1999 Whitetail Articles

Big bucks highlight season 7/8/99
Deer harvest tops 80,000 7/8/99
Outdoor Oklahoma hits deer hotspots 9/30/99
Be sure to check deer 10/14/99
Bowhunters get more opportunities 10/7/99
Deer gun season looks promising 11/11/99
Commission increases antlerless opportunities 11/4/99
Extra doe days will benefit deer 11/4/99
Muzzleloaders top 1998 blackpowder tally 11/4/99
Harvest Through Muzzleloader Season 11/4/99
Deer hunters on pace for another record 12/2/99
Deer hunters set new record

Big bucks highlight season 7/8/99

In recent years, Oklahoma has earned a reputation for producing trophy deer, so it's no surprise that 1998 was a banner season for big bucks.

At the end of the 1998-99 scoring period, 236 deer were admitted into the Cy Curtis Awards Program through which the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recognizes exceptional deer taken in Oklahoma, said Mike Shaw, research supervisor for the Department. Of those, 12 that were actually taken in 1998 were large enough to be eligible for recognition from the Boone & Crockett Club, including five non-typicals that were eligible for Boone & Crockett's All-Time Awards book. Four others that were taken in previous years were also eligible for B&C recognition.

"Hunters took some exceptional bucks last year, which further demonstrates Oklahoma's potential for growing trophy whitetails," Shaw said. "That's especially interesting for hunters who pursue trophy deer, and the possibility of taking a record-book buck further enhances the diversity of hunting opportunities our state provides."

The biggest buck of the year was a giant non-typical taken in Delaware County by Chuck Tullis of Grove. It scored 238 2/8 points on the Boone & Crockett scale. Other exceptional non-typicals included a buck taken by Aaron Sheik in Woods County that scored 200 5/8, followed by a Comanche Co., buck scoring (197 7/8) taken by Dewayne High. Brian Paul took a buck in Latimer Co. scoring (196 6/8), and Mike Williams harvested one in Hughes Co. (195 4/8) that measured. Each is eligible for admission into the Boone & Crockett All-Time Awards book.

Like last year, Pittsburg Co., was Oklahoma's top trophy deer county with seven Cy Curtis bucks. Osage, Canadian, Woods and Hughes counties each produced five Cy Curtis bucks. Blaine, Woodward and Latimer counties produced four Cy Curtis bucks each.

Oklahoma County, which includes most of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, yielded three Cy Curtis bucks, as did the counties of Love, Kay, Pushmataha, Dewey, Pawnee, Harper and Grant.

Deer harvest tops 80,000 7/8/99

Based on final tallies from all 77 counties, Oklahoma's deer hunters have set another record by harvesting more than 80,000 deer during the 1998 season.

The actual total is 80,008, far surpassing the preliminary tally of 73,258 established last winter. The new number reflects deer checked by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation field personnel, deer taken on private lands enrolled in the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), and those harvested during the December archery season, said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Department. The final tally is significant, he added because it shows that hunters were able to overcome a poor harvest during the rain-plagued primitive season, and also because it demonstrates the increasing amount of deer hunting opportunities for hunters statewide.

"We knew when we tallied the harvest at the end of gun deer season that it would be pretty high, but to top 80,000 is just phenomenal," Shaw said. "It just shows how far Oklahoma's deer herd has come in such a short time, especially when you consider that the harvest 10 years ago was less than 40,000, which was also a record at that time."

One of the main reasons for the stellar harvest, Shaw added, was because of the near perfect weather during the gun season and the fact that rut activity was high.

Also, high doe populations in many areas contributed to a 17-percent increase in the number of does harvested.

"Knowledgeable hunters and land managers are starting to realize that harvesting does is a major component of any successful deer management program," Shaw explained. "The Wildlife Department has overcome a lot of traditional and sociological hurdles to get the message across, but more and more people are accepting that message now that they can see the benefits."

Overall, does accounted for nearly 36 percent of the harvest with a total of 28,871. Hunters also took 51,137 bucks.

Leading the charts in total harvest was Osage County, which produced 4,185 deer, including 1,609 does. Hunters in Cherokee County took 3,332 deer, including 1,330 does. Craig County yielded 2,768 deer, including 1,290 does, followed by Sequoyah Co. (2,292), and Pittsburg (2,139). A total of 31 counties produced more than 1,000 deer.

The most productive wildlife management area was Ouachita WMA, which produced 486 deer. Honobia Creek was second with 374, followed by Black Kettle WMA with 256.

Outdoor Oklahoma hits deer hotspots 9/30/99

If you’re trying to decide where to spend your deer season this fall, the "1999 Big Game Report," published in the September/October issue of Outdoor Oklahoma, can answer your most important questions.

Packed with harvest information and statistics from every county in Oklahoma, the "1999 Big Game Report" accounts for every legally harvested whitetailed deer in the state last season. It provides harvest breakdowns for both bucks and does from every Oklahoma county and wildlife management area. It also breaks down individual harvests during the modern gun, archery and muzzleloader seasons.

In addition, the "1999 Big Game Report" also examines current trends relating to Oklahoma’s annual deer harvest to help hunters select a hunting spot based on solid information rather than guesswork. A special feature examines the tremendous deer hunting opportunities available at Three Rivers and Honobia Creek wildlife management areas.

Along with that for white-tailed deer, the "1999 Big Game Report" contains valuable information from last year’s elk and antelope harvests, as well as data on last year’s mule deer harvest.

One of Outdoor Oklahoma’s most popular annual features, the "1999 Big Game Report" highlights the thought-provoking articles that have become the hallmark of the award-winning magazine. Other articles in the Sept./Oct. issue include a feature on float fishing Oklahoma’s mountain streams, along with a special sidebar that explains how the Department is trying to improve fishing opportunities and access on these streams. Another feature focuses on bird banding at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge and Ft. Gibson Waterfowl Refuge. Also, the popular "Getting Started" feature explains everything you need to know to enjoy camping. Also, a sidebar highlights some of the best places in the state to spend a night under the stars.

Outdoor Oklahoma is available on newsstands, or by sending $3 to Outdoor Oklahoma, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105. Subscriptions to the bi-monthly magazine are $10 per year, $18 for two years and $25 for three years. Order by calling 1-800-777-0019.

Be sure to check deer 10/14/99

After harvesting a deer this fall, hunters must remember to have the animal checked at the nearest hunter check station.

Aside from being required by law, checking deer is important because it allows biologists for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to determine the exact number of deer harvested during Oklahoma's respective deer seasons, said Mike Shaw, the Department's research supervisor. It also allows Department wildlife biologists to evaluate harvest strategies in specific regions based on the needs of their respective deer herds. Furthermore, it allows biologists to evaluate the age and physical condition of all harvested animals.

"The information we collect at our check stations is crucial to developing harvest regulations in the best interest of the resource and hunters alike," Shaw said. "Checking deer is an accepted part of every successful hunt, and it can also be a lot of fun because it gives hunters an opportunity to visit with other successful hunters and compare notes."

Bowhunters get more opportunities 10/7/99

If you've been wondering what the new millennium will bring for hunters and anglers, the forecast looks promising. Starting Oct. 1, 2000, Oklahoma bowhunters will get an additional five days of hunting opportunities during the early season.

The extended season, approved Oct. 4 by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, moves the opening of deer archery season to Oct. 1. Previously, the season opener was Oct. 6. Consequently, bowhunters will be able to hunt for a total of 83 days instead of the 78 available in 1999.

The main reason for the change, said Richard Hatcher, chief of Wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, is to provide greater opportunities for bowhunters.

"In many parts of Oklahoma, there's an increasingly urgent need to reduce the number of antlerless deer, and bowhunting is one method in which that is possible," Hatcher said. "By adding an extra week to the early archery deer season, we feel that many bowhunters will take advantage of the extra opportunities to enjoy their sport and hopefully have a positive impact on the state's deer herd. Also, establishing the season opener on Oct. 1 just makes it easier to remember, and easier for bowhunters to plan their outings."

In 1999, the first half of deer archery season began Oct. 6 and ends Nov. 19. The second half runs Nov. 29 - Dec. 31. For more information on season dates and bag limits, consult the 1999-2000 Oklahoma Hunting Regulations.

Deer hunters on pace for another record 11/24/99

Although the gun deer harvest for opening weekend was slightly lower than in 1998, Oklahoma’s deer hunters are positioned to break last year’s record.

In an annual survey conducted after opening weekend of deer gun season, personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation monitored 30 check stations across the state. Hunters checked in 5,150 deer at those stations, including 3,293 bucks and 1,947 does. That’s almost an 11-percent decrease from opening weekend of the 1998 deer gun season. The sample is usually a reliable indicator of statewide harvest success, but when you add the harvests from muzzleloader season and the first half of archery season, hunters are actually on track to break last year’s record of 80,008 deer.

"When we combine the total deer harvest since the opening of archery season, there is actually an increase of more than seven percent over the 1998 harvest at this time," Shaw said. "The tremendous increase of harvest during the early archery and primitive firearms season overshadows the relatively low decrease during gun season. We definitely have a chance for another record harvest."

Despite the large number of deer taken this year, Shaw said he is concerned about the low number of antlerless deer in the tally. That is a continuing trend that could have significant long-term implications for the state’s deer herd, he added, but hunters could improve the situation simply by taking advantage of their many opportunities to harvest antlerless deer.

"We continue to set overall harvest records, but the proportion of doe harvest is not keeping pace with the buck harvest despite the Department’s efforts to encourage hunters to take antlerless deer," Shaw said. "If this trend continues, we could be in a desperate situation in a few years. My best advice for Oklahoma deer hunters concerned with the future is to pass up young bucks and instead choose to harvest a doe," said Shaw.

In certain parts of the state, hunters will have as many as three days to harvest antlerless deer at the close of the deer gun season. In northwest Oklahoma and Beaver County east of US-83, hunters will be able to take antlerless deer Nov. 26-28.

In central and northeast Oklahoma, hunters are allowed to take antlerless deer Nov. 27-28.

South of I-40, hunters will be allowed to take antlerless deer on Nov. 28.

In Texas and Cimarron counties, hunters were able to take antlerless deer only on Nov. 20.

During opening weekend, high temperatures limited deer movement during the middle part of the day. Hunters reported high levels of deer activity in the mornings and late evenings.

Deer gun season ends Nov. 28. The rut appears to be in full swing in the northern half of the state, but rutting activity seems to be subsiding in the southern half. With continued forecasts of good weather, hunters should expect to enjoy excellent hunting for the remainder of the season. Check out the Oklahoma Hunting Regulations for information regarding hunting in specific parts of the state.

Deer gun season looks promising 11/11/99

With deer populations near record levels, Oklahoma deer hunters can expect excellent prospects during the upcoming deer gun season.

Running Nov. 20-28, 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 1998, for example, more than 185,000 gun hunters checked in more than 54,000 deer, nearly 68 percent of last year’s all-time record harvest. With good weather, hunters may approach that mark this year, said Mike Shaw, research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“With favorable weather throughout the nine-day gun season, we certainly have the potential to harvest a sizeable number of deer,” Shaw said. “I’m counting on a heavy gun harvest because we rely on gun hunters to achieve the greatest measure of herd control. With burgeoning numbers of deer statewide, we need a good harvest to stabilize herd growth. It will be especially important to harvest a good proportion of does.

“Whether we can set another all-time record remains to be seen,” he added, “but the prospects for the gun season look really, really good.”

Although this year’s primitive firearms harvest was up from last year, there are still lots of deer available for deer gun season. In addition, the rut will reach its peak over the next few weeks, which means deer will be more active during daylight hours. All things considered, hunters should have excellent opportunities for success throughout the nine-day gun season.

“Opening weekend is so important because 50 percent of the gun buck harvest occurs that first weekend,” Shaw said. “With more deer in the woods than usual, hunters should have plenty of chances for success with a little effort.”

Despite a dry fall, deer have access to a variety of food items throughout the state, Shaw explained. Acorns are abundant in some areas and scarce in others, so hunters should take special note of deer feeding patterns as the season opener approaches. Keying on the right food source could make a big difference for hunters who spend some time doing a little legwork.

“We have a fairly decent acorn crop in some areas, but some areas have hardly any,” Shaw said. “The availability of acorns, along with the presence of green browse, could affect deer movements and locations, so it’s important for hunters to know what type of food items are available for deer in the areas where they plan to hunt.”

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.

To participate in the deer gun season, Oklahoma residents must possess an annual hunting license and appropriate deer gun permit or a lifetime hunting or combination license. Non-residents must possess the appropriate non-resident deer gun permit. For more information, consult the 1999-2000 Oklahoma Hunting Regulations.

Commission increases antlerless opportunities 11/4/99

In its regular November meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to increase the number of days available for antlerless deer hunting across the state for the 2000 season.

The most noticeable changes will occur in the 2000 primitive firearms season. In most parts of the state, hunters will be able to harvest antlerless deer for six days during blackpowder season, and as many as nine days in the northwest. Also, hunters in the northwest zone will be able to harvest antlerless deer for all nine days during the 2000 modern firearms season.

“We’ve come a long way to the point where we’re getting more and more requests to harvest does,” said Richard Hatcher, assistant director and former chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “With these requests and the increasing success and popularity of our Deer Management Assistance Program, we know there’s a lot of support for this proposal, and we feel it would be of great benefit not only to our state’s sportsmen and landowners, but to our deer resources in general.”

The Commission, which tabled the issue in October for further study, passed the measure unanimously.

In a fisheries-related item, the Commission accepted a donation of $60,000 from Jack Barrett, Mayor of the City of Holdenville, to help share costs in the construction of a water recirculation system at Holdenville State Fish Hatchery. When the project is completed, it will allow the hatchery to recycle most of the water it uses in its operations, reducing the demand on Holdenville City Lake by as much as 90 percent.

In his monthly financial statement, Robert Taylor, the Department’s fiscal services coordinator, reported that license sales are up nearly 8 percent from this time last year, while total revenue is up nearly 17 percent. Sales of Senior Citizen Licenses are up nearly 10 percent.

Taylor also updated the Commission on the status of the Department’s Y2K conversion.

“The new applications and systems are ready to go,” Taylor said. “All license systems should be integrated into one system by the time we begin selling Year 2000 licenses."

In other business, the Commission listened to a proposal by the City of Jenks to offer office space to the Department at the Oklahoma Aquarium, which is scheduled to be built on the banks of the Arkansas River at Jenks. The Commission voted to approve a potential partnership with the City of Jenks based on the proposal. The office would eventually replace the Department’s offices at the Tulsa Fairgrounds.

As an informational item, the Commission listened to a presentation on license sale trends from Greg Summers, the Department’s fisheries research supervisor. During the ensuing discussion, the Commission exchanged ideas on how to encourage more people to participate in hunting and fishing activities.

In personnel-related business, the Commission honored Paul Mauck, south-central fisheries supervisor, and John Streich, chief of the Department’s Law Enforcement Division, each for 30 years of continuous service. Also, Director Greg Duffy announced the promotions of several employees. Richard Hatcher was promoted from chief of wildlife to assistant director. Melinda Sturgess was promoted from human resources coordinator to chief of administration. Alan Peoples was promoted from assistant chief of wildlife to chief of wildlife. Sherrie Schluchter was promoted to administrative assistant to the director and Rhonda Hurst was also promoted to administrative assistant to the assistant director and chief of administration.

The Commission will hold its next meeting Dec. 6 at 9 a.m. at the Department’s headquarters in Oklahoma City.

Extra doe days will benefit deer 11/4/99

When dawn breaks over deer season in the year 2000, hunters will have a lot more opportunities to harvest antlerless deer across the state.

Last week, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved increasing the number of days available for antlerless deer hunting. Next fall, hunters will be able to harvest antlerless deer for six days across most of the state during the primitive firearms season. The northwest zone will offer nine days of antlerless hunting opportunities. Also, hunters in the northwest zone will be able to harvest antlerless deer for all nine days during the 2000 modern firearms season.

“Across Oklahoma, deer herds have grown to the point where there is now an intense need to increase the harvest of antlerless deer,” said Richard Hatcher, assistant director for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “In many parts of the state, buck-to-doe ratios are way out of balance - as many as 20 does per buck in some places - and that’s just not a healthy situation for the herd. The obvious solution is to harvest more antlerless deer, and we hope to achieve that goal by expanding the number of doe days.”

Because antlerless deer are more numerous in many parts of the state than antlered bucks, the changes could enhance deer hunting opportunities for most hunters. The additional doe days could also be helpful in introducing youngsters to the sport of deer hunting, which in the long run would be beneficial to Oklahoma’s wildlife resources in general.

“There are a lot of side benefits that come from increasing antlerless deer hunting opportunities,” Hatcher said. “Oklahoma’s deer herd has made tremendous progress over a short time in terms of both quality and quantity, and it’s important to remember that the changes we’ve made were made for the benefit of the state’s deer herd. If the public takes advantage of their expanded opportunities, it won’t take long for everyone to notice some very positive results.”

Muzzleloaders top 1998 blackpowder tally 11/4/99

Taking full advantage of favorable hunting conditions, Oklahoma’s blackpowder enthusiasts were considerably more successful during the 1999 primitive firearms deer season than they were in 1998.

At 30 check stations surveyed each year by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Wildlife Division, hunters checked in 3,464 deer during the primitive firearms season. That represents a 38-percent increase from the 2,507 taken during the 1998 blackpowder season. This year’s muzzleloader harvest includes 2,903 bucks and 561 does.

During the first seven days of the primitive firearms season, which ran Oct. 22-31, hunters experienced warm, sunny temperatures that made for generally pleasant hunting conditions. Deer were fairly active throughout the day during that period, and some hunters reported seeing advanced rutting activity. Rain and wind greeted hunters during the final weekend throughout most of the state, resulting in fewer antlerless deer being taken.

“The muzzleloader harvest was significantly higher than it was last year, but it was still slightly lower than it was in 1997,” said Mike Shaw, the Department’s wildlife research supervisor. “Part of that success is attributable to good weather throughout most of the season, but the fact is, there are more deer in Oklahoma than ever before, which translates to larger numbers of successful hunters.”

One thing that caught Shaw’s attention was a 54-percent increase in the number of bucks taken during the 1999 blackpowder season over the 1998 season, compared to a 10-percent decrease in the number of does harvested from 1998. Compared to 1997 harvest, the 1999 doe harvest dropped 38-percent, while the buck harvest fell just four percent.

“It’s very important for hunters to increase the harvest of antlerless deer, and muzzleloader season offers ample opportunities to do that,” Shaw said.

Unfortunately, rain limited those opportunities, but opportunities will increase considerably next year when muzzleloader hunters will be allowed to harvest antlerless deer for six days during the 2000 primitive firearms season. The northwest zone will offer nine days of antlerless deer hunting opportunities.

Harvest Through Muzzleloader Season 11/4/99

So far hunters checked in 4,663 deer at the 30 sampled check stations through the muzzleloader season. The harvest includes 1,199 deer checked during the first half of the archery season, a slight decrease from the 1,215 deer checked during the first half of archery season one year ago. The combined archery and muzzleloader harvest is comprised of 3,544 bucks and 1,119 does and represents a 25 percent increase over the combined harvest of 3,722 deer at this time last year.

As the modern gun deer season opener approaches on Nov. 20, deer activity will continue to increase, and favorable weather should contribute to an excellent harvest. The second split of archery season runs Nov. 29 - Dec. 31, offering additional opportunities to end the year with some memorable hunting experiences.

Deer hunters on pace for another record 12/2/99

Thanks to excellent weather and abundant opportunities, Oklahoma deer hunters are on pace to set another harvest record for the 1999 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 74,818 deer. That number does not include deer that will be taken in the late archery season, deer recorded in personnel books, antlerless deer taken on land enrolled in the Deer Management Assistance Program, nor deer harvested during controlled hunts.

Last year, the preliminary total after deer gun season was 73,442, said Mike Shaw, the Department’s wildlife research supervisor, and late entries boosted the overall total to the current record of 80,008. Based on last year’s numbers, Shaw projected this year’s final harvest at 81,500.

“Obviously, I’m pleased with the new record, but I will reserve judgment until the final figures are in to see what percentage of the harvest was does,” Shaw said. “We won’t know that until January, but my hope is that we got a fairly good increase in doe harvest. At this point, unfortunately, it appears that the increase was in the buck harvest.”

Of the state’s five geographic regions, the biggest increase in deer harvest came from the southeast region, where hunters took 11,771 deer. That’s an increase of 2,046 of the 1998 total of 10,021. A major reason for that, Shaw said, was because the rut was in full swing during the gun season, and also because of the abundance of acorns in that region.

Hunters in the northeast region took 23,800 deer, an increase of 296 over the 1998 total of 23,504. In the central region, hunters took 25,228 deer, compared to 25,054 in 1998, an increase of 154.

Two regions, the northwest and southwest, recorded decreases in the preliminary total. The northwest harvest was 6,479 deer, compared to 6,843 in 1998, a decrease of 364. In the southwest, the harvest was 7,540, a decrease of 480 over the 1998 total of 8,020.

Like last year, good weather during the deer gun season was an important factor in this year’s success. Unlike last year, however, hunters enjoyed fabulous weather during the muzzleloader season, too, resulting in a significantly higher contribution by blackpowder hunters.

“The 1999 primitive season was very good, and as a result of that, we did see an increase,” Shaw said. “That, coupled with an increase in the early archery season and a strong showing during gun season, combined to produce the new record.

“We also had favorable weather during the deer gun season,” Shaw added. “It was a little warmer than we had hoped, but I can’t complain. At least we didn’t have rain and sleet and snow. There were a lot of hunters out there enjoying themselves, and that’s what it takes.”

Final harvest totals will be available in January, when the Department tallies results from all outstanding sources. As it stands now, Oklahoma deer hunters may be able to celebrate their 15th record harvest in 18 years.

Deer hunters set new record

Once again, Oklahoma deer hunters during the 1999 season have set a new harvest record.

After tallying harvest totals from both muzzleloader and gun deer seasons, along with the early and late archery seasons, personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recorded a final harvest total 82,724 deer. That number represents the state's 15th record deer harvest in 18 years, said Mike Shaw, the Department's research supervisor, and it's a considerable jump from last year's record of 80,008.

"We witnessed a fairly sizable increase in the harvest, but I'm disappointed in the relatively low number of antlerless deer in the total," Shaw said. "Obviously, that's an issue of ongoing concern, but it is something that we will continue to address. I simply cannot overstate the importance for hunters to harvest more female deer."

Like last year, Osage County yielded the highest harvest with 4,382, which was a slight drop from last year's total of 4,404. This year's total includes 2,982 bucks and 1,400 does. The buck harvest in Osage Co. dropped three percent, while the doe harvest increased five percent.

Next in line was Cherokee Co., with 3,269 (2,014 bucks, 1,255 does). Cherokee Co. was also the 1998 runner-up with a final harvest of 3,332.

Osage, Cherokee and Craig were the only counties to yield at least 1,000 does. Sequoyah Co., was fourth in that category with 974 does, followed by Muskogee Co., (951) and Woods Co., (938).

Despite an overall harvest increase of more than 2,700 deer, hunters took 27,625 does, a decrease of 1,246 does from the previous year. In 1999, does accounted for 33 percent of the annual harvest, compared to 36 percent in 1998. The buck harvest was 55,099.

Like 1998, pleasant weather during most of the gun and muzzleloader seasons contributed greatly to last year's success. Blackpowder hunters took 17,165 deer in 1999, compared to 15,891 in 1998. Of those, only 3,505 were does. Bowhunters took 11,757 deer, including 4,969 does.