2003 Whitetail Articles

 



Commission approves extended deer gun season (3/6/03)
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a statewide 16-day deer gun season and a number of other deer hunting regulation changes, at its March 3 meeting.

In a 5-2 vote, the Commission approved a deer gun season beginning on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and running for 16 consecutive days. Additionally, the Commission approved keeping a 9-day deer gun season on many of the Department’s wildlife management areas.

“We have worked for years to maximize deer hunting opportunities on our wildlife management areas,” said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Department. “After discussions with biologists and area managers, we feel like it would be best to open about a third of the areas to the 16-day season and keep the remaining two thirds at nine days.”

Fourteen wildlife management areas will have 16-day deer gun seasons. Those areas are: Cherokee, Camp Gruber, Dewey County (archery only), Fobb Bottom, Eufaula, Hickory Creek, Keystone, Love Valley, Kerr, Oologah, Skiatook, Sparrowhawk, Texoma/Washita Arm and Tenkiller wildlife management areas and Lake Thunderbird State Park (archery only).

For complete season dates, zones and other details about the upcoming hunting seasons, consult the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” which will be available this summer.

The Commission also approved a slate of other wildlife regulations designed to increase hunter opportunity and better manage Oklahoma wildlife resources.

The new rules include:

A special three-day antlerless deer gun season for those under 18 years of age was established. The season will be held during the third weekend in October.

The Commission passed a rule that changes the deer archery season to run consecutively from October 1 to January 15. This will allows archery hunters to hunt on an archery license during the deer gun season.

Another significant rule change makes muzzleloading pistols, .40 caliber or larger, legal for deer hunting during the muzzleloader season.

Honobia and Three Rivers wildlife management areas (WMAs) in southeast Oklahoma are two of the most popular WMAs in the state. The Commission approved a rule that creates a three-day special use permit ($5) for residents to use these areas for nonhunting/nonfishing related activities.

In other business, commissioners heard a trio of presentations on the Department’s efforts to promote hunting and fishing to the next generation of Oklahomans.

Bill Dinkines, assistant wildlife chief for the Department, presented the Commission with a report on the private lands youth antlerless deer hunts

“The private land youth hunts were a success all the way around,” said Dinkines. “They offered a great chance for young people to get exposed to the sport of hunting and they helped landowners in managing the deer herd on their property.”

Held in October and December, 100 youngsters participated in the hunts, which took place in 10 different counties. With a success rate of 70 percent, the majority of the participants left with fresh venison and approximately 35 percent had the opportunity to harvest their first deer.

Landowners wanting to participate in private lands youth deer hunts in 2003 have until July 1 to sign up. For more information about the program, call (405) 521-2739.

Commissioners vote to keep 16-day statewide deer gun season (4/10/03)

Members of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission debated rescinding the statewide extended deer gun season to provide a 16-day season in all counties except McCurtain and Pushmataha counties, but voted 6-2 to keep a statewide 16-day deer gun season. The action occurred at the Commission’s April 7 meeting.

In other business, Damon Springer, aquatic education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, presented the Commission with a brief history and status report of the Aquatic Resources Education Program.

"The program has been a real success," said Springer. "About 20,000 kids go through the program each year. They learn about everything from how to cast a rod and reel to outdoor ethics. And most of the clinics include a chance to catch a fish."

More than 180 clinics are held each year across the state from isolated farm ponds to parks in the heart of metropolitan areas. According to Springer, the program’s 450 volunteers are essential to it’s success.

“We have so many dedicated volunteers, but none work harder than Leroy and Carol Orsburn,” Springer said.

The Orsburns were honored at the meeting by the Commission for their efforts in promoting fishing to young anglers.

“The real pay day for us is every time we see a kid smile when they catch a fish,” Leroy Orsburn said.

In the 10 years the couple has served as volunteers, they have conducted over 100 clinics with many of those clinics focusing on handicapped youth.

Also at the April meeting, Commissioners voted to reject bids for the auction elk hunt on Cookson Hills Wildlife Management Area. Bidding will be reopened until July 1 with a $7,500 minimum bid.

Commissioners accepted a $1,000 donation from the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited. The funds will assist with the printing of a Lower Mountain Fork River trout habitat map.

“The 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited has been a great partner in improving the trout fishing opportunities in the state. Over the last year alone, the group has donated over $13,000 to benefit the trout program and this latest donation will help in letting people know about the great trout fishing on the Lower Mountain Fork River,” said Fisheries Chief Kim Erickson.

Commissioners also accepted a donation of $3,500 from the Ouachita Forest Interpretation Association. The funds will go towards the construction of an observation platform and tower at the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area.

Harold Namminga, federal aid and research coordinator for the Department was recognized for his 25 years of service to the sportsmen of Oklahoma.

“Harold’s love and dedication to the resources of our state is plainly evident. He has been a great asset to this Department and to the sportsmen of Oklahoma,” said Greg Duffy, executive director of the Wildlife Department.

Rob Ray, president of the Oklahoma Bowhunting Council, presented Benny Farrar with the Oklahoma Bowhunting Council Wildlife Professional of the Year. Farrar is the Department’s wildlife biologist for Robbers Cave, Eufaula (Gaines Creek Unit) and James Collins wildlife management areas, as well as the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.

In other business, Commissioners approved a proposal for a pay package for Department employees, contingent upon a pair of funding bills in the State Legislature that would increase the cost of annual and lifetime hunting and fishing licenses.

Assistant Director Richard Hatcher gave commissioners an update on bills in the Oklahoma state legislature, which relate to fish and wildlife conservation. A daily update of the progress of those bills is available on the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com/legislation.htm

The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department, and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

The next scheduled Commission meeting is May 5 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 9:00 a.m.

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Deer Seasons Set - Plan Your Vacation Now (5/8/03)

Thanks to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, deer hunters now have all the information they need to fill in their fall hunting calendar. At their May 5 meeting the commissioners approved a slate of antlerless deer hunting opportunities, the last piece in Oklahoma’s deer hunting regulations for this year.

Hunters in southern and southwestern Oklahoma will have additional chances to harvest an antlerless deer during the statewide deer gun season and special antlerless deer seasons. Hunters across the state will be able to use their unfilled buck license to harvest an antlerless deer on December 7. The last day of the statewide deer gun season.

The commission, for the third year in a row, also approved the special antlerless deer season for the weekends before and after Christmas. Hunters in western and southwestern will have an additional three days to head to the woods during the special antlerless deer season.

Earlier, at its March meeting, the Commission approved a statewide deer gun season beginning on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and running for 16 consecutive days (Nov. 22-Dec. 7). On many of the Department’s wildlife management areas, however, the seasons will remain nine days.

A special three-day antlerless deer gun season for those under 18 years of age was also approved. The season will be held during the third weekend in October.

Deer archery season will run Oct. 1-Jan. 15 and deer muzzleloader will run Oct. 25-Nov. 2.

For complete season dates, zones and other details about the upcoming hunting seasons log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com or consult the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” which will be available this summer.

In other business, commissioners also approved regulations for private land elk hunts in Kiowa, Comanche and Caddo counties. These dates will coincide with last year's dates. Last year 200 hunters harvested 35 elk on private lands in Oklahoma. For a complete list of those dates go to the hunting link at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Oklahoma families will want to head to their favorite fishing hole on the first full weekend in June. The commission approved a resolution to designate June 7-8 as Free Fishing Days in Oklahoma. Oklahoma was the first state in the nation to offer free fishing days 23 years ago and have since been followed by dozens of other states that have established similar free fishing days.

"Free fishing days are a great opportunity to introduce family and friends to fishing," said David Warren, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department.

State fishing licenses are not required on the free fishing days, although anglers should note that local or municipal permits may be required on those days.

Commission Chairman Lewis Stiles recognized State Representative Dale Smith of St. Louis, State Representative Joe Hutchison of Jay and State Senator Frank Shurden of Henryetta for their support of hunting, fishing and natural resources in Oklahoma.

Commissioners also voted to accept a contribution from the Oklahoma City Zoological Trust. The trust donated $3,000 as well as personnel time and other services to assist the Department with a short-grass prairie breeding bird survey.

Assistant Director Richard Hatcher gave commissioners an update on wildlife-related bills in the Oklahoma state legislature. A daily update of the progress of those bills is available on the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com/legislation.htm

The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department, and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

The next scheduled Commission meeting is June 2 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 9:00 a.m.

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Fourth year of testing shows no CWD in state’s deer herd (5/8/03)

For the fourth year in a row chronic wasting disease was not discovered in the state’s wild deer herd.

“It’s certainly good news for deer and deer hunters,” said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Personnel took brain samples from 1,000 deer and elk harvested during the 2002-03 hunting season from 44 different counties.

“It is a good sample size from a large area of the state and we will continue to be vigilant in our surveillance program,” Shaw said.

CWD is an infectious disease of wild and captive elk and deer that results in progressive degeneration of the brain tissue in infected animals. First recognized in 1967, CWD is not a new disease and has been found in wild herds in limited areas of several western and northern states. There is no evidence that CWD has ever been transmitted to people, livestock or other kinds of animals.

Shaw added that whitetail deer provide a significant part of the rich hunting heritage in Oklahoma, as well as significant annual economic impact on the state. A recent survey showed the total economic impact from deer hunting in Oklahoma exceeded $600 million annually.

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Bonus youth deer hunts offered (8/7/03)

Beginning deer hunters have a unique opportunity to participate in nine youth antlerless deer controlled hunts that will take place on private lands in several Oklahoma counties.

The hunts are scheduled for either mid October or late December. This year 103 bonus antlerless deer gun licenses will be drawn for youths 12 to 16 years of age who have completed their hunter education requirements.

"These hunts are on private property and should provide young hunters a great opportunity to see some deer as well as a chance to harvest a doe," said Bill Dinkines, assistant chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission has endorsed the youth hunt program and is thankful for the landowners' willingness to participate in this program and for allowing these youngsters the opportunity to hunt on their property.

A non-hunting adult that is at least 21 years old must accompany any youth chosen for the hunts. To apply for a hunt, applicants must send the Department a four inch by six inch index card titled "Private Lands Youth Deer Hunts." The card should provide the hunter's name, date of birth, mailing address, telephone number, hunter education certification number, social security or drivers license number, the county in which they prefer to hunt and lifetime license number if applicable. The name of the non-hunting partner must also be included.

The October hunts offered include sites in Alfalfa, Canadian, Craig, Dewey, Ellis, Harmon, and Osage counties. There will also be a December hunt offered in Canadian county. Each hunter may apply for up to three hunts. If applying for more than one hunt, hunters must designate the order of hunt preference. Applications must be received at the Department no later than 4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 5, 2003.

Successful applicants will receive a notification letter in the mail about their hunt. The letter will inform them of their selection, details about the hunt and license requirements. Any youth selected for the hunt will need to purchase a $10.00 resident youth deer gun license unless they possess an Oklahoma resident lifetime hunting or resident lifetime combination license. The youth's non-hunting adult partner will not be required to possess a license of any type. Any antlerless deer harvested during the controlled hunt will be considered "bonus" deer and will not count against the youths’ annual statewide bag limit.

Applications for the Private lands Youth Deer Hunt should be sent to: Department of Wildlife, Attn: Wildlife Division-Youth Deer Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. For additional information concerning the hunts, contact the Department at (405) 521-2730.

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Special youth deer hunts brings smiles to kid’s faces (8/14/03)

If you can measure success by the smiles on kids’ faces, then the 2002 private lands youth deer hunts were an outstanding success.

Last year private landowners, as well as state game wardens and biologists from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation teamed up to provide youths with the opportunity to harvest an antlerless deer. One of those hunts in Roger Mills County will be featured in an upcoming episode of "Outdoor Oklahoma" on OETA - The Oklahoma Network Sunday, August 24 at 8:00 a.m.

For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or your local TV guide.

It is not too late to sign up for one of the nine youth antlerless deer hunts that will take place on private lands in several Oklahoma counties this fall.

The hunts are scheduled for either mid October or late December. This year 103 bonus antlerless deer gun licenses will be drawn for youths 12 to 16 years of age who have completed their hunter education requirements.

The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission has endorsed the youth hunt program and is thankful for the landowners' willingness to participate in this program and for allowing these youngsters the opportunity to hunt on their property.

A non-hunting adult that is at least 21 years old must accompany any youth chosen for the hunts. To apply for a hunt, applicants must send the Department a four inch by six inch index card titled "Private Lands Youth Deer Hunts." The card should provide the hunter's name, date of birth, mailing address, telephone number, hunter education certification number, social security or drivers license number, the county in which they prefer to hunt and lifetime license number if applicable. The name of the non-hunting partner must also be included.

The October hunts offered include sites in Alfalfa, Canadian, Craig, Dewey, Ellis, Harmon, and Osage counties. There will also be a December hunt offered in Canadian County. Each hunter may apply for up to three hunts. If applying for more than one hunt, hunters must designate the order of hunt preference. Applications must be received at the Department no later than 4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 5, 2003.

Applications for the Private lands Youth Deer Hunt should be sent to: Department of Wildlife, Attn: Wildlife Division-Youth Deer Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. For additional information concerning the hunts, contact the Department at (405) 521-2730.

Successful applicants will receive a notification letter in the mail about their hunt. The letter will inform them of their selection, details about the hunt and license requirements. Any youth selected for the hunt will need to purchase a $10.00 resident youth deer gun license unless they possess an Oklahoma resident lifetime hunting or resident lifetime combination license. The youth's non-hunting adult partner will not be required to possess a license of any type. Any antlerless deer harvested during the controlled hunt will be considered "bonus" deer and will not count against the youths’ annual statewide bag limit.



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Archery season offers ample time to head to the woods (9/18/03)

No more excuses about not having enough time to hunt.

Opening day of archery deer season is October 1 and it is followed by over three full months of hunting opportunity.

The season runs from Oct. 1 to Jan. 15, allowing more than 100 days of hunting. The first of Oklahoma's big game seasons, the archery deer season, attracted more than 88,000 Oklahoma hunters last year.

“Archery season is just about here. It looks like the post oak acorn crop is going to be pretty good this year, so that may be a good place to look for early season deer activity,” said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Shaw added that early reports from spotlight deer surveys are showing a fair number of fawns.

During the 2002 archery deer seasons, Oklahoma bowhunters enjoyed their best season ever, harvesting a record 14,278 deer. The archery harvest contributed 14 percent of the total deer harvest.

Before heading afield, hunters will want to be sure to pick up a copy of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" available at all license dealer locations.

Several significant regulation changes will take effect this year. Perhaps of most interest to archery hunters is that archery season will no longer be closed during deer gun seasons. Hunters should pick up a copy of the “Guide” to find out exactly what is needed to hunt with a bow during the 16-day deer gun season. In past years, deer hunters could still use archery equipment during the nine-day deer gun season, however they were required to possess a deer gun permit. This year’s change will allow archers to hunt throughout the 16-day deer gun season on their deer archery permit. Numerous hunting season changes have also been made to wildlife management areas across the state.

Hunters can also find updated check station locations, antlerless dates and zones, and a wealth of other information in the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” or by logging on to the Department's Web page at wildlifedepartment.com.

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Hunters anticipating upcoming muzzleloading season (10/16/03)

The brilliant fall colors and the cool winds of late October means there is one thing on the minds of most Oklahoma hunters - muzzleloader deer season.

Hunting with a muzzleloading firearm is a great opportunity for Oklahoma hunters to harvest a deer and it is a great time to be out in the woods as well, at least according to Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“Although we just about got rained out last year, generally speaking, the weather is pretty nice during muzzleloader season,” Shaw said. “It’s just a great time to get outdoors and the deer are becoming more active as the temperatures cool down.”

The statewide muzzleloader season runs Oct. 25-Nov. 2, offering nine days of traditional-style hunting that harkens back to the early days of Oklahoma's hunting heritage.

According to Shaw, hunters may want to concentrate their efforts around deer feeding areas such as acorns and other natural foods.

Over 113,000 hunters participated in the muzzleloader season last year. These hunters contributed significantly to the $909 million economic impact produced by all of Oklahoma's nearly 300,000 hunters according to a recent survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For specific information regarding licenses, bag limits, blaze orange clothing requirements or legal firearms, consult the "2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" or log onto www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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Cutline: The muzzleloader season is a great time to be out in the deer woods and offers hunters the opportunity to harvest a trophy buck.

Cutline: Antlerless deer accounted for over 40 percent of the statewide deer harvest in 2002 and it is important for maintaining a healthy herd that hunters sustain this level of antlerless harvest in the 2003 season.

First annual special youth deer season opens Oct. 17-19 (10/9/03)

Still haven't figured out what to do with the family over fall break? How about going deer hunting!

The special youth antlerless deer gun season, which will be held October 17-19, offers families a great opportunity to enjoy a weekend in the great outdoors. The inaugural season also falls on the same weekend as many school districts’ Fall Breaks.

The annual Fall Breaks of many public schools across the state, including both Oklahoma City and Tulsa, are scheduled during the third week in October. This provides parents and other hunters the perfect opportunity to share their love of hunting with a child.

Open to kids under 18 years of age, the special youth antlerless deer gun season was created to encourage youth to head afield and to provide additional opportunities to harvest antlerless deer. Participating youth are required to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult partner at least 18 years of age.

For complete season dates and other regulations, pick up a copy of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log onto wildlifedepartment.com.

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Archery season off to a successful start (10/9/03)

There is not any real rush. Oklahoma archery hunters have plenty of time to head to the woods, in fact they have over three full months. But at least one hunter wasn’t going to waste any time.

“I laid in bed with my eyes wide open all most the whole night before opening day of the season,” said Chad Hane, and avid bowhunter who resides in Payne County.

Hane had good reason for his bout of insomnia - he had spotted not one, but four nice bucks near his hunting location.

“I got to my stand more than an hour before light,” Hane said. “I was just fortunate to be in the right place at the right time when a nice buck came by.”

“Nice” may be a bit of an understatement. One of the first deer harvested in 2003, Hane’s buck will likely go in the record book as one of the top ten Cy Curtis deer in Oklahoma.

The Cy Curtis Award, named in honor of the man most responsible for the restoration of white-tailed deer in Oklahoma, was established in 1975 to recognize trophy deer taken throughout the state. Sportsmen who harvest deer that meet minimum entry requirements (a score of 135) are acknowledged by receiving a certificate as well as having their names entered in the state record book.

Hane’s buck had an incredible 29 total antler points and measured an impressive 27 1/8 inch in the inside spread. The initial green score measured 223 inches. An official score can be taken after a 60-day drying period. The trophy buck tipped the scales at 202 pounds.

Hane may have already taken a trophy buck this archery season, but there is plenty of time for Oklahoma hunters to get their own deer of a lifetime. The deer archery season opened Oct. 1 and runs to Jan. 15, allowing more than 100 days of hunting. During the 2002 archery deer seasons, Oklahoma bowhunters enjoyed their best season ever, harvesting a record 14,278 deer. The archery harvest contributed 14 percent of the total deer harvest.

Before heading afield, hunters will want to be sure to pick up a copy of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" available at all license dealer locations.

Hunters can also find updated check station locations, antlerless dates and zones, and a wealth of other information in the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” or by logging on to the Department's Web page at wildlifedepartment.com.

For more information on the Cy Curtis Program, contact the Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Division at (405) 521-2739.

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Editor’s note: Below is a link for an accompanying photo that is 300 DPI and intended for newspaper publication. The ending link is .jpg for the photo. The photo will open in your browser. If you have a pc you should be able to right click, save picture as, choose the file type you want to save as and click save. The other way is on file in toolbar, save picture as, choosing the file type you want to save as and click save. Images can be viewed with the article at <http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/wl_news.htm>.

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Cutline: Chad Hane took this impressive buck opening morning of archery season in Payne County. The buck measured 27 1/8 inch inside spread and green scored 223 as a non-typical rack. The buck tipped the scales at 202 pounds.

Deer hunters have successful opening weekend (11/27/03)

Pardon the pun, but the 2003 Oklahoma deer gun season has started off with a bang.

“I have been hearing quite a few good reports,” said Russ Horton, central region wildlife biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “In fact I even heard of one check station that had run out of tags.”

According to Horton, the recent cold weather snap came at just the right time for deer hunters.

“Most hunters would prefer a little less wind, but overall the weather has been really nice, it sure beats rain or hot, humid weather,” Horton said

For the first time in over 30 years hunters have the opportunity to hunt a full 16 days during the deer gun season. Running Nov. 22 through Dec. 7, the deer gun season is undoubtedly Oklahoma’s most popular hunting event and hunters have reason to be excited about the remainder of the season.

“I have been a little surprised by the number of big bucks that I have seen checked in,” Horton said. “Perhaps some hunters are taking the extra time to pass on some of the younger bucks and take a trophy deer. We may have also hit the tail end of the rut during this year’s season which is always good news for hunters.”

While every hunter enjoys being outdoors and the thrill of the chase, venison also provides nutritious and delicious meals for hunters and their families. This year, just like in years past, many hunters are taking that a step further.

Each year Oklahoma hunters donate thousands of pounds of venison to the Hunters Against Hunger program. The program, co-sponsored by Nature Works Inc. in cooperation with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, facilitates the distribution of deer meat to hungry families in the state.

Hunters who legally harvest a deer during this year's deer seasons can simply deliver the deer to the nearest participating meat processor after checking the deer in. To help with processing charges, each donor is requested to contribute a tax-deductible $10 to assist with the program. The ground venison will then be distributed to the needy through a network of qualified, charitable organizations.

To find out more about the Hunters Against Hunger Program, or for a list of cooperating meat processors, check out page 24 of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide."

For additional information about deer hunting including regulations, antlerless zones, and check station locations, be sure to pick up a copy of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" available at all license dealer locations or log on to the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.

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Deer hunters spend big bucks to bag big bucks (11/20/03)

Did you realize that the opening of deer gun season is one of the state’s largest single-day recreational events? In fact, it attracts more Oklahomans than the number of football fans attending sold-out home games at Boone Pickens Stadium and Owen Field, - combined. More than 160,000 deer gun hunters took to the woods last fall, making it one of the most popular outdoor events in the state.

Deer hunting in Oklahoma is also big business. On their way to the woods, hunters pump over $300 million each year to the state’s economy. And that’s just deer hunters, when you add all the other hunters in the state the numbers are truly impressive. When hunters stop to eat in rural Oklahoma after a long hunt or when they purchase the latest must have hunting gadget, their spending creates a $573 million ripple effect on the state’s economy. In fact, hunting in Oklahoma supports nearly 7,000 jobs.

Hunters from outside of Oklahoma have also discovered that our state is a first-rate destination. Nonresidents spend over $6 million in the state on hunting excursions.

The gun deer opener, Saturday, Nov. 22 , will draw an estimated 160,000 hunters plus their non-hunting companions. The 16-day season, which runs through Sunday, December 7, will see these thousands of orange-clad hunters heading into Oklahoma's forests and prairies in search of the state's number one game animal, the white-tailed deer.

Each time a hunter buys a new gun or an extra set of arrows, they are helping to fund fish and wildlife conservation efforts right here in Oklahoma through the Wildlife Restoration Program. The federal government collects these taxes from manufacturers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service distributes the funds to the state fish and wildlife agencies. Hunters, anglers, shooters and boaters ultimately pay special taxes through the purchase of products.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation uses the funds for a wide range of important activities, including the purchase and maintenance of wildlife management areas, research laboratories and user facilities, surveying and managing wildlife populations, training volunteer instructors and educating young hunters in safe firearms handling and ethics afield. Since Oklahoma receives no general appropriations from the State Legislature, these funds accounted for a significant part of the Wildlife Department's annual operating budget.

For more information about Oklahoma's deer season, consult the “2003-2004 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” or log onto www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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Hunters sharing their harvest (11/13/03)

One of the main reasons hunters head to the woods each fall is to provide good, nutritious food for their families and many hunters are taking that a step further.

Each year Oklahoma hunters donate thousands of pounds of venison to the Hunters Against Hunger program. The program, co-sponsored by Nature Works Inc. in cooperation with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, facilitates the distribution of deer meat to hungry families in the state.

"Fresh meat is one of the least donated food items that we receive and it is one of the most requested," said Sally White, programs director for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. "The organizations we work with are always thrilled to get venison. I recently spoke with the director of one soup kitchen who said the venison was really important this year in supplying meals for the hungry. The donations of hunters and the generosity of meat processors is greatly appreciated by needy families across the state."

Hunters who legally harvest a deer during this year's deer seasons can simply deliver the deer to the nearest participating meat processor after checking the deer in. To help with processing charges, each donor is requested to contribute a tax-deductible $10 to assist with the program. The ground venison will then be distributed to the needy through a network of qualified, charitable organizations.

To find out more about the Hunters Against Hunger Program, or for a list of cooperating meat processors, check out page 24 of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide."

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Statewide deer harvest could top 100,000, again! (12/18/03)

While breaking the annual harvest record may be a long shot, Oklahoma deer hunters could break the 100,000 deer mark for the third time in just a four-year span.

After tallying harvest totals from the recent deer gun season, personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation registered a preliminary harvest total of 87,241 deer, which is 3,853 deer ahead of last year’s tally at this time. That number does not include deer that will be taken in the late archery season, the special antlerless deer season, controlled hunts or on land enrolled in the Deer Management Assistance Program.

“We’re on track for another great harvest. If past performance holds true, our final harvest figure should be very close to 100,000 deer,” said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Department. “Our deer herd is in good health and the weather conditions as well as the timing of the rut were generally favorable to hunters.”

According to Shaw, all five wildlife regions reported an in increase in harvest over last year, with the exception of the northeast region, which was down by two percent.

“Although it is still a little too early to tell, it looks like hunters took advantage of the new 16-day season. Hunting pressure seemed to be spread out over all three weekends,” Shaw said. “Once we have all the data, we will do a statewide analysis of harvest by day so that we can better understand the effects of the 16-day season.”

There is still plenty of opportunity for deer hunters to harvest a deer during the special antlerless deer gun season.

"Right now about 38 percent of the harvest is antlerless deer, but we would like to see it around 45 percent. So it is important that hunters get out and participate in this season,” said Shaw. “These special antlerless deer gun seasons were established to better manage the state's deer population, and so far they have been a success. By increasing the antlerless deer harvest, hunters will be helping to balance the state's deer population with available habitat, improve buck to doe ratios for better herd health, reduce agricultural depredation and reduce deer/vehicle collisions.”

The first three-day hunt, to be held Dec. 19 through 21, will be restricted to the northcentral and northwestern portion of the state. Much of the state, except for the far southeast and panhandle, will also have three days of antlerless-only gun hunting running from Dec. 26 through 28. Hunters should consult the antlerless deer hunt zone map on page 14 of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” to determine which areas will offer the special antlerless deer gun seasons.

Hunters who participate in the special antlerless deer gun season must possess a special antlerless deer gun license in addition to their annual hunting license. Lifetime hunting and combination license holders are exempt and do not need to buy the special antlerless deer gun license.

The statewide season limit during the special antlerless deer gun season is one antlerless deer. All hunters participating in the special gun season must comply with the same blaze orange requirements as set forth for the regular deer gun season, as well as tagging and checking requirements. Archery deer hunters afield in areas open to the special antlerless gun hunting and those hunting other species (quail, squirrel, pheasant, etc.) must wear either a blaze orange hat or vest.

To learn more about the special antlerless gun season and deer management in Oklahoma, consult the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to the ODWC's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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Cutline: There is still plenty of opportunity for deer hunters to harvest a deer during the special antlerless deer gun seasons (Dec. 19-21 and Dec. 26-28). Hunters should consult the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” to determine which areas will offer the special antlerless deer gun seasons.