Youth deer hunters had their opportunity to hunt with a gun this past weekend, and now all deer hunters in Oklahoma will get the chance to harvest deer using a firearm starting this Saturday. The state’s 2018 deer muzzleloader hunting season will open Oct. 27 and run nine days through Nov. 4.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s most recent Big Game Report, available in the current issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, an estimated 79,200 hunters participated in deer muzzleloader season last year. And while the number of muzzleloader hunters had been on a downward trend since 2004, last year’s participation bucked that trend, with a 5 percent increase in hunters from the 2016 season.
With more muzzleloader hunters in the woods in 2017, the number of harvested deer reported was also up. The total take of 16,564 deer was the highest muzzleloader harvest since 2012. This accounts for about 15 percent of the state’s total deer harvest for the 2017-18 seasons.
Muzzleloader hunting seasons for elk on private lands and for black bears in southeastern Oklahoma will also be open from Oct. 27 to Nov. 4. Various zone quotas are in effect for elk, and a harvest quota of 20 is in effect for bears.
Deer are plentiful in every part of Oklahoma, whether in the wide-open prairies in the northwest or the pine-covered mountains in the southeast. Some wildlife management areas across the state are open to hunting for at least part of the muzzleloader season, some through controlled hunt drawings that give sportsmen a unique opportunity to change up their usual hunting routine.
To learn more about deer hunting on WMAs, consult the Special Area Regulations in the current Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide or go online to wildlifedepartment.com. The website offers regulations, useful hunting information and a digital WMA atlas. In addition to detailed maps, sportsmen and sportswomen can find information about designated camping sites and contacts for WMA biologists.
Muzzleloader hunters in most of the state may also harvest a turkey the final two days of deer muzzleloader season, as that will be opening weekend of the regular fall turkey gun season. A fall turkey license is required, unless exempt. The map of open areas and other turkey season details are available in the current Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide.
The regular archery deer hunting season has been underway since Oct. 1. The deer gun season will open Nov. 17 and run through Dec. 2.
All hunters who will be out beginning Saturday, Oct. 27, are reminded that requirements for wearing hunter orange clothing will be in effect.
For complete information and license requirements, consult the current Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide found online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print across the state wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.