Fewer deer taken in hunting season

Tuesday, December 14th 2004, 1:30 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Fewer deer were killed in the 16-day hunting season ending Dec. 5 as rainy weather kept some hunters out of the woods and better forage made the animals harder to find.

A final tally on this year's season will not be available until January, but officials say the total will be well under last year's 63,100 deer. Interim numbers indicate this year's total will likely be closer to 50,000 deer.

``The guys that were tough enough to go out and stay rain and shine _ those were the ones that reaped the rewards. The weekend warriors weren't so successful,'' said Ken Murphree, owner of Murf's Guns in Duncan, which is also a tag station for the Department of Wildlife.

One person died in a hunting accident this season, compared to two fatalities last year, said Lance Meek, a hunter safety education specialist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife. The season's lone fatal accident came on Nov. 24.

Willis Dale Jordan, 71, of Castle Ford, Idaho and his friend, Tryon Lee Thain, 53 of Wright City, were hunting near Antlers in Southeastern Oklahoma when Jordan shot Thain in the head killing him, authorities said.

Jordan told investigators that he was shooting at some movement in the brush. Prosecutors do not intend to file criminal charges against Jordan.

Last year, one hunter died in an accidental shooting, and another died in a fall from a tree stand. Tree stand accidents may be under reported, Meek said.

``I don't hear about all the tree stand accidents that happen, because we don't have a way to track them,'' Meek said. ``We are starting to work with hospitals to track falls, but it is easier to track shootings because they get reported to law enforcement.

``Sometimes people are embarrassed and don't want to report it.''

Tree stands can range from a metal type that leans against a tree and are 12 to 16 feet high, to stands that attach to a tree and can extend much higher.

Hunter safety education classes now include discussion of tree stand safety as the stands have become cheaper and more plentiful.