SEPTEMBER 2000 NEWS RELEASES

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 25

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 18

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 11

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 4

 

Safety comes first for bowhunters

When archery deer season starts Oct. 1, bowhunters should take extra care to ensure that the 2000 season is a safe and enjoyable experience.

Though one of the safest outdoor pursuits, bowhunting has some inherent risks that result in a number of accidents every year. Most of those are not caused by mishandling a bow or misidentifying a target, but from falling out of treestands. More than half of Oklahoma's bowhunters use treestands to gain better visibility over their hunting areas, said J.D. Peer, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, allowing hunters to elude the sharp senses of whitetail deer by getting above the animal's line of sight and smell.

Unfortunately, there's always a risk of danger when you leave the ground, so it's not surprising that some hunters suffer severe injuries every year by falling from their treestands.

"Most bowhunters in Oklahoma hunt out of some sort of elevated stand, and a number of things can happen that could result in an injury-producing accident," Peer said. "By taking a few extra precautions, hunters can virtually eliminate the threat of hunting-related accidents this autumn. All it takes is some common sense and paying a little extra attention to detail."

The most important aspect of treestand safety is to use a safety strap or harness. They cost between $20 - $60 and are considered standard equipment by all hunters who use elevated stands.

"A safety belt or harness is cheap life insurance," Peer said. "If a mishap occurs in a stand, these devices can save you from death or severe injuries. I strongly recommend them for anyone who hunts from any kind of elevated stand."

Many hunters use portable treestands, but some hunters erect permanent stands on their own property or on leased property. However, stands that aren't built from treated lumber will deteriorate over time and become unsafe, even though they appear structurally sound.

"No matter how long you've been hunting a certain stand, you always have to check it out before you start using it," Peer said. "Quite a few hunters have been hurt over the years from falling when they leaned against a rail or grabbed a rail and it collapsed."

One way to reduce the chance of an accident is to avoid carrying gear into the stand. Before climbing into a stand, tie a rope to your gear and leave it on the ground. Once you're safely in your stand and have secured your safety belt, use the rope to pull your gear into the stand.

Also, bowhunters should remember that any mishap involving broadhead arrows can be serious. To eliminate the threat of injury, Peer recommends carrying arrows in a case that secures the broadheads.

"Anyone who's ever bowhunted has dropped an arrow at one time or another," Peer said. "If you drop an arrow, go down and get it, even if deer are moving. Arrows can land with the head pointing up, and if something happens that causes you to land on it, you could bleed to death before you can make it to your pickup."

Fortunately, bowhunters rarely shoot one another. However, the possibility still exists when you consider that bowhunters are usually attired in camo from head to toe. In low-light situations, an inexperienced hunter could make a bad decision. To avoid making a tragic mistake, bowhunters must be extremely careful and observant before they pull the string. First, know your limits and your abilities. Never shoot at anything beyond your range of confidence. Most importantly, identify your target before shooting.

Other tips to improve safety during bow season include:

* Wearing blaze orange when entering and leaving the woods. You can put the garment in your pack when you reach your destination.

* Never carry a deer across your shoulders when removing it from the woods. In fact, Peer said it's also a good idea to drape some sort of blaze orange garment over a deer before moving it.

* Hunt with a partner. If you hunt alone, tell someone exactly where you're going to be hunting and when you expect to return. If you haven't returned after a reasonable amount of time, they'll be able to call someone to look for you.

2000-2001 Oklahoma Waterfowl Seasons

DUCKS, MERGANSERS and COOTS

Panhandle Counties (High Plains Mallard Management Unit) - October 7, 2000 - January 10, 2001 (96 days)

Zone 1 - October 28 - December 3, 2000, and December 9, 2000 - January 14, 2001 (74 days)

Zone 2 - November 4 - December 3, 2000, and December 9, 2000 - January 21,

2001 (74 days)

BAG LIMITS

Duck Limits - The daily bag limit for ducks is six. The daily bag limit may include no more than: five mallards (only two may be hens); three scaup; two wood ducks; two redheads; one pintail; one canvasback.

Merganser Limits - The daily bag limit for mergansers is five and may include no more than one hooded merganser.

Coot Limits - The daily bag limit for coots is fifteen.

Possession Limits - After the first day of hunting, it is two times the daily bag limit for ducks, mergansers and coots.

SHOOTING HOURS for ALL WATERFOWL

One-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

GEESE: SEASON DATES AND BAG LIMITS

Dark Geese (Canada and White-fronted): STATEWIDE Canadas Nov. 4 - Dec. 3, 2000; Dec. 9, 2000 - Feb. 11, 2001 (95 days). The daily bag limit is three Canadas. White-fronted Geese Nov. 4 - Dec. 3, 2000; Dec. 9, 2000 - Feb. 2, 2001. The daily bag limit is two white-fronted (86 days).

Light Geese (Snow, Blue & Ross'): STATEWIDE Nov. 4 - Dec. 3, 2000; Dec. 9, 2000 - Feb. 11, 2001(95 days). The daily bag limit is twenty.

Conservation Order Light Goose Season (COLGS): February 12 - April 1, 2001. The COLGS will allow special means of take including: electronic calls, unplugged shotguns, one-half hour after sunset shooting hours and no daily bag or possession limits. The Conservation Order and special means of take provisions are designed to increase harvest and allow hunters to help reduce the population of mid-continent light geese (snow, blue & Ross'). All other waterfowl regulations will apply, including use of federally approved nontoxic shot. All participants will be required to have in their possession while hunting, all necessary licenses, waterfowl stamps and a Harvest Information Program Permit (HIP). The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is required by federal regulation to estimate the harvest of light geese during the COLGS. Therefore, to participate in the COLGS hunters should provide the ODWC with their name, full mailing address and telephone number so that they may be contacted after the season with a harvest survey. Hunters can register for the hunt by sending their name, address and telephone number to: wildlifedepartment.com and clicking on the Conservation Order Light Goose link.

Or to: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Attn: COLGS

PO Box 53465

Oklahoma City, OK 73152

SANDHILL CRANE

November 4, 2000 - February 4, 2001 (93 days). Open west of I-35 only. The

daily bag limit is three.

Crane hunters must obtain and carry a free federal Sandhill Crane hunting permit. Permits are available from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd., P.O. Box 53465. Oklahoma City, OK 73105. Persons requesting permits must provide their name and mailing address.

POSSESSION LIMITS:

The possession limit for Canada & White-fronted geese and sandhill crane is two times the daily bag limit. There is no possession limit for light geese (snow, blue & Ross').

State duck stamp contest deadline nears

Entries for the 2001 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp design competition will be accepted through 4:30 p.m. October 27.

The winning art will be printed on the 2001-02 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp, which is required of all waterfowl hunters 16 years of age and older, with the exception of landowners hunting on their own land, lifetime hunting or combination license holders and senior citizen hunting or combination license holders.

Duck stamp sales help finance many projects that benefit ducks and geese. Since the duck stamp program began in 1980, thousands of acres of waterfowl habitat have been created through duck stamp revenues.

The Canada goose is the waterfowl species selected for the 2001-02 stamp. All artists must depict this species, and any habitat appearing in the design must be typical for the Canada goose in Oklahoma.

Artwork may be of acrylic, oil, watercolor, scratchboard, pencil, pen and ink, tempera or any other two-dimensional media. The illustration must be horizontal, 6 1/2 inches high and 9 inches wide. It must be matted with white mat board 9 inches high by 12 inches wide with the opening cut precisely 6 1/2-by-9. Artwork may not be framed or under glass, but an acetate covering should be used to protect the art.

Entries will be judged on anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for printing. The winner and three honorable mentions will appear in a future issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.

A non-refundable entry fee of $20 (cash, money order or cashiers check) must accompany each entry. No entries will be accepted after 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 27. Judging will take place at 1:30 p.m., Dec. 7, at Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters in Oklahoma City.

The winning artist will receive a purchase award of $1,200 and 50 prints (special artist's proof editions) of the design once the Department makes such a reproduction. The winning entry will become the sole and exclusive property of the Wildlife Department. And the winning artist will be required to sign and number all prints of the winning design if the Department makes such a reproduction and requires a minimum of 25 prints.

Anyone wanting more information about the contest should call (405) 521-3856. Entries should be sent to the Duck Stamp Competition Coordinator, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, 1801 N. Lincoln, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

Quail seminar to be held in Ada

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will host a quail seminar Oct. 12, in Ada, at the Pontotoc Area Vocational Technical School auditorium. The seminar will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will focus on techniques private landowners may use to increase quail habitat and populations on their property.

Mike Sams, upland game biologist for the Department, and Dr. Fred Guthery, head of the Bollenbach Chair at Oklahoma State University will be among those giving presentations and answering questions at the seminar. Presentations will be aimed at private landowners, but anyone with an interest in quail is invited to attend.

"One of my goals while holding this leadership position is to focus more attention on the declining quail population and find possible solutions for the problem," said Harland Stonecipher, Chairman of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. Stonecipher, who lives in the Ada area, requested the seminar be held there, to compliment a similar type of meeting held a few months ago in Kingfisher.

"We know there is a lot of concern about what is happening to the quail population across the state," said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "We hope to address those concerns at the seminar.

"We know from research that weather and habitat are the keys to a healthy quail population. We can't control the weather, so presentations at the seminar will focus on ways to improve habitat," Peoples said. "Our research has shown us the improvements we need to make, but most of Oklahoma is privately owned so we need the cooperation of private landowners.

"We hope any private landowner who is interested in quail will come to the seminar," Peoples added. "They will have to make any improvements and the purpose of this seminar is to give them the information we know, so they can."

Top Five Landowner Improvements for Quail

• Seek technical assistance

• Adjust cattle stocking to improve range quality, soil and water conservation and quail habitat.

• Delay mowing and haying operations until after July 15.

• Maintain brush cover and small thickets.

• Use strip disking and/or controlled burns to increase food and bare ground.

Top Five Ways Hunters can Help Quail

• Develop and maintain working relations with landowners.

• Offer landowners help in habitat management practices.

• Support landowner initiative programs.

• Practice good hunting ethics:

•Do not hunt small coveys.

•Limit harvest on small, isolated tracts of land.

• Become involved with conservation groups.

Quail Season outlook still uncertain

Biologists for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are not for sure what to expect going into the upcoming quail season. One thing is for sure, weather will be the key.

"Reports indicate good production across the state early in the year due to mild temperatures and above average rainfall," said Mike Sams, upland game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Our roadside surveys indicate numbers are up as well."

The roadside surveys are run by Department biologists every year during August and October. They consist of 20-mile routes, and give biologists an index of quail abundance. There are 83 routes with at least one route in every county except for Tulsa and Oklahoma counties.

"The surveys are not meant to predict what quail season is going to be like. They just give us an idea of the year's production at that time," Sams said. "The August numbers were up in the west part of the state, while down slightly in the central and eastern regions. Department personnel and the general public have also reported numerous quail broods throughout most of the state, but it is still too early to tell.

"We had good weather during the early breeding season, but the recent drought may hurt the success of the second hatch. The second hatch usually occurs in early to mid September, and will effect overall numbers. It often determines the difference between an excellent season and an average season," Sams said.

"We really won't know anything until we run the October surveys," Sams added. "We are trusting the drought is going to have a minimal impact and that bobwhite populations are going to be in good shape heading into this fall."

Youth waterfowl hunts offered

Oklahoma youngsters age 12 to 15 have an opportunity to apply for special controlled waterfowl hunts sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The hunts are designed to provide youth who do not have an adult mentor who waterfowl hunts an opportunity to learn and enjoy the traditions of waterfowling.

Youth hunters will be randomly drawn from a list of applicants for each area where a hunt will be held. Applicants must be 12 to 15 years of age, have proof of successfully completing a certified hunter education course, and have an adult guardian who can accompany them on the hunt.

A Wildlife Department employee will accompany each youth and their adult guardian on a controlled waterfowl hunt at one of several Department-managed areas. Only the youth hunter will be allowed to hunt.

Each youth applicant and their guardian must provide the following information on a 3x5 postcard to be eligible for the drawing: names, addresses, telephone numbers, youth hunter education number, and the name of the designated hunt location where they would like to hunt. Applicants must be received by Oct. 20 and should be mailed to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Youth Waterfowl Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Successful applicants will be notified by Oct. 27.

The scheduled date of the hunt will be coordinated with successful applicants after the drawing. Applicants may apply only once and should specify the hunt area desired.

The Wildlife Department will provide successful applicants the necessary nontoxic shotgun shells and a 20 gauge single shot shotgun will be available for use if the youth does not have his or her own shotgun.

The following is a list of the scheduled hunt locations.

2000-2001 Youth Waterfowl Hunting Locations:

Creek County

Ft. Gibson Waterfowl Refuge

Love County

Okmulgee WMA

Tishomingo Area

Webber Falls Waterfowl Refuge

Wister WMA

Ft. Cobb Lake Refuge

Ellsworth Refuge

Generous season awaits state waterfowlers

Thanks to another productive year for waterfowl in the Prairie Pothole Region, Oklahoma waterfowl hunters could enjoy another good season.

"If our habitat improves from the current drought conditions and we receive the necessary winter weather to move birds south into Oklahoma, we could be in for another good season," said Mike O'Meilia, migratory game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

"The key for us to have a great season, especially for mallards and geese, is lots of harsh winter weather in the northern Central Flyway states, and good habitat conditions here to hold the birds when they come down," said O'Meilia.

Approved last week by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, Oklahoma's waterfowl seasons will have slight variations in different parts of the state.

Duck Zone 1, which takes in most of northwest Oklahoma north of I-40 and US-183, and west of I-35, will have a split season. The first half runs Oct. 28 – Dec. 3, and the second split runs Dec. 9 – Jan 14.

The rest of the state, except for the panhandle, is in Duck Zone II, which will also have a split season. The first half runs Nov. 4 – Dec. 3, and the second half will run Dec. 9 – Jan. 21.

In the panhandle, the season will run continuously from Oct. 7 – Jan. 10.

The seasons are essentially the same as last year, said O'Meilia. Hunters will be allowed a daily bag limit of six ducks, no more than five of which can be mallards. Of those, only two mallards may be hens. Separate limits apply to scaup, wood ducks, redheads, pintails and canvasbacks.

The reason for the generous seasons and bag limits, O'Meilia added, is because of near record populations of breeding birds in the Prairie Pothole Region, coupled with good breeding and brood rearing conditions. Sportsmen can also expect a good flight of geese this fall, he said.

Although overall conditions in the arctic were poor for breeding geese since snow, ice cover and cold weather persisted later than normal, all populations of geese in the Central Flyway are doing well. Numbers of Central Flyway geese in the fall flight should be similar to last year.

The Canada goose season will be split again this year with the first half running from Nov. 4 – Dec. 3, and the second split running from Dec. 9 – Feb. 11. The daily bag limit will be three birds. The split season on white-fronted geese will run Nov. 4 – Dec. 3, and Dec. 9 – Feb. 2. The daily bag limit will be two birds.

The season on light geese (snow, blue and Ross') will be split as well. The first split will run Nov. 4 – Dec. 3, and the second split will run Dec. 9 – Feb. 11. The daily bag limit will be 20 birds.

Sandhill crane season will be from Nov. 4 – Feb. 4. The daily bag limit will be three birds.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are offering Oklahoma sportsmen some additional opportunity to waterfowl hunt this year.

The youth waterfowl hunting day has been changed to a youth waterfowl hunting weekend, giving youngsters an extra day of hunting this year. The youth waterfowl hunting weekend will be Oct. 21-22 in both Duck Zones I and II. In the panhandle, the youth waterfowl hunting weekend will be Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

Oklahoma hunters can also participate in the Conservation Order Light Goose Season this year. This special hunting opportunity to help reduce overabundant light geese will occur Feb. 12 – April 1. There will be no daily bag or possession limits on snow, blue and Ross' geese and hunters can use electronic calls, unplugged shotguns and take advantage of extended shooting hours during the Conservation Order.

For more specific information on rules and regulations regarding waterfowl hunting in Oklahoma, pick up a copy of the 2000-2001 Oklahoma Waterfowl Hunting Guide. Available at all license vendors statewide, the Waterfowl Hunting Guide lists all regulations for hunting on Department-owned lakes, wildlife management areas and waterfowl development units. It also has specific breakdowns on limits, as well as other information to make your 2000-2001 waterfowl season more productive and enjoyable.

Deer recommendations accepted by commission

Next step is public hearings

At its regular September meeting, held Sept. 11 in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously to endorse deer management changes proposed by the 21st Century Deer Steering Committee, and send the proposals to statewide public hearings. Wildlife Department officials expect hearings on the proposed changes will be conducted in either December or January.

The changes, recommended by the 33-member committee of wildlife professionals, hunters, farmers and ranchers, mainly focus on maximizing antlerless hunting opportunities and harvest. The group also recommended reducing the total season buck bag limit from three to two to improve overall herd health and balance buck-to-doe sex ratios.

Antlerless harvest is the key to controlling population numbers, and these recommended changes will not only help address overpopulation in certain areas, but should also work to improve buck-to-doe ratios, said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

"Fortunately, the growth of our herd hasn't reached the point where it is unmanageable," Peoples said. "By taking an aggressive approach now, especially in the area of antlerless harvest, we hope to be able to curb growth and improve herd health.

"Overharvest of bucks can decrease overall herd health, a trend we have identified that concerns wildlife biologists. The problem is especially acute across northern-tier counties."

Specific key deer management recommendations include:

• Increasing the aggregate statewide bag limit to six deer, no more than two of which can be antlered.

• Adding archery antlerless hunting opportunity from Jan. 1-15.

• Expanding antlerless harvest options for Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) cooperators.

• Creating a statewide Landowner Deer Permit (LDP) to be available to private landowner or agricultural lessees with at least 100 acres which will provide them with additional antlerless harvest options.

• Rezoning deer management zones based on habitat types and social considerations.

• In management zones deemed appropriate by the Wildlife Commission, three-day, post-Christmas, antlerless only firearms hunts will be offered. Deer taken during this hunt would be bonus.

• In management zones deemed appropriate by the Wildlife Commission, the bag limit could be increased to two antlerless deer during the primitive and/or modern firearms season.

• Increasing information and education efforts to better communicate with hunters and landowners about deer management issues.

Following public hearings on the deer management recommendations, Wildlife Department staff will present the results, along with specific hunting regulation change proposals, to the Wildlife Commission for approval. If any of the changes are approved by the Commission, they would go into effect next year, during the 2001-2002 hunting season. Watch for information on times and locations of upcoming deer management public hearings, as well as other future deer management developments, on the newly-created Deer Section of the Wildlife Department's web site –www.wildlifedepartment.com

In other business, the Commission voted to give all Wildlife Department employees a $2,000 annualized pay raise, effective October 1. They did so only after discussing the Department's current funding situation and history of employee pay raises, with several Commissioners expressing concern over the agency's ability to fill vacancies without additional funding. As a part of the pay raise action, the Commission also approved $2,500 annual increase retroactive to July 1, 2000, for employees in the executive compensation plan as approved last year.

In other action at the September meeting, the Commission approved a resolution establishing the 2000-2001 waterfowl hunting seasons. Wildlife Chief Alan Peoples said duck and goose populations look excellent, and he expects another outstanding season. Waterfowl Hunting Regulations are now available at license vendors throughout the state.

Several presentations also were made at the meeting. Commission Chairman Harland Stonecipher and Dr. Fred Guthery, head of the Bollenbach Chair at Oklahoma State University, presented each member of the Commission with a copy of Guthery's landmark quail management book, On Bobwhites. Stonecipher also announced that Guthery and the Wildlife Department will co-host a quail management meeting Thursday, Oct. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ada Technology Center (formerly called the Ada Vo-Tech). The meeting will focus on habitat improvements landowners can implement to improve quail populations, but hunters are encouraged to attend.

In a second presentation, Peoples recognized Paul Odom, III, as the 2000 Oklahoma Landowner of the Year. Odom, who owns the 640-acre Niles Canyon Ranch at Hinton, has spent five years intensively improving the fish and wildlife habitat on his property. Much of his efforts have focused on control and removal of Eastern red cedar, an invasive species that can outcompete native grass and timber. In his Director's report, Executive Director Greg Duffy pointed out that last year's Oklahoma Landowner of the Year, Veraman Davis of Tahlequah, recently won the National Landowner of the Year Award.

Two housekeeping measures were also addressed at the September meeting. The Commission approved a process whereby the Department can sell gravel, slate or other quarried rock from wildlife management areas, and in another matter, Commission members accepted an internal audit report of employment practices presented by Duffy.

The Commission's regular October meeting will be held Monday, Oct. 2, at 9 a.m. at the Wildlife Department's headquarters in Oklahoma City. Highlighting the meeting will be an informational presentation by a member of the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America, a national hunter advocacy group. The WLFA representative will discuss national and global trends concerning hunting rights, and discuss pending legislation at both the state and national level.

 

Deer archery season opens October 1

Oklahoma's archery deer season opens statewide October 1, and with a growing deer herd it could be another record year. Hunters will be allowed five more days of archery hunting opportunity this year.

"Archery deer hunters should be looking at a good deer season," said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Last year, archers harvested 6,788 bucks and 4,969 does across the state which amounted to about 14 percent of the total deer harvested."

The northeast region of the state offers great deer hunting for the archery hunter. The state's top counties for archery harvest in 1999, included Cherokee (594), Osage (478) and Sequoyah (449). But, with good scouting and a little practice to fine-tune hunting tactics, archers statewide can have success.

Many early season trips can be successful while hunting over crop fields, and timber ridges can be another good place to start. "Creeks and river bottoms are also excellent areas to focus on and if the heat and drought persist, a set up near water may be the top ingredient for a successful hunt," Shaw said.

Concealment is the key to harvesting a deer with archery equipment. Hunters may use an elevated tree stand which can be very effective but can also be dangerous.

"Hunters using an elevated stand should be extremely cautious," said J.D. Peer, hunter safety coordinator for the Department. "Although hunting related accidents continue to decline, tree stand safety should not be overlooked."

Before heading afield, be sure to pick up a copy of the 2000 -2001 Oklahoma Hunting Guide (Regulations) available at all license dealer locations. This informative booklet contains all the hunting regulations and other information, including a list of hunter check stations.

Hunters can also find updated check station locations, season dates, 1999 harvest information and a wealth of other information by logging on to the department's web page at wildlifedepartment.com.

Tree stand safety tips:

*Check all steps to be sure they are safe.

*Permanent stands should be avoided. They are harmful to the tree and as the tree grows the stand shifts and nails become loose.

*Wear a safety belt while hunting from an elevated stand.

*Use a haul line to hoist equipment to the stand after ensuring a safe position in the stand and fastening the safety belt.

*Use a haul line to lower equipment before removing the safety belt and climbing down.

1999 Archery harvest top-ten counties

County Total Harvest

Cherokee 594

Osage 478

Sequoyah 449

Craig 398

Pittsburg 318

Rogers 300

Delaware 292

Caddo 253

Muskogee 252

Mayes 251

Duck blind drawings announced for Canton, W.D. Mayo, Ft. Supply

Drawings for permanent duck blinds on Canton, W.D. Mayo and Ft. Supply lakes will take place soon. Anyone wanting a permanent blind permit must be 16 years of age and present at the drawings.

Applicants must have an Oklahoma hunting or combination license and a valid state and federal duck stamp, unless they are exempt. Additionally, they need a valid Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit.

Permits for Canton Lake will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis from 8 a.m. to noon, Sept. 23, at the overlook on the south end of Canton Dam. Anyone wanting a permit after the drawing should contact Steve Conrady, northwest region senior biologist for the Wildlife Department at (580) 227-3080.

The drawing for W.D. Mayo will be held Sept. 23, at the Spiro City Hall, 510 S. Main St., at 10 a.m. For more information contact Wister WMA headquarters at (918) 655-7196.

Ft. Supply permits will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis Sept. 16, at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Woodward office from 9 a.m. until noon. Those interested should call (580) 254-9173.

Quail symposium announced

Ada will host a bobwhite quail symposium in early October. The informative symposium will focus on ways to implement habitat improvements on private land.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will help host the symposium. It will take place on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ada Technology Center (formally called the Ada Vo-Tech). Dr. Fred Guthrie, head of the Bollenbach Chair at Oklahoma State University will be among several keynote speakers at the symposium.

Although targeted at private landowners, anyone who has an interest in bobwhite quail is invited to attend.

Smallmouth thrills on Ozark streams

As the hot breath of summer blows across the land, the streams of northeast Oklahoma are starting to sizzle. Sizzling not from heat, but from the fury of their smallmouth bass.

Seeping from springs high on the Ozark Plateau, a number of limestone-fed streams tumble southward through the eastern Oklahoma hill country on their way to a rendezvous with the Arkansas River. These streams flow through some remarkably beautiful and remote countryside that ranges from heavily forested to pastoral.

Some of the best streams in the Ozark region, said Paul Balkenbush, stream biologist for the Wildlife Department, are Baron's Fork and Spavinaw Creeks. The most famous, of course, is the incomparable Illinois River, which begins at the Arkansas border and flows south into Lake Tenkiller.

"Hot fishing can be found on almost any tributary stream or river in eastern Oklahoma," Balkenbush said. "Once you get there, the rest is cheap and easy. A $20,000 bass boat and a tri-level tacklebox won't do a thing to help you land a feisty smallmouth on these small waters. All you need is a canoe or a pair of waders; a lightweight spinning or spincasting rig, and a small selection of baits that mimic the food items in the stream."

The water levels can get pretty low on these streams this time of year, and in some cases you won't be able to float through without portaging over some gravel bars. When that happens, the predator fish in the deeper pools quickly exhaust their food supplies, which means they start getting mighty hungry about mid-August. That's why now is the time to enjoy some of the finest fishing of the year.

In streams, the primary foods for smallmouths are crawdads, followed by minnows and juvenile panfish. The best bait selections to imitate these items include crawdad-colored soft plastic baits such as skirted grubs or salt craws. Curly-tailed grubs and worms are also very effective. Be sure to bring along a small selection of crankbaits in various colors, as well. Best colors are brown, cinnamon and chartreuse.

In addition to smallmouths, you can also catch Kentucky and largemouth bass in these streams. Some of the deeper pools often hold at least one 5-pound largemouth. They are extremely wary and hard to catch, but if you manage to hook one, you gain an honorary Masters degree in advanced streamcraft.

For smallmouth bass, try fishing the tails of riffles and water willow edges for smaller fish. For larger fish, concentrate on deep, mid-stream structure. Pay special attention to root wads, rocks and eddies.

Largemouths prefer to hide in undercut banks, generally behind some sort of woody cover. The key to success is to spot the fish and then move in close without spooking it. This requires precise casting to a target area that's often no larger than a silver dollar.

Although it's loads of fun, fishing is just part of a fall floating experience. The scenery, the clean, crisp air and the many sounds of the hill country in seasonal transition will keep you coming back for years to come.

Department schedules pre-employment exam

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will hold a standardized examination Friday Sept. 29 at the Tom Steed Development Center Auditorium at Rose State College.

The exam is for individuals seeking employment as wildlife biologists, game wardens, assistant hatchery managers, technicians and information and education specialists. It will cover state and federal wildlife laws and regulations, Oklahoma geography, biological and environmental sciences relating to fish, wildlife and environmental education and communication; journalism, photojournalism, technical writing and editing.

Individuals may take the exam once in a 12-month period, and test scores are valid for 12 months from the test date. Applications for employment will be sent to the individuals with the top 25 scores. Taking the exam does not guarantee employment, nor does the exam necessarily indicate the Department currently has openings. Interviews will be scheduled only when an opening is available.

The Tom Steed Development Center Auditorium is north of I-40 at the intersection of I-40 and Hudiburg Rd. in Midwest City. The doors will close promptly at 10 a.m. Those arriving after 10 a.m. will not be permitted to take the exam.

Drawings announced for duck blinds

With excitement building over the upcoming season, duck hunters should be aware that drawings for permanent duck blinds will be held at various locations around the state on Sat., Sept. 23.

Although permits are not required for temporary blinds that are removed at the end of a day's hunt, some hunters prefer to hunt from the comfort of a permanent duck blind.

*Anyone interested in applying for a permanent blind must appear in person at the drawing site.

*Applicants must be at least 16 years of age.

*Unless exempt, applicants must have a valid state waterfowl license and federal duck stamp, as well as a valid Oklahoma hunting or combination license.

*Anyone applying for a blind must have a valid Harvest Information Program Permit.

*Only one duck blind permit is allowed per person.

Drawings for permanent blinds at lakes Eufaula, Webbers Falls and Fort Gibson will be held at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Northeast Regional Office near Porter.

The drawing for blinds at Ft. Gibson Lake will be held at 8:30 a.m. followed by drawings for Lake Eufaula at 10 a.m., and Webbers Falls at 11:30 a.m.

Registration begins one hour before each drawing. For more information about the drawings for these lakes, call the Department's Porter office at (918) 683-1031.

Drawing requirements and information about blind permits for other lakes are outlined below:

Hulah Lake – Registration begins Sept. 23, at 8 a.m., followed by the drawing at 9 a.m. at the Copan/Hulah Lake Corps of Engineers project office (located just west of the intersection of Highways 10 & 75). For more information, contact Bill Sartin, Wildlife Department wildlife biologist, at (918) 349-2281 or (918) 629-5108.

Waurika – Permits are unlimited, but a drawing will be held for hunters to select the site of their choice Sept. 23 at 9 a.m., at the Waurika Corps of Engineers project office.

Additional drawings will occur for W.D. Mayo, Canton and Ft. Supply Lakes, but information on dates, times and drawing locations for these lakes are not available at this time.