Hunting Oklahoma boasts vast public hunting areas, where each corner turned could bring you face-to-face with a majestic white-tail deer, a wild turkey, or even a stealthy black bear.
But wait, is that the sound of another hunter in the distance? Ah yes, like all good things, these expansive hunting grounds also attract a crowd, occasionally creating a bustling wilderness party.
Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or new to the game, this post is your one-stop destination to uncover everything you need to know about hunting in Oklahoma.
Table of Contents
Oklahoma Hunting Seasons
Oklahoma boasts an array of hunting seasons throughout the year that cater to different game species.
Here’s a general overview of hunting seasons, but remember that specific dates may vary each year, and regulations may change.
|Deer Hunting||Archery: Early October to mid-January|
Muzzleloader: Late October
Firearms: Mid-November to early December
|Black Bear Hunting||Archery: Early to mid-October|
Muzzleloader: Late October
|Elk Hunting||Archery: Early October to mid-January|
Muzzleloader: Late October
Firearms: Mid-November to early December
|Antelope Hunting||Archery: Early to mid-October|
Firearm: Early to mid-September
|Wild Turkey Hunting||Fall-Archery: Early October to mid-January|
Fall-Firearm: Late October to mid-November
Spring-General: Mid-April to mid-May
|Wild Hog Hunting||Year-Round|
|Upland Game Bird Hunting||Dove: Early September to late October; Through December|
Quail: Mid-November to mid-February
Pheasant: Early December to late January
|Small Game Hunting||Squirrel: Mid-May to late January|
Rabbit: Early October to mid-March
|Furbearer||Bobcat & Badger: Early December to late February|
Fox: Early December to late February
Popular Hunts in Oklahoma
The state provides exciting and unparallel hunting opportunities, thanks to its diverse and distinct landscapes that support a wide range of game species.
Here’s an overview of some of the most popular hunts in the state.
Oklahoma is truly a paradise for white-tail deer hunters. Thanks to the state’s varied terrain, which ranges from mountains and forests to plains and prairies, it provides the perfect habitat for these beautiful animals.
With an estimated population of several hundred thousand white-tails, Oklahoma offers both seasoned and novice hunters plentiful opportunities.
Now, what makes white-tail hunting really popular in Oklahoma is the potential for trophy bucks. Oklahoma has consistently produced large-antlered deer, thanks in part to the state’s quality habitat and food sources and management practices that allow bucks to reach maturity.
The state allows both resident and nonresident hunters to pursue deer. The bag limit also depends on the type of license you hold, but typically, a hunter can take a combined total of six deer during all seasons, but no more than two of which can be antlered deer.
Wild Turkey Hunting
Wild turkey hunting in Oklahoma is a thrilling experience many hunters eagerly anticipate yearly. The state is fortunate to host two different subspecies of wild turkey:
- Rio Grande, which can be found mostly in the western parts of the state
- Eastern wild turkey, which resides in the southeastern and northeastern areas.
The reasons hunters in the state highly seek after these birds are due to the exceptional hunting experience they provide, as well as their flourishing population within the region.
These birds are supported by the state’s varied habitats and rich food resources. So whenever you are, chances are you’re in a turkey territory, and you’re in for a challenge. Remember, these birds are cunning, cautious, and have incredible eyesight, making them a challenging quarry.
Like deer hunting, the state opens turkey hunting opportunities to resident and nonresident hunters. All harvested turkeys must be checked online with the ODWC’s E-Check system within 24 hours of leaving the hunt area.
Black Bear Hunting
Black bear hunting in Oklahoma is not as prevalent as deer or turkey hunting, primarily due to the state’s limited distribution of black bears. However, it is growing in popularity among hunters seeking a different type of challenge.
One of the reasons bear hunting is becoming popular is the challenge it presents. Black bears are incredibly smart, have an excellent sense of smell, and can be quite elusive, making them a formidable quarry.
In Oklahoma, black bears are primarily located in the state’s southeastern region. The population has significantly increased over the last few decades, thanks to establishing a hunting season to manage the population.
The bag limit is one black bear per calendar year, and cubs or bears less than 50 pounds are protected and may not be hunted. After harvesting a black bear, you must fill out the Record of Game on your license and attach it to your harvest immediately.
Quail hunting is cherished in Oklahoma for several reasons. First, the state’s landscape – from its expansive prairies to its brushy creek bottoms – makes excellent habitat for these birds.
Oklahoma is primarily home to bobwhite quail, a small, fast-flying bird that offers a challenging shot, and one that is deeply satisfying when successful. But it’s worth noting that weather and habitat conditions can affect bobwhite quail populations. So, there can be fluctuations in their numbers from year to year.
Prime Hunting Locations in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a treasure trove of hunting locations, each with unique appeal and offering various game species. From the wooded hills in the east to the sprawling prairies in the west, the state provides an incredible range of habitats that support a wealth of wildlife.
Ouachita National Forest
Southeastern Oklahoma’s Ouachita National Forest spans 350,000 acres and offers a sanctuary for hunters.
The forest is among the limited areas in the state where black bears can be hunted. Moreover, it serves as a habitat for white-tailed deer, turkey, squirrel, and rabbit, making it an ideal destination for diverse hunting pursuits.
The forest’s topography includes everything from steep, forested hills to scenic river valleys. This varied habitat is one of the reasons why it supports such a wide range of game species.
This national forest is a mix of public and private land. So when hunting here, it’s essential to respect private property boundaries. Meanwhile, you must follow federal and state regulations when hunting on public lands.
Three Rivers WMA
The Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in southeastern Oklahoma covers nearly 200,000 acres and is a premier hunting destination in the state. It’s particularly known for its quality deer and turkey hunting, but hunters can also pursue species like squirrels and rabbits.
The WMA comprises a mix of bottomland hardwoods, pine and oak forests, and wetlands. Its wide range of habitats makes it a perfect home for various game species. This diversity of environments offers hunters a unique challenge, as each requires different strategies and techniques.
Hunting in Three Rivers WMA follows the ODWC regulations. But it has specific rules and regulations, such as the prohibition of permanent deer stands, so be sure to familiarize yourself with these before you go.
Beaver River WMA
In the panhandle of Oklahoma, the Beaver River WMA spans over 18,000 acres and provides excellent hunting opportunities for deer, quail, turkey, and pheasant. This WMA is unique in the state as it’s one of the few places to hunt for pheasants.
The region boasts undulating dunes, river lowlands, and high prairies that offer exceptional environments for wildlife. Regarding quail and pheasant hunting, the vast grasslands are ideal for tracking these swift birds while walking alongside trained dogs.
Like other WMAs in Oklahoma, hunting at Beaver River follows specific regulations. Check ODWC’s website for current seasons, bag limits, and special regulations, such as the prohibition of hunting on roads.
Oklahoma Hunting Regulations
Licenses and Permits
To hunt in Oklahoma, you need the appropriate hunting license. Depending on your situation, this could be a resident or nonresident hunting license, youth hunting license, or senior hunting license.
You might also need specific permits for hunting certain species or using specific methods. Licenses can be purchased from ODWC’s website or various state license dealers.
|Regular Hunting||$25.00||5-Day: $75.00|
|Gun Permit||Antlered: $20.00|
Hunter education in Oklahoma is not just about learning the ropes—it’s about becoming a responsible and ethical hunter. If you’re aged between 10 and 30 and plan on hunting alone, Oklahoma law requires you to complete a hunter education course.
Hunter’s education can be taken in a traditional classroom setting or online, depending on your preference. For those under 10, don’t fret—you can still hunt, but you must be accompanied by a licensed hunter who’s 21 or older.
Safety is key in hunting, and that’s where hunter orange comes in. Hunter orange, or “blaze orange,” is bright, fluorescent orange that you can see from a mile away—literally!
During any big game firearms season in Oklahoma, all hunters must wear a head covering and a garment, both made of daylight fluorescent orange.
The idea is to make yourself highly visible to other hunters. Remember, you might be able to spot a fellow hunter in camo, but they’re a lot easier to see when they’re decked out in hunter orange! This regulation is all about preventing accidents and keeping everyone safe.
Use of Tree Stands
In Oklahoma, it’s illegal to construct or use permanent tree stands on public lands. But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck hunting from the ground. Portable tree stands that don’t injure trees are allowed and must be removed at the end of the hunting season.
As for saddle hunting, there’s nothing in Oklahoma regulations that specifically prohibits it. But remember, safety comes first! Always use a fall-arrest system when hunting from a tree stand or a saddle.
Check Stations and E-Check
Oklahoma’s E-Check and Check Stations regulations are a crucial part of the state’s wildlife conservation efforts. By keeping track of game animals that are harvested, the ODWC can manage populations effectively and set appropriate hunting seasons and bag limits for future years.
The E-Check system in Oklahoma is an online service where hunters are required to report their harvests. All harvested deer, elk, and turkey must be reported online through the E-Check system within 24 hours of leaving the hunting area.
When you check your game through E-Check, you’ll be asked to provide information about the animal and the hunt, such as the species, sex of the animal, date of harvest, and county where the harvest occurred. You may also be asked for more specific information, such as the antler points on a buck or the beard length on a turkey.
In addition to the E-Check system, Oklahoma also has physical Check Stations for certain species. All harvested black bears must be physically checked at an official ODWC Check Station within 24 hours of leaving the hunt area.
At the Check Station, a wildlife biologist will collect data about the bear, such as its sex, weight, and size, and may also pull a tooth for aging. This information helps the ODWC monitor bear populations in the state and make informed decisions about bear hunting regulations.
Deer Management Assistance Program
The Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) is a fantastic initiative that brings wildlife professionals and landowners together. It’s like a neighborhood watch – but for deer.
In Oklahoma, DMAP is run by the ODWC. It’s a cooperative program to help private landowners and hunting clubs effectively manage their deer populations. The goal is to maintain a healthy and balanced deer population in harmony with the habitat.
Landowners or leaseholders must have at least 1,000 acres of contiguous deer habitat to participate. Once enrolled, they work closely with a wildlife biologist to create a personalized deer management plan that considers their property’s specifics and goals.
In addition, DMAP participants receive assistance in collecting and understanding data about their deer population, such as age structure and overall health. This data informs harvest recommendations for their property, helping to maintain a healthy and balanced deer population.
Hunting in Oklahoma is like a grand adventure, where every day is a chance to connect with nature, challenge yourself, and contribute to the stewardship of the state’s diverse wildlife.
From the adrenaline rush of tracking a white-tailed deer to the satisfaction of participating in conservation efforts like the DMAP, Oklahoma offers a hunting experience as rich as its beautiful landscapes.