Old Tradition in a
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. 19-21, 2012.
These are the dates of the 2012 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. All they need is an adult to take them. Plus,
eligible youth and adults who plan to accompany a youth hunter
don’t need any prior hunting experience, and there is still plenty
of time to make the necessary preparations. The pages that follow
will walk you through it all.
Table of Contents
Which Wildlife Management Areas Have
a Youth Gun Season? . . . . . . . . . . 4
Who Can Go Hunting During Youth Gun
Season . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
No Hunter Ed? No Problem . . . . . . . 8
In the Blind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
Treestands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
After the Harvest . . . . . . . . . . .15
Small Game Hunting . . . . . . . . . .16
“Youth deer gun season sounds like a lot of fun, but
it also seems so daunting. How will I know what to do
or where to go hunting?”
If going deer hunting during the youth deer gun
season sounds fun but intimidating to you, then this
guide is for you. We’ll walk you through everything
you need to know to participate in this year’s youth
deer gun season, whether you are a teenager or an
adult hoping to take a youth hunting.
YOUTH DEER GUN SEASON 3
Which Wildlife Management Areas
Wildlife Wildlife Management
Area Area Atlas Atlas
One of the biggest questions
you may be asking about the
youth deer gun season is,
“Where can we go to hunt?”
The land in Oklahoma is mostly privately owned, and
you may know somebody who will let you hunt deer on
their property. But even if you do not, there are thousands
of acres of public land available across the state
where you can hunt. The map on this page shows a number
of Wildlife Management areas. While most of them are open to hunting during the youth
deer gun season, some may have regulations that vary from statewide regulations. For
example, some of them may only be open to hunting with shotguns or archery equipment,
or some may only be open to antlerless deer harvest during the youth deer gun season.
No worries. All you have to do to learn more is consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting
Guide,” available free online at wildlifedepartment.com or in hardcopy anywhere hunting
licenses are sold. Each WMA and its regulations are covered in detail.
Additionally, the Oklahoma Wildlife Management Area Atlas is available for $25 and features
page-by-page details on Oklahoma’s public hunting land. It features topographical maps
of almost every WMA in the state. At almost 100 pages, the high quality, spiral-bound atlas
depicts special features on each WMA such as roads, parking areas, designated campsites, food
plots, ponds, wetland development units, non-ambulatory zones and more. You can also use
the guide to find driving directions and acreage of each featured WMA. When you purchase
an atlas, you also receive a one-year subscription to Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
Edition Edition printed printed
November November 2010 2010
The safest color to wear while hunting is solid
hunter orange. In Oklahoma, individuals hunting
deer, elk, bear or antelope with any type of firearm
must conspicuously wear both a head covering and
an outer garment above the waistline both consisting
of hunter orange color totaling at least 400 square
inches. Camouflage hunter orange is legal as long as
there are at least 400 square inches of hunter orange.
All other hunters, except those hunting waterfowl,
crow or crane, or while hunting furbearing
Have a Youth Deer Gun Season?
animals at night, must wear either a head covering or
upper garment of hunter orange clothing while hunting
during any antelope, bear, deer, or elk firearms
(muzzleloader or gun) season.
Individuals hunting with archery equipment outside
any big game firearms season are not required
to wear hunter orange.
While hunters hunting in other seasons are not
required to, hunter orange is still the safest color to
wear. Upland game bird hunters (quail, pheasant,
etc.) should wear at least a hunter orange vest or head
covering. Turkey hunters should wear at least a hunter
orange vest or head covering while moving through
their hunting areas.
YOUTH DEER GUN SEASON 5
Log on to wildlifedepartment.com to view the “2012-
13 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” for all kinds of
information about hunting in Oklahoma, including
regulations, license descriptions and explanations of
“Resident youth hunters who
do not harvest a deer during
the youth deer gun season
may use their unfilled
youth deer gun license(s)
during the regular deer
gun season to take a deer .
Resident youth hunters who
do harvest a deer during the
youth deer gun season may
purchase another youth deer
gun license and harvest a
deer during the regular deer
gun season .”
So Who Can Go Hunting During
Youth Deer Gun Season?
The youth deer gun season is for youth hunters under 18 years of age who
have adult supervision from someone who is 18 years old or older. The adult
cannot hunt deer with a gun, but may archery hunt while accompanying the
youth hunter. The adult hunter may not possess any firearms except under
provisions of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act and Oklahoma Firearms Act.
Okay, We Want to Participate .
What Licenses Do We Need?
The age of the youth who will be hunting will have an impact on
what licenses they need to participate. For example, older youth are
required to have both an Oklahoma hunting license plus a youth deer
gun license for each deer they hunt, whereas younger youth don’t have
to have both. It’s all explained below. Just choose the description below
that fits the youth who will be hunting.
Resident youth under 16 years of age:
Resident youth under the age of 16 must possess a youth deer gun
license (antlered or antlerless) or an apprentice-designated youth
deer gun license or proof of exemption. However, these youth are
exempt from the purchase of a hunting license. Youth seven years of
age or under must be hunter education certified to hunt deer. Youth
eight years old or older who are not hunter education certified can
still hunt with an apprentice-designated hunting license (see page 9).
Resident youth 16 and 17 years old
Resident youth ages 16 and 17 must possess a hunting license or
proof of exemption. In addition, these hunters must possess a youth
deer gun license (antlered or antlerless) for each deer hunted or
proof of exemption.
Nonresident youth 17 years of age
These hunters must possess a nonresident deer gun license or
apprentice-designated nonresident deer gun license. They are
exempt from a hunting license. Youth seven years of age or under
must be hunter education certified to hunt deer.
You can purchase your hunting license online at wildlifedepartment.com
or at a number of locations statewide such as certain
sporting goods dealers.
The accompanying adult hunter does not need a hunting license
to accompany a youth unless their youth hunter is hunting with an
apprentice-designated hunting license (see page 9).
What Type of Deer Can We Hunt
During the Youth Deer Gun Season?
Youth can hunt for both bucks and does. The harvest limit for the
youth deer gun season is two deer, only one of which may be antlered.
An “antlered deer” is any deer, regardless of sex, with at least three
inches of antler length above the natural hairline on either side. The
harvest of antlerless mule deer is prohibited during the youth deer gun
season. Deer taken by youth hunters participating in the youth deer gun
season are included in the hunter’s combined season limit but do not
count as part of the regular deer gun season limit. This means that as
long as a youth has not already harvested his or her combined season
limit of six deer (of which no more than two may be bucks), then they
can participate in both the youth deer gun season as well as the regular
gun season a few weeks later.
If a Youth Hunter Harvests a Deer
During the Youth Deer Gun Season,
Can that Same Youth Still Hunt
During the Regular Gun Season?
Yes! Resident youth hunters who do harvest a deer during the youth
deer gun season may purchase another youth deer gun license and
harvest a deer during the regular deer gun season.
Great, But What If We Go and
Don’t Harvest a Deer?
Good news! Resident youth hunters who do not harvest a deer during
the youth deer gun season may use their unfilled youth deer gun
license(s) during the regular deer gun season to take a deer.
By Todd Craighead
One children’s book author is making it possible
for parents to introduce youngsters to hunting
through reading — so kids can begin developing a
healthy interest in the outdoors even when at home
on a rainy day or before bedtime.
A full-time youth pastor in Indiana, Shawn Meyer
was inspired to write children’s books about hunting
when he discovered there was nothing available age
appropriate to read to his own kids. His first book,
Conner’s Big Hunt, was written for the purpose of
entertaining kids as well as encouraging parents to
hunt with their children. It intentionally challenges
parents and children alike to respect landowners
and to remember that there are more important
things than hunting. For other helpful resources
and to order Shawn’s books, visit www.huntwithakid.com.
The site offers ordering information for
Meyer’s illustrated books as well as other resources,
such as Meyers’ 12 tips to introducing youth to hunting,
book samples, discussion questions to go along
with the stories told in Meyer’s books and more.
YOUTH DEER GUN SEASON 7
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 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.
Hunters 8 years of age to 30:
May buy any required hunting license, but the
license will have an apprentice designation and will
have accompanying hunter requirements (see accompanying
hunter requirements). When hunting:
Big game (deer, elk, bear and antelope) - “accompanying
hunter” shall be within arm’s length of the
apprentice hunter or close enough to take immediate
control of the firearm or archery equipment of
A video game just can’t
compete with the excitement
of a successful deer hunt . In
sheer excitement, Mackenzie
Hendrix of Bartlesville calls
her mother from the field to
tell her about the deer she
just harvested .
Small game (including turkey) - “accompanying
hunter” shall be in sight of and be able to communicate
with the apprentice hunter in a normal
voice without the aid of any communication device.
When a license is not required (residents under 16
years of age, nonresidents under 14 years of age),
the hunter must still be accompanied.
Hunters 7 years of
age or younger:
Must be hunter education certified to hunt big game:
deer, elk, antelope or bear. May hunt small game,
including turkey, with an “accompanying hunter” who
is within sight of and able to communicate with you in
a normal voice, without the aid of any communication
device (see accompanying hunter requirements).
Who can be the “accompanying hunter” for
apprentice designated license holders? An individual
18 years of age or older who a licensed and hunter
education certified, or exempt from hunter education
and/or hunting license requirements.
One thing to consider before
going afield for the youth deer
gun season is the importance of
hunter education, both for gaining
full hunting privileges in
Oklahoma and for learning to
The Wildlife Department’s
hunter education course accomplishes
these things. Hunter education
certified hunters can buy
any hunting license and hunt big
game and/or small game alone
(except on public lands where
additional regulations may
apply). Also, in the case of youth
deer gun season, participating
youth must adhere to accompaniment
Hunters 15 years of age or
younger who are hunting alone
during a season that does not
require them to have a hunting
license (small game seasons) must
carry hunter education certification
on their person.
Who is Exempt from
1. Anyone 31 years of age or older.
2. Anyone honorably discharged
from the U.S. Armed Forces.
3. Anyone currently on active
duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.
4. Anyone who is a member of
the National Guard.
Students needing hunter education
may attend an 8-hour class
or attend a home study class that
requires four to six hours of outside
course work and four hours of
Lost Your Hunter
If your hunter education card
is lost or destroyed, you may get a
free duplicate card by logging on to
wildlifedepartment.com for details.
A computer printout of confirmation
is valid proof of certification.
Is my card good in
Certification is recognized and
honored in all 50 states and all
provinces in Canada.
How much do the
Attending a course and receiving
certification is 100 percent
free of charge.
How old do you have
to be to take a course?
There is no minimum age, but
students should be old enough to
retain material in order to pass a
Scan this code with your
smartphone or visit
to see current hunter
education class offerings.
YOUTH DEER GUN SEASON 9
Getting the Most from
Youth Deer Gun Season
Half the fun of deer season is planning for it. The
anticipation of the hunt, gathering gear and scouting
are as much a part of the hunting experience as sitting
in a blind on opening day.
Careful and detailed planning also will give you
an idea of what to expect when your day in the woods
arrives. Sure, plans can change, but at least you’ll have a
starting point. If you plan your gear and get your scouting
done on time, you’ll be prepared when it comes time
to hunt and you’ll have a blast along the way.
A successful hunt is not dependent upon achieving
your limit or even bagging a trophy animal. A successful
hunt is much more than that. It takes preparation;
not just physically but mentally as well. Successful
hunters prepare in advance.
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.
“Scouting” means simply looking for evidence of the
animal you intend to hunt. In the case of youth deer gun
season, this generally means whitetail deer, although
mule deer bucks are legal to harvest during youth deer
gun season as well and may be found in certain western
and northwest Oklahoma counties and the Panhandle.
Things to look for include elements of good habitat
and actual signs left by deer.
Elements of Good Habitat
• Arrangement of food, water, cover and space
Look for food sources such as mast, fruit, other
vegetation or agricultural crops such as wheat in close
proximity and arrangement with good cover, space
and water. Hardwood creek bottoms and stream crossings,
fence lines, open and semi-open clearings, low
areas, field edges and natural travel funnels and corridors
created by timber and landscape are all likely
spots to study for signs of deer activity.
When searching for signs left by individual deer,
look closely for evidence such as scrapes on the ground
and rubs on the bases of trees. Concentrated tracks,
droppings and even hair left on barbed-wire fences
where deer commonly cross can all help lead you to a
likely location to see and harvest a deer. If you have an
access road, path or creek flowing through or along
your hunting location, look for areas where deer commonly
cross from one side to the other. Multiple sets of
tracks often will be evident, and a nearby area where
a blind or treestand can be used should be identified.
Youth hunters can harvest two deer during the youth deer gun season.
However, only one may be antlered, and the harvest of antlerless
mule deer is prohibited. This is just one reason to make sure your
wildlife identification skills are sharp before you head to the field.
Harvesting a deer that is not permitted can come with expensive
fines, suspended hunting licenses, and damaged public support for
hunting. Study deer photos and watch them closely in the woods
before shooting to make sure you are comfortable with identifying
them in the field. Remember that, for legal and hunting purposes in
Oklahoma, an antlered deer is any deer, regardless of sex, with at least
three inches of antler length above the natural hairline on either side.
• Always determine if a firearm is unloaded before picking up or accepting it from
• When carrying a gun, the most important thing to do is to keep the muzzle
pointed in a safe direction. Never point a firearm at yourself or others.
• The natural instinct when picking up a firearm is to put your finger in the trigger
guard. Don’t! This could cause an accidental discharge if the gun is loaded.
• Never take a shot unless you are aware of your target and what is behind it. Never
point your firearm at something you do not intend to shoot.
• Do not use telescopic sights as a substitute for binoculars.
• If a friend refuses to follow safe gun handling rules while hunting with you,
immediately tell them your concerns, and don’t continue to hunt with them
unless they follow the rules.
• Always unload your firearm and examine the barrel after a fall to be sure there
is no snow, mud, or dirt in the barrel. If there is, clean it out before firing.
• Never use drugs or alcohol before or during shooting.
• Make sure you have the correct ammunition for the firearm you are using.
• Don’t shoot at water or hard objects such as rock or metal.
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, but in other parts of
the country they can be found in
coniferous forests, desert shrubland
and the mixed boreal forests of the
north. They favor openings in these
areas, browsing on shrubs and twigs,
grass and herbs.
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.
YOUTH DEER GUN SEASON 11
The person holding the gun is responsible
for the safe handling of the firearm. Remember
these four basic rules of firearm safety.
• Assume that every gun is loaded.
• Control the direction of the muzzle – point
the gun in a safe direction.
• Trigger Finger – keep your finger off the
trigger until ready to fire.
• Target – be certain of your target and of
what’s behind it.
In the Blind
When you are officially on the hunt, the culmination of all your hard
work, planning, hunter education classes, scouting, purchasing licenses
and packing and organizing come to a peak. 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 get every ounce
of enjoyment possible out of the experience.
You may not see a deer at first light, but the intensity and anticipation
of those early morning moments are an experience in themselves. With
the adult and youth hunter quietly situated in the stand together, and
the daylight only moments away, it’s time to hunt.
Top Tips for the Hunt
• While you’re hunting in a blind or treestand, stay alert to every
movement along tree lines, horizons and even the ground right in
front of you, as deer and other wildlife have a way of simply “appearing
before your eyes.”
• If you remain alert, you have a chance to spot all kinds of wildlife,
from deer and turkeys to squirrels, coyotes, bobcats, quail —literally
hundreds of species that are active during the fall.
• Do your very best to keep your eyes sharp and on the surrounding
area rather than buried in a cell phone, tablet device or even a
book. You are finally in a rare moment of solitude and nature, so
soak up every moment and every sighting.
• If the youth hunter is young and doesn’t have a lot of experience
sitting for long hours, then consider making shorter hunts and take
short walks in the surrounding area after hunting.
• Make safety a priority, and emphasize every opportunity to do
something “the right way.” Avoid all shortcuts pertaining to safety,
so any and all regrets can be avoided. It’s so easy to do things the
safe way, from crossing fences like you learned in your hunter education
course to making sure you keep the barrel of your firearm
pointed in a safe direction. Go over the safety sections of your
hunter education manual before hunting. If you no longer have
your hard copy from your class, then simply log on to wildlifedepartment.com
for a free pdf version.
• Remember to leave your hunter orange clothing on while hunting.
It is not legal to remove them once you’ve arrived to your hunting
spot. It’s also not safe to remove them.
• Use the treestand safety tips provided in this section to help you get
the most from your hunt by being safe the entire time.
A Useful Tool, but Safety is Key
Treestands can be effective for hunting deer. A tree stand is simply a
perch in a tree that provides a place to sit or stand. It gives the hunter
the advantage of height and silence; big advantages when hunting deer.
It keeps the hunter’s scent from drifting as easily to wildlife. It does have
some drawbacks. Once you are in a treestand, you can’t move around
to get a better shot.
The biggest hazard of a treestand is an accidental fall. Hunters have
to climb a tree to get into their stand. They also have to get their firearm
or other equipment up the tree. Once there, they have to perch
on a narrow seat or ledge. These are all situations that can get hunters
into trouble if they are not careful. Hunters have slipped and fallen,
strangled on gun slings, landed on arrows or triggered a firearm unintentionally.
Even a fall from a short distance can result in broken bones,
paralyzation or death.
Treestand Safety Rules
Set up your treestand at ground level the first time you use it so that you’ll
know how to install it before you climb a tree.
ALWAYS wear a full body harness
meeting Treestand Manufacturers
even during ascent and descent.
Do not rely on belt or chest harnesses.
Failure to use a full body
harness could result in serious
injury or death.
ALWAYS read and understand
the manufacturer’s warnings
and instructions before
using the treestand each season. Practice with the treestand at ground
level prior to using at elevated positions.
Keep the manufacturer’s warnings and instructions for later review
as needed, for instructions on usage to anyone borrowing your stand,
or to pass on when selling the treestand. Use all safety devices provided
with your treestand.
NEVER exceed the weight limit specified by the manufacturer. If you
have any questions after reviewing the warnings and instructions, please
contact the manufacturer. Always wear a safety harness!
ALWAYS inspect the treestand for signs of wear or damage before each
use. Contact the manufacturer for replacement parts. Destroy all products
that cannot be repaired by the manufacturer and/or exceed the recommended
expiration date, or if the manufacturer no longer exists. The full
body harness should be discarded and replaced after a fall has occurred.
Tips for Using a Two-person
Blind or Ladder Stand
During the youth deer gun season, two people will
be sitting together searching for deer, so it is 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 the
youth bare down on their target and to help deter the
shaky effects that can be caused by nervousness.
• The adult hunter should remember that, just because
they can see well from the blind or stand, doesn’t mean
the youth shooter can see. Oftentimes branches or tall
grasses that do not inhibit the vision of an adult may be
obstruct the vision of a shorter youth hunter or even
a tall youth who simply has a different vantage point.
Prior to hunting, make sure the shooting lanes for the
youth hunter are clear and that the youth has sat in the
blind and confirmed that their field of view is clear of
major obstructions. Though hunting is not just about
harvesting an animal, it would still be a disappointment
for a youth to miss an opportunity to shoot at a
deer because preparations weren’t made beforehand to
accommodate the youth.
• Sometimes looking through a scope to find a target such
as a deer can be challenging for a youth hunter who
limited shooting or hunting experience. If hunting with
a scoped rifle, the youth hunter should practice beforehand
with a scoped rifle. That way they will be able to
contend with their nerves when it really counts. However,
rather than practicing extensively with a deer hunting
rifle that could be expensive to shoot and uncomfortable
to a young hunter if fired repetitively, try using a scoped
.22 rifle. It will allow the shooter to practice using a scope
and to become proficient in the use of a firearm without
the recoil effects of a larger firearm. Plus, ammunition is
much less expensive. After the youth hunter is comfortable
with the smaller rifle, they can practice taking a few
shots with the rifle they will be using while hunting.
• 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, and it’s not worth potentially wounding
an animal with a poorly-placed shot.
YOUTH DEER GUN SEASON 13
ILLUSTRATIONS BY JUSTIN MARSCHALL The
Five Common Types
of Elevated Stands
1. Ladder Stands:
Stands that use a
ladder to reach the
perch. These are often
heavy and require at
least two to three people
to install or remove.
3. Climbing Stands: Moves
up and down the tree with
a series of stand up/sitdown
motions. Can only be used
on trees that are straight and
have no lower branches.
2. Hang-on Stands:
Chained or strapped to
trees. Inexpensive and
light weight. May be
difficult to place in a
tree and a ladder may
be required. Last step of
climbing aid should be
installed above platform.
Stands (Tripod Stands):
Used when no trees are
available. Needs to be
erected on level ground.
5. Homemade Permanent
Stands in Trees: Should
never be used. Wood rots,
trees grow and changing
weather conditions can cause
damage to the stand not
seen by visual inspection.
Permanent stands and
screw-in steps are illegal on
wildlife management areas.
ALWAYS practice in your full body harness in the presence of a responsible
adult, learning what it feels like to hang suspended in it at ground level.
ALWAYS attach your full body harness in the manner and method
described by the manufacturer. There should be no slack in the tether
when seated. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to
recover into your treestand. Be aware of the hazards (suspension trauma)
associated with full body harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension
in a harness may be fatal. Have a plan in place for rescue, including the use
of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while
suspended. If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have a plan for
recovery or escape. If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before
help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other
form of continuous motion. Failure to recover in a timely manner could result
in serious injury or death. If you do not have the ability to recover/escape,
hunt from the ground.
ALWAYS hunt with a plan and if possible a buddy. Before you leave home,
let others know your exact hunting location, when you plan to return and
who is with you.
ALWAYS carry emergency signal devices such as a cell phone, walkietalkie,
whistle, signal flare, personal locator device and flashlight on your
person at all times and within reach even while you are suspended in your
full body harness. Watch for changing weather conditions. In the event of an
accident, remain calm and seek help immediately.
ALWAYS select the proper tree for use with your treestand. Select a live
straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended in your treestand’s
instructions. Do not climb or place a treestand against a leaning tree.
NEVER leave a treestand installed for more than two weeks since
it could be damaged from changing weather conditions and/or
from other factors not obvious with a visual inspection.
ALWAYS use a haul line to pull up your gear and unloaded
firearm or bow to your treestand once you have reached
your desired hunting height. If hauling up a firearm,
be sure the muzzle points away from you. Never climb
with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to
descending, lower your equipment on the opposite
side of the tree.
ALWAYS know your physical limitations. Don’t take chances.
If you start thinking about how high you are, don’t go any higher.
NEVER use homemade or permanently elevated treestands
or make modifications to a purchased treestand without the
manufacturer’s written permission. Only purchase and use treestands and
full-body harnesses meeting or exceeding Treestand Manufacturers Association
(TMA) standards. For a detailed list of certified products, contact the
TMA office or refer to the TMA web site www.TMAstands.com.
NEVER hurry! Accidents can happen when climbing into and out of a
treestand. While climbing with a treestand, make slow, even movements of no
more than 10 to 12 inches at a time. Make sure you have proper contact with
the tree and/or treestand every time you move. On ladder-type treestands,
maintain three points of contact with each step. On hanging treestands
always check the steps to make sure they are securely fastened.
After the Harvest
After the youth deer gun season
is over, the youth hunter and their
adult mentor can relive the hunt over
and over again in memory and conversation,
but one of the most exciting
prospects about hunting is the
possibility of reliving the hunt at the
dinner table over a wild game feast.
Deer meat, or venison, is absolutely
delicious, and hunters have found a
number of preparations that bring
out the best flavors of this big game
animal. Some recipes are simple
and others are more involved, but in
either case, it is always better if you
take all the necessary steps to care for
your animal after the shot.
First and Foremost:
Proper care starts with the first
shot. Responsible hunters strive for
clean, one-shot harvests. While this
is not always possible, responsible
hunters always follows their game
and if needed, dispatch it quickly.
How you hunt an animal and how
you immediately care for it affects
the taste of the meat. An animal that
is shot while resting will not have a
gamey taste while an animal that
is chased for a distance will secrete
waste products into the muscles that
affect the taste of the meat.
Once a deer has been harvested,
the hunter must tag the carcass
immediately with their name, hunting
license number and the date and
time of harvest. Field tags can be any
item, so long as the tag contains the
required information. The information
must remain attached to the
carcass until it is checked. Annual
license holders who harvest deer
must also complete the “Record of
Game” section on the license form.
All deer must be checked within
24 hours of leaving the hunt area
either online at wildlifedepartment.
com, at the nearest open check station
or with an authorized Department
employee. Once checked, the
animal will be issued a carcass tag
or an online confirmation number.
This tag or number must remain
with the carcass to its final destination
or through processing and/or
storage at commercial processing or
storage facilities. Deer carcasses may
be checked in quartered with sex
organs naturally attached and head
accompanying the carcass.
Game Meat Care
Once you’ve field tagged the
animal, you need to do two things
quickly to prevent the meat from
spoiling – field dress it and cool
Field dressing is simply removing
the entrails. It prevents the meat
from absorbing waste products from
the body cavity organs. Three environmental
factors affect the taste of
your meat: temperature, dirt and
moisture. Meat that has been kept
cool, dry and clean tastes better
than meat that has been allowed to
get warm, wet and tainted with dirt.
Meat should be kept cool by:
• Keeping it in the shade.
• Keeping it in moving air or a
• Hanging it from a tree or post.
Hunters need support from the
public. An animal’s carcass in plain
view can offend non-hunters. Cover
it with canvas or place it in a closed
area inside the vehicle or truck bed.
Always be responsible and thoughtful
of the opinions of others.
Meat should be kept dry by:
• Immediate field dressing.
• Wiping off excess blood or fluids.
Meat should be kept clean by:
• Not allowing meat to be drug
• Covering with a cheesecloth.
YOUTH DEER GUN SEASON 15
Small Game Hunting
A doorway to a lifetime of hunting memories
By Michael Bergin
Preston Berg of Cleveland is
nothing short of a hunter. He’s just
eight years old, but already he’s participated
in several youth deer gun
seasons. He loves deer hunting. In
fact he says one of his fondest hunting
memories was harvesting his
But according to his dad, Colin
Berg, part of what has Preston
hooked on this hunting heritage is
the fact that they jump at opportunities
to hunt other species Oklahoma
has to offer, such as small game.
“If you are a dad who has a lifetime
of Oklahoma hunting under
your belt, then just think back to
when you first started hunting,”
Berg said. “For most of us, it all
started with small game. If you are
like me, you’ll remember countless
hours of hunting rabbits, quail and
squirrels. And those opportunities
to simply walk through the woods
or fields with our parents or maybe
our granddads or other mentors with shotguns and .22
rifles in hand are now priceless memories.”
Ask Preston what small game species he hunts,
and you’ll get a long answer. Along with turkeys, he
also hunts rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, quail, dove,
ducks and coyotes with his dad. And if you ask him
if other kids should try hunting, the answer is an
“So you can get out in the outdoors and see all the
cool stuff that people don’t really usually get to see, and
just spending time with your family members,” he said.
According to Colin Berg, small game hunting with
Preston is a great way to enjoy the outdoors even when
deer season is closed.
“Big game hunting has come a long way thanks to
conservation efforts, and areas where we used to think
we were lucky to see a deer track are now teeming with
deer,” Berg said. “It’s truly an amazing big game conservation
success story and we have a lot to be thankful
for in the way of deer, elk, antelope and even black
bear hunting. But now that big game is so abundant in
Oklahoma and big game hunting opportunities are so
prevalent, we adults have to make sure we don’t forget
those moments in the field small game hunting — those
moments that helped spark our lifetime passion for the
outdoors. Without that passion, many of us would fail to
feel that stirring each fall that calls us back to the woods.
And if we don’t instill that same passion for hunting and
the outdoors in the minds and hearts of our youth, then
our tradition as well as conservation is at stake.”
The best deer hunters are at the peak of hunting
discipline. Long hours without moving or talking, waiting
patiently for the right culmination of events to
transpire, and sometimes going several hunts without
taking a shot are all part of the sport that we enjoy.
But small game hunting provides other opportunities
throughout the year to prepare for big game season —
opportunities to walk the woods with no destination,
talk and laugh with a little more volume, and practice
skills such as stalking game, scouting, and handling and
Small game hunting offers these opportunities to
hone one’s hunting skills, and it has the power to help
turn someone who is merely interested in the outdoors
into a lifetime hunter of both small and big game. And
since we all know that hunters pay for conservation of
wildlife in Oklahoma, there is nothing better for wildlife
than a lifetime hunter.
Hunting seasons for small game like squirrel and rabbits
as well as birds like dove, quail, pheasant, waterfowl
and other species are usually long seasons — sometimes
several months at a time — with generous daily bag
limits. Rabbit season, for example, offers five-and-a-half
months of hunting for cottontails, swamp rabbits and
jackrabbits. Squirrel season is even longer and offers
a daily limit of 10 squirrels. Dove season, with its Sept.
1 opener, has long been known as the “kick-off” of fall
hunting season in Oklahoma, and anyone who has ever
been waterfowl hunting knows the pleasures of watching
a flock of ducks fly into a spread of decoys.
Cold weather, hot breakfasts, good friends and lasting
memories are a huge part of hunting, and small
game seasons that span throughout the year in Oklahoma.
The hunter who longs for deer season shouldn’t
ignore small game hunting.
“In short, if you’ve not thought about small game
hunting in a while, you need to,” Berg said. “This is especially
true if you have a chance to take a youth hunting.
There are so many good opportunities to take a youth
hunting these days, from youth deer gun season to early
fall dove hunting. If you know a youth who looks up to
you, then don’t miss out on the responsibility to keep
conservation and the hunting tradition going strong,
and don’t miss out on all the fun you’ll have if you just
take the time to go.”
As for Preston Berg, he’s also passionate about baseball
and other sports just like youth all over Oklahoma,
but he acknowledged that he probably won’t be playing
baseball forever. Hunting, on the other hand, is something
he says he will be able to enjoy his entire life.
—Michael Bergin is the associate editor of Outdoor Oklahoma
magazine who enjoys hunting for both big and small game.