AUGUST 1999 NEWS RELEASES

 

WEEK OF AUGUST 26

WEEK OF AUGUST 19 

WEEK OF AUGUST 11 

WEEK OF AUGUST 5

 

Dove season opener looks encouraging

If preseason field observations offer a clue, Oklahoma dove hunters should expect some memorable action when the season opens on Sept. 1.

Traditionally regarded by many sportsmen as the unofficial beginning of fall, dove season is one of Oklahoma's premier hunting seasons. These small, migratory birds are fun and exciting to hunt, and they're also excellent table fare. Birds appear plentiful in most parts of the state, and a steady influx of birds from the north over the next two months should provide plenty of hunting opportunities.

Because of differences in terrain, landscape and agricultural practices, dove hunting differs greatly from one end of the state to the other. Weather and other factors could also influence the number of birds in different areas, so the key to success is to scout as much as possible before heading afield.

Meanwhile, here's a statewide forecast to help get you started.

CENTRAL

With a little legwork, hunters should be able to find excellent hunting opportunities in the central part of the state on opening day, said John Herd, central region wildlife supervisor for the Department. Due to agricultural changes, birds may not be as plentiful in traditional areas, he warned, so scouting is the key to success.

"Preseason scouting is a must, and it's nearly as much fun as the hunt itself," Herd said. "If you put some serious effort into it, you will locate birds to hunt on opening day if weather conditions remain stable. A lot of landowners are receptive to dove hunting requests if you take the time to visit with them before the season opens."

Finding a dependable food source is important, especially one that offers birds convenient access to grit and water. If you find that magic combination, you can also expect some magical hunting.

"While scouting, look for fresh cut maize fields, especially ones where the stubble has been baled," Herd said. "Do not overlook harvested cornfields, and also look for wheat stubble fields that haven't been plowed under. If you can locate a wheat field that was grazed out, that's always a good bet. Of course, always check out some flowering croton fields."

NORTHWEST

As usual, northwest Oklahoma and the Panhandle should offer some excellent hunting, especially early in the season, said Wade Free, the Department's northwest region wildlife supervisor. Birds are abundant on traditional hotspots, and new arrivals from Kansas should keep the action lively for several weeks.

"We expect to have some pretty decent hunting in the early part of the season," Free said. "We have an abundance of different foods for the birds, and we're already seeing some good concentrations in places where we expect to see them. Dove season is something we always look forward to, and I think there's a very high potential for success here for those who do a little scouting beforehand."

Grain fields and ponds offer some of the best hunting in this part of the state. If you don't have access to private land, you can find ample hunting opportunities at Packsaddle, Cooper and Black Kettle WMAs.

SOUTHWEST

Doves are starting to form flocks in the southwest part of the state, said Rod Smith, the Department's southwest region wildlife supervisor, offering encouraging prospects for opening day.

"We're seeing what we expect to see this time of year," Smith said. "We've got a pretty good number of birds, and we're seeing scattered flocks along roads. High lines, weed patches, plowed ground and stubble fields.

"Feeding areas and watering areas are a little more abundant than they were last year, so birds might not be heavily concentrated on opening day. That's why it's so important to scout out a good area before hunting."

For good public hunting, Smith said Mountain Park, Sandy Sanders and Hackberry Flat wildlife management areas should offer good prospects.

NORTHEAST

Judging by the number of doves gathered in traditional hotspots, hunters can expect some good early season hunting in the northeastern part of the state, said Craig Endicott, northeast region wildlife supervisor for the Department. Doves here relate to specific areas, however, so preseason scouting is essential, he added.

"I recommend scouting the places where you've always found doves," Endicott explained. "With the high water and rains we've had through mid summer, crops may be different than they've been in past, and that will affect dove movements. That's why scouting is so important."

While conducting roadside quail surveys in August, Endicott said he's seen fair numbers of doves in Wagoner, Mayes and Rogers counties, as well as in western Muskogee Co. Most birds, he added, are concentrated around grain fields and large, weedy areas.

"In every county, it seems like there's always a few areas that have the sort of agriculture that draws a lot of doves," Endicott said. "There's still some uncut milo in my district, but it will be cut before the season opens, and those are always prime areas. If it stays dry, ponds are going to be good places to hunt, too."

SOUTHEAST

Dominated by mountains and large forests, southeast Oklahoma doesn't have as much dove habitat as other parts of the state, but some areas could still provide some excellent hunting, said Bill Dinkines, the Department's southeast region wildlife supervisor.

"I haven't seen a lot of doves, but we certainly have enough to make things interesting for those who know some good hunting spots," Dinkines said. "We have more doves here than you think, but the southeast is kind of overlooked by most hunters. That's understandable when you think about how good the hunting is in other parts of the state, but if you've scouted out a good place, there's no reason to go anywhere else."

Abundant water and food has scattered doves in this part of the state, Dinkines added, so pointing out specific hotspots is difficult this year. Again, it all comes down to scouting.

Department will hold equipment auction

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will hold a public auction Saturday Oct. 2 at 9 a.m. at Lake Burtschi near Chickasha.

More than 150 items will be available at the event, including a 24-foot, aluminum MonArk boat equipped with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard motor, a 3/4-ton, 1968 Jeep equipment carrier, two four-wheel drive pickup trucks and numerous computer systems.

"This auction will be a great opportunity for the public to bid on some outstanding items for use at home and the field," said Ken Ryel, property manager for the Wildlife Department. "The items have been well maintained, and we expect a high turnout of people who want a great bargain on miscellaneous items too numerous to mention."

To see photographs of the boat and other items, visit the Department's official website on the Internet at www.state.ok.us/~odwc.

In the event of rain, the auction will be rescheduled for Oct. 3. For more information, call 405/521-4600 or 521-4618.

License plate sales top 2,000 mark

During fiscal year 1999, sales of the special Wildlife Conservation License Plates topped 2,000, raising more than $40,000 for state wildlife conservation efforts.

Revenues generated by sales of these license plates are used to fund the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Wildlife Diversity Program, said Jeremy Garrett, information specialist for the Department's Natural Resources section. The funds are used for research and conservation efforts on Oklahoma's non-game wildlife resources.

"The wildlife plates have been extremely successful and necessary to raise funds for Oklahoma wildlife," said Jeremy Garrett, natural resources information specialist. "Between July 1998 and June 1999, Oklahomans purchased or renewed 2,017 wildlife plates."

Since the wildlife plate program began in 1994, nearly 8,000 plates have been purchased or renewed, raising $155,760 for the Wildlife Diversity Program, Garrett said. Funds from wildlife plate sales have been used to purchase the Selman Bat Cave property and conduct special bat viewing opportunities, to enhance Watchable Wildlife Areas at Byron Fish Hatchery and Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area, and to produce informational brochures and posters.

"We are extremely appreciative of the many Oklahomans who have supported wildlife conservation efforts by purchasing these plates," Garrett said. "We're even more excited that wildlife plates will be available at local tag agencies in November, allowing customers to immediately purchase and take home the wildlife plate of their choice."

The wildlife plates cost $25 and feature four unique designs, including large-mouth bass, bobwhite quail, white-tailed deer and scissor-tailed flycatcher. They serve as the regular plate on the rear of the vehicle. To order a wildlife plate, visit your local tag agency, visit the website: www.state.ok.us/~odwc/4waysto, or call 405/521-4616.

QU convention a boon for Oklahoma quail

Although the Quail Unlimited national convention was an economic boon to Oklahoma City, there's no doubt that Oklahoma's quail were the biggest winners from the event.

Held Aug. 12-15, the QU national convention attracted more than 500 delegates, exhibitors and visitors, generating countless thousands of dollars of revenue for local businesses. However, quail management and conservation were the main topics of discussion, and conventioneers learned first-hand why Oklahoma is the world's leader in quail radio telemetry research, said Steve DeMaso, upland bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

In addition to fundraising and outreach seminars, conventioneers were also exposed to the latest data from the nationally renowned Packsaddle Quail Research study, the most comprehensive quail research project ever conducted. By examining the Department's Packsaddle study data, quail managers from other states gained important knowledge on how to improve or enhance quail resources in other parts of the country, DeMaso added.

"Oklahoma is considered by many to be the quail hunting capital of North America, and quail managers from other states have a lot of respect for what we're trying to accomplish here," DeMaso said. "From that perspective, it was especially helpful to share some of our experiences with them face to face, as well as to discuss some of the common problems we all face regarding quail conservation. It was especially encouraging to see the high degree of interest and commitment among concerned individuals in improving quail populations nationwide, and the QU convention made me confident that we can overcome many of the hurdles we face in trying to accomplish these goals."

Overall, more than 400 delegates attended the event, as well as 75 exhibitors representing companies such as Winchester, Beretta and Franchi. Thanks to the excellent facilities provided by the Westin Hotel, as well as the hospitality exhibited by the people of Oklahoma City, the convention was an all-around success, said Matt Chilcutt of Oklahoma City, a member of the QU national board of directors.

"Many participants said this was the best QU convention ever," Chilcutt said. "This was the first time many of the conventioneers had ever been to Oklahoma, and they were very impressed with the hospitality and generosity shown by the people of our state. It was a very positive experience for them, and we were honored to have them here."

A non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of America's quail resources, Quail Unlimited is an important partner in the Wildlife Department's quail management efforts. Through its fundraising banquets, QU provides financial and technical assistance for habitat improvement projects, as well as multi-faceted assistance with the Packsaddle study.

For more information on Quail Unlimited, call James Dietsch at 405/478-7245 or Lindell Dillon at 405/321-5631.

Dove hunting requires safety

For sportsmen, opening day of dove season is a festive occasion when friends and families gather for some of the year's most enjoyable and exciting hunting.

To keep the occasion happy, hunters should make safety a priority in the dove fields this September, said J.D. Peer, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. With so many hunters often shooting in tight quarters, there's a significant potential for accidents, Peer added, but mishaps can be eliminated by taking a few simple precautions.

"Oklahoma has one of the fewest rates of injury due to firearms in the nation," Peer said, "but there are a few risks inherent to dove hunting that require special consideration. Birds come in fast and you've usually got a lot of people shooting. However, those risks can be neutralized if everyone simply looks out for one another."

One of the first things dove hunters should consider before going afield is their choice of clothing. Most dove hunters like to wear camouflage clothing to avoid spooking birds, but Peer said the effect of camo is sometimes overstated, especially on opening day of dove season when birds haven't yet been spooked. Instead, Peer recommends wearing solid hunter orange, or a broken pattern that includes hunter orange.

"I think doves react more to movement than to color," Peer said. "Of course, orange magnifies movement, so a lot of people don't like to wear it. However, I've stood in an open field many times wearing orange and had doves fly right overhead. It doesn't affect your dove harvest at all to wear orange."

Naturally, hunting in groups presents the biggest risks, which increase with the size of the hunting party. Even if a party consists of only two hunters, Peer said it's extremely important for each hunter to know where his companions are and to establish shooting zones before the hunt begins. Once birds leave a particular hunter's zone of fire, he should refrain from shooting.

"The more people there are in a hunting party, the more attention they have to pay to where everybody is," Peer insisted. "Respect each others' zones of fire and don't shoot at low-flying birds. And, if you move to another part of the field, let everybody know where you're going."

If you're hunting alone, the potential for accidents diminishes, but Peer said safety should still be a priority, Peer added. You don't have restricted shooting zones, and you can shoot at low-flying birds, but you should never shoot toward a road, house, livestock or water.

Simply speaking, dove hunting safety boils down to three components: 1) Always control the direction you point the muzzle of your firearm; 2) Always identify your target; 3) and always identify what's beyond your target.

To reduce the threat of eye injury, Peer also recommends wearing shooting glasses or other protective eyewear.

If you're alone and must cross a fence, unload your gun and lay it on the ground with the muzzle pointed away from you before crossing. Once you're safely on the other side, you may retrieve your gun and reload it.

If you cross a fence with other hunters, unload your gun and hand it to a partner before your cross, and then let him hand it back to you when you reach the other side. Again, keep the muzzle pointed away from your and your partners.

Another thing to consider is the threat of wildfire. Because of the drought, vegetation is very combustible, increasing the risk of fire. Therefore, hunters should be very careful about parking vehicles in high grass and doubly careful about extinguishing cigarettes before discarding them.

Finally, dove hunters must carry a Harvest Identification Program (HIP) permit while afield. Also, shotguns must not be capable of holding more than two shells in the magazine. Shotguns capable of holding more than two shells in the magazine must be plugged before they can be taken afield.

Order licenses by telephone

Hunting seasons are fast approaching, and Bass Pro Shops makes it easier than ever to buy hunting licenses, even minutes before heading afield.

With instant, toll-free access to hunting and fishing licenses, Oklahoma sportsmen no longer have to wait in line, fill out forms or cancel trips because a dealer was closed or ran out of stock. All you need is a valid VISA, Master Card or Discover credit card, and you can order resident or non-resident Oklahoma hunting and fishing licenses by calling 1-800-223-3333. You'll be given an authorization code that will allow you to begin hunting or fishing as soon as you hang up the phone. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In addition to the license fee, you'll also be charged a service fee of $2.95. The actual license will be mailed to you within 48 hours of making the order.

Along with hunting and fishing license, Bass Pro Shops also sells federal duck stamps issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You'll need that, as well as an Oklahoma waterfowl hunting permit, to participate in the upcoming teal season Sept. 11-26 (Sept. 11-19 in the panhandle). For more information on ordering this stamp or for other services offered by Bass Pro Shops, call 1-800-227-7776.

Tips for handling summer bass

Bass tournaments are an important part of Oklahoma's summer fishing scene, but anglers must take special care to ensure the health and safety of the fish they catch.

During August and early September, scorching hot air temperatures elevate water temperatures to create lethal conditions for largemouth bass in a captive environment. Most tournament organizations have strict rules regarding the careful handling of fish, but severe summer weather and hot water conditions are extremely dangerous for fish kept in livewells for several hours before experiencing the trauma of a weigh-in.

Of course, most bass caught during tournaments are released alive, but legitimate concerns have arisen over delayed mortality. A study conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has shown that an average 28 percent of bass caught during summer tournaments die within six days of their release. Gene Gilliland, a fisheries biologist with the Wildlife Department, said that most tournament anglers are very conscientious about protecting bass resources, but many are not equipped to deal with potentially dangerous conditions that accompany summer tournament fishing.

"The last thing a tournament angler or tournament director wants is to kill fish," Gilliland said. "That's something they've tried to be very careful about over the years, and for the most part they've been successful, but summer fishing presents some unique conditions that can cause a potentially lethal amount of stress on fish. We can't eliminate those conditions, of course, but we can take certain steps to lessen fish mortality during tournaments."

Most of the damage occurs while fish are held in live wells. On-board live wells are among the most important tools ever devised for reducing tournament bass mortality, but confinement in a live well can spell a death sentence for bass in the summer. Built into the hulls of most bass boats, live wells consist of a small tank equipped with an aerator to pump air into the water. However, the decks of most boats are covered with dark carpet, which absorbs the heat of direct sunlight. As a boat hull heats up during the day, it can turn a live well into a makeshift broiler, and the effects worsen with the pounding a boat takes while underway.

To provide more livable conditions for bass confined in a live well during the summer, Gilliland makes the following recommendations:

o Fill your live well as soon as you launch your boat and turn on the aerator to build up dissolved oxygen levels.

o Run your aerator continuously, no matter what time of year. Fish confined in live wells use oxygen faster than an aerator can replace it.

o Add ice to the live well. When water surface temperatures are higher than 85 degrees, adding ice will reduce the water temperature in a live well by 10 degrees.

o Use block ice if possible. It melts slower than crushed or cubed ice, and it cools water more evenly. One eight-pound block will cool a 30-gallon live well for about three hours. Carry extra blocks in an ice chest to use later.

o Add non-iodized salt, 1/3-cup per five gallons of live well capacity, to help reduce stress on fish.

o Re-circulate water through your aerator rather than pump in hot surface water.

o Replace at least half of the live well water two or three times daily to remove ammonia. Add additional ice and salt, and then resume re-circulation.

o Commercial live well additives help calm fish in live wells, helping reduce stress and decreasing their oxygen respiratory rates.

o Increasing penalties for anglers who arrive at tournament weigh-ins with dead fish.

o Decreasing tournament creel limits to reduce the number of fish confined in live wells. This is especially important in draw tournaments, where both anglers may keep their combined catch in a single live well.

o Using fish-friendly weigh-in procedures, such as those described in Live Release of Bass, A Guide for Tournament Directors and Anglers.

o Using commercial live well additives to treat water in weigh-in waiting tanks. This helps calm fish, allowing them to be weighed faster and be returned to the water more quickly.

o Shortening the duration of summer tournaments to reduce the time fish stay in live wells. Ideally, weigh-ins should be conducted before noon.

o Staggering weigh-in times during night tournaments to facilitate the rapid release of fish.

o Avoid scheduling tournaments in months when water surface temperatures exceed 80 degrees.

Gilliland adds that the ultimate fish care system involves the use of pure oxygen supplied from a pressurized cylinder through a bubble hose in the live well.

"Tests have shown that this can further reduce mortality from 10 to 20 percent even on 100 degree summer days," said Gilliland.

A simple live well oxygen setup can be built from a small bottle used by welders fitted with a regulator. Commercial systems are also available that are specifically designed for boat live wells and live bait tanks. Another tip to use in combination with an oxygen "bubbler" is to cool the water with ice, add salt and commercial live well water conditioners as prescribed above. Approximately one-half of the live well should also be exchanged every two hours to flush out toxins produced by the fish.

Dove opener coming soon

Summer's sultry weather makes it hard to imagine, but fall unofficially begins for many Oklahoma hunters on Sept. 1 with the opening of dove season.

Smart hunters are well aware that dove season is fast approaching, and they've already begun preparing. First and foremost is securing permission to hunt traditional dove hotspots.

"Responsible hunters always get permission to hunt on private land, and right now is a good time to contact landowners make arrangements for dove hunting," said Alan Peoples, assistant game chief for the Wildlife Department. "Dove hunters also should be sure to pick up a new Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program Permit before the season begins."

Peoples said that the free HIP permits are required of all migratory bird hunters in the United States, and have been required in Oklahoma for four years. Data collected from the surveys help federal migratory bird biologists better gauge bird harvests and hunter numbers, which will translate to improved migratory bird management.

In Oklahoma, only landowners hunting on their own property and hunters under 16 years of age or those 64 and older are exempt from having to carry the HIP permit while hunting.

Prairie Chickens Persist Despite Disappearing Prairie

“Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated,” - a quotation made famous by Mark Twain but appropriately applied to Oklahoma’s two species of prairie chicken, the greater and lesser. Populations of both species have declined over the last 50 years in the state, but neither bird is currently on the endangered or threatened species list.

The greater prairie chicken is found throughout much of the southern Midwest and eastern Great Plains. In Oklahoma, greaters, as they are often called, are found only in the Tallgrass Prairie region of the northcentral and northeastern portion of the state. Oklahoma is, and always has been, on the extreme southern edge of the greater prairie chicken’s range, which translates into drastic population fluctuations, both increases and decreases.

Regionally, greater prairie chickens are doing well, although they have not done as well in Oklahoma where limited habitat exists. Long-term population data collected by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), the agency responsible for managing fish and wildlife in the state, suggests that populations levels for greaters hit a low in 1995, followed by increases in each of the last three years.

“Every spring, our biologists monitor both greater and lesser prairie chicken populations by surveying the birds’ breeding grounds, known as leks,” said Alan Peoples, assistant wildlife chief for the Department. “The number of birds present on each lek and the number of display grounds per square mile are recorded. From these surveys, we can calculate an annual population index which indicates whether populations have increased, decreased or remained stable from year to year.”

Peoples said that lesser prairie chicken populations have fluctuated both up and down, and like greater chicken numbers, population surveys for lessers have shown increases each of the past three years. The lesser prairie chicken is found in the mid- and mixed-grass prairie regions of northwest Oklahoma and the Oklahoma panhandle, and brushy cover - either sand sagebrush or shinnery oak - is one of this species’ most important habitat components.

Both species perform ritualized displays during the spring mating season, usually an open hilltops with low-growing vegetation. The males’ elaborate performance includes displaying, booming (greater chickens) or gobbling (lessers) and dancing to attract a female with which to mate. Each male has a very well-defined territory on the display ground, and will actively defend its territory against other males. The dominant male holds the territory at the center of the display ground and breeds most of the females that are attracted to the display area.

“These elaborate courtships rituals have taken place on Oklahoma’s prairies for literally centuries,” Peoples said. “But since the state was invaded by settlers a hundred years ago, we’ve lost most of our native prairie habitat. And unlike white-tailed deer and wild turkeys, prairie chickens have not been able to thrive under such dramatic habitat changes.”

In 1995, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) received a petition to list the lesser prairie chicken as a federally threatened species across its entire range (comprising parts of CO, KS, NM, TX and OK). After reviewing population information, the USFWS ruled last year that although a threatened listing was warranted, population levels were high enough that other species demanded more immediate attention. The lesser prairie chicken’s status will be reviewed annually, and to date, the bird’s numbers remain high enough to keep it from being listed.

The USFWS and ODWC are actively working with the Lesser Prairie Chicken Interstate Working Group, a special taskforce consisting of state wildlife agencies, land management agencies, private landowners and conservation organizations, to ensure that sufficient habitat remains available to support the species. There is not an immediate threat to these birds’ survival, but their long-term health, and that of other prairie species, is dependent upon maintaining sufficiently large blocks of suitable habitat.

“Because of the amount of chicken habitat that has been lost in Oklahoma, it is unrealistic to expect to see populations at historic levels, or even levels observed during the 1970s and early 1980s,” said Peoples. “Through habitat conservation and management, however, we will strive to stabilize prairie chicken populations and rebuild their overall numbers. With some 95 percent of chicken habitat occurring on private property, landowners’ efforts will be the key to the prairie chicken’s future.”

Prairie Chicken Harvest Strategies Set

Prairie chickens have historically been hunted in Oklahoma. Early settlers considered the birds an important food source and until several years ago, limited hunting seasons were held for both lesser and greater prairie chickens. Although habitat changes have been responsible for the birds’ declines, firearms hunting season for prairie chickens was closed in 1997 as a precautionary measure.

At that time, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, approved a comprehensive, long-term management plan for prairie chickens called Adaptive Harvest Management Strategy (AHMS). That plan provides for separate seasons for lesser and/or greater prairie chickens based on population levels as determined by ongoing annual surveys conducted by Department biologists.

The Adaptive Harvest Management Strategy addresses greater and lesser prairie chickens separately, and is very specific about population parameters that must occur before a hunting season is opened for either species. The AHMS treats each species separately and provides for hunting seasons only if populations are large enough. If populations reach the parameters given in the AHMS, appropriate season(s) will be open; if population indices are below the parameters given in the AHMS, there will be no hunting season. Hunting season length, dates, bag limits and means of take for each species are population driven.

At the time the AHMS was approved by the Commission in 1997, there was a two-day firearms season, a 31-day archery season and a 211-day falconry season for both greaters and lessers. The AHMS approved in 1997 failed to address either the archery or falconry seasons due to harvest numbers during these seasons.

When requested by Director

Greg Duffy, agency biologists expanded the prairie chicken harvest plan to address archery and falconry seasons.

At current population levels, the AHMS provides for a limited (106-day) falconry-only season for greater prairie chickens east of Interstate 35 beginning next fall. The range of the greater and the lesser prairie chicken do not overlap in Oklahoma, so there is no possibility that there will be inadvertent take of either species, if season for one species is open while the season remains closed for the other. The season proposal will be presented at public hearings scheduled for later this month.

Department schedules public hearings

To gather input on proposed hunting regulations changes, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has scheduled a series of public hearings from Aug. 23-26.

Regulations changes can originate from a number of sources, including Department field staff, citizens and conservation groups. After being considered by a biological review committee, recommendations are scheduled for public hearings, which allow citizens an opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposed changes. These public hearings constitute the public input phase of the process. The proposals are then submitted to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, which can accept, amend or reject proposals.

This year’s hearings begin at 7 p.m. and will be held the following dates and locations:

Aug. 23:
Idabel - Kiamichi Area Vo-Tech.
Oklahoma City - ODWC headquarters, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd.
Woodward - NW electric, 2925 Williams Ave.

Aug. 24:
Atoka - Kiamichi Vo-Tech, Hwy 3 West
Bartlesville - Public Library, 600 S. Johnstone
Lawton - Public Library, Rm. 1, 110 SW 4th.

Aug. 25:
Enid - fire Department, 301 W. Owen K.
Guymon - OSU Extension Annex, 301 N. Garriottain
McAlester - Kiamichi Area Vo-Tech Auditorium, 69 Bypass
Tulsa - Tulsa Central Library, Aaronson Auditorium, 400 Civic Center.

Aug. 26:
Ardmore - Southern Oklahoma Technology Center, 2610 Sam Noble Pkwy.
Muskogee - Public Library, 801 W. Okmulgee

Proposed changes will affect deer hunting, prairie chicken, pheasant and turkey hunting regulations, as well as several items of general interest.

Proposed changes include:
• Opening archery deer season on Oct. 1 and allowing it to run concurrently through deer gun season.
• Reducing the annual aggregate/combined limit of antlered deer from three to two.
• Allowing bowhunters to use archery deer permits during the deer gun season.
• Legalizing the use of electronic tracking devices for deer hunting.
• Allowing falconry hunting of greater prairie chickens.
• Opening the portion of Osage County west of State Highway 18 to pheasant hunting.
• Opening fall turkey season in Kay Co., with a season limit of one tom turkey.
• Allowing a standing depredation order for blackbirds, cowbirds, grackles, crows and magpies.
• Allowing the year-round pursuit of game for dog training purposes.
• Allowing the hunting of all legal waterfowl and coots on Sooner Lake.
• Removing Lake Oologah from the permanent duck blind drawing process and allowing temporary blinds only.
• Housekeeping changes regarding regulations on Department-owned wildlife management areas.
• Other housekeeping items cover fall turkey archery season on selected WMAs.

Internet service is an instant "hit"

If you visited the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s office in Oklahoma City last week, you probably noticed something unusual for this time of year.

There were no crowds in the lobby huddled elbow-to-elbow around the Controlled Hunts books.

During the third week in July, the lobby at the Department’s headquarters is usually crowded with hopeful hunters trying to learn whether they were chosen to participate in the Controlled Hunts conducted annually by the Department. In the past, sportsmen would spend hours poring through the Controlled Hunts books on display in the lobby, often after driving for several hours from remote locations. If you weren’t drawn for a hunt, it could make for an even longer drive back home.

Thanks to the Internet, those days are over. Now, instead of spending an entire day or a half-day looking through the Controlled Hunts books, those with access to a personal computer can see if they were drawn from the comfort of their homes or offices.

During the first week that the Controlled Hunts results were available, the Controlled Hunts link on the Department’s Internet web site received nearly 26,000 visits, or “hits,” from interested hunters. From those visits, a total of 3,644 successful hunters learned they were drawn for 4,227 hunts. In short, that’s the number of people who didn’t have to make a special trip to the Department’s headquarters or its regional offices to check the Controlled Hunts books.

As more people gain access to the Internet through the use of personal computers, this service will become even an even more important communications tool between the Department and its constituents, said Nels Rodefeld, assistant chief of the Department’s Information & Education Division.

“Judging by the numbers alone, a great number of people obviously appreciate the ability to check the Controlled Hunts results online,” Rodefeld said. “The personal computer has become an important personal and corporate tool in our society, and it has helped the Department make it much easier for its constituents to participate in the Controlled Hunts program. Checking the books was always perhaps the least enjoyable aspect of this process, and for a lot of people, we have eliminated the inconveniences of the old system with the click of a mouse button.”

If you have access to a personal computer, checking the Controlled Hunts results is easy. Simply direct your web browser to the Department’s home page at www.state.ok.us/~odwc. Once there, scroll down to the banner that says, “CHECK THE CONTROLLED HUNT DRAW.” Enter your social security number or driver’s license number, and you’ll learn instantly which hunts, if any, you’ll be able to participate in this fall.

QU to host youth mini-camp

In conjunction with the Quail Unlimited National Convention coming to Oklahoma City Aug. 12-15, QU will host a free Bobwhite Brigade youth mini-camp.

Designed to appeal to a broad base of students, the camp will be held during the convention to provide basic information about quail management, said Steve DeMaso, upland game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Subjects will include quail anatomy, radio telemetry, crop analysis and quail trivia. The highlight of the program is the, “Run For Your Life,” exercise, which gives students a unique perspective of the world from a quail’s point of view.

“This mini-camp is a great opportunity for students of any age to learn the basics of quail conservation,” DeMaso said. “The bobwhite quail is an integral part of Oklahoma’s sporting culture, and nothing is more important to maintaining that heritage than passing on our knowledge and traditions to the next generation.”

Legendary among quail hunters nationwide, Oklahoma consistently ranks among the top three quail hunting states. Nearly 80,000 quail hunters spend an average of eight days afield per season in Oklahoma, spending an estimated $44 million. Hosting the QU national convention bears testimony to the importance of quail hunting in the Sooner State.

Though recommended for students between ages 12-18, all quail enthusiasts above age 12 are welcome to attend the free mini-camp. To enroll in the mini-camp, contact Connie Dean at QU headquarters, P.O. Box 610, Edgefield, SC 29824; or call 803/637-5731, ext. 23.

Big bass redefine Oklahoma Top 20

Thanks to some impressive catches over the last five months, Oklahoma’s Top 20 bass list has undergone some major revisions, starting at the top.

In March, Bill Cross of Broken Bow caught a 14-pound, 11-ounce largemouth that has the distinction of being the largest ever caught in Oklahoma. In April, Lone Chimney Lake surrendered a 13-pound, 1-ounce largemouth to David Flegler of Stillwater. McGee Creek Lake yielded a 12-pound, 11-ounce largemouth in July to Chuck Justice, his fourth lifetime entry into the Top 20. It now takes a bass better than 12 pounds 10 ounces to make the list.

These bass offers further evidence that the Department’s Florida bass stocking program is paying dividends for anglers, said Gene Gilliland, fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Florida bass have been stocked in more than 50 reservoirs since 1972, so it could be possible to catch a Top-20 class bass at nearly every lake in the state.

“Recent catches of 11- and 12-pound bass from several other Oklahoma reservoirs suggest that the Top-20 list may be changing several more times in the near future,” Gilliland said. Lakes like R.C. Longmire, Dripping Springs, Bell Cow and Durant City Lake are all coming of age and are beginning to produce some trophy bass of their own. Old standbys like Sardis, McGee Creek, Murray and Mountain Lake should continue to crank out big bass for some time to come, as well.”

To enter a bass into the Oklahoma Top 20, you must submit information on your catch to the Department through the Angler Recognition Program. ARP Brochures and entry forms are available at all Department offices or by mail from ODWC, 1801 N. Lincoln, OKC 73015. In addition to recognizing exceptional catches, ARP information provides data to biologists on where trophy fish are being caught. This helps biologists determine the effectiveness of Florida bass stocking programs and allows them to fine-tune future introductions in order to help produce the biggest bass for Oklahoma anglers.

OKLAHOMA’S “TOP-21” LARGEMOUTH BASS

ANGLER WEIGHT DATE LOCATION PHENOTYPE

William Cross 14 lb 11 oz 3-14-99 Broken Bow Lake F
Roger Hockersmith 14 lb 10 oz 3-25-93 Mountain Lake F1
Ronnie Henson 14 lb 0 oz 6-23-93 Comanche Co. Pond F
Ricky Patterson 13 lb 10 oz 3-18-95 Mountain Lake F1
Paul Tasker 13 lb 8 oz 3-22-90 Lake Fuqua F1
Diane Baker 13 lb 8 oz 10-04-94 Sardis Lake F
Johnny Owens 13 lb 7 oz 2-27-97 Lake Murray na
Mark Robinett 13 lb 6 oz 3-25-95 Mountain Lake F1
Randy Faddis 13 lb 2 oz 9-16-95 McIntosh Co. Pond F
David Flegler 13 lb 1 oz 4-09-99 Sardis Lake F
Willis Hall 13 lb 1 oz 3-08-92 Sardis Lake F
Stacy Fuller 13 lb 0 oz 4-17-93 Sardis Lake F
William Gilbert 12 lb 13 oz 3-26-89 Lake Fuqua F1
Harrison Johnson 12 lb 13 oz 12-30-91 Broken Bow Lake na
Danny Bloodworth 12 lb 13 oz 3-20-95 Mountain Lake F1
Phillip Carter 12 lb 13 oz 9-10-96 McGee Creek Lake F
Chuck Justice 12 lb 12 oz 9-07-91 Sardis Lake F
Chuck Justice 12 lb 11 oz 7-11-99 McGee Creek Lake na
Carl Crawford 12 lb 10 oz 3-12-89 Lake Ozzie Cobb F
Gene Trailkill 12 lb 10 oz 3-24-93 Mountain Lake F
David McDonald 12 lb 10 oz 4-14-94 Lake Lawtonka na

Phenotypes: N = Northern LMB; F = Florida LMB; F1 = First generation cross; Fx= Second generation cross; na = genetic information unavailable.

*Revised 7/31/99 from ODWC Rod & Line Records, ODWC Angler Recognition Program entries, and the Oklahoma Fishery Research Lab Cooperating Taxidermist program. Ties are listed in chronological order.