Call it the thrill of the chill. The weather for this weekend’s Deer Muzzleloader Season opener looks like it’s going to cooperate with thousands of hunters who will venture into Oklahoma’s fields and forests aiming to harvest a deer — or perhaps three.
“There is some buzz among the hunters, and there’s good reason,” said Dallas Barber, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “With a big cold front expected, the deer should be up and on their feet.”
Forecasters say a cold front will roll through the state midday Friday, dropping afternoon temperatures into the 50s from the 70s. Saturday morning’s low temperature will be around 34 degrees, which likely will have the whitetails wandering.
“This is looking to be some of the best weather we’ve had, as far as muzzleloader season, in the past couple of years,” Barber said. Cooler conditions prompt deer to move more throughout the day, giving hunters better chances to see and harvest an animal. The chill will also cut down on those pesky bugs and make being outdoors more appealing to many hunters.
Deer Muzzleloader Season will last for nine days, closing a half-hour after sunset Nov. 5.
Sometimes called “primitive firearms,” the modern muzzleloaders of today are far from primitive. But there are still plenty of outdoorsmen who enjoy the satisfaction of using a traditional flintlock loaded with black powder and a lead ball.
According to the most recent Big Game Report, available in the September/October issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, an estimated 75,766 hunters took part in the 2016 Deer Muzzleloader Season, reporting a total harvest of 13,998 deer. For all deer seasons combined in 2016, a total harvest of 99,023 deer was reported.
Muzzleloader hunters can take one antlered and two antlerless deer during the season, as long as one of the antlerless deer is taken from Zone 2, 7 or 8. Consult the 2017-18 Oklahoma Hunting & Fishing Regulations Guide to see a map of Antlerless Deer Zones.
Barber said deer hunters would do well to continue focusing attention around food sources this coming weekend. Some light calling or grunting and a sporadic antler rattle might help as deer are showing some pre-rut activity.
Some other hunting seasons that are open during all or a portion of Deer Muzzleloader Season are Bear Muzzleloader Season, Oct. 28-Nov. 5; Elk Muzzleloader Season, Oct. 28-Nov. 5; Fall Turkey Archery Season, Oct. 1-Jan. 15; Fall Turkey Gun Season, Nov. 4-17; Squirrel Season, May 15-Jan. 31; and Rabbit Season, Oct. 1-March 15.
All hunters are reminded that they must wear the minimum required amount of hunter orange clothing during any open big game firearms season. Those and all other regulations such as license requirements, hunting hours, bag limits, field tagging and online E-Check rules are detailed in the “Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide” found at www.wildlifedepartment.com, in the free “OK Fish and Wildlife” mobile app for Apple and Android, or in print at license dealers statewide.