, the total number of participants is estimated at well over 200,000.

"We know that virtually all of our deer gun hunters are out on opening day of the season, and a significant number of those hunters have non-hunting family members either with them in the field, or back at their campsite or RV," said Rich Fuller, information supervisor for the Department. "It's pretty remarkable when you consider how many people might be sitting in the stands of all our major college football stadiums on a fall Saturday, and then realize there are many more sportsmen out enjoying the deer woods on opening day."

Department officials say that per capita participation in the deer gun season is traditionally strongest in the southeast part of the state, however, the trend is changing. Due to the expansion of the state's white-tailed deer herd, the popularity of deer hunting is growing throughout the state.

Thanks in large part to ODWC sponsored hunter education programs, the number of hunting related accidents have declined by more than 70 percent in Oklahoma over the past 30 years. ODWC officials say mandatory hunter education courses have not only reduced accidents within Oklahoma, but also in every state and Canadian province with similar programs. Approximately 13,000 hunter education students are certified annually within Oklahoma.

"Virtually all the states and provinces now require some form of hunter education for first-time hunters," said Lance Meek, ODWC hunter education coordinator. Meek added that serious deer hunting accidents have become extremely rare.

“Certainly, even one hunting accident is one too many as far as we are concerned. And that's why we are always looking for new and improved ways of teaching our courses to give young hunters the knowledge and good habits to prevent accidents," Meek said.

In 1987, the ODWC's hunter education courses became required by state law. Anyone born on or after January 1, 1972, upon reaching 16 years of age must have completed a certified hunter education course in order to purchase a hunting license. Additionally, any hunters under the age of 16 (below the age required to purchase a hunting license) must complete a hunter education course if they use a firearm to hunt big game (deer, elk or antelope).

For more information about Oklahoma's deer season and the ODWC’s Hunter Education Program, consult the “2002-2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” or log onto www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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Deer hunters on pace for another great season (12/12/02)

Thanks to good weather and abundant opportunities, Oklahoma deer hunters are on pace to have another good harvest for the 2002 season.

After tallying harvest totals from the recent deer gun season, personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation registered a preliminary harvest total of 83,388 deer, slightly off last years mark of 85,675 deer taken this time last year. That number does not include deer that will be taken in the late archery season, antlerless deer taken during the special antlerless deer season or on land enrolled in the Deer Management Assistance Program, nor deer harvested during controlled hunts.

“We’re on track for another solid harvest,” said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Department. “I am particularly pleased to see the total does harvested was essentially the same as last year. We won’t know until after the special antlerless deer seasons, but my hope is that we end up with a fairly good increase in doe harvest.”

According to Shaw, there was a variety of reasons that attribute to the decline of 2,287 total deer harvested over last year.

“There are many factors involved in deer harvest from weather to hunter participation to deer populations, you can’t really say it was one thing or another,” Shaw said. “Certainly a week of rainy weather during muzzleloader season kept some hunters out of the woods and plenty of acorns and browse meant deer did not have to move as far between food sources. Reports from field biologists and wardens across the state said hunter participation levels seemed somewhat lower than previous years, but most said that rutting activity was significantly off compared to last year."

There is still plenty of opportunity for deer hunters to harvest a deer with the special antlerless deer gun seasons coming soon. The first three-day hunt, to be held Dec. 20 through 22, will be restricted to the north central and northwestern portion of the state. Much of the state, except for far southwest, far southeast and panhandle, also will have three days of antlerless-only gun hunting running from Dec. 27 through 29. Hunters should consult the antlerless deer hunt zone map on page 16 of the “2002-2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” to determine which areas will offer the special antlerless deer gun seasons.

"These special antlerless deer gun seasons were established to better manage the state's deer population and so far they have been a success," said Shaw. "By increasing the antlerless deer harvest, hunters will be helping to balance the state's deer population with available habitat, improve buck to doe ratios for better herd health, reduce agricultural depredation and reduce deer/vehicle collisions. The most sound management strategy that can be employed in those areas is to harvest more antlerless deer."

Hunters who participate in the special antlerless deer gun season must possess a special antlerless deer gun license in addition to their annual hunting license. Lifetime hunting and combination license holders are exempt and do not need to buy the special antlerless deer gun license.

The statewide season limit during the special antlerless deer gun season is one antlerless deer. All hunters participating in the special gun season must comply with the same blaze orange requirements as set forth for the regular deer gun season, as well as tagging and checking requirements. Archery deer hunters afield in areas open to the special antlerless gun hunting and those hunting other species (quail, squirrel, pheasant, etc.) must wear either a blaze orange hat or vest.

To learn more about the special antlerless gun season and deer management in Oklahoma, consult the 2002-2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to the ODWC's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com. Look under the "Hunting" link for complete deer season information.

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