Some major archery hunting seasons will open Saturday, Oct. 1, in Oklahoma. The public archery seasons for deer, elk, bear, fall turkey and pronghorn antelope are set to begin 30 minutes before official sunrise that day. Seasons on public lands may vary from statewide season dates, and all elk hunting must take place on private land only.
Complete details and regulations for each season -- including hunter education and apprentice-designated license requirements -- can be found in the Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide, available in a free mobile app for iPhone and Android users, free online at wildlifedepartment.com, or in print anywhere hunting licenses are sold.
Oct. 1, 2016, to Jan. 15, 2017, statewide
The most popular of the archery hunting seasons is for deer. For the third straight year, the number of deer archery hunters set a record, with just under 100,000 participating.
Scouting ahead of your hunt can help pattern deer movement. Food resources are plentiful again this year, and thick habitat conditions will hamper visibility for many hunters. Most forested areas have thick undergrowth, and many prairies are covered in tall native grasses.
Again this year, the Wildlife Department is reminding hunters that when they take a whitetail, they are making a deer herd management decision. This educational effort uses the slogan "Hunters in the Know ... Let Young Bucks Grow!" The focus of the campaign is to encourage hunters to consider harvesting an older buck as a way to positively influence the age structure of the state's deer herd.
The bag limit is six deer, which may include no more than two antlered deer. For license requirements and information on field tagging and checking, consult the "Oklahoma Hunting" regulations guide or go online to wildlifedepartment.com.
Oct. 1, 2016, to Jan. 15, 2017 (except Special Southwest Zone),
private land only statewide
The beginning of the elk archery season coincides with the end of the elk rut.
For the statewide elk season, Oklahoma is divided into seven zones. 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 Oct. 1-5 and Dec. 10-14 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.
Hunters may harvest two elk combined for all elk seasons. Once the harvest quota is met in each zone, the elk season will close in that zone. All hunters must look online at wildlifedepartment.com before their hunt to find out if the season has closed for the zone they intend to hunt.
To find out about license requirements, field tagging and checking, landowner permission, zone bag limits and zone harvest quotas for private land elk hunts, consult the regulations guide or mobile app, or go online to wildlifedepartment.com.
Oct. 1-16, 2016, in Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain
and Pushmataha counties only
Of the 52 black bears harvested by hunters in Oklahoma last year, 49 were taken with archery equipment. For archery bear hunters, there is no season harvest quota. So, hunters can be more selective in making a harvest decision since they may hunt the entire 16 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 Friday, Sept. 30, before the season opens. No bear archery licenses will be sold after that date.
Successful bear hunters should call the phone numbers provided in the regulations guide to be directed to the nearest location where they can check in their bear. For more information about prohibited activities, field tagging and checking, consult the regulations guide, the mobile app, or go online to wildlifedepartment.com.
Oct 1-14, 2016, in Cimarron County
and Texas County west of State Highway 136
Most pronghorn antelope harvested in Oklahoma are taken through the Wildlife Department's Controlled Hunts and through landowner permits. Of the 72 antelope harvested in 2015, only nine were taken by over-the-counter license buyers. For successful hunters, antelope check-in sites are listed in the regulations guide.
To find out about license requirements, season limit, field tagging and checking, and landowner permission, consult the regulations guide, mobile app or go online to wildlifedepartment.com.
Fall Turkey Archery
Oct. 1, 2016, to Jan. 15, 2017, statewide
All counties are open for the fall turkey archery season. Hunters may harvest one turkey of either sex during all fall seasons combined. Any turkey harvested statewide must be checked in using the E-Check system at wildlifedepartment.com.
It's common for archery deer hunters to carry the proper fall turkey license with them as they head to the field in case they get an opportunity to harvest a turkey while deer hunting.
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