History of Whitetail Deer in Oklahoma
1900 Market/subsistence hunting and unregulated harvest eliminate nearly all deer from the state.
1917 Total statewide deer population estimated at 500 animals. Legislature bans deer harvest.
1917 to 1922 – From western Oklahoma moving east, counties previously open to deer hunting are systematically closed to deer hunting.
1922 – All deer hunting in Oklahoma is prohibited.
regulated deer season (five days) is held. Hunt is restricted to
six southeast counties and Major County in western Oklahoma,
resulting in the harvest of 235 bucks. Also, this year marks the
beginning of safety regulations for wearing a red upper outer
garment (later to become “hunter” orange).
History of a Heritage (Oklahoma's First Deer Season)
Photo courtesy of The Oklahoman
1934 – No deer season authorized.
1935 – 37 Area is
expanded to seven southeast counties only. Harvest total is 331
in 1935; 375 in 1936; and 347 in 1937.
1938 – No deer season authorized.
1939-40 – Harvest totals: 384 in 1939 and 318 in 1940.
1941-43 – All deer hunting is closed. Many OGF personnel are called to active military service.
1943 Deer restoration program started with the trap and transplant of 22 deer.
1944 – 379 deer harvested.
1945 – A total of 469 deer are harvested. Restoration efforts continue, with most deer trapped from either the Wichita Mountains NWR or Ft. Sill, but includes 50 captured from Aransas Pass NWR on the Texas Gulf coast.
1946 – Participation in the deer gun season jumps to more than 7,000 (certainly due to returning World War II Vets looking for recreation). First archery season (one day) is held. No deer harvested. A total of 35 deer are transplanted from the Wichita Mountains NWR to the U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot near McAlester (in less than a decade the military installation, now known as the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, would serve as a source herd for trapping activities).
1946 Oklahoma had its first archery season (1
day) November 11, 1946 in seven southeast counties. No deer
Evolution of Bowhunting in Oklahoma - Outdoor Oklahoma
1949 Special Archery season (five days) is designated only at Camp Gruber, resulting in the first buck taken by bow and arrow during a regulated season (taken by Roland Barber; the state’s first archery buck was a fallow deer that was part of Gruber’s small herd that had been established on the area during the late 1930s). The Daily Oklahoma November 13, 1948 story.
Photo Caption: Roland Barber harvests the first deer taken with a bow and arrow in Oklahoma. The 120 pound fallow buck was harvested November 2, 1949 at Camp Gruber.
1951 – First whitetail deer taken by bow and arrow during a regulated season since the days that Native Americans hunted deer for subsistence is harvested by Larry Embry, Jr.,13. The deer was harvested at Camp Gruber. The Daily Oklahoma November 13, 1951 story.
Photo caption: Larry Embry Jr harvested the first whitetail at Camp Gruber November 11, 1951 with a bow.
1954 First statewide gun deer season (5 days) results in harvest of 1,487 bucks.
1969 First primitive firearms season (three days) is held, resulting in two deer harvested. Hunt is restricted to part of LeFlore County.
1970 Statewide 16-day deer gun season. Total harvest of 6,882 bucks.
1972 Nine-day deer gun season with all open counties and special two-day antlerless season. Total harvest 7,670 deer.
1975 – Cy Curtis Awards Program initiated by the Department to recognize trophy deer (harvested during the 1972 season and thereafter). For eligibility, whitetail deer must have a minimum typical score of 135, or a non-typical minimum of 150 using the Boone & Crockett scoring system. In the first year, only seven deer are entered. The program is named in honor of the man most responsible for the restoration of whitetail deer in Oklahoma.
Photo Caption: Cy Curtis organized the Department's deer trap and transport efforts in the 1940s and 50s.
1976 Department begins broadscale antlerless harvest in 19 counties by issuing antlerless permits by special drawing. Total harvest 11,548 26 percent does.
1982 Antlerless permit system deemed unpopular due to perceived inequities, and replaced by antlerless days available to all hunters. Total harvest 19, 255 23 percent does.
1986 –The Department ceases any further trap and transplant efforts with sufficient populations of deer available to repopulate all suitable habitats statewide.
1990 Statewide deer population estimated at 250,000 deer. Total harvest 44,070 deer 24 percent does.
1992 – Total harvest tops 50,000. Much to the surprise of many, a new state record buck is taken by an archer in Oklahoma County (Chris Foutz took the buck, which measured 179 6/8 typical score), proving that quality deer can come from just about anywhere in Oklahoma; even the state’s most urbanized county. Potential Record Deer Story New Record Deer Story
Photo Caption: Chris Foutz with 179 6/8 scored deer harvested with a bow in Oklahoma County on December 23, 1992.
1999 Statewide deer population estimated at 425,000 deer. Total harvest yields 82,500 deer 36 percent does.
2000 Deer population levels
spawn a multitude of stakeholder desires and
management possibilities. For the first time deer harvest
numbers tops 100,000.
2001 - First Special Antlerless season is held in December and expanded deer archery season in January.
2003 - First statewide youth antlerless deer gun season is held in October and yields 2,285 deer.
2004 - Statewide deer population estimated at 475,000 deer. Bowhunters set new harvest record with 14,639 deer taken. Statewide harvest is 94,689 - 40% does.
2005 - Statewide harvest is 101,111 including 40% does. The number of counties that recorded more than 1,000 deer harvested increased to 43.
2006- Hunting regulations remain unchanged from 2005.
2007 – Not one, but two tremendous whitetail bucks are harvested from Pushmataha County during the deer gun season; one by John Ehmer that scored an impressive 194 typical, and one by Jason Boyett that scored 192 5/8 typical. Boyett takes his buck Nov. 18, surpassing the previous state record that had held the top spot for an entire decade (see Larry Luman photo below). Then just 10 days later, on Nov. 28, Ehmer takes his outstanding buck from the same county. By now, a total of 4,500 deer (including 19 mule deer entries) have been entered into the Cy Curtis Program.
191 4/8 - Gun
194 0/8 - Gun
185 6/8 - Archery