Oklahoma Hunters Will Have More Opportunities to Harvest "Antlers' Deer and Waterfowl

Oklahoma Deer hunters will have more opportunities to harvest antlerless deer this fall, and waterfowlers will have more hunting days in the middle of the season, after the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved two resolutions in its regular meeting May 4.

The Commission’s first-ever virtual meeting, to comply with social distancing guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, was held via videoconference and streamed for public viewing on the Internet.

With antlerless deer harvest trending downward the past few years, biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation who manage the state’s deer herd urged more liberal bag limits and more open days for antlerless harvest, as specified in the approved resolution.

While muzzleloader and rifle season antlerless bag limits will increase in most zones, the total combined deer bag limit for each hunter will not change. All deer taken during muzzleloader and rifle seasons count toward a hunter’s combined season limit of six deer. Antlered deer limits remain unchanged.

Chief of Wildlife Bill Dinkines told Commissioners that antlerless harvest as a percentage of total deer harvest has decreased from 42 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2018.

The new regulations affect antlerless harvest in all 10 of the state’s antlerless deer management zones. Additionally, the holiday antlerless deer season will increase from 10 to 14 days with the bag limit increasing to two, which are considered bonus deer and do not count toward a hunter’s regular season limit of six deer.

To promote antlerless deer harvest, a public information campaign will begin, said Nels Rodefeld, Chief of Information and Education for the Department. It will be similar to the successful “Hunters in the Know … Take a Doe!” campaign from 2001-06. The Department will also look into other ways to increase antlerless deer harvest.

Waterfowl seasons will be different this year. The midseason split will be reduced from 12 days to five days, which will allow opening day to fall later on the calendar than usual. Also, Zones 1 and 2 will have the same dates: Nov. 14-29, and Dec. 5-Jan. 31, 2021. Two youth-only hunting days will occur Nov. 7 and Feb. 6, 2021, but now will also welcome active and veteran military members to hunt.

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