Deer archery season is less than two months away, and now is a great time for preseason scouting, particularly for hunters hoping to take advantage of public land.
Hunters looking for a great place to hunt deer this fall have a wide selection of Wildlife Management Areas available in every region of the state, but two that deserve a visit from every Oklahoma sportsmen are the Honobia Creek and Three Rivers wildlife management areas (WMAs) in southeast Oklahoma. Together the WMAs offer more than 280,000 acres of publicly accessible land, and that’s not all. During last year’s hunter survey, 99 out of 117 hunter camps rated the quality of bucks on the WMAs as good to excellent. The number of deer on the areas is a plus as well. When the WMAs were first established in the late 1990s, deer surveys produced an average of 3.4 deer observed per night. During the 2010 surveys the average number of deer observed per night was 35.
According to Dakota Christian, wildlife biologist stationed on the areas for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, hunters visiting the areas to scout for deer should take into consideration the severe drought in the region and plan their hunting strategy accordingly.
“Here on the WMAs, we have two rivers and numerous ponds that still have water in them, and these spots along with areas that have some large white oak trees will be areas to key in on while scouting on the management areas,” Christian said. “From what I have noticed while being out and about on the areas is that if we do not receive a substantial amount of rain between now and the opening of archery season, watering sources that the wildlife are visiting regularly are going to be the best areas for scouting and/or harvesting a deer.”
For more great information about deer hunting opportunities on the Honobia Creek and Three Rivers Wildlife Management Areas, log on to wildlifedepartment.com. By visiting the Honobia Creek and Three Rivers area descriptions on the Department’s website, hunters can read articles about hunting opportunities available on the WMAs as well as see recent game camera photos of deer from the WMAs. Information and driving directions for other WMAs across the state are available on the site as well.
Accessing the Honobia Creek and Three Rivers WMAs requires the purchase of a Land Access Fee permit, which is $40 per calendar year for Oklahoma residents between the ages of 18 and 64 and $85 for non-residents. The revenue from each permit sold is used to help keep the WMAs open to the public for hunting and fishing recreation and to manage the WMAs for the benefit of hunters and anglers. For maps of the WMAs, contact the area biologist at (918) 527-5308.