This season’s first chance for adult hunters to harvest deer with a firearm will arrive Saturday, the opening day of the nine-day deer muzzleloader hunting season in Oklahoma.
Saturday is also the opening day for muzzleloader elk season (on private lands in open zones only), and opening day for muzzleloader bear season (in open areas only until 20-bear quota is met).
Hunting with a muzzleloader has gained in popularity in recent years. Many hunters embrace this traditional form of hunting as it hearkens to the early pioneer days in Oklahoma.
Erik Bartholomew, big-game biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said muzzleloader hunters should find good opportunities to harvest a deer this year.
“As the weather cools down this time of year, deer will remain moving longer in the mornings and will start moving earlier in the evenings. And there are always fewer hunters in the field for muzzleloader season, compared to regular gun season.”
Last year, about 85,000 hunters participated in Oklahoma’s muzzleloader deer season. Muzzleloader hunters checked in 14,981 deer harvested during the nine-day season in 2013.
This year’s muzzleloader season for deer will close Nov. 2. Muzzleloader season for elk will remain open until Nov. 2 only in those elk hunting zones where the seasonal harvest quotas have not yet been reached. Elk hunters must go online to wildlifedepartment.com to check the quota status of the zone they intend to hunt before they go afield.
Muzzleloader season for bear will run through Nov. 2, or until the 20-bear season quota is reached, in Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties. Bear hunters must buy their license before the season starts, and they must call (888) 901-3256 before going afield to check the status of the bear harvest quota.
Bartholomew urged deer hunters to scout areas with good natural food sources. “Look for oak trees that are dropping acorns, or persimmon trees. Those are good places for deer hunters to set up.”
Muzzleloader hunters must wear hunter orange garments, including a head covering, covering the upper body. Each muzzleloader hunter may harvest one antlered and two antlerless deer during the season, provided that one of the antlerless deer is taken from zones 2, 7 or 8.
To hunt deer with a muzzleloader in Oklahoma, resident hunters must possess either an annual or lifetime hunting or combination license; a senior citizen hunting or combination license; or proof of exemption. Hunters must also possess a deer primitive (antlered or antlerless) license for each deer harvested, or proof of exemption.
Nonresidents must possess a nonresident deer primitive (antlered or antlerless) license. An annual nonresident hunting license is not required to purchase the permits. To order licenses online, go to wildlifedepartment.com/license.htm.
For more information regarding deer and elk hunting zones, licenses, bag limits, clothing requirements or legal firearms, consult the 2014-15 “Oklahoma Hunting” regulations guide online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print anywhere hunting and fishing licenses are sold.