From the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
--The deer gun season opener--one of the biggest days of the year for Oklahoma hunters--is fast approaching. The season runs Nov. 20 through Dec. 5.
Annual deer harvest numbers over the past several years are at an all-time high, and last year 62 percent of the total annual harvest was accounted for during the deer gun season.
Nearly 200,000 hunters participated in some form of deer rifle season in 2009, according to Jerry Shaw in the Department of Wildlife Conservation's recent Big Game Report.
Shaw watches harvest numbers, trends and other data to help the department manage deer populations and provide hunting opportunities statewide.
He reports deer gun hunters harvested almost 72,000 deer last year during the regular deer gun, youth-only and holiday antlerless deer gun seasons combined. That contributed to a total of 116,175 deer harvested in 2009 by all methods and seasons combined, a "a slight 4.3 percent increase over the 2008 harvest and only 3,174 deer shy of the all-time record set in 2006.
Deer are plentiful in every part of Oklahoma, and wildlife management areas across the state offer public hunting at least part of the deer gun season. Special draw hunts give sportsmen a chance to change a usual hunting routine.
For more about deer hunting on wildlife management areas, consult the current Oklahoma Hunting Guide or the website at wildlifedepartment.com. In addition to detailed maps, sportsmen can find information such as camping locations and contacts for local biologists.
Hunters who subscribe to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's free weekly wildlife news release will also receive a status report of deer rutting activity statewide. The information is collected from biologist and Department personnel stationed in all regions of the state, and will be available before opening day. To receive the free weekly e-mail, log on to http://wildlifedepartment.com/.
During deer gun season, hunters can harvest a buck and two antlerless deer. At least one antlerless deer must be harvested from Antlerless Deer Zone 2, 7 or 8. Most of the state is open to antlerless hunting every day during the season.
Resident gun season hunters must possess an appropriate hunting license and a deer gun license for each deer harvested. Nonresident deer gun hunters are exempt from a hunting license while hunting deer, but they must possess a nonresident deer gun season license for each deer hunted or proof of exemption.
After harvesting a deer, all hunters must attach a field tag to the animal. New this year, the date and time of harvest must be recorded on field tags placed on deer, turkey and elk in addition to the hunter's name and license number.
The field tag, which can be constructed of anything, for example, a business card, must remain attached to the carcass until it is checked either at the nearest hunter check station, with an authorized Wildlife Department employee or online at http://wildlifedepartment.com/.
Hunters age 10-35 who have not completed hunter education can buy an apprentice-designated hunting license and hunt while accompanied by a licensed hunter 21 years old or older who has completed the hunter education course, or a licensed hunter 21 years old or older who is otherwise exempt from hunter education. This includes those 36 years old or older, those honorably discharged or currently active in the Armed Forces or members of the National Guard.
Hunters under 10 years old must complete a hunter education course to hunt big game or to buy any big game hunting license.