Oct. 1 will be a busy day for plenty of stick-and-string hunters in Oklahoma. That Tuesday will be the opening day for several hunting seasons:
Fall turkey archery.
One question sportsmen may ask is, “Why do these hunting seasons open on Tuesday this year and not on a weekend?” The answer mainly lies in the statutory regulations. In Title 800 of the Oklahoma statutes, dates for several hunting seasons are determined by calendar date, not the day of the week.
Archery seasons for deer, bear and fall turkey are mandated to start Oct. 1 each year. The same statutes also prescribe how long each of these seasons remains open.
Season dates for elk on private lands and pronghorn are approved annually by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission based on recommendations from biologists responsible for managing those populations. Those dates traditionally coincide with the other big game seasons.
OUTLOOK FROM THE FIELD
Reports from the field indicate that archery hunters may have better chances of success this year for deer and bear.
“The bears are in the best shape that I have seen in the past several years,” said Jeff Ford, wildlife biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Last year was an excellent year for bear hunters. The weather stayed warm, and that kept the bears and the hunters active.
“This year should be another great year for the hunters,” Ford said.
Deer hunters also have reason for optimism. Big game biologist Dallas Barber said habitat will have a big effect on the herd.
“Just like the last few years, we have really been blessed with timely rains. These have really helped keep habitat looking good across most of the state,” he said.
“As habitat continues to improve, deer populations also continue to grow.”
However, Barber is hopeful that the number of does harvested during the coming deer seasons will increase compared to the harvests of the past few years.
According to the 2018-19 Big Game Report published in the September/October issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, hunters took 39,409 does compared to 69,851 bucks. Doe harvest amounted to 36 percent of the 2018-19 harvest, well short of the 40-45 percent target range.
“Doe harvest is critical to keeping a herd healthy,” he said. “It’s again time for hunters to meet the challenge to let young bucks grow and take a doe.”
Also opening Oct. 1 will be rabbit and Wilson's snipe hunting seasons. Currently open are hunting seasons for dove, squirrel, rail and gallinule.
UPDATE YOUR LICENSE PROFILE
This coming archery deer season will be the first deer season to open since the Wildlife Department's new online Go Outdoors Oklahoma licensing system went into operation. It will also be the first time deer, bear and elk hunters will E-check their harvests through the Go Outdoors Oklahoma system, which means that E-check will be available through the mobile app.
That is why it more important than ever for anyone who plans to hunt during any approaching open season to make sure his or her license profile is up-to-date in the new Go Outdoors Oklahoma system and to make sure the latest Go Outdoors Oklahoma mobile app is installed on his or her mobile device. If your Wildlife Department mobile app was downloaded prior to January 2019, it will no longer function.
All sportsmen and sportswomen – especially lifetime license holders and returning customers – should log in promptly to confirm their information or complete their profile. In some cases, returning customers will have more than one active profile and will need to have multiple profiles combined into one account.
Don’t wait until the day before hunting season opens; log on today if possible. If you have multiple accounts, you will be notified to contact the Help Desk at (833) 457-7285 or email HelpDesk@GoOutdoorsOklahoma.com. Help Desk hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Anyone with future plans to buy a hunting or fishing license or permit is urged to log into Go Outdoors Oklahoma to create a profile in order to enjoy a seamless license-buying process later.
For license requirements and regulations for each hunting season, consult the current Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide found online at wildlifedepartment.com, on the Go Outdoors Oklahoma free mobile app for Apple or Android devices, or in print across the state wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.