With the muzzleloader harvest continuing to be tallied, it’s clear that bow hunters will have the best deer hunting days of the year before the start of the regular gun season.
After a few seasons of warm weather during the last week of October, muzzleloader hunters found far better conditions this fall. Good weather is key to hunting success, and 2018 might end up being one of the best we’ve had in a while. My muzzleloader season opened with bucks on the move and I expect plenty of other hunters had a similar experience.
Last season, Oklahoma hunters harvested more than 16,500 deer with a muzzleloader, accounting for approximately 15 percent of the total harvest. It’s a season that has room to grow considering gun hunters can easily account for 60,000 deer a year or more. Somewhere around 70,000 has been typical the last few seasons.
There will be plenty of time later to count numbers and compare them to previous years, but now is the time to get the bow back out and hunt every chance you get. Local deer are going to be in a very chaotic state for the next few weeks.
I watched a young buck tend a doe Halloween night. He steered her like a cutting horse, making sure there was no way she would be traveling north. In the periods between his herding efforts, he scanned diligently for any rivals to appear.
The sides of the roads already show the rut has been on or ahead of schedule this fall. Bucks are fired up and spending most all of their time traveling and looking for a breeding partner.
More than anything, these are the few weeks that taking chances is as important as simply getting into the woods. Some stands aren’t meant to be hunted very often, but when the time is right they are the place to be.
The time is right. I’m fully prepared to open up my playbook and make some riskier calls. It’s the one time of year the hunter has a tremendous advantage matching wits with an animal that has lost its mind.
Local bow hunters have two weeks to take advantage of prime hunting before gun season begins. I’m going to pull out all the stops and take advantage of the rut.
Waterfowl hunting is now open statewide. Outside of panhandle counties, both duck and goose hunting will run through Nov. 25. The season will then reopen Dec. 8. Good numbers of ducks began to show up early last week. Every cold front should new arrivals to the Cross Timbers.
Jon Kocan is the Stillwater News Press outdoors writer and a longtime hunter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.