Oklahoma deer hunters have been harvesting a greater numbers of older bucks in recent years while letting more and more young bucks walk, state wildlife officials said.
The Quality Deer Management Association recently issued a report on a list of states that provided the organization with their 2011 buck harvest data, and Oklahoma was in the top five states with the highest harvest of bucks age 3 1/2-years-old and older, according to a new release from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
In Oklahoma, 51 percent of the deer jaw bones aged from the 2011 buck harvest was comprised of deer that were 3 1/2-years-old or older.
In comparison, the national average of states from which QDMA was able to collect harvest data is about 33 percent.
Additionally, the percent of yearlings in the total buck harvest has continually decreased as well, from nearly 70 percent in the late 1980s to just 25 percent in 2011, state wildlife officials said.
"We are living in the best time to be a deer hunter in the history of our state," said Erik Bartholomew, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
"We have archery, muzzleloader and modern firearms seasons, youth seasons, liberal antlerless hunting opportunities, liberal harvest limits, and literally 100 days out of the year that hunters can be out there looking to harvest a deer if they want to. Hunters are better educated and they are being more selective about what they harvest."
Still, Bartholomew said hunters should continue to take advantage of antlerless deer hunting opportunities and look for opportunities to pass on younger bucks in order to wait on an older one.