With big game hunting opportunities for black bear, antelope, elk and mule deer available, Oklahoma is becoming a “land of opportunity” to hunters. But the whitetail deer remains the most abundant big game hunting opportunity in Oklahoma, with archery season already underway and muzzleloader season to open Oct. 22.

Deer are plentiful in every part of Oklahoma, whether it be in wide-open prairie or pine-covered mountains, and many wildlife management areas across the state offer hunting opportunity during the muzzleloader season. Muzzleloader season runs Oct. 22-30, and the season accounts for about 18 percent of the total annual deer harvest in Oklahoma. The modern gun season opens Nov. 19 and runs for 16 days. Archery season remains open through Jan. 15, 2012.

During muzzleloader season, hunters can harvest a buck and two antlerless deer (at least one antlerless deer must be harvested from Antlerless Deer Zones 2, 7 or 8), and most of the state is open to antlerless hunting every day during the season. Resident muzzleloader hunters must possess an appropriate hunting license and a deer muzzleloader license for each deer harvested. Nonresident muzzleloader hunters are exempt from a hunting license while hunting deer, but they must possess a nonresident deer muzzleloader license. For a map of Oklahoma’s antlerless deer zones, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” available online at wildlifedepartment.com.

Muzzleloader hunters must conspicuously wear both a head covering and an outer garment above the waistline, both totaling at least 400 square inches of hunt orange.

Upon harvesting a deer, all hunters must immediately attach their name, license number, and date and time of harvest securely to the animal. This “field tag,” which can be constructed of anything (such as a business card), must remain attached to the carcass until it is checked either at the nearest hunter check station, with an authorized Wildlife Department employee or online at wildlifedepartment.com.

In many counties, hunters can harvest a turkey with their muzzleloaders Oct. 29-30. A fall turkey license is required, unless exempt. Turkey fall gun season runs Oct. 29 through Nov. 18, and details on the season are available in the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”

Hunters age 8-30 who have not completed a hunter education course can buy an apprentice-designated hunting license and hunt while accompanied by a licensed hunter 18 years old or older who has completed the hunter education course, or a licensed hunter 18 years old or older who is otherwise exempt from hunter education (includes those 31 years old or older, those honorably discharged or currently active in the Armed Forces or members of the National Guard). All hunters under 10 years old must be accompanied when hunting big game, including those who have completed a hunter education course.

For specific information regarding which areas are open to muzzleloader season, licenses, season limits, legal firearms or other details, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log onto wildlifedepartment.com.

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