Whitetail Deer Hunting in Oklahoma
It might be tempting to ignore the red tape, but hunting illegally in Oklahoma is a crime with heavy fines for those who get caught. Don’t pay the price after the fact – follow these rules to hunt clean.
Tis the Season for Whitetail
Deer hunting has five separate seasons, some of which overlap. October first to January fifteenth is the season for whitetail deer with archery. Muzzle-loaded firearms are permitted from October twenty-fifth to November second. The primary deer-hunting season with no modifiers extends from November twenty-second to December seventh. Finally, antlerless deer only season ranges from December nineteenth to the twenty-eighth, and a special, two-day youth hunting event starts on October seventeenth.
Hunting with an improper weapon during a season is just as illegal as hunting out of season. You also must keep in mind zoning-based restrictions, as well as quota caps that can put a premature end to a season.
Enjoying the Dark of Early Morn
Since whitetail deer are primarily nocturnal, deer hunting is an early (or very, very late) bird affair. Five to six AM is a typical time slot to begin a hunt. Note that Oklahoma is particularly strict on light sources for nocturnal hunting. You won’t be able to use night scopes or other forms of night vision gear. Even hunting with a little help from your truck’s headlights (known as ‘spotlighting’) is prohibited.
Get Your Papers
The hunting permit is, of course, indispensable for any whitetail hunter. You can expect to spend between ten and twenty dollars on a typical five-year permit for hunting deer, with separate permits required for standard firearms, archery and muzzle-loaders. Unfortunately, if you’re a non-resident from out of state, you’ll have to pay closer to two hundred and eighty dollars – making it more appealing to stay close to home.
If you plan to make a lifelong habit of hunting whitetail or other animals in Oklahoma, you may want to consider a lifetime permit, both for convenience and for long term savings.
Make Yourself at Home in a Buck’s Home
It should be no great shocker that whitetail deer prefer exactly opposite environments from those favorable to humans. If you’re after a particularly big buck (one hundred and fifty pounds or larger), you’ll need to trek deep into the densest local thickets, as well as water sources like creeks and swamps. Look out for raised elevations in these areas, especially ones with shade – just like people, deer like to keep themselves cool from the sun.
As always, there will be clues of whitetail nearby that a hunting sleuth can discern. These include traveling trails, ground scrapes, and bark rubs. The latter are an especially good hint as to the size of any resident bucks, according to their antlers.
Rutting season is somewhat flexible, and can begin as soon as September, lasting from one to three months into the winter. Mid-November is a typical yearly peak.
What to Do After the Kill
Always verify that your deer is dead upon approach, and keep your weapon loaded, just in case. The simplest way to verify is to use a long stick to poke the animal’s eyeball.
If you’re interested in the meat, you should dress the deer as soon as possible, and especially if it was injured in the abdomen. Fluids from the stomach, intestines or bowels can ruin a perfectly good meal. Keeping the head elevated and the posterior lowered puts gravity in your favor.
Keep a large canvas or other fabric with you, and use it to wrap the deer before moving it. This will keep the meat and the skin as clean as possible for future use.
No matter how proud of it you are, don’t carry your deer on your shoulders or back, or in your arms! Always drag your deer after it’s wrapped. Other modes of transportation may seem more comfortable or convenient, but they also put you at risk for being shot by another hunter who sees the hide, but not the orange you’re wearing.