Oklahoma’s youth deer gun season is a chance for kids to go deer hunting for three days with adult supervision before all of the adult gun hunters head to the woods, and participation is easy. Think of this guide as a handbook to walk you through everything you need to know to have a successful youth deer gun season experience, whether you are a youth hoping to hunt or an adult interested in taking a youth on a deer hunt this year. The steps in this guide cover everything from where to go hunting and legal requirements to tips and advice for making your hunt fun and successful. First and foremost, mark your calendars for Oct. 15-17, 2021. These are the dates of the 2021 youth deer gun season, and you don’t want to miss out. It’s easy to participate in this affordable, safe and fun hunting opportunity. It’s also exclusive to youth hunters under 18 years of age. They just need an adult who can take them. Eligible youth and adults who plan to accompany a youth hunter don’t need any prior hunting experience, and there is plenty of time to make the necessary preparations.
Photo Credit willdlifedepartment.com
No Hunter Ed? No Problem
Apprentice-designated licenses allow many hunters to hunt without hunter education. The apprentice-designated license is like a learner’s permit. It is a hunting license with some additional requirements. While completing the Wildlife Department's "online" hunter education course is the ideal path to prepare for the youth deer gun season, you may find that season is just around the corner and there is no time to squeeze the course into the schedule. That doesn’t mean that participating in the youth deer gun season is out of the question. You can still go. Read below to learn who can hunt as an apprentice and what you can hunt with this license.
Anyone buying a hunting or season specific license who has not completed hunter education certification will have the hunter education number on that particular license designated as "apprentice." An individual who is in possession of an “apprentice-designated” license must abide by accompanying hunter requirements. Here's what that means for youth deer gun season hunters who do not have hunter education certification:
A few things successful hunters do to plan for a hunt:
- Plan the hunt in detail.
- Learn the area of the hunt by scouting in advance.
- Use wildlife identification guides to learn the habitat, food choices and behavior of the wildlife they are hunting.
- Practice shooting often; not just the day before the season opens.
- Maintain firearms and hunting equipment in good condition and use the appropriate ammunition or accessories for the game they are hunting.
- Get in shape physically before they go hunting.
- Become familiar with all of the laws that govern the area they will hunt.
- Acquire the required licenses and tags.
Wise hunters improve public opinion of hunters and protect the future of hunting by being courteous, thoughtful, respectful and responsible.
Oklahoma’s most prevalent deer species, found in good numbers in every county in the state. They’re also found across most of North America, except in northern Canada and the far western United States. They live in forests, valley bottoms and farmland and can often be found along streams and rivers.
Whitetails stand about three feet high at the shoulder and weigh 150 to 225 lbs. They are generally smaller than mule deer.
Harvesting an antlerless mule deer during any firearms season is prohibited, but mule deer bucks can be taken. For the most part, only hunters in the far western and northwest portions of the state are likely to have an opportunity to harvest a mule deer in Oklahoma.
Mule deer can find good habitat in western Oklahoma’s grassland with shrubs, like a whitetail, mule deer stand about three feet high at the shoulder, but they grow much heavier than whitetails. Bucks weigh up to 405 pounds while does may weigh up to 160 lbs.
In the Blind
The hunt is the culmination of all your hard work, planning, hunter education classes, scouting, purchasing licenses and packing and organizing. And it’s these moments in the woods or fields that can make or break your hunt. What you do with your time while hunting not only can make the difference of whether you see and harvest a deer or not, but also whether you enjoy the experience.
You may not see a deer at first light, but the anticipation of those early morning moments is an experience in itself. With the adult and youth hunter quietly situated in the stand, and the daylight only moments away, it’s time to hunt.
Photo Credit wildlifedepartment.com
Top Tips for the Hunt
• Stay alert to every movement along tree lines, horizons and even the ground right in front of you, as deer and other wildlife can seemingly "appear out of nowhere."
• Remain alert, as you may spot all kinds of wildlife, from deer and turkeys to squirrels, coyotes, bobcats, quail —literally dozens of species that are active during the fall.
• For younger hunters, consider sitting for shorter periods.
• Make safety a priority, and emphasize every opportunity to do something “the right way.” Avoid shortcuts pertaining to safety, so any and all regrets can be avoided. It’s so easy and worthwhile to do things the safe way, whether crossing fences or making sure to keep the barrel of your firearm pointed in a safe direction. Go over the safety sections of your hunter education manual before hunting.
• Leave your hunter orange clothing on while hunting. It is not legal to remove them once you’ve arrived at your hunting spot.
During the youth deer gun season, two people will be sitting together searching for deer, so it's important that your blind or ladder stand be comfortable and accommodating for both individuals. Here are a few tips.
• Oftentimes ladder stands come from the manufacturer with built-in shooting rails. Using these rails — or shooting sticks if hunting from a ground blind — to help deter the shaky effects that can be caused by nerves.
•Oftentimes branches or tall grasses that do not inhibit the vision of an adult may obstruct the vision of a youth hunter who has a different vantage point. Prior to hunting, make sure the shooting lanes for the youth hunter are clear and that their field of view is clear of major obstructions. Though hunting is not just about harvesting an animal, it would still be disappointing for a youth to miss an opportunity to shoot at a deer because accommodations weren't made for the youth before the hunt.
•Looking through a scope to find a target like a deer can be challenging for a youth hunter with limited shooting or hunting experience. If hunting with a scoped rifle, the youth hunter should practice beforehand with a scoped rifle.
•The youth shooter should know his or her limitations and not take shots that make them uncomfortable. Avoid shooting at a deer if it is too far away; another chance will likely come along.