Travis Ocker of Lawton took this impressive buck during archery season last year. With a score of 245 2/8, this whitetail became Oklahoma's highest-scoring nontypical buck ever taken by an archer. (Photo Provided)
Deer, Elk, Turkey Archery Seasons Among Those With Oct. 1 Openers
Opening day for many archery hunting opportunities will be Oct. 1. Those planning to hunt are reminded to make sure they are up-to-date on licenses and hunter education requirements, and are familiar with all rules and regulations including field tagging, E-Check and legal equipment.
Deer Archery Season: Oct. 1 to Jan. 15, 2018
Last year, hunters set a harvest record for deer archery season, reporting 26,151 animals taken. And this year holds promise to be another banner year.
The state saw rainy conditions during spring and early summer, which benefited wildlife, food sources and vegetation. With the healthy vegetation this year, the deer could be more difficult to spot. Hunters as always are encouraged to scout before heading out to take advantage of deer movement patterns.
Oklahoma has one of the more liberal season bag limits nationwide for archery deer hunters, allowing six deer (only two of which may be bucks). All deer taken during archery season count toward a hunter’s combined season bag limit, and hunters must always field tag and report their harvest using the online E-Check system.
And since turkey archery season is open too, it is common for many deer hunters to buy and carry a turkey license into the woods in case they get the chance to harvest a bird.
Elk Archery Season-Private Lands: Oct. 1 to Jan. 15, 2018* (Except Special SW Zone)
Archers pursuing elk on private lands need to be aware of the seven elk-hunting zones in Oklahoma and the regulations for each of them. Elk hunting is not permitted on any Department-managed public land except through the Controlled Hunts program.
Last year, archers took 51 elk from private lands in 12 counties. The combined season limit is two elk of either sex.
*Each zone has a specified number of elk that can be taken, and when that number is met, the zone will close to all elk hunting. All elk hunters must check wildlifedepartment.com before hunting to ensure the zone is still open for hunting.
In the Special Southwest Zone (Caddo, Comanche and Kiowa counties), archery elk season runs from Oct. 7-11 and Dec. 9-13 and there is no zone quota for number of elk harvested. Elk hunters must have written landowner permission.
Turkey Archery Season: Oct. 1 to Jan. 15, 2018
Turkey hunters may hunt statewide and are limited to one bird whether taken with archery or firearms. Hunter orange requirements apply for certain dates during the fall season, which are listed in the current Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Guide. And all harvests must be reported online using the E-Check system. If hunting Jan. 1 or after, turkey hunters must possess the current year licenses, which will still be valid the next fall season if unfilled this season.
Pronghorn Archery Season: Oct. 1 to Oct. 14
The only open areas are Cimarron County and the part of Texas County west of State Highway 136. Written landowner permission is required, and hunter orange rules apply on certain dates. The archery limit is two animals, only one of which may be a buck. All pronghorn must be field-tagged and taken to the physical check station listed in the regulations guide.
Scouting and visiting with landowners are keys to pronghorn hunting success. Last year, archery hunters took 31 pronghorns, nearly double the number from the previous year. This indicates the pronghorn population is returning to good health after several years of drought in the Panhandle.
Black Bear Archery Season: Oct. 1 to Oct. 15
Last season, 53 bears were taken with archery equipment on public and private lands in Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties (the only areas where bear hunting is permitted). Even though baiting is prohibited on public lands, about one-fourth of the annual archery harvest usually comes from public lands.
Bear hunters must buy their license before the first day of the season; licenses will not be sold after the season starts. Hunters may harvest one bear combined for all seasons.
A good strategy is to locate a tree with falling acorns along with signs of bear activity. Bears tend to feed anytime of day during the fall, so the more-patient hunters are often rewarded. All bears must be field-tagged and immediately reported via phone to a number listed in the regulations guide.
One change in big game regulations this year is the ability to use leashed tracking dogs to help find downed game. Trackers must notify a game warden beforehand, and no trackers may possess any means of take while tracking.
Also opening Oct. 1 is rabbit season, which will run through March 15, 2018. Hunters must follow the hunter orange rules when afield during any big game firearms hunting season.
Seasons on public lands may vary from statewide season dates. Complete details and regulations for each season can be found in the current "Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Guide," available in the Wildlife Department’s free phone application, online at wildlifedepartment.com, or in print anywhere hunting licenses are sold.
To learn more about archery hunting in Oklahoma, go online to wildlifedepartment.com.
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