Jon Kocan

Jon Kocan

Sunday begins a journey that spans more than three months, and challenges deer hunters to test patience, perseverance, self-control and more than anything, discipline. It’s time to deer hunt – bow season will be open before sunrise.

Late summer rains have brought terrific habitat conditions as the Oct. 1 opening of bow season begins tomorrow. Archery hunting will remain uninterrupted through Jan. 15, with no changes to the regulations this year.

Last season nearly 100,000 Oklahoma hunters took to the woods and harvested more than 29,000 deer during archery season. The numbers show a 30 percent success rate which made up 27 percent of the total deer harvest. Archery harvest surpassed muzzleloader totals by more than 10,000 deer.

I usually don’t get very excited about the opening days of bow season. Typically, the best opportunities come as the rut continues to build. This season may be different, with the biggest impact being the weather.

There is no way that the cold weather mid-week didn’t fire up local bucks. Temperatures are set to warm again, and then another front is expected for next weekend. Any north wind and cold air this time of year means early hunting is a must, and I have a stand just waiting for the northeast wind and cool air next Sunday.

Cold fronts will only continue to frustrate bucks. Does are triggered to breed by day length change, giving hunters several weeks to get the best of rut crazed bucks with no interested girlfriends. Here’s hoping the cold fronts keep coming.

Each week, I’ll report my interpretation of the rut from hunting observations and trail camera footage. This information will be directly gathered from Payne County and this week begins with promising news.

I’ve had several videos and trail camera pictures of bucks fighting in the last week. None of these have been knock-down drag-out fights, but it’s obvious that any test is a good test right now. Pecking order and dominance will play a big role as the rut begins to break out in the next month.

Some older bucks have seemed to establish territories that doe groups frequent, setting the stage for the real battles set to come in mid-October. The same bucks have also been willing to move in the daylight. Mature bucks have been willing to move in both morning and evening shooting light, with one strolling by my camera the other day at 2 in the afternoon.

These are a few of the many good signs that early hunting this year can be met with success. I know bow season often turns into a marathon for local hunters, but this year the best chance to win the race may come in the first few weeks of October.

Regardless of how it all turns out, tomorrow begins the journey of a new deer season. Keep the wind in your face and best of lock to all who bow hunt the Cross Timbers this fall.

Jon Kocan is the Stillwater News Press outdoors writer and a longtime hunter. He can be reached at jkocan@stwnewspress.com.