It’s time to swap the rifle for a shotgun to finish out the hunting season. While time remains to deer hunt, the bulk of the opportunities moving forward are for the birds.

If you’re willing to travel throughout the state, the next few months can provide some of the best bird hunting in the county. It might be mallards with their wings locked on your decoys, or rooster pheasants crowing while flushing from a fence row.

When things work out right the action can be amazing. One day, it’s a covey of quail so big it’s heart-stopping when they flush, and the next it's calling geese to a big spread of decoys in wheat field.

All that remains of deer season is bow hunting and the holiday antlerless gun season. Opportunities for wing shooting, however, are just hitting their stride in and around the Cross Timbers. Here’s a rundown of where the seasons stand.

Pheasant hunting opened Saturday in designated counties. Oklahoma will never compare to Kansas when it comes to population density and distribution of pheasants, but our side of the border has plenty of opportunity as long as you’re willing to travel a bit.

Most all waterfowl hunting will be closed until Dec. 8. The remainder of the duck season will run through Jan. 20 in Zone 1, and Jan. 27 in Zone 2. Canada goose hunting will remain open through Feb. 17.

The migration of ducks seems to have arrived late this fall. Early numbers were low and the week of Thanksgiving saw the largest pulse through the area. Since then, numbers have remained fair, and it’s safe to say that plenty of birds remain in the upper part of the central flyway.

All it will take is cold fronts for pulses of migrating ducks and geese to pass through our area. This should translate to a favorable forecast for the second half of waterfowl season. As long as ponds don’t freeze for prolonged periods, duck numbers should be fair to good for the foreseeable future.

The availability of hunting opportunity due to the sheer number of seasons being open makes the next few months the perfect time to branch out and check out new hunting locations. If hunting public land crossed your mind, don’t forget about the Oklahoma Land Access Program. The state has invested in the access and it’s up to you to take advantage.

Some species migrate and some call Oklahoma home year round. No matter the species you choose to pursue, the next few months are open for wing shooting throughout the Cross Timbers landscape.

Don’t forget

Unfilled antlered deer licenses can be used to harvest an antlerless deer on the last day of the season. Unfilled youth gun licenses are valid for both deer gun and the holiday antlerless gun season. It’s worth a check of the regulations to make sure you get the most out of the licenses you have purchased.

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