Regional Reports-Midwest

Oklahoma

Not too many years ago, deer sightings in some parts of Oklahoma generated enough interest to make the newspapers. My, how things have changed. As the statewide deer herd approaches half a million animals, many landowners, farmers and motorists believe they'd be better off with fewer whitetails. To meet the needs of both sportsmen and landowners, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is developing a comprehensive management plan that could increase hunting opportunities for deer hunters across the state. Since February, the DWC has held public meetings at which landowners, area sportsmen, insurance-industry representatives and others expressed their opinions about the future of deer management in Oklahoma. Based on their input and related biological factors, wildlife biologists will evaluate options such as expanding the length of the modern gun and muzzleloader seasons, increasing the season limit for does and expanding participation in the DWC's Deer Management Assistance Program. Oklahoma deer hunters have set new harvest records in 15 of the last 18 years, including 1999. However, the annual harvest doesn't offset the herd's annual production, so numbers continue to climb throughout the state. Contact: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (405-522-1857).