Deer Hunting - The Most Popular Hunting Season in Oklahoma
Forget football, in Oklahoma deer are king. Come fall there are 200,000 hunters headed out to the woods to participate in the most popular single sporting event in the state - deer gun season. That is more than all the fans at Boone Pickens, Gaylord Memorial and Chapman stadiums combined.
It’s no wonder so many Oklahomans have caught buck fever - our state is a sleeper destination when it comes to having a great chance to take home a trophy. We have known it for a long time, that there are big deer in the woods, but the word is now getting out to the rest of the nation. Oklahoma is now routinely featured on national hunting shows and is showing up on the bucket list of deer-crazy hunters everywhere.
It didn’t happen by accident, Oklahoma has a long tradition of forward-thinking big game biologists. From Cy Curtis who took the lead in trapping and transplanting deer, to Mike Shaw who oversaw phenomenal growth of the deer herd, to the current leader of the big game program Erik Bartholomew, one of the brightest and well respected young biologists in the deer community.
There is something here for every deer hunter. Whether you want to see lots of deer or you have your sights set on a wall hanger- we have it all! This diverse assembly of deer hunters is blessed with equally diverse habitat in which to pursue their sport. Dense cross timber oaks, wide open mesas, pine-covered hills, rolling plains, or bottom land cypress swamps, all can be found in Oklahoma. And if you do not have access to private land, no worries as dozens of Wildlife Management Areas are scattered across the state offering some fantastic whitetail hunting!
All those deer and all those deer hunters add up to a big impact on the state’s economy. From the largest outdoor and sporting goods stores in the major metropolitan cities to the smallest of cafes in rural outposts all over the state, deer hunting is big business for Oklahoma with an estimated total economic impact of over $600 million a year!
Fueling that deer hunting popularity is a management plan that serves our diverse hunters’ interests by providing region-leading season lengths and bag limits along with a strong education component outlining the benefits of balanced sex ratios and selective buck harvest. That balanced voluntary based approach has gained national attention as it has improved the buck age structure over the past decade. Our success has prompted the Quality Deer Management Association to list Oklahoma as one of the top five states showing declines in yearling buck harvests and led Kip Adams, the QDMA Education and Outreach Director to say “I think Oklahoma has done a tremendous job protecting yearling bucks and improving the age structure of their deer herd.”
Chances are, if you are reading this information, you are already a deer hunter! But, if you have not been deer hunting and want to give it a try, just talk with a neighbor, an uncle, a nurse or teacher - there’s a good chance that one or all of them is a die hard deer hunter and can tell you everything you want to know. Just don’t wait till November to talk to them - they’ll probably be in a tree stand.
Buck Harvest Report by County
Harvest Report is updated weekly. Sportsmen have the option to exclude their name; however, your deer harvest information will still appear on the report. The report uses an asterisk (*) in lieu of excluded names.
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Some hunters are interested in using antler scores to help them make harvest decisions. Software created at the Mississippi State University Deer Lab allows accurate scoring of a buck’s antlers by using a game camera photo of the buck. For details about Buckscore, go online to BuckScore.com
Younger Buck• Appears to be a doe with antlers.
• Has legs that seem too long for body.
• Often lacks good definition in muscles.
• Has a slender neck and body.
• Has antlers that tend to be thin.
Mature Buck• Has legs that look proportional to the body size.
• Has a neck the same width or wider than face.
• Is proportional from front to rear of body.
• Has a belly and a back that are flat and tight.
Older Buck• Has legs that look a bit short for body size.
• Has rippled skin around neck and face.
• Might have some gray visible around muzzle.
• Has a belly that tends to sag.
• Has a neck and chest that seem to be 1 large muscle.
• Has a forehead that’s usually darker than the muzzle.
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