Upland Hunting in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is one of the best and most diverse places to hunt various species of game. This is particularly true for upland hunting. The hunting of these non-waterfowl game birds is a popular hobby for many outdoors enthusiasts. If you are not as experienced with this particular type of hunting, fear not because we will give some beginner’s basics in this article. We will do so by focusing on two of the most popular upland birds: the pheasant and the quail.
The common pheasant originally hails from Asia but has been introduced worldwide as one of the most popular non-waterfowl game birds. It is one of the most hunted birds in the world. In Oklahoma, the hunting season for pheasants is from Dec. 1 to Jan. 31. These dates only apply to open areas, which include the following: Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Major, Noble, Texas, Woods and Woodward counties; the portion of Osage County west of State Highway 18; and the portions of Blaine, Dewey, Ellis, Kingfisher and Logan counties north of State Highway 51. You can only shoot the males–the cocks–and only two per day with a limit of four in your possession after the first day. Official shooting hours are from sunrise to sunset. Any shotgun from a .410 to a 12 gauge can be used to hunt upland birds, but the 16, 20 and 28 gauges are among the most popular. Pheasants love cultivated farmlands but will congregate anywhere that is full of weeds. Be sure you are correctly clothed to be able to handle moving through thick ground cover so you don’t get pricked or scraped by branches or thorns.
Unlike the imported pheasant, the quail is a native to the Americas. Oklahoma has two main species of quail: the northern bobwhite and the scaled quail. The northern bobwhite is spread throughout the entire state; the scaled quail is only found in the western part of the state and the panhandle. The northern bobwhite prefer agricultural fields, grasslands, and the edges of woods while the scaled quail lives in dry, barren, rocky valleys, plains, foothills, and canyons. Quail hunting season is very long in Oklahoma, from Nov. 8 to Feb. 15, and the entire state is open. The daily limit is also very high at 10 per day with a possible 20 in your possession after the first day. As always, official shooting hours are from sunrise to sunset. You cannot pot shoot quails, or shoot them while they are still on the ground. Only wingshooting is allowed. As with all upland hunting, any shotgun from .410 to 12 gauge is fine, though the 20 gauge is the most popular shotgun for quail hunting with the 28 gaining in popularity. As quails are found in rockier terrains, be sure you are dressed appropriately.
Upland hunting, of course, requires a hunting dog or even two. Spaniels and pointers are most common, though many have found much success using retrievers also, particularly with pheasants. Any breed that points to or flushes the birds will work. Since hunting quail involves wide tracks of sparse land, a hunting buggy may be necessary to keep your dogs from becoming too tired.
Upland hunting in Oklahoma is a wonderful and fun pastime. Just be sure you are correctly equipped and are aware of the regulations for each bird. Be safe and have fun!