Every year around the end of April early thoughts of deer season arise. The Oklahoma Wildlife Department begins taking applications for the upcoming controlled hunt season. These hunts are by application only and a random drawing determines the success of the applicants. The deadline for the controlled hunts this year was May 15. We would apply the same way we had for the last several years, for the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant ( MCAAP ).
The MCAAP is a bomb making and ammunition storage facility located in south eastern Oklahoma. The property is right around 45,000 acres and is located in some of the best country for hunting in the country. MCAAP was originally commissioned as a Naval Ammunition Depot on May 20, 1943. On October 1, 1977 it was transferred to the Army. MCAAP is the largest conventional ammunition storage facility in the United States. Hundreds, both military and civilian are employed on the property.
The hunts at MCAAP are some of the best in the state. The opportunity to harvest the buck of a lifetime could happen at any minute during the 3 day hunt. Hunts range from youth hunts, traditional hunts, to physically challenged hunts. There are spots available for 1500 hunters over 7 different weekends. The Physically Challenged hunts starts things off, in which crossbows are allowed. The next five weekends are dedicated to traditional equipment only. A special youth shotgun hunt for 25 lucky hunters closes things out on the Depot.
We applied as a group of four. Ours party was selected for the fourth weekend. Historically this is a good time to be hunting MCAAP. The rut is in the beginning stages and the bucks are just starting to get fired up. Generally during these hunts, hunters can expect to see good numbers of deer and possibly have the opportunity at a turkey or hog while on the hunt. Hunters arrive no later than Thursday morning and are required to attend the mandatory safety briefing at 10:00 on Thursday. Natural Resources Manger, Bill Starry, gives the hunters the rules for the weekend. After the briefing, hunters are escorted to the field and given 4-5 hours to scout, hang stands and set up blinds. They are then escorted back to the campground and the hunt begins on Friday morning.
We were selected to hunt an area called Deer Creek. We had all been in this area before but only on one other occasion. We elected to hunt a new area that we had never been to before. During our scouting day, we split up and attempted to cover more area. Once back at the truck at the end of the day, we had come to the same conclusion. The deer were on the acorns! After seeing several fresh scrapes and rubs we were optimistic about seeing a good buck on his feet.
Every day of our hunt was incredible. My dad and I both had shot opportunities on the first day. His was a good 8 and mine a 140″ 10. My first day was by far the best. I saw several good bucks in the 140″ plus range and a few really nice younger deer as well. Deer were definitely on the acorns. If you were able to find a tree that was still dropping, you would see deer. As the hunt progressed the mornings grew warmer and the day-time temperatures seemed almost hot. This, along with the high winds, caused the deer activity to slow considerably.
Everybody was after a doe or hog. Quality passes are issued to hunters who successfully harvest a doe or hog while on their hunt. This is a come back free card for next year. The ability to skip the application process and come back on the same weekend makes does and hogs highly sought after. 2.5 year old basked rack 8 points seemed to tempt fate as they showed themselves one after another. Deer were on the move and being very vocal. Chris grunted in a small buck right to the base of his tree. A few of the larger bucks that passed through the area would snort wheeze at the sight of a smaller buck. Despite the high winds on day 2, I was even able to rattle in a small 8 point at around 11:00.
The last day was the warmest yet and we started our hunt at almost 70 degrees. Deer were bedded right at the base of my tree and spooked as I approached. Chris would see a handful of does that eventually attempted to pass his location at less than 5 yards. Apparently it is hard to shoot a recurve straight down. The same group would later come close to my location but not close enough for a shot. Dad saw a few deer the last day. He had a few deer come through before shooting light and again was covered up with small bucks.
The hunt ends at noon on Sunday and you have to have all your stands pulled and be back at the truck by noon. At around 11:00 we all reluctantly climbed out of our trees and began the work to get everything packed up. To say we had a great time would be an understatement. We have hunted the MCAAP many times in the past and hope to hunt it for many years to come. This is a great resource in the state of Oklahoma and an excellent opportunity to supplement anyone’s deer season!