Is It Actually Legal to Drink While You Hunt in Oklahoma?
You ever have one of those conversations with your bros that take the group down a rabbit hole of new information? That's the way to describe the talks me and my pals had this weekend, and it was all about whether or not you could have a beer while hunting.
We're almost two weeks into the 2023 hunting season, the main game animal right now is dove. They're a challenge to hunt and some people swear they taste good, but I'm not of that crowd.
Culinary tastes aside, the debate brewed about the legality of having a beer or two in the field while waiting for your next winged protein to fly by.
Is it legal to drink a beer while you're on the hunt?
The answer isn't as straight-forward as you'd think.
If you started hunting young enough, odds are you've taken some sort of hunter education course where the state and/or game wardens walk you through the basics of hunting. They don't so much cover the law as much as they talk endlessly about hunter safety.
Throughout the course, since all hunting is done with lethal tools of the trade, there is a pretty big talk about the use of alcohol will you're in the field. At least there was in my class circa 2007-ish.
It wasn't addressed as a legal issue, but rather a safety issue since drinking makes the independent thought process and motor skills somewhat sluggish.
I've combed over the Oklahoma Wildlife Department website for any reference to drinking while hunting, and it really only covers the topic concerning public lands that the department manages. OLAP is the program, here's a map of public lands if you're interested.
It is unlawful to have alcohol in your possession on any land the ODWC manages while hunting. You're allowed to have it in your camp or in your vehicle, but not while hunting... but what about on private land?
If it's your land, they can't tell you not to have a beer, right?
Wrong... but it's not what you have in your possession, the rabbit hole is deeper than that.
I know my rights!
My search of the site didn't provide any answers to the question, so I reached out to the Wildlife Department. After a few phone calls to several different departments at ODWC-HQ, I was referred to my local game warden.
He was not amused but was a wealth of ambiguous information.
As it turns out, Oklahoma's fish and game doesn't have any laws on the books about using alcohol while hunting. Quite literally, there is nothing in the rule book about having a beer while hunting.
So it's legal to drink while you hunt?
Nope. Not at all.
While the ODWC doesn't cover the law on this issue, the curious Luitenant mentioned that state law is the higher authority on this topic.
It shall be unlawful for any person to carry or use shotguns, rifles or pistols in any circumstances while under the influence of beer, intoxicating liquors or any hallucinogenic, or any unlawful or unprescribed drug, and it shall be unlawful for any person to carry or use shotguns, rifles or pistols when under the influence of any drug prescribed by a licensed physician if the aftereffects of such consumption affect mental, emotional or physical processes to a degree that would result in abnormal behavior.
In a deeper dig of the information, there is no defined legal limit for hunting like there is with driving under the influence. Mr. Green Jeans isn't going to administer a breathalyzer in the field, he'll simply decide whether you're under the influence by discretion.
Simplified, drinking while hunting is effectively illegal and punishable by a fine up to $500, up to six months in jail, or any combination of the two.
If you're going to celebrate your hunt, it can wait until the hunt is over. If you're that bored in the field, make like a toddler and bring a tablet.