History of Whitetail Deer in Oklahoma

 

 

1900 – Market/subsistence hunting and unregulated harvest eliminate nearly all deer from the state.

    

 

 

 

 

 

1917 – Total statewide deer population estimated at 500 animals. Legislature bans deer harvest.

1917 to 1922 – From western Oklahoma moving east, counties previously open to deer hunting are systematically closed to deer hunting.

1922 – All deer hunting in Oklahoma is prohibited.

hunter with his deer

1933 – First regulated deer season (five days) is held. Hunt is restricted to six southeast counties and Major County in western Oklahoma, resulting in the harvest of 235 bucks. Also, this year marks the beginning of safety regulations for wearing a red upper outer garment (later to become “hunter” orange).  The Oklahoman Story
History of a Heritage (Oklahoma's First Deer Season)
Photo courtesy of The Oklahoman

 

 

1934 – No deer season authorized.

193537 Area is expanded to seven southeast counties only. Harvest total is 331 in 1935; 375 in 1936; and 347 in 1937.
 
1938 – No deer season authorized.
 
1939-40 – Harvest totals: 384 in 1939 and 318 in 1940.
 
1941-43 – All deer hunting is closed. Many OGF personnel are called to active military service.

1943 – Deer restoration program started with the trap and transplant of 22 deer.

        

1944 – 379 deer harvested.

1945 – A total of 469 deer are harvested. Restoration efforts continue, with most deer trapped from either the Wichita Mountains NWR or Ft. Sill, but includes 50 captured from Aransas Pass NWR on the Texas Gulf coast.

 

1946 – Participation in the deer gun season jumps to more than 7,000 (certainly due to returning World War II Vets looking for recreation). First archery season (one day) is held. No deer harvested. A total of 35 deer are transplanted from the Wichita Mountains NWR  to the U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot near McAlester (in less than a decade the military installation, now known as the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, would serve as a source herd for trapping activities).

 

 

hunters with their bow and arrows

 

 

1946 – Oklahoma had its first archery season (1 day) November 11, 1946 in seven southeast counties.  No deer were harvested.
Evolution of Bowhunting in Oklahoma - Outdoor Oklahoma

 

 


1949 – Special Archery season (five days) is designated only at Camp Gruber, resulting in the first buck taken by bow and arrow during a regulated season (taken by Roland Barber; the state’s first archery buck was a fallow deer that was part of Gruber’s small herd that had been established on the area during the late 1930s). The Daily Oklahoma November 13, 1948 story.

Photo Caption: Roland Barber  harvests the first deer taken with a bow and arrow in Oklahoma. The 120 pound fallow buck was harvested November 2, 1949 at Camp Gruber.

 

first whitetail taken with a bow and arrow


1951
– First whitetail deer taken by bow and arrow during a regulated season since the days that Native Americans hunted deer for subsistence is harvested by Larry Embry, Jr.,13. The deer was harvested at Camp Gruber. The Daily Oklahoma November 13, 1951 story.

Photo caption: Larry Embry Jr harvested the first whitetail at Camp Gruber November 11, 1951 with a bow.

 

 

1954 – First statewide gun deer season (5 days) results in harvest of 1,487 bucks.

first primitive season

 

 

1969 – First primitive firearms season (three days) is held, resulting in two deer harvested. Hunt is restricted to part of LeFlore County.

 

1970 – Statewide 16-day deer gun season. Total harvest of 6,882 bucks.

 

1972 –Nine-day deer gun season with all open counties and special two-day antlerless season. Total harvest 7,670 deer.

 

profile pic of cy curtis

 

1975 – Cy Curtis Awards Program initiated by the Department to recognize trophy deer (harvested during the 1972 season and thereafter). For eligibility, whitetail deer must have a minimum typical score of 135, or a non-typical minimum of 150 using the Boone & Crockett scoring system. In the first year, only seven deer are entered. The program is named in honor of the man most responsible for the restoration of whitetail deer in Oklahoma.

Photo Caption: Cy Curtis organized the Department's deer trap and transport efforts in the 1940s and 50s.

 

 

hunter checking in a deer

 

 

1976 – Department begins broadscale antlerless harvest in 19 counties by issuing antlerless permits by special drawing. Total harvest 11,548 – 26 percent does.

 

 

 

1982 – Antlerless permit system deemed unpopular due to perceived inequities, and replaced by antlerless days available to all hunters. Total harvest 19, 255 – 23 percent does.

1986 –The Department ceases any further trap and transplant efforts with sufficient populations of deer available to repopulate all suitable habitats statewide.

 

1990 – Statewide deer population estimated at 250,000 deer. Total harvest 44,070 deer – 24 percent does.

Chris Foutz with 179 6/8 scored deer harvested with a bow in Oklahoma County on December 23, 1992.

 

1992 – Total harvest tops 50,000. Much to the surprise of many, a new state record buck is taken by an archer in Oklahoma County (Chris Foutz took the buck, which measured 179 6/8 typical score),  proving that quality deer can come from just about anywhere in Oklahoma; even the state’s most urbanized county. Potential Record Deer Story   New Record Deer Story

Photo Caption: Chris Foutz with 179 6/8 scored deer harvested with a bow in Oklahoma County on December 23, 1992.

 

1999 – Statewide deer population estimated at 425,000 deer. Total harvest yields 82,500 deer – 36 percent does.

2000 – Deer population levels spawn a multitude of stakeholder desires and management possibilities. For the first time deer harvest numbers tops 100,000.

2001 - First Special Antlerless season is held in December and expanded deer archery season in January.

2003 - First statewide youth antlerless deer gun season is held in October and yields 2,285 deer.

                     youth with antlerless deer   youth with antlerless deer     youth with antlerless deer

2004 - Statewide deer population estimated at 475,000 deer. Bowhunters set new harvest record with 14,639 deer taken. Statewide harvest is 94,689 - 40% does.

2005 - Statewide harvest is 101,111 including 40% does. The number of counties that recorded more than 1,000 deer harvested increased to 43.

2006-  Hunting regulations remain unchanged from 2005.

2007 – Not one, but two tremendous whitetail bucks are harvested from Pushmataha County during the deer gun season; one by John Ehmer that scored an impressive 194 typical, and one by Jason Boyett that scored 192 5/8 typical. Boyett takes his buck Nov. 18, surpassing the previous state record  that had held the top spot for an entire decade (see Larry Luman photo below). Then just 10 days later, on Nov. 28, Ehmer takes his outstanding buck from the same county. By now, a total of 4,500 deer (including 19 mule deer entries) have been entered into the Cy Curtis Program.

Jason Boyett and his deer head

Jason Boyett

191 4/8 - Gun

11-28-2007

Pushmataha

John Ehmer and his deer head

John Ehmer

194 0/8 - Gun

11-28-2007

Pushmataha

Larry Luman and his deer

Larry Luman

185 6/8 - Archery

11-21-1997

Bryan