Muzzleloader season brings modern opportunities to longtime tradition

When it comes to “hunting hacks,” taking advantage of deer muzzleloader season may be our favorite. Opening Oct. 24 and spanning nine days, there’s so many reasons not to miss this chance to honor the deer hunting tradition in Oklahoma. The weather is perfect, deer are still relatively easy to pattern leading up to the rut, and shooting opportunities tend to be expanded compared to archery hunting. Plus, the season offers a level of challenge to suit most hunters.

Regardless of your choice of muzzleloader - be it an advanced new rifle or a more traditional model - the key to latch on to here is the opportunity muzzleloader season offers; not just for avid hunters who want nine more days to pursue a big buck they’ve been watching, but also for rising to the occassion to be a mentor for new hunters. What better time of year to make a lasting impact on a new hunting recruit than late October, when the woods and fields are in full autumn splendor? Not only that, but the opportunities within the season structure itself have increased. Namely, the season limit has increased to four deer, (only one of which may be antlered). To better manage the deer population, Oklahoma is divided into 10 antlerless hunting zones. Consult the current Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide to see a map of the zones and the bag limit in each zone. Harvest of antlerless mule deer is prohibited.

Expanded antlerless hunting opportunities will help biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation achieve specific management goals. But it also opens other obvious doors, such as allowing for more chances to put venison in the freezer. These days, the prospect of playing an active role in supplying one's own source of high quality meat is appealing to more and more potential hunting recruits. Who do you know that might take an interest in this unique aspect of hunting? Who is it in your life that just might connect with the conservation tradition in this way and end up becoming a strong ambassador for wildlife and the outdoors? Put some thought into who you would enjoy spending time with on a hunt, and reach out. Muzzleloader season, with its mild weather, ever-advancing equipment, and liberal new harvest limits, might be just the right chance to bring them along.

The most recent Big Game Report, published in the September/October issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine and also on the Wildlife Department’s website, states that an estimated 70,090 hunters took part in the 2019 deer muzzleloader season, reporting a total harvest of 16,544 deer, or 15.6 percent of the total 2019-20 Oklahoma deer harvest.

Deer muzzleloader season has always been the perfect time to head to the woods. But in a year when a pandemic has altered so many things about our schedules and opportunities, one thing that hasn’t changed is the beautiful nine day window in late October when Oklahomans can head to the woods with a muzzleloader on the quest for Oklahoma’s favorite big game animal.

To hunt deer with a muzzleloader, you'll need a hunting license and a deer muzzleloader license (either antlered or antlerless) for each deer hunted, unless exempt. Get the full details from our Oklahoma Hunting Guide.

Click here to view public areas open to muzzleloader hunting, and check out our deer page for more hunting resources.

- Don P. Brown is an information & education specialist for the Wildlife Department and the associate editor of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, and Michael Bergin is a senior information & education specialist for the Wildlife Department.

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