Last Year's Deer Tally Leaps To New Record
It’s easy to imagine this scenario: A couple of old hunters are sitting around the fireplace, telling tales of grand trips afield, remembering the years in the early-2020s and saying, “Those were the good ol’ days of big game hunting in Oklahoma.”
It’s easy to imagine because this past season, Oklahoma’s big game hunters set several harvest records — again!
A new mark was set for overall deer harvest in the state; hunters reported taking 134,158 combined in all 2022-23 deer seasons. This total blew away the previous high total of 126,290 set just two years ago.
Oklahoma’s deer populations enjoyed growing numbers and good habitat conditions across much of the state last year, factors contributing to the record harvest. But also contributing was the willingness of Oklahoma hunters to help the state’s deer management plan by taking more antlerless deer.
Antlerless harvest made up 45 percent of the total harvest, falling right in line with the statewide management goals that are resulting in healthier populations overall.
See Figure 1 for the total deer harvest from 2004 to this past season.
Figure 1: Total Harvest from 2004 to Current
Gun seasons (the 16-day modern firearms season, youth gun season, and holiday antlerless deer gun season) continue to lead the harvest numbers. A total of 80,956 deer were taken in gun seasons last year.
Muzzleloader hunters took 11,715 deer during the nine-day season. Archery hunters continued their string of consecutive-year record harvests, with 41,487 deer with bowhunting equipment.
See Figure 2 for a look at the success rates among the various hunting methods. Figure 3 shows each individual method and that method’s percentage of the 2022-23 total harvest.