Deer Forecast-Midwest

Pushmataha County

Oklahoma record-keepers say that Pushmataha County has given up the most bucks scoring over 135 typical inches. Pittsburg County, north of Pushmataha, is number two. These southeastern Oklahoma counties are less fertile and have fewer deer than other parts of the state, but ample forest cover and some rugged ridges allow more bucks to avoid hunters and grow old. The southeastern portion has some of the state's best public hunting opportunities. With a $16 permit, hunters can roam 725,000 acres of timber company lands in Pushmataha, LeFlore and McCurtain counties. In 2000, Oklahoma marked its first six-digit deer harvest, with 102,000 animals. This doesn't surprise state wildlife research supervisor Mike Shaw, who says harvest records were set in 9 of the last 10 years. With good weather during the hunting season, another record could be set this year. As the herd continues to grow, managers are increasingly challenged to make sure hunters shoot enough whitetails to keep the population in check. Oklahoma has a six-deer bag limit. Of those six, three may be bucks. Additional antlerless hunting opportunities are being offered throughout the state. "In many areas, deer numbers exceed the level of human tolerance," says Shaw.