Oklahoma's youth hunters have the first chance at a deer with a rifle during the youth deer gun season slated for Oct. 19-21.
The youth season is open to hunters under 18 years of age who are accompanied in the field by an adult who is at least 18 years old or older. The adult is permitted to archery hunt while accompanying the youth, but they may not hunt with a firearm.
New this year, hunters participating in the youth deer gun season may now take either a buck and a doe or two does during the season. The total youth season limit is two deer, only one of which may be antlered. A deer license is required for each deer hunted, which means young hunters wanting to harvest two deer could purchase three licenses to maximize their opportunity (one antlered and two antlerless licenses), only two of which may be filled during youth season.
According to Erik Bartholomew, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the fact that youth deer gun season takes place earlier in the year than other seasons may benefit youth hunters.
"Since the deer aren't moving as much as they would be during rut, the deer should be easy to pattern, giving kids the chance to set up on a known area and have the opportunity to harvest a deer," he said.
While deer may not be as active as during the rut, when breeding takes place, the cooler weather may still cause deer to be on the move more so than a few weeks ago when temperatures remained high.
Deer taken by hunters participating in the youth deer gun season are included in the hunter's combined season limit (six deer, of which no more than two may be antlered) but do not count as part of the regular deer gun season limit. Therefore, if a youth harvests a buck during the youth deer gun season, they can harvest another buck during either the regular gun season, archery season or muzzleloader season, for a total of two. Additionally, resident youth hunters who do not harvest a deer during the youth deer gun season may use their unfilled youth deer gun license during the regular deer gun season. 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 gun season.
Oklahoma youth under the age of 16 are exempt from the purchase of a hunting license but must possess a youth deer gun license or apprentice-designated youth deer gun license or proof of exemption.
Resident youth 16 or 17 years old must possess a hunting license or proof of exemption, plus a youth deer gun license for each deer hunted. A $5 youth hunting license or a $9 youth combination hunting and fishing license is available to 16 and 17-year-old residents, and resident youth deer gun licenses are $10.
Youth can hunt with an apprentice-designated hunting license if they are eight years old or older as long as they are accompanied by a licensed hunter who is 18 years old or older and hunter education certified or exempt. For complete details on the apprentice-designated hunting license, consult page 10 of the current "Oklahoma Hunting Guide."
For complete information on youth deer gun season details and regulations and the apprentice-designated hunting license, consult the current "Oklahoma Hunting Guide" or log on to wildlifedepartment.com