Oklahoma’s first bear season opens Thursday and is getting a lot of publicity, but an overwhelming majority of hunters in the field Thursday will be looking to put an arrow in a big buck, not a big bear.
The state’s long archery season for deer also opens Thursday and continues through Jan. 15 statewide.
The deer should enter this season well fed and well hidden. More rainfall than usual in much of the state has produced plenty of food for the state’s deer herd, so hunters should be seeing some big deer this season.
But the wet summer also has caused vegetation to reach great height and density, which could make bowhunting difficult in the beginning of the season,” said Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
“The deer will still be out there,” Shaw said. “It will just be tougher to see them.”
In eastern Oklahoma, the white oak acorns are falling which should help draw deer out of the thick cover that exists.
In western Oklahoma, I received a report a week ago from hunters who had been watching a dozen or more bucks on their alfalfa fields. The bucks were out of velvet and moving over to some milo that was maturing in other places.
“Sounds like they are starting to change food sources so next I would say you will start seeing them more on the wheat as it starts to green up,” sad Melvin Hart, taxidermist and deer hunter in Yukon.
Bowhunters across the state are finding more success during dear season. Last year, bowhunters set a new archery season harvest record of 17,784 deer, helping to push the last year’s combined season deer harvest to the second highest in state history, a total of 111,427.
Last year, more than 83,000 hunters participated in Oklahoma’s archery deer season.
Combining all deer seasons in Oklahoma (archery, muzzleloader and gun), the top 10 counties with the highest deer harvest last year are all east of I-35: Osage (4,409 deer), Pittsburg (3,834), Cherokee (3,402), Atoka (3,062), Pushmataha (2,731), Sequoyah (2,713), Creek (2,504), Delaware (2,354), Haskell (2,046) and Mayes (1,996).