May 18, 2020

Oklahoma: Wildlife Commission Approves Changes for Upcoming Deer and Waterfowl Seasons

Contact: Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator

During their May meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission discussed proposed changes to the state’s white-tailed deer and waterfowl bag limits and seasons. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, this commission meeting was held virtually via videoconferencing. During the meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the proposed changes designed to increase antlerless deer harvest and alter the timing of Oklahoma’s waterfowl season.

In Oklahoma, harvest rates for antlerless white-tailed deer have been declining. In an effort to increase antlerless harvest, all 10 antlerless deer management zones will receive changes. These changes are outlined below:

To further encourage antlerless harvests, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will begin a public information campaign. Similar campaigns, such as the “Hunters in the Know … Take a Doe!” campaign used from 2001-06, have been used successfully in the past. Such efforts reflect the notion that hunting is the most effective tool for managing wildlife populations.

Also approved during the meeting were proposed dates for the 2020 waterfowl season. Unlike recent years, the 2020 season dates for Oklahoma’s primary waterfowl zones (Zones 1 and 2) will be open concurrently from November 14-29 for the first season and from December 5, 2020 – January 31, 2021 for the second season. This also includes a reduction in the midseason split from 12 days to 5 days for both zones. Finally, Oklahoma’s youth waterfowl hunting days will take place on November 7, 2020 and February 6, 2021. This year, active duty military personnel and veterans may also hunt during these days as allowed by the 2019 John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.

These changes are designed to address wildlife management objectives while increasing opportunities for the Sooner State’s sportsmen and women. For more information on the approved changes to Oklahoma’s white-tailed deer and waterfowl seasons and bag limits, click here. The next scheduled Commission meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:00 am CDT on June 1, 2020, at the Wildlife Department Headquarters in Oklahoma City.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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