Youth Deer Gun Season Open Oct. 16-18
Many young hunters are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Oct. 16. That Friday will be opening day for this year's three-day youth deer gun season.
The timing of this season is often a benefit for youth hunters. Deer are still in summer feeding routines and are easy to pattern. And temperatures in October tend to be mild, which makes for a more comfortable hunt.
Hunters 17 and younger may participate but must be accompanied in the field by an adult who is 18 or older. The adult, with proper license(s), is permitted to archery deer hunt while accompanying the youth hunter, but the adult may not hunt with a firearm.
Youths generally have good success during this early season, a testament to the mentors who take the youths hunting, allowing them be successful.
Dallas Barber, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, urges mentors to take youth hunters to scout hunting areas before opening day and make it a positive experience.
“Getting the kids outside and teaching them about deer hunting is a lot of fun. Point out the things to look for, like tracks, scrapes and rubs. Have them help you create a ground blind, and cut brush to conceal it. Make it a chance for them to learn about your passion for hunting.
“Remember, it is about passing on the traditions that we enjoy as adults, so they can also enjoy it in the future.”
Youth hunters may harvest two deer during youth deer gun season, and one of those may be antlered. A deer license is required for each deer hunted. Therefore, a youth hunter could buy three deer licenses (one antlered and two antlerless) so he or she possibly could harvest two deer during a single hunt. Resident youth hunters who don’t fill all of their deer licenses during youth deer gun season may use the unfilled youth deer gun licenses during regular deer gun season, Nov. 21-Dec. 6.
Youth hunters may also harvest a bearded turkey during youth deer gun season, provided they have the appropriate fall turkey license (unless exempt) and are hunting in a county open to fall turkey gun hunting.
Deer taken by hunters participating in youth deer gun season are included in the hunter's combined season limit (six deer, of which no more than two may be antlered).
Oklahoma youths 15 and younger are exempt from the purchase of a hunting license but must possess a youth deer gun license or apprentice-designated youth deer gun license (unless exempt) for each deer harvested.
Residents who are 16 or 17 years old must possess a hunting license or proof of exemption, plus a youth deer gun license for each deer hunted. A $5 youth hunting license or a $9 youth combination hunting and fishing license is available to 16 and 17-year-old residents, and resident youth deer gun licenses are $10.
For complete information on youth deer gun season, consult the current Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide online at wildlifedepartment.com, on the free Go Outdoors Oklahoma mobile app for Apple or Android, or in print at any hunting and fishing license vendor statewide.
YOUTH SEASON TIPS FOR MENTORS
Accompanying adults might find these suggestions useful as they introduce their young hunters to youth deer season:
Before going afield, help youths complete the Oklahoma hunter education course free online. Successful students 10 and older will receive hunter education certification, although it is not mandated for youth deer gun season participants.
Practice scenarios with youths, such as shooting from a blind and shot placement.
Use a ground blind when possible. Kids tend to move around a lot, and a blind can help conceal movement.
Bring plenty of snack and drinks to keep kids happy.
Pay attention to the weather forecast for the days afield. Make sure to bring gear and clothes that will keep the young hunters comfortable.
Teach kids that hunting is not all about the harvest; point out the many others reasons people enjoy getting outdoors.