The rut appears to be heading into full swing across Oklahoma with bucks seeking and chasing does as deer gun season is set to open on Saturday.
State wildlife officials predict the peak of the rut will occur during the opening days of deer gun season in many parts of the stae.
If history repeats itself, more deer will be killed on Saturday in Oklahoma than any other day of the year.
Typically, the first day of the deer gun season will see more deer checked in by hunters than on any other day of the 16-day gun season, which accounts for the majority of the deer harvest.
Last year, more than 156,000 hunters participated in the deer gun season. More than 204,000 participated in all seasons combined and checked in 109,314 deer, the fourth most in state history.
To date, Oklahoma’s deer harvest is slightly down from last year by about 600, said Micah Holmes, spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Predictably, more hunters are checking in their deer online this year. This is the third year the Wildlife Department has allowed the online option at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com for check in and the number of hunters taking advantage of it has risen each year.
The Oklahoma counties where hunters check in the most deer remain almost the same every year. Osage County has been the top producing county the past four years. Last season 4,025 were checked in from Osage County.
Following Osage is Cherokee (3,517 deer) and Pittsburg (3,073) counties, which have alternated between the No. 2 and No. 3 spots the past three years. Pushmataha (3,027) and Le Flore 2,890) County were fourth and fifth last season.
Rounding out the top 10 are Atoka (2,751), McCurtain (2,520), Sequoyah (2,236), Craig (2,281) and Roger Mills (2,094).
Pushmataha also is home of the top two typical bucks (194 0/8 and 191 4/8) taken in Oklahoma, both killed in 2007 during the rifle season. The non-typical record is 248 6/8 taken in Tillman County in 2004 during the rifle season.
Hunters who do not want their deer meat can donate it to needy families through the Hunters Against Hunger program. The Oklahoma Hunting Guide contains a list of meat processors that participate in the program as does the Wildlife Department’s website. Or call the Wildlife Department at 521-4660 for more information.