Christmas family traditions range from eating out and attending services on Christmas Eve to giving out gifts and stockings filled with treats. But in Oklahoma, families can even go deer hunting over the Christmas holidays.
This year the holiday antlerless deer gun season will be open for 10 days starting Dec. 16 and running through Dec. 25 in open areas.
Most of the state will be open to antlerless hunting those days, except for the majority of the Panhandle and portions of southeast Oklahoma. All public hunting areas and private lands in southeast Oklahoma’s zone 10 are closed to the holiday antlerless deer gun season. Seasons on public lands may vary from statewide season dates. For a map of Oklahoma’s antlerless deer hunt zones and to see which counties will be open for the holiday antlerless deer gun season, consult page 25 of the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” as well as the “Public Hunting Lands” section on page 48 of the guide for seasons on specific public areas.
Last year almost 40,000 hunters participated in the holiday antlerless deer season.
“A good number of those hunters were successful with 4,377 deer being checked during that season,” said Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
According to Shaw, high doe harvests help accomplish several important management benefits such as preventing localized overpopulations, improving buck:doe ratios for a more healthy herd, reducing competition for forage to promote greater antler growth in bucks, reducing the potential for deer/vehicle collisions, and lessening the extent of potential crop depredation.
To participate in the holiday antlerless deer gun season, resident hunters must possess a valid hunting license and a holiday antlerless deer gun license, unless exempt. Resident youth hunters 16 or 17 years old must purchase a hunting license and a $10 youth holiday antlerless deer gun license, unless exempt. Youth under 16 are not required to purchase a hunting license but they must possess a $10 youth holiday antlerless deer gun license.
Although nonresident deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license while hunting deer, they must possess a nonresident deer gun license.
Hunters age 8-30 who have not completed the Wildlife Department’s hunter education class may still hunt during the holiday antlerless deer gun season, but their licenses will have an apprentice designation, and the hunter must be accompanied by a qualified adult hunter who remains within arms reach of the apprentice hunter while hunting. For details, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” online at wildlifedepartment.com.
In addition, hunters participating in the holiday antlerless deer season must comply with the hunter orange requirements for the regular deer gun season. Archery hunters and those hunting most other species in open holiday antlerless zones must wear either a hunter orange hat or upper garment while hunting.
To learn more about this year’s antlerless deer season, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.