In a little less than a week, hunters will have the first opportunity to head to the woods with a firearm, as well as the opening of one of the best kept secrets in deer hunting — the annual deer muzzleloader season (also known as the Primitive Firearms Season).
Set to run Oct. 24-Nov. 1, statewide, the muzzleloader season attracts fewer hunters than the regular deer gun season that opens in late November. Still, last year just over 74,000 hunters harvested 16,554 deer by muzzleloader. This was a decrease in hunters from the previous year, but the harvest was up from 2018. The record harvest by muzzleloader hunters was back in 2006, when nearly 30,000 deer were taken.
Weather impacts this season more than any other, especially cool, wet weather, and the opening weekend last year was not very pleasant, with damp, cool and windy conditions. Not only do hunters not spend as much time in the field, but conditions can prevent muzzleloaders from firing properly. That is some of the challenge that draws hunters to the season, even with the advance in technology.
Deer muzzleloader season is going to be a great time to hunt and harvest deer. And hunters needing any motivation to go muzzleloader hunter need to look no further than the Wildlife Department’s Facebook and Twitter pages, where numerous photos display the successes already had by hunters participating in the deer archery and youth deer gun seasons.
The muzzleloader harvest makes up just over 15 percent of the overall deer harvest in Oklahoma, and it can be tough hunting, with just a 22 percent success rate for this season, but that number could increase with a good week of weather.
The editors at Wide Open Spaces offers a few tips to muzzleloader season hunters, reminding them of the importance of spending time outdoors.
“The most common reason people get the black powder bug is to extend the hunting season, but black powder guns are also cheaper to shoot, and just plain fun.”
The time of year also makes muzzleloader season the perfect time to head to the woods. With cooler temps and deer activity increasing, a few days in the woods this time of year may be some of the most productive of all of the seasons.
According to research, mature bucks may put on as much as 30 pounds of body weight in preparation for the rutting season, when food becomes less attractive than female deer. Much of that weight comes from eating mast foods. Hard mast such as acorns, pecans and other nuts and seeds are well known by hunters, but don’t overlook the soft mass such as pears, apples and persimmons. Find the food, and find the deer this time of year.
Hunters participating in the primitive season must wear the required amount of daylight fluorescent orange clothing, this being a hat and outer garment totaling at least 400 square inches of orange.
Hunters should also remember that only primitive firearms loaded from the muzzle are allowed during this season, and laser sights and other light enhancing devices are illegal.
Unfilled antlered licenses for the primitive season will be allowed to harvest an antlerless deer on the last day of the muzzleloader season in zones open to antlerless harvest.
To have a successful muzzleloading trip, follow these simple suggestions from the experts at Remington Firearms:
· Make sure to clean your muzzleloader before taking it out hunting and then immediately after shooting it once or twice in the field. The biggest cause of miss-fires is a dirty action. Black powder (or Pyrodex) is very corrosive and needs to be removed to prevent fowling.
· Before loading, make sure the firearm is not already loaded. To make sure it is unloaded, insert the ramrod that should have been previously marked at the loaded mark.
· Only use designated black powder or Pyrodex in your muzzleloader, never use smokeless powder!
· Choose your shot carefully. With a muzzleloader you most likely have only one shot opportunity, so wait until an ideal shot presents itself. Don’t take chances.
· Moisture causes misfires. So if you are hunting in cold weather, make sure to keep your rifle cold. If you bring it inside, that change in temp can cause condensation and dampening of your powder or pellet. This spells disaster.
· Safety first. Muzzleloaders are still firearms, although primitive in nature, they still must be treated with care. Practice all of the safety guidelines you would for using a modern rifle. Treat every gun as if it were loaded, know what lies beyond your target before you pull the trigger.
· While it may be necessary to keep your muzzleloader loaded, remove the percussion cap or primer when transporting.
· If you experience a hang fire, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and wait no less than one full minute before opening the bolt. A spark may have reached the powder without any sound. The rifle could fire at any moment during this minute. If the rifle does not fire within a minute, carefully follow the directions on how to handle a misfire
Hunters are also reminded to read the complete details and regulations for deer hunting found in in the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” which is available free online at wildlifedepartment.com.
Student Writing Competition
Oklahoma students have the opportunity to win the trip of a lifetime. Depending on their age it could be a hunt or an outdoor education camp sponsored by the Oklahoma Station Chapter Safari Club International.
The Hunting — Sharing the Heritage contest is an annual competition that give students the opportunity to share their outdoor experience and possibly win a hunt of a lifetime. This year the themes also include: Archery: What I like about Archery in the Schools and Bowhunting
Students must use one of the themes to develop an expository essay or short story.
Eligibility — Students ages 11-17 currently enrolled in any Oklahoma School and home school students are eligible for participation. Winners of the 2019 contest are not eligible. Applicants must have successfully completed an Oklahoma Hunter Education course by the entry deadline.
Deadline for Entry — Friday, November 13, 2020.
Specifications — Essay or short story should be double-spaced on white, 8 1/2 x 11 paper, with 1 1/2 inch margins on top, bottom and sides. Typewritten copy is preferred. All essays or short stories must be legible.
Length should not exceed 1,000 words (four typewritten pages) for short stories, or 500 words (two typewritten pages) for essays.
Students must have successfully completed an Oklahoma Hunter Education course by the entry deadline.
Papers should be carefully proofed for spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar.
A completed entry form must be used as a cover sheet and stapled to the essay or short story. Entry must be typed and signed by the teacher or youth group leader.
Judging — All essays or short stories will be judged in one of two categories: 11-14 age group or 15-17 age group. Applicants will be judged on the use of the theme concept, creativity, neatness, proper grammar and punctuation. Winners of the statewide competition will be notified by phone.
Prizes — In the 11-14 age category: One boy and one girl will get a hunting trip at Rack Attack Outfitters in Fairview, Oklahoma or similar and receive a scholarship to the Outdoor Texas Camp for hunting during the summer of 2021. The Oklahoma Station of Safari Club International will reimburse the winners travel expenses up to a maximum of $500 per Essay Contest Winner.