2004 Whitetail Articles


Antlerless deer season dates approved by the Wildlife Conservation Commission (4/8/04)

After some discussion the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to make no changes to the antlerless deer season dates for the 2004 muzzleloader and modern firearms hunting seasons.

Alan Peoples, wildlife division chief, submitted a proposal to the Commission that would have decreased the total number of antlerless deer hunting days in southeast Oklahoma (zone 10) from the nine days provided last year to four days in the upcoming 2004 seasons. The proposal included no changes in antlerless deer days in the rest of the state.

“Hunters that attended our public meetings in southeast Oklahoma indicated that they were observing fewer does when in the field and consequently expressed a desire for fewer antlerless deer hunting days. This proposal was in response to that feedback,” Peoples said. “In making management decisions we try to include both social and biological factors in the decision. Fewer antlerless deer days would not have a significant biological effect one way or the other.”

However, the Commission amended the proposal back to nine days of antlerless deer hunting (six days in muzzleloader season and three days in modern gun season) in southeast Oklahoma. This amended proposal was passed unanimously by the Commission. Commissioners also approved the original proposal for the remainder of the state and no changes were made in the number of antlerless deer days.

The Commission also approved the dates for the special antlerless deer seasons and the private land elk hunting seasons. Besides calendar adjustments, no changes were made in these season dates.

In other business, the Commission accepted a generous donation of a 24-foot gooseneck trailer from the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International. The trailer will be used in the Department’s Shotgun Training Education Program, which introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms. The Commission also recognized Mike Petis with Advanced Warnings Inc. for donating the computer graphics for the trailer, which includes both the Wildlife Department and Safari Club International logos.

Also at the April meeting, Carlos Gomez, state game warden stationed in Tulsa County was recognized as the National Wild Turkey Federation Oklahoma game warden of the year.

“Carlos has proven to be an outstanding representative for the state and we are proud to honor him as the game warden of the year,” said Gary Purdy, regional director for the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The Commission voted to accept a donation of $5,000 from the Oklahoma City Zoological Park. The money will be used for the Department’s Natural Resources Diversity Program. The donation bolsters the strong partnership between the Zoo and the Wildlife Department. Five Department biologists currently work out of offices on the zoo grounds.

“We feel like this is a perfect relationship and we are proud to assist the Department of Wildlife in their conservation efforts,” said Bert Castro, executive director of the Oklahoma City Zoological Park.

In other business, the Commission voted to approve a pair of changes to the employee handbook. First, a provision was made to allow temporary Department personnel to use Department-owned all-terrain vehicles. Second, mandatory retirement for game wardens was set at age 65. Individuals may apply for a one-year work extension, which must be approved by the Department director. A maximum of five extensions may be granted. Reserve officers must also cease law enforcement activity at age 65.

Also at the meeting, the Commission entered into executive session to discuss the purchase of property in Adair and Sequoyah counties. No action was taken on the item.

Commissioners also recognized Leon Johnson, wildlife technician at Pushmataha Wildlife Management Area, for his 25 years of service to the agency and to the sportsmen of the state.

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.

The next scheduled Commission meeting is May 3 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 9:00 a.m.


Let sleeping fawns lie (5/27/04)

On a few occasions wildlife management requires intensive efforts such as surveying fish populations, banding geese or conducting prescribed burns. But when it comes to young wildlife, the best thing to is almost always to stand back, stay out of the way and let nature take care of itself.
Birds and squirrels can be blown out of their nest in storms, and although they appear alone and helpless, the parents will often find these youngsters and care for them wherever they might be. It is very common for small wildlife to become separated from their nest and siblings, but probably the most common wildlife found alone is white-tailed deer fawns.

"Just because you see a fawn by itself doesn’t mean it’s an orphan. The parent is nearby and she is just waiting for you to leave so she can move her fawn off to safety," said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

"Sometimes people, with the best of intentions, attempt to ‘save’ a fawn. But this can actually compromise the fawn's ability to survive in the wild. Raising a wild deer is not easy and besides, no one can take better care of a fawn than the doe,” Shaw said.

In Oklahoma, most fawns are born in May and June, and start becoming visible in mid to late June.

For more information about deer or about wildlife watching opportunities, log onto the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.


Deer hunters experience another great year (7/8/04)

Once again, Oklahoma deer hunters during the 2003-04 season had an excellent harvest.

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 100,602 deer. The total is a small increase from last year’s harvest of 98,581.

"It was another great year for deer hunters in Oklahoma," said Mike Shaw, the Department's research supervisor. "We witnessed pretty much what we expected regarding the new 16-day deer gun season. The peak activity took place during the first few days and the last few days of the season."

Like last year, Osage County yielded the highest county total with 4,981 deer harvested. Next in line was Cherokee County with 3,574 deer harvested followed by Pittsburg County with 2,687. Complete county-by-county and season data is available at wildlifedepartment.com/03tot.htm.

Hunters took 42,988 does during the 2003 seasons. Antlerless deer accounted for 43 percent of the total harvest, a proportion nearly identical to the 2002 seasons.

“We would always like to see a little higher doe harvest, but I am glad to see that hunters are placing an emphasis on harvesting does. This will really benefit the population in the long term,” Shaw said.

Muzzleloader hunters took 24,176 deer in 2003, compared to 24,479 in 2002. Bowhunters took 13,326 deer, compared to 14,278 in 2002.

For complete details pick up a copy of the September/October 2004 issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine. The issue contains the annual big game report and offers valuable insight for deer hunters. Beginning September 1, copies will be available for $3 if picked up at the Oklahoma City and Jenks Wildlife Department's offices, or $4 by mail (mail to Outdoor Oklahoma, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152). One-year subscriptions, which are only $10, are available by calling 1-800-777-0019, or you can print off an order form off the Internet by logging on to the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.


Editors note: For complete harvest totals in your county log onto wildlifedepartment.com/03tot.htm.

Archery season coming soon (9/23/04)

Believe it or not the annual kick-off of Oklahoma deer seasons is just around the corner.

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 runs non-stop, from Oct. 1 to Jan. 15, allowing more than 100 days of hunting opportunity.

According to Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, archery hunters have plenty to look forward to this fall.

"Right now, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have another great archery season," Shaw said. "Both the amount and quality of forage available to deer is excellent and that will have a positive effect on body weight and antler growth, as well as the deer's overall health going into the winter."

Shaw added, that deer hunters may want to do some additional scouting this fall. Picking a good stand may be particularly important this year as deer may not have to travel far to a good food source.

During the 2003 archery deer seasons, bowhunters harvested 13,326 white-tailed deer. The archery harvest contributed 13 percent of the total deer harvest.

Before heading afield, be sure to pick up a copy of the “2004-2005 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.


Special youth deer season opens Oct. 15-17 (10/7/04)

It’s not everyday an opportunity comes along to make a memory that will last a lifetime. But the special youth antlerless deer gun season, which will be held October 15-17, offers just that chance. The special season is a great opportunity for families to enjoy a weekend in the great outdoors.

“Not only is a great time of year to be in the woods, it is also a great time to introduce a youngster to the sport of hunting. The weekend offers a chance to really focus on the youth and teach the skills they will use over a lifetime of hunting,” said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Open to kids under 18 years of age, the special youth antlerless deer gun season was created to encourage youth to head afield and to provide additional opportunities to harvest antlerless deer. Participating youth are required to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult who must partner at least 18 years of age.

For complete season dates and other regulations, pick up a copy of the “2004-05 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log onto wildlifedepartment.com.


Deer hunters making final preparations for upcoming deer gun season (11/4/04)

Clean out the freezer, sight in your rifle and dig out the blaze orange, because the deer gun season is right around the corner. Running Nov. 20 through Dec. 5, the deer gun season is undoubtedly Oklahoma’s most popular hunting event and this year hunters have reason to be excited about the upcoming season.

“For the second year in a row hunters have the opportunity to hunt 16 days during the deer gun season and it looks like we’ll have another great season,” said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

More than 155,000 gun hunters took to the woods last fall, harvesting 63,100 deer. With good weather, hunters can again look forward to excellent opportunities to harvest a deer this fall.

Oklahomans 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. For antlerless deer hunt zones and dates open to antlerless hunting, pick up a copy of the “2004-05 Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”

Upon successfully harvesting a deer, 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.

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 and the most up-to-date check station listing is available at wildlifedepartment.com.

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, 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.

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 “2004-05 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" available at all license dealer locations or log on to the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.

The Wildlife Department is continuing to monitor the state’s deer herd for chronic wasting disease (CWD) as it has since 1999. To date, all of the 2,638 deer sampled statewide have tested negative for the disease. However, ODWC biologists will sample an additional 2,000 deer during this year’s deer hunting seasons.