Oklahoma Deer Population:  About 650,000 deer in 2017, an estimated 625,000 deer in 2015, up from 575,000 in 2014 which was the lowest population in 10 years.  Good weather in the summers of 2018 - 2015 allowed the population to rebound from a drought.  About 650,000 before the drought in 2010.  Herd analysis at right.  Historical Oklahoma deer hunting data and news archive.

Oklahoma Deer News

Deadly diseases around the country can impact deer population July 25, 202 Oklahoma, Muskogee Daily Phoenix
... No case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has ever been confirmed in a free-ranging wild deer or elk in Oklahoma. In 1998, CWD was confirmed in a captive elk herd in Oklahoma County which had originally been imported from Montana.   In 2019, CWD was confirmed in one farmed Oklahoma elk in Lincoln County. ODWC announced it would step-up surveillance in areas ..,

... Starting at birth, a fawn is left alone throughout most of the day while its mother is off feeding. The mother deer does this to reduce the chance of attracting a predator to the fawn... “Don’t be a fawn kidnapper,” ...

... Chief of Wildlife Bill Dinkines told Commissioners antlerless harvest as a percentage of total deer harvest has decreased from 42 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2018... To promote antlerless deer harvest, a public information campaign will begin...

... State wildlife officials want to increase the antlerless harvest for better deer herd management. Does or antlerless deer represent only 36% of the total deer harvest during hunting seasons, down 5 to 6% from 2014...

... Some deer hunters expressed concern about added pressure on bucks and increased kills. Bird hunters and others complained about an added week of potential conflict afield. Landowners and others generally were opposed to “another week of putting up with the headache,” ...

... no long considering adding a week to the 16-day gun season as previously proposed. Instead, the agency is hoping hunters in the future will take more does through increased bag limits ...

...  A dead elk found outside the old Sears store ... Elk are not known to roam near Tulsa, so the poachers likely killed the cow elk, estimated to weigh about 200 pounds, many miles from where it ended up ...

... The theme of changes is all about antlerless harvest, Barber said. The focus is on increasing the doe harvest as a percentage of the overall take.  “We’ve gone five years where we have not met the goal of taking 40%,” ... “Does that are not covered in the first rut come back into estrus, which is harder on the doe, harder on the bucks because of an extended rut period and it’s hard on late-born fawns,” he said. “It takes four years for a fawn to recover, or be equal to, a fawn born just a month earlier.” ..,

  Wild deer released after spending two weeks at a local tire shop December 12, 2019 Oklahoma, Tulsa World
...  young buck in an area behind a strip mall and tire shop he described as a scrap yard that was about 100 yards long and 30 feet wide.  An operator of the tire shop was cited for illegal possession of wildlife but the name was withheld pending judgment ...

Sooner State eyes increase in hunting December 10, 2019 Oklahoma, Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
... Some of this year's rule change proposals include:  Increase the deer gun hunting season by adding seven days to the end of the current season.  Establish restrictions on importing cervid carcasses or carcass parts to help prevent potential chronic wasting disease infectious materials from coming into Oklahoma from out of state...

Game Wardens in Muskogee County are asking people to speak up and report strange activity when they see it to catch poachers. - December 10, 2019 Oklahoma


... Increase the deer gun hunting season by adding seven days to the end of the current season... Opportunity for public comment will close at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 3, 2020... 

...  some people are harvesting deer, and then buying licenses online after the fact ... More than 100,000 hunters are expected .. The wildlife department estimates the season generates $600 million for Oklahoma's economy each year...

...  Among proposed regulations is one to boost the rifle season from 16 days to 23 ... “We used to have a nine-day season and then two weeks, and there really wasn’t a big impact on the number of hunters or the number of deer killed,” he said. “Most hunters don’t hunt every day of the season and most only kill one or two deer a year.”...

Deer gun season is nigh November 17, 2019 Oklahoma, Muskogee Phoenix
... With our state’s deer population estimated at between 600,000 and 700,000 ...   “Back when we didn’t have hunting seasons, we lost our game species. White-tailed deer in Oklahoma were virtually extinct in 1914.” ..,

State's most-popular deer hunting season opening soon November 14, 2019 Oklahoma, Claremore Daily Progress
“We’ve been blessed with timely rains this year, as we have the past several years. And as habitat continues to improve, deer populations also continue to grow.” ... Big Game Biologist Dallas Barber said..,

AAA warning Oklahoma drivers to be alert for deer on the move October 15, 2019 Oklahoma's News
... 186 vehicle crashes reported in 2017 were deer-related... Deer-related vehicle crashes peak in mid-November during the height of the mating season ...

Oklahoma's elk population continues to grow October 13, 2019 Oklahoman.com
... a helicopter survey in 2012 and estimated 3,200 free-ranging elk statewide ... Today, Barber said he would estimate Oklahoma’s statewide elk population at more than 5,000... Elk once roamed the Wichita Mountains prior to statehood, but the population was gone by 1875. In 1901, land was set aside which became the refuge ...

Distribution and Status of Mule Deer in Oklahoma  SC Vrla, BK McDonald, CJ Butler - The Southwestern Naturalist, 2019
... mule deer abundance in the state is low (<1 individual/km2). Results here suggest Oklahoma's mule deer population is stable, especially in the panhandle. In addition, we detected a significant, although weak, correlation with precipitation, with harvests decreasing with decreased precipitation.

... the ODAFF confirmed a bull elk at a breeding farm in Lincoln County had CWD. It immediately put a ban on all whitetail deer and elk transport... also rehabbers...

... documented for the second time in a domesticated herd in Oklahoma...  The Agriculture Department reported it has quarantined the farmed breeding facility, an adjacent commercial hunting area associated with the facility ...

McSweeney bases children's book on true story April 20, 2019 Oklahoma, Tahlequah Daily Press
... a farmer accidentally runs over a doe's back legs with his tractor, he rushes the little deer to a veterinarian ... he helps rehabilitate her injuries ... Based on a true story, "A Deer Named Daisy,"  ... 
... 
Why would deer leap to their deaths? Wildlife experts speculate after two deer jump off Creek Turnpike overpass April 18, 2019 Oklahoma, Tulsa World
... The deer jumped over a concrete barrier and fell between the east- and westbound lanes of the divided highway to plummet about 30 feet to their deaths ... “I’m sure a lot of it involved a fight-or-flight response ...

... Historically, the public hunting areas in Oklahoma have been off-limits to private individuals who want to profit from guiding...

... “The most effective way to prevent CWD from spreading, while still providing out-of-state hunters reasonable accommodations for transporting their game back home, is to require them to transport only de-boned meat, and cleaned skulls, antlers, teeth, and hides that are completely free of any soft tissue,” ...

... a “snare-style trap made using a tree near a residence.” ... evidence showed “deer were being trapped alive, tied up, then taken into a building and killed.” ...

... Bills that have already passed committees ... mandating the wildlife department do quarterly population studies of all game animals (instead of one or two for select species), giving both resident and non-resident landowners cheaper hunting and fishing licenses ...

... proposing adding language to its rules that deal with the import, transport or possession of deer carcasses and live deer to help protect Oklahoma’s deer and elk populations from chronic wasting disease...

Legislator creates deer preserve January 13, 2019 Oklahoma, Enid News & Eagle
... “If there wasn’t a hunting market, there wouldn’t be a breeding market,” Wallace said.  The Wilderness Refuge, located on 500 high-fenced acres, draws in hunters from across the country, and even as far away as Hawaii, for their chance to take home a trophy white-tailed deer...

Deer harvest numbers top 100,000 again this season January 12, 2019 Oklahoma, Tulsa World
... a total of 104,525 deer checked in as of Friday, slightly higher than the 104,022 on e-check at the end of the 2017 season ... 

... County Game Warden Cannon Harrison said he was talking to a woman on a dating app when she revealed she had killed a "bigo buck." ...

Reindeer in the Red Dirt State December 24, 2018 Oklahoma, High Plains Journal
... the only person to own and display reindeer in Oklahoma ...  To beat the heat in the summer, Ledbetter says he uses industrial-size fans ... a male could probably be bought for $10,000 while a female would be around $12,000 ...

  Oklahoma Firefighters Free Deer Stuck In Fence December 13, 2018 News On 6 
... they used a tarp to cover the deer's head and free him without injury...

Public Comment Period Opens for Rule Change Proposals December 6, 2018 Oklahoma, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
... Add language relating to the import, transport or possession of cervid carcasses and live cervids to help protect Oklahoma’s deer and elk populations from the threat of chronic wasting disease (CWD)  ...  Online public comment period closes at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 4, 2019...

Oklahoma keeps producing trophy bucks December 2, 2018 NewsOK.com
... In 1985, 65 percent of the bucks killed by hunters during Oklahoma's deer seasons were 1½-year-old deer... Last season, almost half (49 percent) of the bucks killed by Oklahoma hunters were 3½- and 4½-year-old deer. Just 17 percent of the total deer harvest was 1½-year-old bucks...

Oklahoma data:   About 650,000 in 2017 based on harvest data.  A rough estimate of 600,000 to 700,000 in 2019.  Good rainfall for several years has allowed deer populations to grow into 2019.  Changes in hunting rules proposed in 2019 are focused on increasing the doe harvest to at least 40% in order to better balance the sex ratio of the herd.  An estimated 625,000 deer in 2015, about 200,000 deer hunters.  A 2018 report puts the population at anywhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000.  The mule deer population was estimated at 1,500 to 2,000 for 2015 through 2018 In 2016 and 2017 the deer population was rebounding from a five year drought.   
     Good weather in the summers of  2015 - 2017  allowed the population to expand into 2017 and 2018 with another mild summer that provided good habitat.  A fair amount of precipitation in 2018, but drought in the southwest.    Good weather and rain increased the deer population in the central and eastern part of the state in 2015 and conditions continued to improve in 2016.  The drought in other areas, particularly the west, and an ice storm during the deer gun season resulted in a low deer harvest of 88,467 in 2015. Over the five years of drought, the population fell by 10 to 15 percent by 2015.  The 2014 deer population was the lowest in 10 years, estimated at 575,000.  Spring rains in 2014 improved fawn survival.  Rain in the central region in the fall of 2013 and good acorn production in the northeast improved herd health.   Drought in the four years prior to 2013 devastated populations in the northwest and reduced populations statewide.   
     A widespread outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) also reduced populations in 2012.  Fawn survival was very low in the southwestern portion of the state in 2011.  Drought reduced populations in 2011 and 2012, a population of about 650,000 before the drought in 2010.  About 200,000 deer hunters in 2015.  Deer densities are higher in the east.  Deer in the southeast mountains have more limited forage that prairie deer supplemented by agriculture.
     History:  Deer were abundant in Oklahoma through the 1870's, but after the territory was opened in 1889 unregulated hunting and land use changes quickly reduced the population so that by 1916 there were only about 500 deer left.  Hunting was prohibited in 1922, reopened in six counties in 1933 with 235 bucks taken.  Hunting was closed for most of the next decade and in 1943 deer were transplanted into the state for several years until the state opened a state-wide gun season in 1954.  A relocation project within the state from 1947 to 1972 redistributed about 9,000 deer from population centers such as the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Source.  Estimated 1989 population:  250,000.  Hunters took more than 40,000 deer in 1990, 25 percent does.  In 2000 the harvest exceeded 100,000
     Deer density is highest in the southeast where there is rugged forest with steep hills.  Total historic deer harvest below from Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

More than half the bucks harvested in the state recently have been 3.5 years old or older, compared to about 33 percent on average - better demographics for the herd.  Hunting Statistics  The 2013 hunt took 59.3 percent bucks. In 2013 the state started the s “Hunters In The Know Let Bucks Grow,” program, which encourages hunters to pass up shots on younger bucks in favor of taking only mature bucks.  Hunting generates an estimated $600 million annually in the state.  About 200,000 hunters.  Legal to feed deer.
    Chronic Wasting Disease  No cases confirmed in a free-ranging wild deer or elk but in 1998, CWD was confirmed in a captive elk herd in Oklahoma County and in 2019, CWD was confirmed in one farmed Oklahoma elk in Lincoln County. 
    
    Elk   A rough estimate of 5,000 elk in 2019, up from 3,200 in 2012 based on a helicopter survey.  .. a helicopter survey in 2012 and estimated 3,200 free-ranging elk statewide. Elk that were found in the Wichita Mountains prior to settlement were hunted to extinction by 1875.  In 1901 a refuge was created.  In 1908, one bull elk of unknown origin was donated from Wichita, Kansas. In 1911, five Rocky Mountain elk, one bull and four cows, were transplanted from the National Elk Refuge herd in Jackson, Wyoming.   About 300 elk in the panhandle when first hunting season opened in 2014.  The 2015-16 report.  2016-17 report
    At least 1500 bears, based on a previous estimate, but a growing population in the southeast.
Report Poaching:   Operation Game Thief hotline at 1 (800) 522-8039. Rewards are available

Other useful links:
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
Hunting Regulations