If you weren't paying attention to the calendar, October 1st is the official kickoff of Oklahoma's big game hunting season. From that day until January 15th, you'll have the option to spend your free time out in nature in the epic battle that is man vs beast. It all starts with the archery season. Deer, elk, bear, and antelope all have seasons starting on the same day, but they don't all last as long as the other.

Antelope by far have the shortest season of Oklahoma's big game animals as well as being one of the most physically demanding challenges to harvest. The archery season runs from Oct. 1 - 14. At this point in time, anybody is welcome to purchase their antelope tag and try their hand at hunting these incredibly fickle creatures in the Northwestern part of the state with a bow. There's also a gun season for antelope, but it's only available by lottery drawing for the privilege.

Oklahoma black bear have the second shortest season of all the big game in the state. While the archery season runs from Oct. 1 - 17, there is a second season open to muzzleloading firearms from Oct. 23 - 31, and both seasons are open to anyone who purchases the required license for it, which is a great thing.

It wasn't too long ago that the bear population was so small, hunts for these were also issued through lottery drawings. With healthy populations due to smart management, anyone may now try their hand at harvesting one. It does come with one caveat, while anyone is welcome to buy tags and hunt bear, once the alloted quota has been harvested, the season ends. You'll have to read up on it on the license website.

Deer is the one big game animal Oklahoma has more of than we know what to do with. Especially as hunting becomes a smaller community as a whole, the emphasis is put on managing the population as best we can. The archery season for deer runs Oct. 1 - Jan. 15 2022. At any point during those three and a half months, you're eligible to harvest a deer with your bow or crossbow as long as you have the proper open tag. Keep in mind, as the other firearm seasons intertwine with archery, during specific times, even archery hunters are required to wear the minimum amount of safety hunter orange.

Speaking of firearm seasons, Oklahoma's youths get first pickings at our deer population with a modern firearm. From Oct 15 - 17, only those within the youth age range are eligible to harvest deer with rifles and shotguns. As the youngest hunters are the most inexperienced, it's only fair they get to hunt first.

Muzzleloader - AKA - smoke-pole season is scheduled in its normal range, Oct 23 - 31. It's open to anyone with the proper license and harvest tag.

Gun season, where any modern rifle, shotgun, or muzzleloader is allowed to harvest a deer has its first go-round like normal, around Thanksgiving. Nov 20 - Dec 5. A second special gun season for anterless deer happens over christmas, Dec 18 - 31. It's exactly the same as regular gun season, but no huge rack trophies are allowed at that point. Specifically only anterless deer.

Elk shares the exact same season schedule as deer do, but it comes with one restriction. Like the black bear, there is a maximum allowed quota in some specific areas of the state where elk are hunted, and once that quota is filled, the season is immediately cut off. While anyone is welcome to hunt, only those that find and harvest their game first get to play the whole game.

After January 15th, it's back to the regularly scheduled coyote and other varmint hunting I suppose. If you'd like more information about hunting Oklahoma's big game season, or how to even get started, visit the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website.

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