AUGUST 2001 NEWS RELEASES 

 

WEEK OF AUGUST 30

WEEK OF AUGUST 23

WEEK OF AUGUST 17

WEEK OF AUGUST 9

WEEK OF AUGUST 2

Hunters should plan for fall outings

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has released the 2001-2002 Oklahoma Hunting Guide and Regulations, allowing sportsmen to schedule deer hunts and mark dates on their calendars now.

"Thousands of Oklahoma sportsmen deer hunt each year," said Alan Peoples, wildlife division chief for the Department. "Many of these sportsmen anxiously await the release of season dates so they can plan vacations and trips for deer hunts. The Department has made a number of changes this year to deer season dates and bag limits so it is very important sportsmen check the regulations before planning their trips."

The state's deer population continues to grow and the Department needed to make changes to better manage the growth and health of the herd, Peoples added. The best way to manage that growth is by harvesting antlerless deer and the Department developed regulations to allow sportsmen more opportunity to harvest does. A copy of the new guide is available on the Department's Web site so sportsmen can immediately access information about those changes.

Those changes are as follows:

• The statewide combined bag limit for all three deer seasons increased from five deer to six - only three of which can be bucks.

• The archery season was extended to January 15, 2002. Hunters may harvest only antlerless deer from Jan. 1 to Jan. 15.

• The archery bag limit for bucks was reduced from three to two.

• Hunters will be allowed to use an unfilled primitive buck license to harvest a doe on the last day of the primitive deer season in areas open to antlerless harvest. However, the bag limit for the primitive season is one antlered and one antlerless deer, so hunters who have already harvested a doe on a regular primitive antlerless will not be allowed to use their buck license to harvest another antlerless deer.

• The harvest of mule deer does is restricted during the deer gun season.

• Hunters will be allowed to use an unfilled gun buck license to harvest a doe on the last day of deer gun season in areas open to antlerless harvest (if they haven’t already harvested a doe during gun season). The bag limit for the deer gun season is one antlered and one antlerless deer.

• Special antlerless deer seasons were added in some areas. Hunters will be allowed to harvest one bonus antlerless deer during these seasons with the appropriate license.

Copies of the 2001-2002 Hunting Guides and Regulations are available at Department installations and license vendors statewide. Those interested in learning more about the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation or about hunting in Oklahoma can log onto the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Artists wanted to design wild turkey plate

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is holding a competition to help design a "Wildlife Conservation" license plate featuring the Eastern wild turkey.

The Department hopes artists from around the nation will enter the competition and follow guidelines to provide original designs that Oklahomans statewide will be proud to display on their vehicles.

There are four "Wildlife Conservation" plates currently in existence and their sales have been very successful and provided important revenue to the Wildlife Department.

"This is a great opportunity for an artist to have their work displayed all across Oklahoma," reported Julian Hilliard, information specialist for the Department's Natural Resources Section. "When we started selling our Wildlife Conservation license plates six years ago, we had no idea that the tags would be as popular as they are today. Since making the deer, bass, quail, and scissortail plates available directly from local tag agents for $25, our tags are now close to being the most popular specialty tags on the roads today."

The opportunity to design a new plate arose recently, and the Department decided to have a competition to choose the design, Hilliard added. Officials have predetermined that the wild turkey will appear on the plate, and the design guidelines that the artist must follow, but there is still plenty of room for artistic license and creativity for those who decide to compete.

The winner in this competition will receive a $500 cash prize, an original (dummy) copy of the plate that he or she helped create, and a one-year subscription to the Department’s popular magazine Outdoor Oklahoma. Four runner-up winners will be chosen in the competition as well, who will also receive the magazine free for one year.

The Wildlife Conservation plates now represent one of the most important sources of funding for the Department's Wildlife Diversity Program, whose mission is to conserve the broad array of Oklahoma's non-game wildlife species. So far, sales of the license plates have aided the conservation efforts of several species, including least terns, Mexican free-tailed bats and the Texas horned lizard.

Those who'd like to compete for the chance to have their artwork on one of the most popular series of license tags in Oklahoma, should call the Wildlife Diversity Program at 405/521-4616. Guidelines are also available online at www.wildlifedepartment.com

Shad stocked at Lake Texoma

Personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have made efforts to stabilize Lake Texoma threadfin shad populations that substantially declined this spring due to a winter kill.

Approximately 8,000 threadfin shad were acquired from Lake Konawa and stocked into the upper Washita Arm of Texoma in mid-July.

"The threadfin is an important prey species for stripers and other sportfish in Lake Texoma," said Paul Mauck, regional fisheries supervisor. "Water temperatures in the lake just became to low for the shad to survive and the population took a hard hit. They were starting to come back, but the Department felt additional stockings would speed up the recovery process."

The kill occurred when water temperatures in the lake dropped to around 40 degrees this past winter, Mauck added. The temperatures did not seem to affect gizzard shad populations, but dramatically impacted threadfin populations. Anglers often use the shad for bait, but experienced difficulty throughout the spring acquiring enough small shad for a days worth of fishing.

Biologists initially feared there would not be enough shad to support the lake's fisheries resources. However, the 2001 year class had adequate numbers and are now large enough to become sufficient prey for most sportfish and biologist feel that the additional stockings will help the threadfin population rebound back to normal.

Controlled hunts program may change

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation hopes to improve one of its most popular programs.

Thousands of sportsmen enter the Department's Controlled Hunts Program every year and the Department is looking at proposals to allow more sportsmen to participate in those hunts.

The proposals to modify the program will be among measures presented for discussion during a series of public meetings scheduled for August.

"The Department offers more than 1,500 hunts through its Con-trolled Hunt Program each year," said Alan Peoples, wildlife division chief for the Department. "The demand for these hunts is tremendous. The Department often receives more than 50,000 applications for these hunts.

"That means many sportsmen won't have the opportunity to participate in a hunt. We want to provide each sportsmen as much chance as possible to participate each year. Under the current system, some individuals may be drawn for multiple big game hunts in a year while others are not drawn at all. The proposed changes will limit each sportsmen to one big game hunt a year, increasing the overall number of sportsmen who will be able to participate."

Major proposals would make elk and antelope hunts once in a lifetime draws. Currently, applicants who have drawn one of these hunts must wait 10 years before they reapply, Peoples said.

He added that all deer hunts will be pooled into one category and applicants will be allowed to apply for five hunts. The drawing will also become progressive, beginning with elk and working down to deer.

In other words, those who draw out for an elk hunt will not be eligible for an antelope or deer hunt, and those drawing an antelope hunt will not be eligible for a deer hunt.

Meetings have been scheduled for Antlers and Ada on August 27. They have also been scheduled for Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton, Idabel, Woodward and Enid on August 28, and for Muskogee and Clinton for August 29.

All meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and will follow a new public hearing process aimed at improving communication between the Wildlife Department and hunters regarding proposed rule changes. Under the new process, the meeting will begin with wildlife biologists explaining each of the proposed rule changes, along with reasons for the proposals.

Applicable biological and social survey data relating to the proposed changes also will be explained at this time. As each proposal is being discussed, those attending the meeting will have the opportunity to ask Department personnel questions about the changes or the reasoning behind the proposals.

Once the public meeting has concluded, a formal "hearing" will be called to order. At this point, anyone wanting to make formal comments - either for or against - any of the proposed changes may do so. Comments made at the meeting will be presented to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission when Department personnel ask the Commission to adopt the rule changes.

Other measures affecting many of the Department's Wildlife Management Areas (WMA's) will also be discussed at the meetings. Those proposals include closing quail season during muzzleloader season on many northwestern WMA's and allowing more hunting opportunity on many northeastern WMA's by opening them to coincide with statewide regulations. Other major proposals will add feral hog regulations for Department owned and managed lands.

For a complete list of proposed measures that will be discussed during the meetings, log onto the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com

August 27th - Monday - 7:00pm
Antlers - Antlers High School Auditorium
Ada - Pontotoc County Technology Center

August 28th - Tuesday -7:00pm
Lawton - Lawton Public Library
Tulsa - Tulsa Fair Grounds, Expo Café
Idabel - Kiamichi Technology Center
Oklahoma City - ODWC Headquarters
Woodward - Northwest Electric Coop
Enid - Fire Department

August 30th - Thursday - 7:00pm
Muskogee - Indian Capitol Technology Center
Clinton - Clinton City Hall

Historic conservation funding bill passes major landmark in US House

The bipartisan Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA, H.R. 701) passed a major milestone July 25 when the House Resources Committee voted to report this historic conservation legislation to the full U.S. House of Representatives for consideration. CARA proposes to reinvest $3.1 billion, a portion of the revenues from federal offshore oil and gas, into state-based wildlife conservation, coastal conservation and impact assistance, historic preservation, urban parks and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

"CARA is the most important wildlife conservation funding legislation in decades," stated Robert McDowell, president, International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and director of New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. "CARA will provide state fish and wildlife agencies the financial resources to get ahead of the curve and prevent species from becoming endangered. For this reason, CARA is the top legislative priority of every state and territorial fish and wildlife agency."

CARA now has 237 cosponsors, evidence of a groundswell of grassroots support and the dedication of CARA's champions in the House. An unprecedented coalition of over 6,000 organizations, businesses, and elected officials including governors, mayors, and county officials has generated tremendous support for CARA across the nation. House Resources Committee Chairman James V. Hansen (R-UT) and Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) have effectively moved CARA through the Committee and, once again, CARA will be on the agenda of the full House.

"We thank CARA's Congressional champions Hansen, Rahall, Don Young (R-AK), George Miller (D-CA), Billy Tauzin (R-LA), John Dingell (D-MI), Chris John (D-LA) and others for recognizing what this conservation legislation means for the long term health and abundance for our nation's wildlife," said R. Max Peterson, Executive Vice President of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA).

"Now we call on the House Leadership to quickly schedule a floor vote for CARA," said Peterson. "Passage by the House of CARA this fall would move this vital legislation to the Senate and CARA's much needed wildlife funding could be available as soon as next year."

CARA passed the House by an overwhelming 3:1 majority last year. Then, in spite of a letter signed by 63 Senators urging Senate action, CARA did not reach the Senate floor before the end of the Congressional session.

"Passage of CARA in the House last year signified an unprecedented commitment by the Congress to the conservation and restoration of our precious wildlife, lands, and coastal areas. We expect Congress to uphold their commitment and give us another victory this fall" said Peterson.

Schones appointed to Wildlife Commission

Douglas Schones, Elk City, was recently appointed by Gov. Frank Keating to serve on the Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Schones will serve the remaining two years of the term recently vacated when Bill Crawford of Frederick resigned.

A lifelong Oklahoman who grew up near Canute, located just east of Elk City, Schones is the general manager and vice president of Dyna-Turn of Oklahoma, Inc. Founded in 1983, Dyna-Turn manufactured computer disks until the mid-1990s, when the production process changed dramatically due to new regulations governing the material used to make disks. The company now focuses on manufacturing precision, machined parts.

Schones, who earned an associates degree in electronics technology at Sayre Junior College then an industrial technology degree at Southwestern Oklahoma State University at Weatherford, will serve as the Wildlife Commission's District 7 representative. The district includes Ellis, Dewey, Roger Mills, Custer, Beckham, Washita, Kiowa, Greer, Jackson, Harmon and Tillman counties.

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

"I just like being outdoors with family and friends," Schones said. "I think it's important that we teach kids about hunting, fishing and enjoying nature, otherwise how will our outdoor heritage continue?

"We grew up quail and dove hunting. I never saw a deer in this area until after I graduated from high school; now they're common. I still enjoy bird hunting, but turkey, deer and waterfowl are my primary outdoor interests, as well as fishing."

Active in a number of local conservation organizations, including the National Wild Turkey Federation, National Rifle Association and Ducks Unlimited, Schones also served as an original board member and past treasurer of the Oklahoma Alliance for Manufacturing Excellence.

Currently, he serves as president of the Western Oklahoma Manufacturers' Council, president of the Elk City Board of Education, vice-president of the Coahuila (Mexico)/Texas/Oklahoma Corridor Association, and is currently serving on the Engineering Technology Advisory Council at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

Schones and his wife Kathy have three children: two sons, Paul and Blake; and a daughter, Trudy.

Scouting key to dove hunting success

Dove season is quickly approaching and thousands of Oklahoma sportsmen are anxiously counting down the days to the September 1 opener.

Many of those sportsmen know that scouting is the key to a successful hunt and are already busy looking for a place to go on opening day.

Scouting will be critical this year as many traditional grain-field hunting areas are not available due to the heat and drought-like conditions that have hit the state.

"The Department manages and manipulates fields for dove every year on our wildlife management areas, and there are always excellent opportunities on private land," said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "But, several of our biologists have expressed concerns because dove fields on their areas are burning up. Dove are a migratory bird and weather will always impact where the birds are at, and it is definitely going to play a role this year because rain has been so scattered.

"There are some areas and pockets that have received adequate rainfall, but much of the state has experienced dry conditions throughout the summer. Many fields in these dry areas simply aren't producing a lot of grain. The good news is that the birds are there, and hunters who scout well will find huntable concentrations."

Dove also feed on ragweed, pigweed, crotons, clover, sunflowers and other native plants that are more heat and drought tolerant, Peoples added. Hunters may find good numbers of birds around pastures and other areas containing these plants, especially if the area is freshly mowed.

If dry weather conditions persist, hunters will also have a great opportunity to find birds using watering holes. Small lakes, farm ponds and even wetlands with a food source close by can provide excellent wing shooting action. Watering holes are best when the water is surrounded by exposed bank which provides the birds with an area to land.

“Dove are resilient birds and handle heat and drought conditions very well,” said Peoples. “Those sportsmen who get out now and find areas and habitat the birds are using will ensure a good outing opening weekend.”

For more information about the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, or for the 2001-2002 Oklahoma Hunting Regulations, log onto the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

 

Controlled Hunt changes proposed

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has scheduled a series of public meetings to discuss several proposed improvements to the Department's controlled hunt program and hunting regulation changes for 2002.

Meetings have been scheduled in Antlers and Ada August 27. They have also been scheduled August 28 in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton, Idabel, Woodward and Enid, and August 30 in Muskogee and Clinton.

"Thousands of sportsmen enter the Department's Controlled Hunts Program every year and the Department is looking at proposals to allow more sportsmen to participate in those hunts," said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Department.

Peoples added that other measures affecting many of the Department's Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) will also be discussed at the meetings. Those proposals include closing quail season during muzzleloader season on many northwestern WMAs and allowing more hunting opportunity on many northeastern WMAs by opening them to coincide with statewide regulations. Other major proposals will add feral hog regulations for Department owned and managed lands.

For a complete list of proposed measures that will be discussed during the meetings, log onto the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com

Meeting Schedule

August 27 – 7:00 p.m.

Antlers – Antlers High School Auditorium

Ada – Pontotoc County Technology Center

August 28 – 7:00 p.m.

Lawton – Lawton Public Library

Tulsa – Tulsa Fair Grounds, Expo Café

Idabel – Kiamichi Technology Center

Oklahoma City – ODWC Headquarters

Woodward – Northwest Electric Coop

Enid – Fire Department

August 30 – 7:00 p.m.

Muskogee – Indian Capitol Technology Center

Clinton – Clinton City Hall

Cause of slow bass fishing elusive to net

Good fishing for largemouth bass, especially fish over three pounds, has been tough to come by at several northeast Oklahoma lakes, causing anglers and biologists alike to question whether the largemouth bass virus (LMBV) is to blame.

"When anglers report that fishing for bass is off from last year, we believe them," said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Whether or not it can all be attributed to the virus, we can't say for sure, but it sure makes us wonder."

Electrofishing surveys from earlier this year at Fort Gibson, Grand, Hudson and Tenkiller lakes show a decline in the number of bass over 4 pounds, but as bass reach that size, there are relatively fewer of them in the population and they become more difficult to adequately sample. Therefore, we put a lot of stock in what anglers report, and they're not happy."

Erickson said that Wildlife Department Fisheries personnel made a special effort this spring to survey lakes in the northeast where LMBV had been found, and those surveys revealed that although the numbers of bigger fish (the tournament winning-size bass) are down from last year, there is good news on the horizon. On Ft. Gibson, Grand and Hudson, electrofishing catch rates of bass ranging in size from 12 to 16 inches increased above the three to four year average at those lakes. At Lake Tenkiller, catch rates of bass between 16 and 21 inches slightly exceeded the four-year average.

"This is encouraging news for the future," Erickson said. "At least we have some strong year classes and good recruitment coming along. There has never been a documented case of LMBV causing die-offs at the same lake twice and we are working to learn more about the virus, but because the virus appears to strike a fishery and move on, answers to the LMBV mystery have been hard to find."

According to Auburn University scientist John Grizzle, LMBV is one of more than 100 naturally occurring viruses that affect fish but not warm-blooded animals. Its origin is unknown, but it is related to a virus found in frogs and other amphibians and is almost identical to a virus isolated in fish imported to the United States for the aquarium trade.

Although the virus apparently can be carried by other fish species, to date it has produced mortality only in largemouth bass. Researchers have discovered that LMBV can stay alive in water for at least three to four hours. This suggests that anglers could unknowingly transport the virus in a livewell, bait bucket or in boat bilges. Bass can contract the virus from contact with other fish, but it is still not known how the virus is activated into a fatal disease. Most importantly, there is no known cure or prevention for LMBV.

The disease first gained attention in 1995, when it was implicated in a fish kill on Santee-Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina. Since then, the virus has been found in impoundments throughout the South and portions of the Midwest. The virus has been detected in bass that show no signs of illness, which suggests that some fish might be infected but not ever become sick.

Biologists are uncertain about how long the virus has been present in Oklahoma waters, but the pattern suggests that unusually hot summer temperatures were a catalyst in the die-offs. The good news, Erickson noted, is that although angler catch rates, particularly for large fish, may decline for a short period of time following an LMBV-related fish kill, they usually recover within a year or two.

Department personnel are continuing to monitor conditions at key lakes throughout the state and will continue to distribute information regarding the effects and status of LMBV in Oklahoma as it becomes available, Erickson added. The agency encourages anyone with information about fish kills or questions to contact their local Fisheries office.

For more information on largemouth bass population surveys conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, or for common questions and answers about the largemouth bass virus, log on to the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

 

Assistant Director receives national award

Richard Hatcher, assistant director for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, was recently awarded the National Conservation Achievement Award from Ducks Unlimited, a nationally prominent conservation organization. The award was presented at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference held in Washington D.C.

Hatcher received the honor for his leadership in ensuring the successful restoration of the Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area, a world-renowned wetlands restoration project in southwest Oklahoma. According to Ducks Unlimited, Hatcher's commitment to habitat restoration for waterfowl, his vision, and his dedication, were evident in his involvement in nearly every aspect of the project, including land acquisition, financing, and building partnerships with countless government agencies, non-government agencies, industries and community groups.

"I am truly honored that Ducks Unlimited chose to recognize me with this award," Hatcher said, “particularly for the recognition it brings to the wetland itself, other employees and to the many partners that worked to ensure its success. The people and wildlife of Oklahoma will benefit greatly from this project."

Since its dedication in 1999, Hackberry Flat has been a haven to thousands of migrating waterfowl, and has provided sportsmen with amazing migratory bird hunting opportunities. The area has also attracted a diversity of wading birds and shorebirds, and provides many species with breeding habitat throughout the spring and early summer. It is rapidly becoming one of the state's most visited watchable wildlife areas.

 

HIP required for migratory bird hunters

The opening day of dove season is just around the corner and for thousands of Oklahoma sportsmen, it can't arrive soon enough.

Migratory bird hunters, including dove hunters will have a tremendous opportunity to get out and enjoy Oklahoma's outdoors this fall and winter, but before they head to the field, they need to complete and carry a Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit.

Due to their migratory nature, detailed harvest information has not been available for many of these bird species in the past. The Harvest Information Program is a national program designed to provide federal and state biologists with more accurate harvest data for migratory birds, which will allow better management of migratory bird species.

"It is very important for migratory bird hunters to complete these requirements by providing information about hunting activities," said Mike O'Meilia, migratory bird biologist for the Department. "Biologists need the most accurate data possible to manage species like dove, ducks and geese. By complying, hunters ensure maximum hunting opportunities in the future."

All migratory bird hunters, including lifetime license holders , must obtain, complete and carry the HIP Permit while hunting. Hunters under 16 years of age, senior citizens age 64 and over or those who turn 64 during the calendar year in which they intend to hunt and landowners hunting only on their own property are exempt from the HIP requirements.

The free permit is part of the universal license form available at any license dealer across the state. Permits are valid from September 1 of the current year through March 31 of the following year. Migratory bird hunters can obtain and complete the permit by answering a few simple questions.

Regional hunter ed courses available

Thousands of sportsmen will soon head afield to participate in one of Oklahoma's upcoming hunting seasons. Safety is the key to a good hunting season so new and experienced hunters are encouraged to attend an upcoming hunter education course before heading out.

"The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation offers more than 320 hunter education courses across the state each year," said J.D. Peer, hunter education coordinator for the Department. "Courses are conducted by Department personnel and/or trained volunteer instructors and provide training in firearms handling and safety, wildlife conservation, rules and regulations, survival, wildlife identification and several specialty hunting methods. The Department wants to provide sportsmen every opportunity possible to take a course and several regional courses along with others throughout the state are given in late August and early September so sportsmen have the chance to attend the course before most hunting seasons begin."

The regional courses are available in Norman, Jenks, McAlester and Woodward, Peer added. Many other courses are offered across the state and the Department tries to offer at least one course in every county at some point throughout the year.

Oklahoma law requires 10 hours of hunter education and anyone under 16 years of age must successfully complete a hunter education course before hunting big game (deer, elk, antelope) with a centerfire rifle, shotgun with single rifled slug or muzzleloader. The law also requires that anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1972, upon reaching 16 years of age, must exhibit a hunter safety certificate from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation or a like certificate from another state to purchase or receive any Oklahoma hunting license. Hunters born after the above date, who purchased a lifetime license before they turned 16, must carry their hunter safety certification or proof of exemption with them while in the field.

Persons who have been honorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces or currently on active duty in the United States Armed Forces or a member of the National Guard are exempt from the hunter education requirements in Oklahoma. In addition, hunters under 16 who will not be hunting large game with a firearm are not required to have their hunter safety certification, but it is strongly encouraged.

Hunters should pick up a copy of the 2001-2002 Oklahoma Hunting Guide & Regulations for complete information on hunting seasons and hunter education requirements. For a complete list of hunter education courses offered throughout the state, sportsmen can call the Department's toll free hunter education hotline 24 hours a day at 405/521-4650 or log onto the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Regional Courses

Norman

Norman Police Range

August 25, 2001

7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Pre-register 405/524-7030

Jenks

Jenks High School

August 25, October 20, and November 10, 2001

8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

pre-register 918/744-1039

McAlester

McAlester Kiamichi Area Vo-tech

August 25, September 29, October 20, and November 10, 2001

8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Pre-register 918/297-0150

Woodward

High Plains Technical Center

September 15, 2001

8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Pre-register 580/254-9173 on Mondays only

OKC

ODWC Auditorium

October 31, and November 14, 2001

7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Pre-register 405/521-4636

 

Youth programs receive NRA grants

The National Rifle Association Foundation's Friends of the NRA Program recently awarded the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation grants totaling $6,600 for two of the Department's youth education programs.

The Wildlife Department's Shot-gun Training Education Program received $5,600 and the agency's Wildlife Youth Camp received $1,000. The grants, which are administered through the NRA Foundation, are only two of the 116 grants awarded in Oklahoma during the past five years.

"We're very proud to say that more than $316,000 has been given to a wide range of state projects, including youth education, range development and gun training and safety programs," said Darren DeLong, NRA field representative.

DeLong said that the Friends of the NRA is a grassroots program supported by gun owners, sportsmen and NRA friends that conducts banquets and other fundraising events to generate income for the NRA Foundation. Nationally, the Friends of the NRA raised a net of nearly $7.9 million.

"Oklahoma had the highest average banquet attendance and the highest net to gross average in the country," he added. "Half of the funds raised are invested in national-level programs and half are invested right here in Oklahoma on projects recommended by our NRA Foundation State Fund volunteers."

The NRA Foundation supports a broad range of programs and services that benefit local communities from providing shooting range access for physically-disabled shooters to firearms safety, education and leadership programs for America's youth. Some of the programs include the Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program which teaches elementary school children gun safety; the Environment, Conservation and Hunting Outreach (ECHO) program that promotes the wise use of natural resources and hunter safety and ethics; and the Refuse To Be A Victim Program which instructs women in how to live safer, more secure, lives. The NRA Foundation is a non-profit arm of the National Rifle Association and is dedicated to promoting and funding firearms safety, education and training programs nationally.

For more information on the Friends of the NRA Grant Program, call DeLong at 405/692-8672. A schedule of Friend of the NRA banquets is published in the Wildlife Department's Outdoor Calendar on the Department's Web site. For specific banquet information, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com

Department honors Reliant Energy ARKLA

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recently recognized Lawton-based Reliant Energy ARKLA as a contributing partner in the Hackberry Flat restoration project for the company's role in installing a recently-completed water pipeline.

The pipeline, which runs from a water storage reservoir under construction to the site of a future education center, spans one mile and will transport thousands of gallons of water to a 60-acre educational wetland. Although construction on the education center has not yet begun, ensuring the site has adequate water was one of the Wildlife Department's primary objectives.

"ARKLA not only donated the equipment to put the pipeline in, they also donated the manpower to run the 15-inch line," said Rod Smith, southwest region wildlife supervisor for the Department. "The pipeline for the educational wetland was one of the last major hurdles to clear before beginning construction of the educational center, and this contribution is another in a long line of corporate donations that have made Hackberry Flat what it is."

Because of the unique topography of Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area, the education center will sit on an elevated rise near Hackberry's main basin, which covers several thousand acres. Visitors will learn how wetlands work to clean the environment while providing vital habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife. In addition, the area's unique cultural heritage also will be explored.

"Hackberry Flat is considered the most important wetland restoration project ever attempted in Oklahoma," said Bill Phelps, vice-president and general manager of Reliant Energy ARKLA, "and we're pleased to have been a contributor to this conservation effort.

"One of the main reasons we wanted the opportunity to participate in this project was the educational benefit Hackberry Flat brings to the schools and students not only of southwest Oklahoma, but all of Oklahoma and north Texas. It is extremely critical that our youth and future leaders understand the importance and value of wetlands and how they contribute to our daily lives."

Hackberry Flat WMA is located in southwest Oklahoma's Tillman County, near Frederick, and was once considered the largest natural wetland in the state until it was drained in the early 1900s for agricultural purposes. In 1993, the Wildlife Department undertook the Hackberry Flat restoration project.

The Department acquired and restored 7,120 acres of wetlands and surrounding upland vegetation. Donations from private companies and conservation organizations provided much the equipment, manpower and money needed to undertake the restoration effort.

Since its dedication, Hackberry Flat has been a haven to thousands of migrating waterfowl, and has provided sportsmen with amazing migratory bird hunting opportunities. The area has also attracted a diversity of wading birds and shore birds, including the endangered whooping crane. The WMA also provides many species with breeding habitat throughout the spring and early summer, allowing year-round viewing opportunities.

Hackberry Flat offers excellent dove hunting

The mourning dove is one of the most popular game species in Oklahoma and every year thousands of sportsmen across the state join friends and family to hunt the birds and enjoy a memorable experience.

Outdoor Oklahoma is offering sportsmen a chance to enjoy dove hunting a little early this year when it presents "Dove Hunting at Hackberry Flat." The show will air first on OETA on August 26 and will highlight how much fun the sport can be.

"There are some great dove hunting opportunities on public land and the Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area may offer the best dove hunting in the state," said Brian Barger, show producer and information specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Hackberry Flat is in southwest Oklahoma and is located near Frederick in Tillman County and we are proud to provide more information about the area to our views. Hackberry is comprised of more than 7,000 acres of wetland and surrounding upland vegetation and provides excellent hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities."

Outdoor Oklahoma features such topics as fishing, hunting, and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute programs are produced by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and can be seen on OETA on channels 13 (Oklahoma City), 11 (Tulsa), 3 (Eufaula) and 12 (Cheyenne).

Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the KSBI Network, Mondays at 5:00 p.m., Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. and each Saturday at 1:30 p.m. UHF coverage includes Channel 52 in Oklahoma City, channel 21 in Stillwater and channel 35 in Ada and KSBI cable channels in more than 30 communities in central Oklahoma.

In addition, Outdoor Oklahoma can be seen each week on KTEN, Sundays at 5 a.m. KTEN (channel 10) reaches southcentral and southeastern Oklahoma.

The program is also available in the Stillwater area on the KWEM-UHF Channel 31, Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m., Fridays at 7:00 p.m., Sundays at 8:00 p.m. KWEM is carried on the local cable network (check your cable provider listing for the channel number which may be different than 31).

Red River offers cold-weather waterfowl

Every fall millions of waterfowl begin a long journey as they migrate south for the winter. Many of these birds will either stop or stay in Oklahoma and they offer waterfowl hunters bountiful opportunities to enjoy a day afield.

Due to extreme weather, Oklahomans experienced a great waterfowl season last year and Outdoor Oklahoma was on hand to document the action. On Sunday, Sept. 2, Outdoor Oklahoma will offer viewers the chance to witness the sights and sounds of "Red River Waterfowling" as the show premiers on OETA.

"This is a unique show because everything in southwestern Oklahoma was frozen, forcing waterfowl to find open water," said Rich Fuller, show producer and information supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Thousands of ducks, geese and cranes were using the Red River due to the extreme winter weather conditions. This was a fun and exciting hunt that was action packed and we are thrilled to have the chance to bring it to our viewers. "

Outdoor Oklahoma features such topics as fishing, hunting, and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute programs are produced by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and can be seen on OETA on channels 13 (Oklahoma City), 11 (Tulsa), 3 (Eufaula) and 12 (Cheyenne).

Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the KSBI Network, Mondays at 5:00 p.m., Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. and each Saturday at 1:30 p.m. UHF coverage includes Channel 52 in Oklahoma City, channel 21 in Stillwater and channel 35 in Ada and KSBI cable channels in more than 30 communities in central Oklahoma.

In addition, Outdoor Oklahoma can be seen each week on KTEN, Sundays at 5 a.m. KTEN (channel 10) reaches southcentral and southeastern Oklahoma.

The program is also available in the Stillwater area on the KWEM-UHF Channel 31, Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m., Fridays at 7:00 p.m., Sundays at 8:00 p.m. KWEM is carried on the local cable network (check your cable provider listing for the channel number which may be different than 31).

Department releases electrofishing results

Each summer bass anglers eagerly await the release of population data collected by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Fisheries personnel through the agency's spring electrofishing survey results on lakes and reservoirs throughout the state.

During the 2001 surveying, biologists recorded 100 or more bass per hour of electrofishing at 13 different lakes, with eight lakes registering fish bigger than eight pounds. The largest fish in this year's survey was a 10.7-pounder recorded at Lake Waurika, while a 9.1-pound largemouth was caught at Arbuckle Lake. Two lakes, Konawa and Grand, both registered more than 200 bass per hour of electrofishing, with 229 and 223, respectively.

"The electrofishing survey results provide biologists and anglers alike with the latest information on both the relative quality and quantity of bass found in a lake," said Kim Erickson, Fisheries chief for the Department. "Some anglers look at the data to determine where they might go to catch good numbers of bass, while others use it to find lakes with a better chance of catching a big fish."

During the electrofishing surveys, biologists capture bass using specialized equipment, then weigh and measure each fish before releasing it back to the water unharmed, Erickson said. They then analyze the data and compare it with previous years' results to determine population trends and status of the fishery.

"If you're looking to find a place to take a youngster fishing, I'd probably choose one of the lakes having a high abundance of bass where size isn't important," he said. "For example, lakes like Dahlgren in Cleveland County have a high abundance of bass (150 per hour) but a very low percentage of fish over 14 inches. Pottawatomie County's Wes Watkins Lake in has a high percentage (almost 60 percent) of bass over 14 inches, but when compared to other lakes in the area, the overall abundance of bass is lower, possibly due to relatively poor survival of fish into the catchable sizes."

Lakes registering more than 100 bass per hour of electrofishing in the 2001 survey were: Konawa (229), Grand (223), Tenkiller (173), McGee Creek (158), Ft. Gibson (155), Dahlgren (150), American Horse (148), McMurtry (143), Dripping Springs (130), Hudson (122), Arbuckle (117), Guthrie (116), and Elmer (104). Those lakes where bass larger than eight pounds were seen while surveying were: Waurika (10.7 pounds), Arbuckle (9.1), Dripping Springs (8.6), Lawtonka and Longmire (each produced an 8.5 fish), Okmulgee (8.3), and Lone Chimney and Watonga (8.2).

The Department's Fisheries personnel perform electrofishing surveys on various lakes across the state each year. Lakes are surveyed on a rotating basis, with those lakes involved in special emphasis projects receiving higher priority. Due to the numbers of lakes in Oklahoma, not all lakes are sampled each year.

For more information on fisheries management and fishing in Oklahoma, log on the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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 during September.

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.

Those interested in hunting from a permanent blind should note the guidelines and drawing location and times provided below.

*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 Sept. 22 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:

Waurika - Permits are unlimited, but a drawing will be held for hunters to select the site of their choice Sept. 22 at 9 a.m., at the Waurika Corps of Engineers project office.

Canton - Permits for Canton Lake will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis from 8 a.m. to noon, Sept. 22, 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.

W.D. Mayo - The drawing will be held Sept. 20, at the Spiro City Hall, 510 S. Main St., at 10 a.m. For more information contact David Roberton: 580/421-7273.

Ft. Supply - Permits will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis Sept. 22, at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Woodward office from noon until 1 p.m. Those interested should call 580/254-9173.

Take a hunter education course now

Fall is just around the corner and with it comes the fall hunting seasons. Many of Oklahoma's sportsmen will need to attend a hunter education course before participating in several of the fall’s hunting seasons.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation offers classes all across the state throughout the year and many courses are being offered right now.

"If you need a hunter safety course, there isn't any better time to take one than the present," said J.D. Peer, hunter education coordinator for the Department. "Most people realize it is better to take a course now instead of scrambling around to find an available course at the last minute. The attendance at courses has been tremendous and once students are certified they are eligible to hunt anywhere in the nation.

"We certified about 2,000 students on Aug. 24 - about 860 of them were certified at the Norman course alone. We will be offering numerous courses throughout the fall, but many of the courses are filling up quickly, so I wouldn't suggest putting off taking a course if you don't have to."

Oklahoma law requires 10 hours of hunter education and anyone under 16 years of age must successfully complete a hunter education course before hunting big game (deer, elk, antelope) during the primitive firearm or gun seasons, Peer added. The law also requires that anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1972, upon reaching 16 years of age, must exhibit a hunter safety certificate from the Wildlife Department or a like certificate from another state to purchase or receive any Oklahoma hunting license.

Hunters born after the above date, who purchased a lifetime license before they turned 16, must carry their hunter safety certification or proof of exemption with them while in the field. Hunters should pick up a copy of the 2001-2002 Oklahoma Hunting Guide & Regulations for complete information on hunting seasons and hunter education requirements.

Regional hunter education courses are being offered at Jenks, McAlester, Woodward and Oklahoma City. For a complete list of hunter education courses offered throughout the state, sportsmen can call the Department's hunter education hotline 24 hours a day at 405/521-4650 or log onto the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Teal season opens Sept. 8

Oklahoma's waterfowl hunters have a great opportunity to get in on some early action by participating in the state's September teal season.

Hunters will be allowed to harvest blue-wing, green-wing and cinnamon teal during the early teal season, which runs Sept. 8 - 23, except in the panhandle, where it will run Sept. 8 - 16.

"Teal populations look great and we should see good numbers of birds coming through the state this fall," said Mike O'Meilia, migratory bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Anytime a front passes through the state, we could see some teal come with it. Blue-wings are some of the first birds to migrate and often take advantage of a north wind to help carry them on their southerly journey.

"This time of year doesn't produce what many consider classic duck hunting conditions, but it's a tremendous season. It's a great time to take a kid hunting, and it's a great time to train a young dog. The weather will determine where and when birds are present, but hunters know they can't do any good sitting at home and many hunters eagerly await this season every year."

Hunters need to check the 2001-2002 Oklahoma Hunting Guide for season details and should practice their waterfowl identification, O'Meilia added. The season is only open for teal. There are always variable numbers of other ducks around at this time depending on the weather. You might see pintails, shovelers, mallards and wood ducks, so you have to be aware of waterfowl identification.

Teal prefer shallow water with a variety of vegetation and can be found on lakes, ponds and wetlands. The Department is also managing the following Wetland Development Areas for the early teal season and these areas provide excellent habitat as well.

• Billy Creek is a 100-acre moist soil unit on the Chouteau WMA in Wagoner County and is dominated by smartweed, barnyard grass and bidens. Managers are pumping water into the unit and it is about 80 percent flooded at this time.

• The Hackberry Flat WMA has two units that are partially flooded. The Sandbag unit is a 130-acre moist soil unit that has Sagittaria. The Yellowleg unit is 140-acres and consists of wild millet and pigweed. The units are being flooded and are about 40 percent full at this time.

• Mill Creek is a 80-acre moist soil unit on the Eufaula WMA in McIntosh County. The unit offers various types of vegetation, and flooding is scheduled to begin Sept. 1, only if enough water is available in the lake.

• Webber Falls is a 100-acre moist soil unit on the McClellan-Kerr WMA in Muskogee County. The unit consists of smartweed, barnyard grass and bidens and should be about 50 percent full by opening day of the early teal season.

Those interested in participating in the early fall teal season need a resident or non-resident Oklahoma Hunting License, a 2001 federal duck stamp, and unless they are exempt, an 2001 Oklahoma Waterfowl License. Migratory bird hunters must also have a free Harvest Information Program Permit (HIP). The permits are available at any Department Installation and at license dealers across the state.

For more information about the early fall teal season, or about the Department's Wetland Development Units, log onto the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Test your safety knowledge

Oklahoma sportsmen have always been among the safest in the nation, and since safety is the most important aspect of any trip afield, officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation hope to continue that tradition.

Producers with Outdoor Oklahoma have teamed up with the Department's Law Enforcement Division to film "Shoot, Don't Shoot," which will air September 9 on OETA. The show will provide sportsmen the opportunity to test their hunter safety knowledge through simulations of every day situations.

"This show was unique in that we attempted to use Outdoor Oklahoma as an avenue for teaching an aspect of our hunter safety program," said Rich Fuller, show producer and information supervisor for the Department. "This show was produced to provide all hunters some important guidelines in firearm safety. No matter how old you are, how much experience you have in the field or whether you have taken a hunter safety course or not, the information given on this show is important enough that it bears repeating."

Outdoor Oklahoma features such topics as fishing, hunting, and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute programs are produced by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and can be seen on OETA on channels 13 (Oklahoma City), 11 (Tulsa), 3 (Eufaula) and 12 (Cheyenne).

Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the KSBI Network, Mondays at 5:00 p.m., Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. and each Saturday at 1:30 p.m. UHF coverage includes Channel 52 in Oklahoma City, channel 21 in Stillwater and channel 35 in Ada and KSBI cable channels in more than 30 communities in central Oklahoma.

In addition, Outdoor Oklahoma can be seen each week on KTEN, Sundays at 5 a.m. KTEN (channel 10) reaches southcentral and southeastern Oklahoma.

The program is also available in the Stillwater area on the KWEM-UHF Channel 31, Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m., Fridays at 7:00 p.m., Sundays at 8:00 p.m. KWEM is carried on the local cable network (check your cable provider listing for the channel number which may be different than 31).

Meeting spotlights prairie chicken recovery

More than 150 community leaders, farmers, ranchers and wildlife biologists met Aug. 29 at the Harper County Fairgrounds in Buffalo to discuss the status of the lesser prairie chicken and formulate plans for its recovery.

Lesser prairie chicken populations, which once numbered in the millions and sustained pioneers who struggled to settle the nation's great prairies, have declined over the last century as the bird's habitat has been changed. Weather, particularly droughts, habitat destruction and fragmentation, conversion of native grasslands to cropland, increases in predator numbers and the advent of "clean" farming practices are all factors believed to have contributed to the bird's decline.

To halt the decline and coordinate recovery efforts among the states where lesser prairie chickens are found (Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado), the five states created a group called the Lesser Prairie Chicken Interstate Working Group (LPCIWG). The group, which sponsored the meeting in Buffalo, aims to involve private landowners with state and federal agencies and other non-governmental conservation organizations, with a goal of implementing range management practices that improve native habitat for lesser prairie chickens.

"The birds need healthy High Plains habitat to survive and thrive," said Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and chairman of the LPCIWG. "Recent trends over much of the chicken's range indicate slightly increasing numbers and expanding range. We would like to think some of the habitat work that is being done in northwestern Oklahoma is beginning to have an impact.

"Rainfall, although spotty, has generally been more favorable as well. Adequate moisture produces better grassland habitat and cover, which leads to higher nesting success and bird survival. That translates to more prairie chickens."

Berg said that manner in which the recovery efforts are being organized is the first of its kind, and is being held up as a model for future efforts involving rare or threatened species.

"For years I have watched chicken numbers decline, and I thought I was the only one that noticed it," said Kenny Knowles, a rancher from Arnett. "My family has lived and ranched around Arnett for four generations. I grew up hunting chickens and hope some day to be able to hunt them again. Honestly, I thought I had seen the last prairie chicken on our ranch, but now I know there's hope for a recovery."

Interest in the LPCIWG activities among landowner, conservationists and local residents continues to increase across the five states. Those interested in becoming more involved in the Groups activities should contact Berg at the

Wildlife Department's Tulsa-area office at 918/744-1039 or colin@onenet.net.

Landowners interested in exploring financial assistance options for habitat work related to the lesser prairie chicken can contact one of the following agencies:

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation "Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program" Russ Horton, 405/521-2730.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service "Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program" Stephanie Harmon, 918/581-7458 ext. 229 or Jontie Aldrich, 918/581-7458 ext. 231.

Natural Resources Conservation Service "Conservation Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program"

Beaver County: James Shaffer, District Conservationist, 580/625-3302 ext. 109.

Dewey County: Brooke Taylor, District Conservationist, 580/328-5321 ext. 102.

Ellis County: Terrell Howard, District Conservationist, 580/885-7244 ext. 108.

Harper County: David Hungerford, District Conservationist, 580/735-2033 ext. 102.

Roger Mills County: Gregory C Allen, District Conservationist, 580/497-2293 ext.108.

Texas County: Alan Messenger, District Conservationist, 580/338-7379 ext.116.

Woods County: Shelly Oliphant, District Conservationist, 580/327-3136 ext. 22.

Woodward County: James Shearhart, District Conservationist, 580/256-5320 ext.128.

Stay safe while dove hunting

Dove season is upon us, and safety should be the primary thought of sportsmen as they head out to hunt the speedy birds.

"Large numbers of dove can congregate in an area and hunters usually congregate" said J.D. Peer, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Safety is more important than ever in areas receiving a lot of hunting pressure. Dove hunting can be fun for the entire family as long as everyone remembers to use their firearm in a safe and proper manner.

"There are several things to watch for while dove hunting, especially if hunting with a group. Hunters should always control the muzzle of their shotgun and the direction it is pointed. They should also be aware of the location of all other hunters and should never shoot lower than the horizon. Eye protection is a must as well."

The best shooting glasses are the type that wrap around so the eyes are protected from the sides, and hunters should always try to stay a safe distance apart, Peer added. Blaze orange is not required for dove hunting except when dove season overlaps the deer primitive season, but it is the safest color to wear and many hunters have been successful hunting dove in the orange/camouflage clothing. Peer also recommends that anyone planning to hunt dove attend a hunter education course.

To find out more about dove season, the hunter education program or for a current list of hunter education courses, log onto the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Editors Note:

Last week, we ran an incorrect date for permanent duck blind drawings for W.D Mayo. The incorrect information ran in a story titled "Drawings announced for duck blinds."

The correct information for this drawing is:

W.D. Mayo - The drawing will be held Sept. 22, at the Spiro City Hall, 510 S. Main St., at 10 a.m. For more information contact David Robertson: 580/421-7273.

The original story had shown that the drawing would be held on Sept. 20 instead of the actual date of Sept. 22. We apologize for this mistake and any problems it might have caused.