There’s a phenomenon that occurs during the deer gun season that can’t be recreated any other time of the year. It unusually peaks from Thanksgiving through the following weekend and it’s not the rut but instead a product of the rut.
Those who participate actually wear the brightest orange with mostly camo underneath. They’re heavily armed and ready to spend the next two weeks in the woods. They spend the entire year waiting and make sure vacation days are saved to make the most of the biggest week of hunting in Oklahoma each year.
This is an event of tradition. It’s an opportunity to participate in the pursuit of a shared resource that we all have a stake in. During this time more than hunting happens. Stories are told, deer are cut up and packaged for consumption and friends and family gather to celebrate the event that is “Deer Camp.”
Opening weekend of gun season is often a blur of coffee, flying bullets, text messages of hunting activity and pictures of big bucks. At best the first real deer camp activity can flare up briefly tonight, the opening Sunday of gun season. But just like the rut it dips off for a few days before rounding into form. Everyone hunts hard the first few days and the Thanksgiving holiday creates the time needed for deer camp to unfold.
State-wide, more than 187,000 people are expected to participate in gun season. What’s really awesome is almost all of those people will be friends and family hunting together. A shared passion for hunting has the ability to produce a gathering of generations.
Each year, I extend open invitations for family to participate and this season my uncle has arrived for deer camp. It’s his third trip in six years. This means the stories will be better, wisdom afield will be available and shared, and I’m gonna have to make two pots of coffee each morning.
Regardless of how it affects my hunting, I’m really excited that he accepted the invitation. We haven’t found him a big buck in the previous two hunts, but maybe this year will bring better luck.
My personal deer camp has high hopes for the season and we will be hunting long hours as the season opens. The rut has been full blast for a while and things shouldn’t change any time soon. The expectation is bucks should be on the move.
This is a week that I can’t wait to celebrate each year. We have plenty of time to hunt and a need to use the season to fulfill both deer hunting dreams and the freezer. It’s a time for home cooking, the company of friends and family, the opportunity to bear arms in a way that doesn’t get bad press and a chance to celebrate the world around us through hunting.
It’s all that and more, and we call it deer camp.
Opportunities for upland hunting have begun to open with more coming soon, while waterfowl hunters will soon take a break.
Quail hunting opened Nov. 10, and will run through Feb. 15. Pheasant season is set to open Dec. 1 in certain counties and will run through Jan. 31.
Waterfowl season will close in Zone 1 and 2 for a short break at sunset Nov. 25. Waterfowl hunting will resume Dec. 8 in both zones.
Jon Kocan is the Stillwater News Press outdoors writer and a longtime hunter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.