The 2016 deer gun hunting season will open a half-hour before official sunrise this Saturday. Based on field reports from each region of the state, bucks are actively moving and the rutting period is under way.
Rutting activity was heavy or increasing in most areas. Bucks have been seen chasing and tending does, and observers have noted more daytime movement.
Erik Bartholomew, big-game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said the weather forecast seems to be cooperating for deer gun hunters this year.
“The modern gun opener looks to be a good one this year. With temperatures falling behind a major cold front moving through the state, the deer will certainly be moving this weekend, giving hunters a better opportunity than they have had in the past couple of gun season openers.”
Deer gun season will be open until Dec. 4 statewide.
“My advice this weekend is to skip the football games, grab your rifle and hunter orange, and find somewhere to sit for a couple of days. This weekend should be good with the first real cold weather we’ve seen all season.”
So far, the number of harvested deer reported to the online E-Check system is lower than last year’s total at this time. As of midweek, about 31,300 deer had been reported harvested so far for youth deer gun season, muzzleloader season and the ongoing archery season. This is about 8.5 percent below last year’s total at this time.
“Youth deer gun season saw temperatures in the 90s statewide with wind gusts of 25 to 30 mph. Not real great deer hunting weather. And it showed, as harvest was down 32 percent compared to youth season last year,” Bartholomew said. “It has simply been hot.”
To help hunters plan their opening-day outing in the deer woods, here are up-to-date regional rut reports from Wildlife Department field personnel.
By Joe Hemphill, Wildlife Division regional supervisor
CURRENT BUCK RUTTING ACTIVITY: The rut is in full swing in the Southeast.
HABITAT CONDITIONS: Another excellent mast crop, lots of acorns of all kinds. Just had our first big frost Saturday, so vegetation is still green and thick.
WHAT HUNTERS, LANDOWNERS ARE SAYING: They are seeing lots of buck activity.
PUBLIC LAND BEST BETS: Ouachita WMA-Le Flore Unit; Three Rivers WMA; Honobia Creek WMA.
BEST TIPS FOR DEER HUNTERS: The ground is very dry in the southeast, and drought conditions are extreme. Hunters are cautioned to be extra careful when using fire for anything this weekend. Get in the woods early, sit down and be still.
BIGGEST MISTAKES TO AVOID: Hunters seem to want to move around too much. Stay put and let other hunters move the deer.
OPENING MORNING EXPECTATIONS: Cold and dry conditions with lots of hunters on opening day. Scout early and stay put.
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