From the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
-- Sept. 13 marks the opening day of antelope archery season in two Oklahoma counties. Over-the-counter antelope archery tags have been sold since last year when archery hunters harvested 36 antelope during the first open archery season.
"September is an awesome time of year, and what better way to kick off the fall season than a great hunt for a great animal on the high plains?" said Wade Free, northwest region wildlife supervisor for the Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The 2010 Sept. 13 to 26 antelope archery season will be open in Cimarron County and the portion of Texas County west of Hwy 136. The archery bag limit is two antelope, with no more than one buck allowed. Antelope harvested during the archery antelope season count against a hunter's statewide combined season bag limit of two antelope of which no more than one may be a buck.
All other antelope hunting in Oklahoma is limited to hunts offered through the Department of Wildlife Conservation's controlled hunts program, in which hunters must be drawn for an antelope hunt, or through a limited number of landowner permits. According to Free, 36 antelope harvested during last year's season may provide some useful information to hunters hoping to take an antelope this year.
"Most were stalked or taken at water holes," Free said. "Some were harvested along corridors to and from rangeland to cropland. Antelope move around all day, unlike deer, so it is common for hunters to stay put all day," Free said. "Sitting for 10 to 12 hours a day can be quite a challenge, but it will pay off. Pack your lunch."
The wide open terrain of Texas and Cimarron counties provides added challenge in getting close to antelope, since judging distance can become difficult without landmarks, trees and other indicators of distance. Free suggests carrying both binoculars and range finders. Additionally, decoys may help attract curious antelope and distract them from seeing the subtle movements of hunters adjusting for a shot.
Keeping comfort a priority since long hours may be required for a successful hunt. "Patience is key," he said, adding that portable blinds and a chair are a must for concealment and comfort.
After a successful hunt and after checking in their antelope, Free said hunters might wish to process their animal before heading home. "It can be over 100 degrees at times and cooling the meat down quickly is a must," he said. He also reminds hunters to obtain the required written landowner permission before hunting.
Oklahoma's pronghorn population has seen a gradual increase over the past several years, and that might give archery hunters an edge. To hunt antelope during antelope archery season, resident hunters must have an appropriate hunting license or proof of exemption. Additionally, all antelope hunters must have an antelope license for each antelope hunted, or proof of exemption.
All antelope hunters must carry written permission from the landowner while hunting antelope, unless exempt. For full season details, consult the 2010-11 Oklahoma Hunting Guide or check the website at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/.