From the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation – Youth Deer Gun Season Kicks Off Friday
Oct. 17 is the day many young hunters are awaiting. That Friday will be opening day for this year’s three-day youth deer gun season for hunters 17 and younger.
“This year’s youth deer gun season has the potential to be a great one,” said Erik Bartholomew, big-game biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The fact that this season happens earlier in the year than other seasons is often a benefit for youth hunters.
“The youth deer gun season is set up so that kids can have a good time in the field. Deer are still in their summer feeding routines and are easy to pattern. And temperatures in October tend to be mild, and that makes for a more comfortable hunt,” he said.
“Since the deer aren’t moving as much as they would be during the rut, the kids should have a good chance to set up on a known area and get an opportunity to harvest a deer.”
The youth season is open to hunters 17 and younger who are accompanied in the field by an adult who is 18 or older. The adult is permitted to archery hunt while accompanying the youth hunter, but the adult may not hunt with a firearm.
Youths have generally had good success during this early season, which is a testament to the mentors who are taking the youths hunting, allowing them be successful.
Bartholomew urged mentors to take the youth hunters to scout out hunting areas before heading out on opening day.
“This is a fun way to get your kids outside and to learn about deer hunting. Take them scouting, and make it an experience.
“Point out the tracks, drop-pings, scrapes and rubs. Let them help you set up a blind, cut brush and conceal it. Make it a chance for them to learn about your passion for deer hunting!”
As the parent of a young deer hunter, Bartholomew offered some tips from experience. “Make sure that you bring plenty of snacks and drinks to keep kids happy. I know snacks are important!
“Also consider that the kids can move around a lot. Ground blinds are great for kids because they can mask a lot of movement that might otherwise spook the deer.
“Make sure that you practice scenarios with a young hunter, such as shot placement and shooting from a blind. This will help those young hunters have success. And for them, success means they will want to do it again!
“Remember, it is about passing on the traditions that we as adults enjoy so that they can do so in the future.”
Youth hunters may harvest two deer during youth deer gun season, and one of those may be antlered. A deer license is required for each deer hunted, which means youth hunters wanting to harvest two deer can buy three deer licenses (one antlered and two antlerless) to maximize their opportunity. Additionally, resident youth hunters who do not harvest a deer during the youth deer gun season may use their unfilled youth deer gun license during the regular deer gun season. Hunters who do harvest a deer during the youth deer gun season may buy another youth deer gun license and harvest a deer during the regular gun season.
In specified counties, youth hunters may also harvest a turkey during youth deer gun season, provided they have the appropriate fall turkey license. See the “OklahomaHunting” regulations guide for details.
Deer taken by hunters participating in youth deer gun season are included in the hunter’s combined season limit (six deer, of which no more than two may be antlered). If a youth harvests a buck during the youth deer gun season, that youth can harvest another buck during either the regular gun season, archery season or muzzleloader season, for an overall total of two.
Oklahoma youths 15 and younger are exempt from the purchase of a hunting license but must possess a youth deer gun license or apprentice-designated youth deer gun license or proof of exemption.
Residents who are 16 or 17 years old must possess a hunting license or proof of exemption, plus a youth deer gun license for each deer hunted. A $5 youth hunting license or a $9 youth combination hunting and fishing license is available to 16 and 17-year-old residents, and resident youth deer gun licenses are $10.
Youths can hunt with an apprentice-designated hunting license as long as they are accompanied by a licensed hunter who is 18 or older and hunter education certified or exempt from certification. For complete details on the apprentice-designated hunting license, consult page 11 of the current “Oklahoma Hunting” regulations guide.
For complete information on youth deer gun season regulations, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting” regulations guide online at wildlifedepartment.com, or in print at any hunting or fishing license vendor statewide.