SPORTS

2014 deer hunting season now underway

Sean HubbardOklahoma State University

STILLWATER – There is a method to the madness of deer hunting season in Oklahoma.

“Back when we didn’t have seasons, we lost our game species,” said Jim Shaw, retired Oklahoma State University professor of natural resource ecology and management. “White tailed deer in Oklahoma were virtually extinct in about 1916.”

Great strides have been taken since the mid-1950s to restore the population of white tailed deer in Oklahoma. Now, with a booming population of over an estimated half million, deer hunting season in the state is vital to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s mission to manage the deer population.

“There are a lot of places in Oklahoma and the rest of the country that have too many deer,” Shaw said. “Once they get past a certain point they begin to be a pest.”

Not only can too many deer cause damage to agricultural plots such as orchards, but also motor accidents increase with the deer population.

“A number of people are killed every year and a lot of damage is done to vehicles from collisions with deer,” Shaw said. “In some states it even affects insurance rates.”

Even with the state’s extended rifle season, the deer population has continued to rise. One wonders what would happen without anyhunting season.

“We would either have a much higher population, or, because we couldn’t afford adequate law enforcement, poaching would be greatly increased to where we would have too few deer,” said Shaw.

Archery season in Oklahoma began Oct. 1 and runs through Jan. 15. Youth deer gun season is Oct. 17-19 while muzzleloader season is from Oct. 25 through Nov. 2. However, the bulk of the harvest will come during the first weekend of gun season, which opens Nov. 22 and continues through Dec. 7.

For more information on deer hunting in Oklahoma, visit the ODWC website at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com.