Even though it doesn't feel like it weather-wise, the modern firearm deer hunting season will open in Oklahoma at sunrise on Saturday, November 20th. Are you ready to hear shots fire out all over the county?

The rules have changed quite a bit since the last time I hunted a decade ago, but as I read the regulations, you could potentially harvest four total deer over the two-week season. Of course, it'd be best to consult your local friendly game warden, because if I'm reading all this wrong, you're still liable for your own actions.

The rulebook says:

Deer Gun

  • Nov. 20 - Dec. 5
  • Four: no more than one may be antlered. Harvest of antlerless mule deer is prohibited. Antlerless harvest limits are set by zone. Zone 1: one antlerless. Zones 2, 7 & 8: four antlerless. Zones 3, 4, 5, 6 & 9: two antlerless. Zone 10: one antlerless. See Antlerless Deer Zones for Antlerless Deer Zones map. All deer taken during the deer gun season count toward the hunter’s combined season limit of six deer.

As most of Southwestern Oklahoma is listed in Zone 8, you should be allowed four anterless deer total, or three anterless deer and one antlered deer overall... Does it read that way to you too?

It gets even muddier when you look at the Christmas "Holiday" anterless deer season...

Holiday Antlerless Deer Gun

  • Dec. 18-31
  • Two: antlerless only. Harvest of antlerless mule deer is prohibited. Deer taken during the holiday antlerless deer gun season do not count toward the hunter’s combined season limit of six deer.

If I'm reading this correctly, you could fill your six total allotted deer tags during the three-and-a-half-month season, plus two additional anterless deer over the Christmas holiday season.

There's a part of me that thinks things are written specifically in this manner to allow our friendly game wardens carte blanche when it comes to writing tickets and generating revenues.

If you're curious why there they're distinguished between antlered and antlerless, sexing deer is not easy from a distance. I'm sure I'm not the only hunter out there who turned over a decent enough doe to find a pouch of marbles...

Instead of specifying male and female deer, it goes by antlers. An antlered deer is considered any deer having at least one antler over three inches in length as measured from the hairline. It's important that it's not measured from the scalp, it's from the hairline. You should be able to distinguish it at a pretty good distance prior to taking your shot.

If you missed the antler, but it's less than three inches in length measured properly, it's an antlerless deer. Clear as mud?

While those traditional Thanksgiving cold temps aren't in the forecast yet, things could change between then and now. If it does remain warm, remember to pack something for bugs. I'm sure Academy can provide a scentless bug spray to keep the ticks away. Also dress in light layers. Don't be the guy that begrudgingly wears his heavy coat because it "should be cold by the time you're done." It's no fun sweating in a deer stand.

As always, and I want to make sure this is clear... understanding the rules is up to you. If you have any questions, call your local warden or consult the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website and hunting guide.

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