93-Year-Old Oklahoma Hunter Says Big Buck Isn't What He's After
Oklahoma's 73rd consecutive deer hunting season wrapped up this week.
And in the woods this season, like every other, sat a hunter with 90 years of experience.
“I'll be 94 in March,” said Wilson Cole.
Cole has been around nearly an entire century and he uses a cane to help him get around most days.
But on some days, he carries a shotgun in his other hand.
“I always did hunt ... even when I was a little bitty kid … It's kind of natural … birds hollering ... squirrels running and playing,” Cole said.
But being a child of the Great Depression, getting out in the woods means even more to Wilson.
“We had to hunt to get stuff to live on back in the 30s,” he said.
Hunting was a way of life for his family; an only option for food.
“Rabbits and squirrels ... maybe opossums, too … we didn't have too much to eat. We'd find deer ... whatever we could get,” Cole said.
Wilson didn't hunt deer, though, until he was about 10 because deer hunting in Oklahoma was illegal.
It was banned in 1917 after unregulated hunting wiped out nearly all of the deer in the state.
“Early 1900s, 1917, they listed it as 500 deer in the state, which is not very many,” said Wildlife Department Education Specialist Colin Berg.
Berg said deer hunting seasons re-opened on and off throughout the 30s.
By the 40s, the state established regulated annual deer hunting seasons and started a trap and release restoration program to increase the deer population.
“And now you fast-forward to 2017-2018 and now we've got over half a million deer across the state,” Berg said.
But Wilson remembers those early years.
“A lot tougher. Wasn't quite as many as there are now,” he said.
Hunting, in general, was a lot different back then.
“No camouflage at all,” Cole said.
And no fancy products to reduce scent, no elaborate blinds, either.
“I'd just get in my chair and sit in it most of the time, I had better luck that way,” Cole said.
And that's exactly how Wilson hunted up in Osage County.
“They come off that hill there, come right down ... right across through there,” Cole said.
With his shotgun and slugs, no scope, and just some bifocals
“Here's one right here,” Cole said.
Wilson harvested a doe in one shot.
He's never cared about the size or antlers on the wall.
“It doesn't matter if I get anything or not ... as long as I'm in the woods,” Cole said.
For him, the prize is the same as it was all those years ago, the food source.
“Some good eating there,” he said.
It’s an experience you can only find outside.
During the state's first regulated deer season about 400 deer were harvested.
This season, the number is around 100,000.