By John Kilgore
On Saturday, an estimated 200,000 deer hunters dressed in blaze orange will take to the field in search of the Sooner State’s most popular big game animal, the whitetail deer.
Firearm season begins on Saturday and runs for 16 days and ends on Dec. 2 with an overall economic impact of $600,000 to our state.
The statewide management goal continues to place emphasis on reducing harvest pressure on the young buck segment of the herd and increasing the doe harvest. With the neverending fine tuning of hunting regulations and increasing public awareness of proper deer management practices, our state’s deer herd will continue to thrive and flourish.
That's a far cry from when I was a youngster who grew up hunting the southeastern part of the state near Talihina. If you saw a deer track, let alone a deer, it was like finding the holy grail. You wanted to make a mold of the track just to remember the event.
But some things haven’t changed, such as families sharing outdoor adventures together..
A six-year member of the Muskogee Police Department serving in the Investigations Division, Rob Frazier said his dad, Carl, and grandfather took him fishing and racoon hunting when he was young.
Rob later served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was in the Kuwait War during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. After his service, he took up deer hunting when he returned to Muskogee.
Fast forward to today. We find Rob taking his younger son, Ethan, to the woods. On the opening day of the youth hunt and the first day he had ever hunted, Ethan, at age 9, shot his first deer. The deer was killed near Porum and weighed approximately 120 pounds.
Speaking of being involved in the outdoors, Rob says, “ I think it’s very important, as a parent and a law enforcement officer, because it teaches children responsibility and discipline, plus it gives them something positive to do, which is hard for them to find now days. It’s a great way to spend good quality time with your kids.”
The harvested animal has kept the Frazier kitchen supplied with vittles during this recent cold snap Ethan’s doe has turned up at the dinner table in deer chili, deer tacos and even deer meat loaf.
“We are definitely going during rifle season. Since Ethan shot his first deer, he is hooked and would not miss it,” Rob Frazier said.
Another Eastern Oklahoma group of hunters, the Merz family of Wagoner, includes Steve (Pa), son, Robert and grandson, Gauge. Both Steve and Robert began with their fathers hunting small game and both have been in the woods every fall since then for bow, blackpowder and gun season.
Their favorite time now is watching Gauge be successful and love the sport as much as they do. When Robert can’t get to the woods, he goes with his Pa.
A most memorable moment for Pa and Robert was watching a few years ago as Gauge bagged his first buck at 110 yards.
Gauge passed his hunter safety course at age six with only missing one question. He was the youngest hunter that the instructor had ever had pass the safety course.
Besides deer hunting, Gauge also loves dove, duck and turkey seasons. Now, at age eight, he has harvested three bucks and three does.
In this season of celebrating traditions, these families and many more will take to the woods.
As always, exercise tree stand safety and be sure of your target when going afield.
John Kilgore’s outdoor column runs Fridays in the Phoenix. You may contact him with news or other information at (918) 348-9431 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.