Wild Country Meats in Hominy, OK shows processed deer meat as part of the Hunters Against Hunger program. Photo by Kelly Bostian.
The Holiday Antlerless Deer Season Dec. 18-31 brings multiple opportunities for hunters in 2020, including an additional chance to give.
The gun season is longer this year and hunters can take two additional antlerless deer that do not count against a hunter’s combined six-deer season limit. That opens up an opportunity for hunters to not only help improve deer population health while filling their own freezer but to help others during this time of giving as well.
“Several hunters during the regular season told us to be ready and they’d be back with does during the holiday season to donate to people in need,” said Chris Gabriel, owner of Wild Country Meats in Hominy. “Donations have already increased this month and it sounds like we’re going to get a lot more with the longer antlerless season.”
As one of dozens of deer processors statewide involved in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Hunters Against Hunger program, the Hominy business is also one of many who waive the Department’s suggested tax-deductible donation of $10 from each hunter. Through this one processor, charity food services across a four-county area received more than 3,000 pounds of venison to add to food boxes last year, Gabriel said.
Hunters can find processors in the program listed by county at the Wildlife Department web site, wildlifedepartment.com/hunting/processors/main.
Hunters also can donate venison this year through Oklahoma Deer Share. This program has hunters post their contact information on the Wildlife Department web site before their hunt so someone interested can reach out to them and make a commitment to accept their harvest.
With a successful hunt they can quickly transfer the fresh deer to the interested party, who can then process the deer themselves or take it to a local processor.
Landowner Michael Bose said he signed up for the program to donate some does that will be taken off his land near Dustin and that he received an inquiry from a woman in Stilwell after just a couple of days.
“It’s an hour-and-a-half drive for her but I’m happy to help how I can,” Bose said. “I’ll field dress them and meet her in town and basically just swap them pickup bed to pickup bed.”
People can learn more about the program and hunters can sign up to give at wildlifedepartment.com/hunting/species/deer/deer-share.
The longer antlerless season also fits the theme of “Hunters in the Know Take a Doe” with a goal to boost the state’s overall doe harvest percentage from the 35% range to a 45% range, said Big Game Biologist Dallas Barber of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
“The season is at a time of year when deer really focus on wintertime food sources, so agriculture sources are that number-one food source and that’s where people will find them,” he said.
The increased antlerless harvest goal is designed to keep populations in balance with available habitat and to boost overall health of deer by reducing stresses that come with multiple rut periods and fawns born as late as July or August, he said.
Holiday Anterless Season licenses are $20 each or $10 for youth under age 18. Unfilled licenses cannot be used for the holiday season, except for young hunters with an unfilled antlerless youth season license. Licenses and can be purchased through GoOutdoorsOklahoma.com or the Go Outdoors Oklahoma mobile app. Lifetime license holders do not need purchase the additional tag.
Remember: The Outdoors Are Always Open! For all the details, consult the Oklahoma Hunting & Fishing Regulations Guide available at www.wildlifedepartment.com, in the "OK Fishing and Hunting Guide" mobile app for Apple and Android, or in print free from license dealers statewide.