DECEMBER 2007 NEWS RELEASES

WEEK OF DECEMBER 27, 2007

WEEK OF DECEMBER 21, 2007

WEEK OF DECEMBER 13, 2007

WEEK OF DECEMBER 6 2007

Donations help introduce students to archery
            Nearly 100 schools are introducing students to the sport of archery through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Oklahoma Archery in Schools (OAIS) program, and two recent donations will help ensure the program remains readily accessible to Oklahoma classrooms.
            At its December meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission accepted $9,500 in donations from the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International and $5,000 from the National Wild Turkey Federation for the OAIS program. The donations will be applied to grants that help schools start the program at a fraction of the full cost.
            These donations will combine with nearly $50,000 dollars that the Wildlife Department had already set aside from license funds and a grant made available through the federal Wildlife Restoration Program to help schools launch OAIS programs in their communities.
            “The way it’s set up, schools only pay about $1,300 for equipment that is actually valued at $5,000,” said Lance Meek, OAIS coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “They get all the bows, arrows, targets, safety nets and almost everything else needed for running an Archery in the Schools program. This donation will be enough to help up to 12 more schools get started with the program. Thanks to the Oklahoma Station Chapter of SCI and the National Wild Turkey Federation, we’re going to be able to introduce a lot more students to shooting sports.”
            The OAIS program is coordinated by the Wildlife Department and offers competitive archery and instruction to students in 4th-12th grade, covering everything from archery history to safety, proper shooting techniques, equipment, mental concentration and self-improvement. It is part of a national program that partners state wildlife agencies, schools and the nation’s archery industry to introduce students to the sport of archery. About 90 schools in Oklahoma have already started OAIS programs in their classrooms, and nearly 6,500 students participated in the program last year alone. About 400 of those attended the state tournament held at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, where prizes included bows, arrows, bow cases, trophies and medals.
            The Oklahoma Station Chapter of SCI also partners with the Wildlife Department to sponsor several other important programs such as Hunters Against Hunger and the Shotgun Training Education (STEP) program. In the past, the organization also has helped fund the purchase of an airboat used by the Wildlife Department on waterfowl surveys and other wetland management tasks. Additionally, the chapter purchased eight elk for introduction into an existing herd in southeast Oklahoma. The organization also sponsors the Department's annual youth essay contest, which gives youth the opportunity to share their feelings about Oklahoma’s outdoors and the chance to win great prizes, including a guided pronghorn antelope hunt in New Mexico.
            The National Wild Turkey Federation is a conservation organization based in Edgefield, South Carolina, that is dedicated to conservation of wild turkeys and the preservation of hunting traditions. The group has helped fund habitat projects on several wildlife management areas across the state, such as planting roosting trees at the Sandy Sanders WMA in southwest Oklahoma, prescribed burns at Spavinaw and Cherokee WMAs in the northeast, and improving shooting ranges at Hugo WMA in southeast Oklahoma. The NWTF also funds events for JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship), Women in the Outdoors and Wheeling Sportsmen, programs that offer outdoor learning opportunities to kids, women and people with disabilities.
            Teachers interested in learning more about the OAIS program or in starting an OAIS program at their school should contact Meek at (405) 522-4572.
            “We want as many schools as possible to participate in the program,” Meek said. “In order to be eligible for a grant to start an Archery in the Schools program, schools will need to send a few teachers to an eight-hour workshop where they will learn how to run the OAIS program at their school and instruct students in archery.
            The Commission also heard a presentation from Greg Summers, fisheries research laboratory supervisor for the Wildlife Department, about a marketing campaign launched by the Department to promote senior citizen hunting and fishing licenses.             
            Summers also discussed a partnership marketing campaign between the Department and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) aimed at retaining anglers who no longer fish or buy fishing licenses. The RBFF has agreed to match $25,000 of Wildlife Department funds toward the marketing effort.
            The Commission voted to increase the Wildlife Department’s fisheries division budget by $65,000 to cover the cost of the two marketing campaigns.
            This budget increase will allow us to focus our efforts on retaining license buyers who otherwise might lapse,” Summers said. “We’ve got to get the message out that today’s sportsmen are the ones who will provide conservation for tomorrow’s outdoorsmen.”
            In other business, Mike Breedlove of Shikar-Safari Club International and Larry Manering, law enforcement chief for the Wildlife Department, presented Jerry Henry with the Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year Award for 2007. Henry currently is stationed in Sequoyah Co. and is a 21-year veteran with the Wildlife Department.
            According to Shikar-Safari Club member Mike Breedlove, who presented the award to Henry, the Shikar-Safari Club International started in 1950 by sportsmen wanting to give back to conservation and wildlife what they were able to enjoy in the outdoors. The group has participated in conservation efforts as well as provided scholarships to youth seeking careers in wildlife conservation.
            Jamie Cole, game warden stationed in Pawnee County, also was recognized at the Commission meeting for 25 years of service to the Wildlife Department and sportsmen of the state.
            The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department, and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
            The next scheduled Commission meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Jan. 7 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.
 
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To learn more about the Oklahoma Station of Safari Club International, log on to oklahomastationsci.org.
To learn more about the National Wild Turkey Federation in Oklahoma, log on to oknwtf.org.
 
 
Field, Forest & Stream exhibit to hit Oklahoma History Center
            Oklahoma’s longstanding heritage of enjoying the outdoors is going on display at the Oklahoma History Center next spring to showcase the traditions enjoyed by so many Oklahomans over the years, and the help of Oklahoma’s outdoorsmen is needed to make the event a success.
            In April 2008, the Oklahoma Historical Society will bring you over 2000 square feet of outdoor exhibition titled Field, Forest & Stream: The History of Oklahomans and the Outdoors. The exhibit will be located at the Oklahoma History Center, near the state capitol, and will include historic artifacts, images and photography, audio-visual elements and hands-on interaction relating to the outdoors in Oklahoma.
            “We are hoping to make this a fun learning experience for visitors of all ages,” said David Davis, curator of special exhibits for the Oklahoma History Center. “A walk down the exhibit’s Forest Trail will reveal beautiful taxidermy dioramas and an interactive hunting blind. A feature about Oklahoma catfish noodling in the exhibit’s Water Trail will allow our more adventurous guests to experience the tactile sensations of this unique sport. A lifelike campfire in the Camp Trail area will set the mood as visitors will have the opportunity to sit and listen to camp stories told by historic Oklahoma figures. These are just a few of the interesting features our guests will find in the Field, Forest & Stream Exhibit So, far we have received a lot of great support for this project. Not only does the Oklahoma History Center already have some very interesting, outdoor related artifacts ready to display, but we are also relying on Oklahomans to help us make this exhibition great.”
            Field, Forest, & Stream: The History of Oklahomans and the Outdoors will be made possible through the support and participation of individuals, groups, and businesses such as the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, outdoor television producer Don Wallace and the producers of the On the Water In the Woods television show. Additionally, the Wildlife Department and the Oklahoma Museum of History at the Oklahoma History Center are calling on the people of Oklahoma for donations of historical artifacts, documents, and images related to hunting, fishing, camping, bird watching, wildlife photography, and all other outdoor activities in Oklahoma.  Items such as Oklahoma-related fishing lures, hunting calls, clothing, camping gear, boats, canoes, boating equipment, family photos and journals of outdoor experiences in Oklahoma are just a few of the things needed to complete the Field, Forest, & Stream exhibit project.
            “If Oklahoma’s sportsmen come together to help with this project, it will make the exhibit even better,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “What better way celebrate our state’s outdoor history than by including pieces of our own past? I would highly encourage hunters and anglers to consider donating items for the Field, Forest & Stream exhibit.”
            As the historical museum for the state of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Museum of History’s mission is to collect, preserve, and share all things related to the history of Oklahoma. Special exhibitions such as Field, Forest, & Stream not only allow the museum to interpret and display interesting aspects of that history, but also allow for the opportunity to strengthen the museum’s artifact collections in areas that are not fully represented. Those interested in sharing their own outdoor heritage by donating their Oklahoma-related outdoor items should contact David Davis, curator of special exhibits, at (405) 522-0780 or e-mail ddavis@okhistory.org.
            The Oklahoma History Center is an 18-acre, 215,000 square-foot learning center exploring Oklahoma’s unique history through Smithsonian quality museum exhibits and a state-of-the-art research library. The new home of the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Oklahoma History Center is located just east of the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Historical Society was originally organized in 1893 and continues today as a statewide center for learning, preserving, and promoting the history and heritage of the diverse people of Oklahoma through its museum, research, outreach, and historic preservation divisions. The Oklahoma Historical Society serves people of all generations by promoting appreciation and understanding of Oklahoma’s rich history and the impact of that history on the present. For more information call (405) 522-0765 or visit www.okhistorycenter.org

 
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Waterfowl season kicks off second round
            After a 12-day rest, waterfowl hunters will be back in action Dec. 8 for the second half of waterfowl season across most of the state.
            This year’s 74-day duck season included a 12-day mid season closure and reopens in most of the state Dec. 8. In zone 1, which includes most of northwest Oklahoma, the second half of waterfowl season runs Dec. 8 – Jan. 20, 2008 (Dec. 8-16 for Pintail and Canvasback). Zone two reopens Dec. 8 and runs through Jan. 27, 2008 (Dec. 20 – Jan. 27 for Pintail and Canvasback). Consult the current “Oklahoma Waterfowl Guide” for zone boundaries, specific area regulations, season limits and more, or log on to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            Hunters wanting to stay up on the latest habitat conditions and waterfowl numbers at various lakes, wetlands and other hunting destinations across the state can view the Wildlife Department’s Waterfowl Reports posted regularly throughout the season. The reports can be viewed on wildlifedepartment.com or received by e-mail from the Wildlife Department. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com to sign up for the free e-mail.
            Hunters who wish to participate in the waterfowl season must posses a resident or non-resident hunting license, fishing and hunting legacy permit, a valid Federal Duck Stamp and Oklahoma Waterfowl License and a Harvest Information Program Permit.
            The federal duck stamp costs $15 and is available at U.S. Post Offices. Hunters pursuing sandhill cranes must also purchase a separate sandhill crane hunting permit.
            Hunters should consult the current “Waterfowl Hunting Guide” for complete hunting regulations and license requirements. Waterfowl Guides are available at hunting and fishing license dealers statewide, or hunters can obtain complete regulation information from the Wildlife Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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2007 Youth writing competition winners announced
            The results of the annual youth writing contest focused on Oklahoma’s hunting heritage were recently announced by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International.
            “This year, contestants got to choose between two different topics — ‘Hunting: Sharing the Heritage’ or ‘What I like about Archery in the Schools and Bowhunting’ — and we got some great entries,” said Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “As is the case with this contest every year, Oklahoma youth showed a solid connection with the heritage of hunting in Oklahoma. The sport of hunting is in good hands for the future.”
             Winners in the ages 11-14 category were Joshua Mouser of McLoud and Hannah Stevens of Overbrook. Winners in the ages 15-17 category were Zack Ellison of Coweta and Elissa Stiles of Collinsville.
            "The younger winners receive a scholarship to the YO Ranch Apprentice Hunter Program in Texas,” Berg said. "Our senior age category winners will receive an all-expenses-paid antelope hunt in New Mexico.”
            The scholarship to the YO Ranch Apprentice Hunter Program and expenses for the antelope hunts are covered by the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International with funds raised at the Chapter’s annual banquet.
            The youth writing competition is designed to promote America’s hunting heritage among Oklahoma’s youth. It provides them an opportunity to express the importance of hunting in their lives and to affirm their commitment to carrying on the hunting tradition. Students use the essays or short stories to relive memorable hunts, to explain why hunting is important to them and to recognize mentors who have influenced them to grow as hunters.
            “I wish to thank all the young people who took the time and effort to participate in this essay contest,” said Sam Munhollon, past president and education representative for the Oklahoma Station Chapter of SCI. “One of our greatest challenges are finding ways to encourage young people to get away from the sedentary activities and get into the woods to explore and appreciate nature. The contest provides a great forum for inciting students to gain insight from more than just the classroom. These contest winners will, by being published in local newspapers and the ‘Safari Trails’ newsletter, become eligible to participate in the Norm Strung Outdoor Writers Association National Youth Essay Contest. Winners of that contest are awarded cash prizes and scholarships. I am very proud of our Oklahoma students. In the 14 years since the inception of this essay contest, Oklahoma essay contest winners have placed each year in the finals of the Norm Strung Outdoor writers Association National Youth Essay Contest.”
            The Wildlife Department and the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International will submit the winning essays to the National Youth Writing Contest held annually by the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
 
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Oklahoma sportsmen have additional doe days six years running
            For the sixth year in a row, hunters will have an additional six days of antlerless deer hunting during the holidays, providing sportsmen with extra time afield as well fulfilling important deer harvest objectives.
            The special antlerless deer gun season dates will be Dec. 21-23 and Dec. 28-30 and will be open in most of the state, excluding most of the panhandle and portions of southeast Oklahoma. For a map of Oklahoma’s antlerless deer hunt zones and to see which counties will be open for the antlerless season, consult page 17 of the “2007-08 Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
            “The special antlerless deer season is a good time to get out and harvest a doe,” said Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The colder weather should have them moving around a little more than they did earlier in the deer season. When temperatures become colder, deer need to eat more to maintain health, which usually leads to more activity. That in turn can increase a hunter’s chance of seeing deer from their hunting stands.”
            To participate in the special antlerless deer gun season, resident hunters must possess a valid hunting license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit, unless exempt, as well as a special antlerless deer gun license. Resident lifetime hunting or combination license holders are exempt from purchasing these licenses. Resident youth hunters 16 or 17 years old must purchase a hunting license, and all youth under 18 years of age may purchase a $10 youth special antlerless deer gun license. Nonresident deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license, but they must possess a nonresident special antlerless deer gun license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit or proof of exemption. Nonresident lifetime license holders are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses.
            In addition, hunters participating in the special antlerless deer season must comply with the hunter orange requirements for the regular deer gun season. Archery hunters and those hunting most other species in open special antlerless zones must wear either a hunter orange hat or upper garment while hunting.
            According to Shaw, the special antlerless deer gun season has several valuable benefits to hunters, among them the creation of hunting memories and a smart approach to conservation.
            “Hunting for does during the holidays can be a way to bring the family together for another trip to the deer woods, but it also plays an important role in managing our herd health and population dynamics,” Shaw said.
            To learn more about this year’s antlerless deer season, refer to the “2007-08 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Winter Bird Survey offers chance to help conservation
            Sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts such as wildlife watchers are key contributors to conservation efforts statewide, and this winter birdwatchers will continue that trend by participating in the 2008 Winter Bird Survey.
            “Many Oklahomans enjoy feeding and watching birds during the winter months, and we’re inviting them to take the Winter Bird Survey this year and provide biologists with useful information,” said Lesley McNeff, wildlife diversity information specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            To participate, all bird watchers have to do is choose any two days between Jan. 10-13 to count birds at their backyard feeders. The information gathered from participants can then be used to track population trends of birds that use feeders during the winter in Oklahoma.
            “This is the Wildlife Department’s twentieth annual Winter Bird Survey,” said Melynda Hickman, wildlife biologist for the Department. “People who feed birds in their yards across Oklahoma can take the survey and help biologists accomplish more in just a few days than we could ever accomplish on our own. There are a lot of people who feed birds in the state, so the information they can gather at their feeders can be very useful."
            Hundreds of households have participated in the survey in years past, and the results can help the Department decide if bird ranges and populations are normal as well as warn of potential conservation issues.
            Taking the survey includes counting birds at backyard feeders at least four times a day for two days during the survey dates and completing a form provided by the Wildlife Department. For detailed instructions and to take the survey, log on to the Wildlife Department’s Winter Bird Survey Web site at okwinterbirds.com as the survey period approaches. The Web site is an extensive bird-watching resource, providing information such as bird identification tips, diets, feeding behaviors and winter ranges as well as links to other birding Web sites.
            “Okwinterbirds.com also provides detailed recipes that bird watchers can follow for making healthy, beneficial bird attractants that are sure to draw birds to their feeders,” McNeff said.
            Anyone who has a bird feeder can participate in the 2008 Winter Bird Survey, but certain efforts can be made to attract more birds to feeders. Black-oil sunflower seed is a good choice for bird feeders because of its high nutritional content that birds can use during the winter and because virtually all seed-eating Oklahoma songbirds will eat it. Suet cakes, animal fat that is sometimes mixed with grains or peanut butter, are good for drawing in species such as woodpeckers and birds that don’t primarily eat seeds. Finally, a source of water and cover such as brush piles or dense shrubs located near the feeders help to draw more birds.
 
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Winter Bird Survey offers chance to help conservation
            Sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts such as wildlife watchers are key contributors to conservation efforts statewide, and this winter birdwatchers will continue that trend by participating in the 2008 Winter Bird Survey.
            “Many Oklahomans enjoy feeding and watching birds during the winter months, and we’re inviting them to take the Winter Bird Survey this year and provide biologists with useful information,” said Lesley McNeff, wildlife diversity information specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            To participate, all bird watchers have to do is choose any two days between Jan. 10-13 to count birds at their backyard feeders. The information gathered from participants can then be used to track population trends of birds that use feeders during the winter in Oklahoma.
            “This is the Wildlife Department’s 20th annual Winter Bird Survey,” said Melynda Hickman, wildlife biologist for the Department. “People who feed birds in their yards across Oklahoma can take the survey and help biologists accomplish more in just a few days than we could ever accomplish on our own. There are a lot people who feed birds in the state, so the information they can gather at their feeders can be very useful."
            Hundreds of households have participated in the survey in years past, and the results can help the Department decide if bird ranges and populations are normal as well as help them foresee conservation needs.
            Taking the survey includes counting birds at backyard feeders at least four times a day for two days during the survey dates and completing a form provided by the Wildlife Department. For detailed instructions and to take the survey, log on to the Wildlife Department’s Winter Bird Survey Web site at okwinterbirds.com as the survey period approaches. The Web site is an extensive bird-watching resource, providing information such as bird identification tips, diets, feeding behaviors and winter ranges as well as links to other birding Web sites.
            “Okwinterbirds.com also provides detailed recipes that bird watchers can follow for making healthy, beneficial bird attractants that are sure to draw birds to their feeders,” McNeff said.
            Anyone who has a bird feeder can participate in the 2008 Winter Bird Survey, but certain efforts can be made to attract more birds to feeders. Black-oil sunflower seed is a good choice for bird feeders because of its high nutritional value that birds can use during the winter and because virtually all seed-eating Oklahoma songbirds will eat it. Suet cakes, animal fat that is sometimes mixed with grains or peanut butter, are good for drawing in species such as woodpeckers and birds that do not primarily eat seeds. Finally, a source of water and cover such as brush piles or dense shrubs located near the feeders help to draw more birds.
 
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Radio promotion contest winner nets deer hunt
            In a partnership promotion with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Clear Channel Radio recently announced the winner of the 2007 “Take A Friend Hunting & Fishing Promotion.” Chris Truitt, a student at Oklahoma State University, was selected from over 200 entries for an opportunity to go hunting alongside KXXY radio personality Tom Travis.
            Truitt and Travis will be taking advantage of the Wildlife Department’s new apprentice-designated hunting license, which makes it easier for more people to experience Oklahoma’s outdoors. Under the new program, people 16 and older who have not completed the Wildlife Department’s hunter education course can still purchase a hunting license, but it will have an "apprentice" designation. The apprentice-designated hunting license allows them to go hunting when accompanied by a licensed hunter 21 years or older who possesses a certificate of hunter education. A person 21 years of age or older who is exempt from hunting license requirements or exempt from the hunter education requirements also is permitted to accompany apprentice-designated license holders.
            When hunting big game, an accompanying hunter must remain within arm's length of the apprentice hunter or close enough to be able to immediately take control of the firearm or archery equipment of the apprentice. When hunting small game, the accompanying hunter must remain in sight of the apprentice hunter and be able to communicate with the apprentice hunter in a normal voice without the aid of any communication device.
Youth under 16 years of age who hunt big game (deer, antelope or elk) are required to have hunter education. When hunting small game, hunters under 16 must carry their hunter education certification or be accompanied by an adult who meets the requirements needed to accompany an apprentice hunter. Those under 16 who have not completed a hunter education course can purchase a turkey license, but it will be designated as an apprentice license and the hunter must be accompanied according to apprentice guidelines.
            Hunters 36 years of age and older are exempt from hunter education requirements in Oklahoma. Others exempt include those honorably discharged from or currently on active duty in the United States Armed Forces or members of the National Guard.
            The winner of a two-day deer hunt with Travis, Truitt is currently studying construction management and is vice-president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
            Officials with the Wildlife Department say the apprentice-designated hunting license is perfect for people like Truitt.
            “I started working at age 14,” Truitt says. “Working took up most of my free time so I never got a chance to learn how to hunt. I’ve done everything in my power to learn how to hunt these last couple of years, with little success.”
            Truitt’s hunt with Tom Travis will take place during the 2008 deer gun season.
            “We're excited to be working with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and have enjoyed promoting the new Apprentice License Program," Travis said. "In my opinion, helping more people take advantage of Oklahoma's great outdoors is an effort that we couldn't help but support."
            To learn more about the apprentice-designated hunting license and its requirements, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available anywhere that sells hunting and fishing licenses, or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Time for Oklahoma sportsmen to renew hunting and fishing licenses
            With another year of great hunting and fishing coming to a close, Oklahoma sportsmen are reminded to renew their annual hunting and fishing licenses.
            Anglers heading to one of Oklahoma’s designated trout streams around the state should remember to purchase a new trout license, fishing and hunting legacy permit and annual fishing license for the new year (all expire Dec. 31).
            Bowhunters who plan to hunt through the end of deer archery season (Jan.1-15, antlerless only) should also renew licenses and permits. Unless archers possess a resident lifetime hunting or resident lifetime combination license, they will need a 2008 annual hunting license, 2008 fishing and hunting legacy permit and a 2008 deer archery license to hunt from Jan. 1 through Jan. 15. Bowhunters who purchase a new 2008 deer archery license but do not harvest a deer in January should hold on to their license, which remains valid throughout the fall of 2008 (Oct. 1-Dec. 31).
            Hunters and anglers also need a new fishing and hunting legacy permit to hunt or fish beginning Jan. 1 unless exempt.
            Three licenses that do not expire at the end of the year are harvest information program (HIP) permits and state and federal waterfowl licenses (which run from July 1 through the end of the following June). In addition, trapping licenses expire Jan. 31. A 2008-2009 trapping license must be purchased to trap beaver, bobcat, nutria, striped skunk and coyote after Jan. 31. The fur license expires Jan. 31 for raccoon, gray/red fox and river otter and Feb. 28 for bobcat.
            All annual licenses can be purchased at any license vendor statewide or online at wildlifedepartment.com. Complete license requirements and exemptions are outlined in the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” and “Oklahoma Fishing Guide.” These publications are available at hunting and fishing license dealers statewide or by logging on to the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. Information is also available from the Department's licensing section at (405) 521-3852.
 
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Wildlife Department schedules public hearings
            Public hearings will be held across the state Jan. 7-10, 2008, by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to collect input on a slate of proposed hunting and fishing regulation changes.
            Sportsmen are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions on proposals, which range from certain deer hunting regulation changes to changes in size and daily limits on some fish.
            Several of the proposals involve adjustments to deer seasons and deer bag limits both statewide and in designated areas. Specifically, one proposal would allow deer archery hunters to harvest a deer of either sex during the period from Jan. 1-15. Currently, only antlerless deer may be taken during that time period. Also involving deer archery season is a proposal to increase the number of deer that can be harvested by archers from four deer to six deer. Another proposal would open deer gun season to the same as statewide season dates on Broken Bow, Honobia Creek, Three Rivers and Ouachita wildlife management areas.
            Among the fishing-related proposals is one to exempt spotted bass from length limits and to remove the bag limit on spotted bass statewide, except in certain streams. Another proposal would limit the harvest of alligator gar to one fish per angler per day statewide, except from April 1 - June 15, when fishing for alligator gar would be catch and release only.
            Other fishing-related items are on the public hearing agenda as well, such as tightening restrictions on dealing with invasive aquatic species, adjusting definitions related to limbline angling and making permanent a currently established emergency rule requiring paddlefish anglers to carry a free paddlefish permit.
 
Other hunting-related proposals include the following:
 
* Changing the deer gun season limits and muzzleloader season limits on Keystone and Skiatook WMAs so that the limit on each season would be one antlered and one antlerless deer.
* Changing the muzzleloader season at Lexington WMA to allow for the harvest of antlerless deer the second Saturday and Sunday of the season. Currently, deer muzzleloader season on Lexington WMA is limited to antlered deer only.
* Allowing those persons certified to use a crossbow to use a device that permits a bow to be held mechanically at full or partial draw for archery hunting.
* Clarifying that persons with disabilities and youth hunters are eligible to draw more than one controlled hunt per year and clarifying permit requirements (nonambulatory or motor vehicle permits) for those applying for the Deer Hunts for Persons with Disabilities category of the Controlled Hunts program.
 
            A slate of other wildlife, hunting and fishing-related items will be open for discussion during the public hearings across the state, including allowing the use of poison to control prairie dogs on public land, establishing rules regarding the nuisance control programs for beaver and coyote and the Feral Hog Depredation Program and others. To view the complete agenda for the public hearings, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            Those unable to attend the hearings are encouraged to send their comments by mail to: Attn: Proposed hunting and fishing regulation changes – Wildlife Department, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. All comments are weighted equally whether received in writing or delivered at the public hearings. Comments will be accepted at this address until 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 25.
 
The following is a list of public hearing dates, times and locations. The public is encouraged to attend.
 
Date: Jan. 7, 2008
Time: 7 p.m.
 
Ada – Pontotoc County Technology Center, 601 W. 33rd
Jenks – Tulsa Technology Center, 801 E. 91st St.
Lawton – Lawton Public Library, 110 SW 4th
Oklahoma City – Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Auditorium – 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd.
 
 
Date: Jan. 8, 2008
Time: 7 p.m.
 
Clinton – City Hall, 415 Gary Blvd.
Durant – Durant Fish Hatchery Meeting Room, 2021 Caddo Hwy
Enid – Central Fire Station, 410 W. Garriot
 
Date: Jan. 9, 2008
Time: 7 p.m.
Miami – Miami Civic Center, 129 5th Ave NW
 
Date: Jan. 10, 2008
Time: 7 p.m.
 
Guymon – OSU Extension Center, 301 N. Main
Hugo – Kiamichi Tech Center, 107 South 15th St.
Okmulgee – East Central Electric Co-op, 2001 S. Wood Dr. (U.S. Hwy 75)
 
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Trout Season to open January 1 at Dolese Youth Park Pond
            Oklahoma City area anglers don’t have to go far this winter to try their hand at trout fishing, as Jan. 1, 2008, marks the opening day of the eighth annual trout season at Dolese Youth Park Pond in northwest Oklahoma City. Part of the state’s Close to Home fishing program, the Dolese trout season is made possible through a cooperative partnership between the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the City of Oklahoma City.
            According to Gene Gilliland, senior fisheries biologist with the Wildlife Department, there will be no shortage of fish for anglers to catch. Over the course of the season, (Jan. 1-Feb. 29), nearly 10,000 rainbow trout will be stocked in the pond, located north of NW 50th and a half block west of Meridian Ave.  Fish will be stocked every two weeks during the two-month season.
            The trout are purchased through funding by a local sponsor, BancFirst, and the Wildlife Department as part of the Federal Sport Fish Restoration program.
            “BancFirst’s donation is matched with sport fish restoration dollars through the Wildlife Department to supply the trout for anglers to catch,” Gilliland said. “Their sponsorship goes a long way in providing quality ‘Close to Home’ fishing at Dolese.”
            Gilliland said anglers should have success catching Dolese trout on light line, such as 4- to 6- pound test line, equipped with a slip sinker and small hook. Choice baits include powerbaits, corn, worms and small spinners, jigs and spoons.
            Like its name suggests, the “Close to Home” fishing program provides fishing areas that are often just a short drive away from urban locations, saving anglers time and gas money. In addition, it allows parents and children to fish together after school or on a busy weekend.
            “The ‘Close to Home’ fishing program aims at providing great fishing and simply helping people get out and fish with the family,” Gilliland said.  “And trout are an interesting fish that many urban anglers don’t get a chance to catch very often.”
            There is a daily limit of six trout per person during the Dolese Park Pond trout season. In addition, each angler may only use one rod and reel while fishing for trout. Trout caught and placed on a stringer or otherwise held in possession cannot be released.
            “Catch and release angling is allowed all day long during the Dolese trout season, but once a fish is kept, such as put on a stringer or in a basket or bucket, it cannot be released and counts toward the angler’s daily limit of six trout,” Gilliland said.
            Those fishing for trout at Dolese must purchase an annual state fishing license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit unless exempt. In addition, an Oklahoma City Fishing Permit is required for anglers ages 16-61 unless exempt. No state trout license is required. For more city fishing and permit information, contact the city’s H.B. Parsons Fish Hatchery at (405) 755-4014, or visit the Lakes and Fishing page of the city’s Web site at okc.gov. For a map, log on to http://wildlifedepartment.com/dolesemap.jpg. For more information on the “Close to Home” fishing program, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.  Dolese Youth Park and the H.B. Parsons Fish Hatchery are operated by the City of Oklahoma City’s Parks and Recreation Department.
 
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Still time to comment on comprehensive water plan
            Sportsmen and other wildlife enthusiasts still have a chance to voice their opinions on the state’s comprehensive water plan and show their interest in the well-being of wildlife. Comments are being accepted until Jan. 10.
            After 12,000 miles, over 60 days on the road, 42 meetings and listening to over 2,300 comments all within the state of Oklahoma, the staff of the Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute has a good understanding of what the people of Oklahoma think is most important about Oklahoma’s water resources.
            The Institute is working with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to update the state’s comprehensive water plan, and the 42 public input meetings were the first phase of a four-year process to include citizens in the planning process.
            “This is the first time the Water Board has solicited this much public input into the state’s water plan,” said Mike Langston, OWRRI assistant director. “They want to know what the water needs are across the state, what concerns people have regarding the state’s water; they want to hear everything about the state’s water.”
            Some of the comments they have heard regard the potential sale of water to Texas, the amount of economic impact recreation has on the state’s economy and the difficulty some municipalities and rural water districts have maintaining their aging water supply infrastructure. Other comments include requests for more water conservation education, changing some of the state’s current water laws and addressing water quality throughout the state.
            “We have heard a lot of comments but we may not have heard everything or every side of an issue,” Langston said. “I would encourage people to go to our website and search the comments we have received and make a comment themselves, either agreeing or disagreeing with another comment. Some people may have a suggestion for how to solve a problem someone else has brought up, and we want to hear those as well.”
            The second phase of the public participation portion of the planning process will begin in the summer of 2008. The Institute will hold 11 regional meetings, in which 30 citizens will be invited to consolidate and prioritize issues in their area. In order to ensure that all comments are considered in the regional meetings, the Institute suggests both citizens and organizations submit their comments by Jan. 10, 2008.
            Comments can be submitted online at the Institute’s Web site at okwaterplan.info. Comment cards are available at all Oklahoma County Extension offices, and those can be submitted by fax or mail. Those without Internet service can contact Jeri Fleming, the Institute’s communications manager, at (405) 744-9994.
            “We want to hear from everyone,” Fleming said. “It is easy to take water for granted, but as we have heard from so many people across Oklahoma, water is life, and it is important that every person voice their concerns, issues, questions or suggestions.”
            One of the goals for the regional meetings is to ensure all water related interests are represented. The 30 participants in each region who will initially discuss the comments will be chosen through a nomination process. In order to ensure all interests are represented, the Institute encourages citizens to nominate either themselves or someone else.
            “Nominations can be made in several different ways,” said Fleming. “They can be made online, a form can be picked up at any Oklahoma County Extension office, or call us and we will be happy to take down the information.”
            “Our office will be closed between Dec. 24 and Jan 1. If you want to call in your comment or nomination, please leave a message and I will get back to you when we get back in the office,” Fleming said.
            There will be one regional meeting in each of the 11 Sub-state Planning Districts. A regional meeting map is available on the Institute’s website.  
For more information visit okwaterplan.info or call Jeri Fleming at (405) 744-9994.
 
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