It’s already been a big month of deer hunting on the north side of the Red River.
And it may get even bigger this weekend thanks to the arrival of today’s powerful cold front and tomorrow’s start of the Sooner State’s Oct. 28-Nov. 5, 2017 muzzleloader season.
With a couple of 200-inch non-typical bucks already taken by hunters so far in October — not to mention a 236-inch non-typical that was run over by a vehicle near Edmond — big deer have already been on the prowl.
And with the smokepole season coinciding with some great hunting weather, don’t be surprised to see a Boone and Crockett Club caliber buck or two get tagged somewhere in the state this weekend.
“There is some buzz among the hunters (across Oklahoma this week), 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.”
The end-of-the-week front is forecast to drop morning lows into the lower to mid 30s across much of the state this weekend while keeping afternoon high temps in the 50s.
Barber said that such below normal temperatures should have a very positive impact on what muzzleloader hunters see and harvest this weekend.
“This is looking to be some of the best weather we’ve had, as far as muzzleloader season, in the past couple of years,” said Barber.
“Up here in the Oklahoma City area, we’re looking for a low of 30 to 31 degrees over the weekend, so that should have them up and moving and really kick off the season with a bang.”
With the first observance of pre-rut action in the Sooner State being reported on social media sites, Barber said this weekend isn’t one to spend lounging around in deer camp.
“With this strong cold front, the deer are going to be on their feet a little longer into the day than they usually are in late October,” he said. “And it’s getting to that time of year when you want to sit in your stand as long as you can, especially with these cooler temperatures.”
Because of the weather forecast, Barber expects plenty of deer to be tagged over the next nine days as the 2017 muzzleloader season unfolds.
“I’m expecting better (harvest numbers) than the last three years for sure, just from a weather standpoint,” said Barber. “That’s not just because this cooler weather should have the deer on their feet a little longer than normal, but also because the cooler weather also gets hunters excited.
“This first good front is going to encourage more people to think ‘I’m going to go try and shoot one with a muzzleloader this year,’” he added, noting that there should also be less bugs and mosquitoes to deal with.
“Hunting will be very enjoyable this weekend. I’d predict a slightly higher (muzzleloader) harvest than in recent years.”
To put that into context, consider that last fall, an estimated 75,766 muzzleloader hunters participated in the 2016 Oklahoma smokepole season. Those muzzleloader hunters took 13,998 deer, a part of the state’s 2016-17 total deer harvest of 99,023 whitetails (archery, muzzleloader, and modern firearms season harvest figures combined).
Just as he expects more good harvest numbers over the next week, Barber is also looking for some more big buck reports.
“As I mentioned before archery season, I’m expecting another stellar year of hunters seeing plenty of deer and some good antlers,” he said. “After seeing two bucks taken by archers last year that scored more than 230 inches, I’m excited to see what this year and the future holds.”
In a state blessed with 530,000 or so whitetails, not to mention some top-end antlers and superb habitat after a year of timely rains, that should be plenty of big deer hunter smiles.
Not to mention a few phones calls to the local deer processing plant and the taxidermist’s shop during a Sooner State muzzleloader season that should be good and then some.