Sunday was the final day of deer gun season but bow hunters still have an opportunity to harvest a nice buck during the second rut.
After the first breeding period – or rut – there are always some does that do not get bred, especially in areas of the state where does outnumber the bucks by a substantial margin.
These does will come into estrus again 28 days later, which in Oklahoma will usually be sometime next week, said Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
That means the second rut likely will be peaking by next week, meaning bucks will be searching for those estrus does and increasing the chances for bow hunters.
The second rut can be just as productive for hunters as the first one.
“I would be in the woods this weekend and hunt as long as I could,” Shaw said.
Sometimes bucks will chase does during the second rut just as aggressively as they would in late October and early November, he said.
Also working to the bow hunter’s advantage is the fact that bucks should be on the move again with colder weather arriving. Bucks also will be more active because they are feeding heavily again, Shaw said.
Bucks spend a lot of energy chasing does and quit eating as much during the first rutting period, he said.
“It’s a good time to be in the woods,” Shaw said.
Bow hunters can pursue deer through Jan. 15.
The official numbers from the deer gun season will not be known for several months, but Shaw thinks the overall harvest will be down while the number of bucks taken will rise from last year because of the timing of the rut.
It appear rutting activity was at its peak across the state and some point during the deer gun season, he said.
“I think bucks took it pretty hard,” Shaw said. “I know that there were some pretty good ones that hit the ground.”
State wildlife officials don’t want to see the percentage of bucks killed go any higher than it currently is and Shaw hopes deer hunters will take advantage of the antlerless only gun hunting season from Dec. 17-26.
The antlerless only gun season was lengthened this year to provide more doe hunting opportunities. The antlerless season is closed in most of the Panhandle and southeastern Oklahoma.