Photo by Jeremiah Zurenda
Several archery hunting seasons will open Oct. 1. Here's the rundown:
Deer Archery – Oct. 1, 2020, to Jan. 15, 2021, statewide.
The most popular of the archery hunting seasons is for deer, with a record 113,000 hunters going afield in 2019-20. Those hunters took home a record 30,748 deer. This year, the Department is bringing back an important reminder to help bring the statewide herd sex ratios into balance: Hunters in the Know … Take a Doe! By doing his or her part to increase overall antlerless harvest, each hunter will contribute to the Department’s deer management goals and will enhance deer herd health and hunting in the future.
Hunters should see plenty of deer and get some good chances for harvest this year. Scouting ahead of the hunt can help pattern deer movement. With mild and damp conditions over much of the state, habitat is in good shape, too. This can make good visibility an issue. Most forested areas have thick undergrowth, and many prairies are covered in native grasses reaching five feet high. It’s more important than ever for hunters to positively identify targets before deciding to take a shot.
Bowhunters won’t see a change in regulations for deer archery harvest. Archery season is open statewide, with a season limit of six deer, no more than two of which may be antlered. Deer taken during archery season count toward a hunter's combined season limit of six deer.
New this year: Regulations on some public hunting lands have been changed to mirror statewide regulations; and rules are now in effect statewide regarding importation of cervid carcasses and carcass parts into Oklahoma from other states.
Elk Archery – Oct. 1, 2020, to Jan. 15, 2021 (except Special Southwest Zone), only private land statewide.
The elk archery season coincides with the end of the elk rut. Oklahoma is divided into seven elk zones, and each zone has its own bag limit (one or two elk) and harvest quota. The Special Southwest Zone will be open for archery hunting on private lands on Oct. 3-7 and Dec. 5-9 only. The largest concentrations of elk occur in the Special Southwest Zone. And while the season dates are more restrictive in this zone, there is no zone harvest quota.
Archery hunters took 41 of the 376 elk harvested in 2019. Hunters may harvest two elk combined for all elk seasons. All hunters must check online at wildlifedepartment.com before their hunt to find out if the season is closed for the zone they intend to hunt. Once the quota is met in each zone, the elk season will close in that zone.
Bear Archery – Oct. 1-18, 2020, only east of State Highway 69 and south of Interstate 40.
In 2019, hunters harvested 61 black bears in Oklahoma. Of those, 57 were taken by archery hunters. For archery bear hunters, there is no season harvest quota. So, these hunters can be more selective in making a harvest decision since they may hunt the entire 18 days. Hunters may take only one bear for all seasons combined.
All hunters are required to have a hunting license or proof of exemption, and a bear license (no exemptions). Bear archery hunting licenses must be purchased by Sept. 30, before the season opens. No bear archery licenses will be sold after that date.
Pronghorn Archery – Oct 1-14, 2020, Cimarron County and west of State Highway 136 in Texas County.
Most pronghorns harvested in Oklahoma are taken through the Wildlife Department’s Controlled Hunts program and through landowner permit drawings. But of the 169 pronghorns harvested last year, 29 were taken with a bow. The archery pronghorn license is sold over-the-counter, so most anyone can try their luck at bagging a season limit of two (only one being a buck).
New this year: All pronghorn harvests must be reported using E-check; physical check stations will no longer be used.
Turkey Archery – Oct. 1, 2020, to Jan. 15, 2021, statewide.
All counties are open for the fall turkey archery season. Hunters may harvest one turkey of either sex during all fall seasons combined. It’s common for deer hunters to head to the field along with the proper fall turkey license in case they get a chance to harvest a turkey while deer hunting.
New this year: Regulations on some public hunting lands have been changed to mirror statewide regulations.
Remember, season dates and regulations on public lands may vary from statewide dates regulations. Complete details and regulations for each public hunting area, along with rules for hunter education and apprentice-designated license requirements, can be found in the Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide, available free online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print anywhere hunting licenses are sold.
- Don P. Brown is an information & education specialist for the Wildlife Department