Youth Deer Gun Season - Oklahoma Department of Wildlife ...

Youth Deer Gun Season - Oklahoma Department of Wildlife ...

Youth Deer

Gun Season


Celebrating an

Old Tradition in a

Modern World


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.



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 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


Hunter Orange

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.



Log on to to view the “2012-

13 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” for all kinds of

information about hunting in Oklahoma, including

regulations, license descriptions and explanations of

certain exemptions.


“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

and younger

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

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

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.





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

the apprentice.

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).

Accompanying Hunter


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.



Hunter Education

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

hunt safely.

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

Hunter Education?

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.

Hunter Education


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

classroom instruction.

Lost Your Hunter

Education Card?

If your hunter education card

is lost or destroyed, you may get a

free duplicate card by logging on to for details.

A computer printout of confirmation

is valid proof of certification.

Is my card good in

other states?

Certification is recognized and

honored in all 50 states and all

provinces in Canada.

How much do the

courses cost?

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

50-question test.


Scan this code with your

smartphone or visit

to see current hunter

education class offerings.


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

• Food

• Water

• Cover

• Space

• 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.



The Quarry

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.

Safety Tips

• Always determine if a firearm is unloaded before picking up or accepting it from

another person.

• 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.

Whitetail deer


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.

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.



Firearm Safety

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

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

Association standards

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.




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.

4. Self-supporting

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

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:

One-shot Harvests

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

the meat.

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

through dirt.

• Covering with a cheesecloth.


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

first doe.

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

emphatic “yes!”


“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

shooting firearms.

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.


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