Deer harvest total near average

Sean HubbardOSU Extension

STILLWATER – Harvesting white-tailed deer is quite a bit easier when they leave themselves vulnerable by scrounging around for something to eat. The dry, hot summers in years past, plus ample numbers of animals, sent deer harvest totals through the roof.

However, the cooler and wetter summers in 2013 and 2014 produced more native forage, leaving them to feast in private. This reduced deer harvest by hunters, particularly in 2013.

“Temperature also affects deer movement and therefore hunter success,” said Dwayne Elmore, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist. “With warm fall temperatures and abundant food, deer are not as likely to be seen during daylight hours. Of course, the rut also is related to deer movement.”

While archery season just wrapped up Jan. 15, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is reporting nearly 99,000 harvested for the 2014-2015 season. Since 2000, the average number of harvested deer per year is 105,000. The 2013-14 harvest was just over 88,000.

“We had about 5 years where it was really hot and dry so deer were driving to feeders and food plots,” Elmore said. “They are more difficult to hunt when we don’t know where they will be.”

Additionally, 2013 was the first year ODWC used only the online E-Check Station, which may partially explain the drop in harvest numbers. Despite fluctuations in harvest, Oklahoma has abundant deer and a good age structure of animals.