Deer Gun Season is Here, Let’s Cover the Rules and Regs
As the deer gun season has arrived, let's cover some of the basics to keep you legal this year.
The rules and regulations that the State of Oklahoma have decreed are pretty straight forward. That being said, there are so many hunters ticketed each year for not knowing the basic rules. Let's cover these, and discuss them a little bit.
To hunt the noble whitetail deer in Oklahoma, you must possess a valid Oklahoma hunting license. Whether you're a resident or not, everyone should know that. The fees that you'll pay toward a license go right back into the wildlife diversity programs in the state.
This money is what allows the state to open and maintain wildlife management areas, along with various other programs you can read up on at WildlifeDepartment.com
All hunters must also wear the minimum amount of blaze orange while hunting. This includes a hat or some sort, and a garment worn above the waist. Most people wear a vest and hat, some wear hunter orange camo coats. The only thing that matters is the total square inch measurement of safety orange showing. 400 square inches is the minimum in this state.
In addition to the regular hunting license, to legally hunt deer in the state of Oklahoma, you'll also need 'tags.' Deer tags are what the wildlife department and state use to determine harvest and quota numbers throughout each season. These are reasonably priced at $20 per tag, and come with very few conditions.
During the deer gun season, you're allowed up to three whitetail deer of either sex. One must be antlered, two must be antlerless. This is where it gets hairy. Obviously we all know what an antlered deer is, but not all know what defines an antlerless deer.
An antlerless deer is classified as having antlers less than three inches tall. If one or both antlers are longer than three inches, measured from the hairline, it is considered an antlered deer. Confused yet?
In addition to these rules, if you decide to harvest a full three tag limit, you must fill one of your antlerless tags in state zones 2, 7, or 8. There is an over-abundance of deer in Western Oklahoma, this is how we cull the herd.
The reason these numbers aren't busted up into male and female is the challenge to peek up the skirt of a deer a few hundred yards off. You simply can't tell a male from a female without a definitive rack of antlers in your view.
Let's talk guns. There are several restrictions of what you may use to shoot a deer in this state. Some make sense, others don't. Here's the quick rundown.
First and foremost, full-metal-jacket ammunition is not allowed. Anyone who has shot it knows it will simply poke through a large animal. We don't want to hurt our wildlife... We want to kill it. Soft-nose and/or hollowpoint ammo only. You need that expansion to make a humane kill.
Any centerfire rifle larger than .22 caliber, with a minimum bullet weight of 55 grains is legal to take deer in Oklahoma. But, if you are using a .22 caliber rifle, you can only use a mag that allows 7 rounds or less. If you use a ten round mag, and only put seven in it, it's illegal and one heck of a fine.
Any other caliber, you're good to go. If you want to load up a 30 round mag of 7.62 for the AK-47, you're legal.
The easiest way around this ridiculous rule is the following. Use a .243 or larger rifle. Real men don't hunt deer with 5.56/.223 AR-15's... You'll need a cartridge variant to really impress us in that platform.
Know where you're hunting, what is beyond your target, and really make the effort to not shoot a fellow hunter. When you've double checked your safety basics, take 'em.
After you've made your shot, the first thing you should do is fill out that tag! This means you must attach your name, license number, date, and what time you bagged your prey. You must attach this information to the carcass of the animal. Most people literally write this info on their tag and tape it around a leg or antler. I'm not a fan of that.
I do something a little different. I had a dog tag made with my name and license number on it. Then, when I put meat down in the field, I take a sharpie and put the date/time on it. Simply zip tie around a leg or antler. Simple, clear, concise, and secure. I'd highly recommend doing that also.
After all that, you're good to gut out the beast, load it up, and head to wherever you process your deer. Just know, you need to log on to WildlifeDepartment.com and check in your tag within 24 hours.
To answer more of your questions, in much greater detail, you'll need the official Oklahoma Hunting Guide for this year. You can literally pick these up anywhere, I got mine at WalMart.
Good luck and be safe.
Post pics to our Facebook page when you do throw the hammer down!