OK: Holiday antlerless deer season brings Christmas cheer to hunters

Christmas family traditions range from eating out and attending
services on Christmas Eve to giving out gifts and stockings filled
with treats. But in Oklahoma, families can even go deer hunting
over the Christmas holidays.

This year the holiday antlerless deer gun season will be open for
10 days starting Dec. 16 and running through Dec. 25 in open
areas.

Most of the state will be open to antlerless hunting those days,
except for the majority of the Panhandle and portions of southeast
Oklahoma. All public hunting areas and private lands in southeast
Oklahoma’s zone 10 are closed to the holiday antlerless deer gun
season. Seasons on public lands may vary from statewide season
dates. For a map of Oklahoma’s antlerless deer hunt zones and to
see which counties will be open for the holiday antlerless deer gun
season, consult page 25 of the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” as
well as the “Public Hunting Lands” section on page 48 of the guide
for seasons on specific public areas.

Last year almost 40,000 hunters participated in the holiday
antlerless deer season.

“A good number of those hunters were successful with 4,377 deer
being checked during that season,” said Jerry Shaw, big game
biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation.

According to Shaw, high doe harvests help accomplish several
important management benefits such as preventing localized
overpopulations, improving buck:doe ratios for a more healthy herd,
reducing competition for forage to promote greater antler growth in
bucks, reducing the potential for deer/vehicle collisions, and
lessening the extent of potential crop depredation.

To participate in the holiday antlerless deer gun season, resident
hunters must possess a valid hunting license and a holiday
antlerless deer gun license, unless exempt. Resident youth hunters
16 or 17 years old must purchase a hunting license and a $10 youth
holiday antlerless deer gun license, unless exempt. Youth under 16
are not required to purchase a hunting license but they must
possess a $10 youth holiday antlerless deer gun license.

Although nonresident deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license
while hunting deer, they must possess a nonresident deer gun
license.

Hunters age 8-30 who have not completed the Wildlife Department’s
hunter education class may still hunt during the holiday antlerless
deer gun season, but their licenses will have an apprentice
designation, and the hunter must be accompanied by a qualified
adult hunter who remains within arms reach of the apprentice hunter
while hunting. For details, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting
Guide” online at wildlifedepartment.com.

In addition, hunters participating in the holiday antlerless deer
season must comply with the hunter orange requirements for the
regular deer gun season. Archery hunters and those hunting most
other species in open holiday antlerless zones must wear either a
hunter orange hat or upper garment while hunting.

To learn more about this year’s antlerless deer season, consult the
current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to
wildlifedepartment.com.

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