FEBRUARY 2008 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 28, 2008 WEEK OF FEBRUARY 21, 2008 WEEK OF FEBRUARY 14, 2008

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 7, 2008

 

Wildlife Department receives monetary, land donations
            At its February meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission accepted $2,000 from Whitetails of Oklahoma as well as 36.31 acres of land from a private donor, both of which will be used to support conservation activities in Oklahoma.
            “Conservation in Oklahoma is funded by sportsmen through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses as well as special federal excise taxes on sporting goods, but donations like these really add to what the Wildlife Department can do to serve the outdoorsmen in the state,” said Greg Duffy, director of the Wildlife Department. “The Department appreciates the generosity of its supporters, and we recognize how much more we are able to do in conservation because of their support.”
            The donation from Whitetails of Oklahoma will be used to help fund the Department’s 2008 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, the state’s largest indoor and outdoor recreational event featuring over 150 outdoor-related booths and activities. The Expo is hosted by the Wildlife Department in cooperation with a number of partners including other state agencies, conservation organizations, private individuals and sponsors and draws thousands of people each year to the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, for three days of recreation and outdoor education.
            Along with being an Expo sponsor, Whitetails of Oklahoma is a non-profit organization comprised of wildlife enthusiasts working to promote activities related to whitetail-deer, ranging from hunting wild deer to raising domestic herds. For more information, log on to www.whitetailsofoklahoma.com
            The land parcel donated to the Wildlife Department is located in Ellis and Roger Mills counties adjacent to the southern border of Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area along the South Canadian River.
            The Commission also recognized Nick Woodard, game warden stationed in Grant Co., for 30 years of service to the Wildlife Department. Woodard is a game warden supervisor and has served in Grant Co. for 28 years. Frank Huebert, game warden stationed in Major Co., was also recognized for 30 years of service.
            In other business, the Commission approved an emergency rule change to make portions of the Department’s rules consistent with current state law. The Wildlife Department has regulatory authority over native wildlife, while the USDA has certain regulatory authority over non-native exotic wildlife.
            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.
            Commissioners voted to set the next scheduled Commission meeting for 9 a.m., March 10, at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City. The regular April meeting will be held Tuesday, April 1, also in Oklahoma City.
 
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Meeting scheduled to gather public input on wind power policy
            A public meeting will be held in Woodward to gather input from hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts about the possible lease or sale of Cooper Wildlife Management Area for wind power development.
            The meeting will be Wed., March 12, at 6 p.m. at the High Plains Technology Center. The Wildlife Conservation Commission, the governing board that sets policy for the Department of Wildlife Conservation, has created a subcommittee to look at wind power issues and make a recommendation to the full Commission regarding specific offers the Wildlife Department may receive for purchase or lease of its properties.
            “We have a letter of interest from OG&E about Cooper. The Commission is looking at this issue closely because it is a policy decision that could impact several other areas in western Oklahoma that are owned by the Department,” said Greg Duffy, Wildlife Department director.
            “For people who are interested in voicing their opinion but will be unable to attend the meeting in Woodward, we would encourage them to go to our Web site and email us their comments. We will compile all comments and make sure that they are presented to the Wildlife Commission.”
            The Wildlife Department’s Web site can be accessed at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Applications available for Wildlife Department Youth Camp
            Youth interested in wildlife, fisheries and law enforcement can apply now to attend the 10th annual Oklahoma Wildlife Department Youth Camp scheduled for June 2-6, 2008. This camp is free, and youth get a chance to learn about careers in wildlife conservation.
            Held at OU Biological Station near Lake Texoma, the camp is open to Oklahoma youths ages 14 to 16 and is designed to give an increased awareness of protecting and managing Oklahoma's wildlife resources. Participants will attend courses in rifle and shotgun training, hunting and wildlife identification, wildlife law enforcement, wildlife and fisheries biology and management, self-defense, and ropes and rappelling.
            The camp is free of charge, but will be limited to 35 youth. Applicants should be interested in fish and wildlife management or law enforcement and must submit a 75-word essay explaining why they want to attend the camp, why they believe they should be selected and what they expect to learn while attending. They must also submit a letter of recommendation from a person of their choice other than a family member and a photograph of a recent outdoor-related event or activity.
            Applications will be accepted Feb. 1 – April 18, and applicants must turn 14 prior to June 2, 2008. Obtain applications by logging on to the Wildlife Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. Simply print off the application, fill it out and mail it in with the essay, letter of recommendation and photograph to: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Law Enforcement Division Youth Camp, P.O. Box 53465 Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
 
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NatureWorks art show slated
            Slated for Feb. 23-24 at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center, the annual NatureWorks art show will feature everything from wildlife paintings and photography to sculptures and carvings.
            NatureWorks, Inc., located in Tulsa, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting in wildlife conservation efforts and wildlife education opportunities.
            The annual Wildlife Art Show and Sale, sponsored by NatureWorks, draws talented artists both nationally and internationally known and has generated matching grants to assist a variety of state wildlife conservation projects.
            “We are one of the few remaining wildlife shows of this type,” said Ken Greenwood, senior director of NatureWorks. “We have been blessed with great volunteers through the years.”
            Projects such as the Department’s paddlefish management program, duck stamp print program and centennial duck stamp print have benefited from NatureWorks’ support along with habitat work at the Harold Stuart Waterfowl Refuge Unit within the Deep Fork Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and the Grassy Slough WMA.
            Additionally, NatureWorks has been an important supporter of the Wildlife Department’s Hunters Against Hunger program, in which hunters can donate their legally harvested deer to feed hungry Oklahomans.
            “Sportsmen donated over 25 tons of deer meat to the Hunters Against Hunger program during the 2006-07 season alone,” said Rhonda Hurst, coordinator of the Hunters Against Hunger program for the Wildlife Department. “Because of groups like NatureWorks, the program is very successful, and the Wildlife Department appreciates their support.”
            Hours for the NatureWorks Wildlife Art Show and Sale will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24. The Tulsa Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center is located at 6808 South 107th East Avenue (71st and US-169). For more information about NatureWorks or the art show, call (918) 296-4278 or log on to www.natureworks.org.


 
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Oklahoma Archery in the Schools program surpasses 100 school milestone and counting
            The ancient sport of archery is gaining popularity, and nowhere is that more evident than in Oklahoma’s schools. Over 100 schools across the state have enrolled in the Oklahoma Archery in the Schools program (OAIS), which offers competitive archery to students, and coordinators of the program say available grant money could make it easy for other schools to join up as well.
            The program is coordinated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and is part of a national program that creates partnerships between state wildlife agencies, schools and the nation's archery industry to introduce students to the sport of archery. The program curriculum is designed for 4th-12th graders and covers archery history, safety, techniques, equipment, mental concentration and self-improvement.
            “The program is really taking off across the state, but there is still plenty of opportunity for more schools to get involved,” said Lance Meek, OAIS coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “Thanks to a Wildlife Department grant, schools can now get involved in the program for a fraction of the cost of the equipment.”
            The grant is available for schools to acquire all the equipment, including bows, arrows, targets, safety nets, curriculum and training necessary to begin an OAIS program in their communities at little or no cost.
            “If any teacher is interested in bringing the program to their school, they should give me a call,” Meek said.
            About 6,500 Oklahoma students participated in the program last year, 400 of which attended the OAIS state tournament held at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. But that number is dwarfed compared to the 800-900 students expected to compete in this year’s state tournament slated for April 3 at UCO. Students have the opportunity to win trophies, medals and other prizes at the state tournament as well as throughout the season.
            In order to be eligible for a grant, the school must send a teacher to an eight-hour workshop where they will learn how to conduct the program at their school and instruct students in archery.

 
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Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International's annual banquet fast approaching
            Outdoor enthusiasts can contribute to important state conservation projects supported by the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International by attending their 23rd Annual Awards Banquet and Charity Fundraiser Saturday, March 8 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
            The Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International offers support and funding to a number of sportsmen’s causes, especially local efforts that benefit the sportsmen and wildlife of Oklahoma. The chapter is a sponsor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo and a donor to the Hunter's Against Hunger program, which oversees the distribution of thousands of pounds of hunter-harvested venison to needy families.
            The organization also helped fund the purchase of an airboat used by the Wildlife Department on waterfowl surveys and other wetland management tasks, and they provided the Department with a 24-foot trailer for use in the Department's Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP). The STEP program introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms. Additionally, the chapter purchased eight elk for introduction into an existing herd in southeast Oklahoma. The chapter also sponsors the Department's annual youth essay contest, which gives youth the opportunity to share their feelings about Oklahoma’s outdoors and to win great prizes, including a guided pronghorn antelope hunt in New Mexico.
            One of the highlights of the annual event is the live auction, where bidders have a chance to buy guided hunts in Oklahoma, across the United States and around the world. There also will be a selection of items on the auction block including art, firearms, camping equipment, vacations, jewelry and much more.
            This year’s banquet also may offer something new to those who cannot attend through its online bidding option. Log on to www.oklahomastationsci.org   regularly between now and the banquet to learn more about the possibility of bidding online for auction items. The Web site also provides a growing list of items up for auction.
            The banquet begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 8, but registration begins at 5:30 p.m. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is located at 1700 N.E. 63rd St. Oklahoma City 73111.
            Tickets may be purchased in advance through Thursday, March 6 for $75 or at the door for $100. To purchase tickets or for further information, contact Verilea Faust at (405) 721-7229 or 1-800-405-3580 or e-mail faust4v@pldi.net. For questions relating to the hunts that will be auctioned, contact Safari Club director Mike Mistelske at mjmistelske@yahoo.com
            For more information on the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International, log on to www.oklahomastationsci.org

 
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Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International's annual banquet around the corner
            Outdoor enthusiasts can contribute to important projects supported by the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International by attending their 23rd Annual Awards Banquet and Charity Fundraiser Saturday, March 8 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
            The Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International offers support and funding to a number of sportsmen’s causes, especially local efforts that benefit the sportsmen and wildlife of Oklahoma. The chapter is a sponsor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo and a donor to the Hunter's Against Hunger program, which oversees the distribution of thousands of pounds of hunter-harvested venison to needy families.
            The organization also helped fund the purchase of an airboat used by the Wildlife Department on waterfowl surveys and other wetland management tasks, and they provided the Department with a 24-foot trailer for use in the Department's Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP). The STEP program introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms. Additionally, the chapter purchased eight elk for introduction into an existing herd in southeast Oklahoma. The chapter also sponsors the Department's annual youth essay contest, which gives youth the opportunity to share their feelings about Oklahoma’s outdoors and to win great prizes, including a guided pronghorn antelope hunt in New Mexico.
            One of the highlights of the annual event is the live auction, where bidders have a chance to buy guided hunts in Oklahoma, across the United States and around the world. There also will be a selection of items on the auction block including art, firearms, camping equipment, vacations, jewelry and much more.
            This year’s banquet also may offer something new to those who cannot attend through its online bidding option. Log on to oklahomastationsci.org regularly between now and the banquet to learn more about the possibility of bidding online for auction items. The Web site also provides a growing list of items up for auction.
            The banquet begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 8, but registration begins at 5:30 p.m. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is located at 1700 N.E. 63rd St. Oklahoma City 73111.
            Tickets may be purchased in advance through Thursday, March 6 for $75 or at the door for $100. To purchase tickets or for further information, contact Verilea Faust at (405) 721-7229 or 1-800-405-3580 or e-mail faust4v@pldi.net. For questions relating to the hunts that will be auctioned, contact Safari Club director Mike Mistelske at mjmistelske@yahoo.com.
            For more information on the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International, log on to oklahomastationsci.org.
 
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Outdoor Oklahoma Photo Contest Accepting Entries
            The editors of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine are calling on Oklahoma sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts for entries in the annual Reader’s Photography Showcase contest.
            Amateur or professional, it makes no difference. Any Oklahoman with a digital camera and an interest in the outdoors is eligible to see their work published in this years Showcase edition of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine. Submissions are being accepted through March 31, and winners will have their work featured in the July/August 2008 issue.
            Last year’s competition marked the first all digital Reader’s Photography Showcase.
            “We are encouraging everybody who enjoys the outdoors in Oklahoma to make a submission this year,” said Nels Rodefeld, editor of Outdoor Oklahoma. “Photos can be of anything related to the outdoor heritage in Oklahoma, such as shots of wildlife, birds, insects, landscape and people enjoying hunting and angling trips or even watching bird feeders in their own backyards. We just want to see how people participate in the outdoors in Oklahoma.”
             Although the editors of Outdoor Oklahoma encourage readers to submit images including a variety of outdoor-related subjects, the magazine has been focusing on “faces in the outdoors” to show hunters, anglers, kids and other outdoor enthusiasts enjoying the outdoors.
            Each participant may submit up to five digital images. Each submission must include a description of the photo, including the location taken, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. Slides and print images will not be accepted.
Hopeful photographers can mail a disk to: "Outdoor Oklahoma" magazine, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Readers may also e-mail their entries to photoshowcase@odwc.state.ok.us.
            Individuals can subscribe to “Outdoor Oklahoma” by calling 1-800-777-0019. Subscriptions are just $10 for one year, $18 for two years, or $25 for three years. You can also subscribe over the Internet by logging on to the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Wildlife Department employment exam scheduled
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will be holding an open employment exam Thursday, March 28. Taking the test is the first step in the hiring process for individuals seeking positions as game wardens, biologists, fish hatchery assistant managers or technicians with the Department.
            The standardized employment exam is set for 10 a.m. at the Rose State College campus. The college is located immediately north of I-40 on Hudiburg Road in Midwest City. The exam is free, and participants must have photo identification upon check-in. Late arrivals will not be permitted to enter the examination room after 10 a.m.
            “The Department looks for the best wildlife conservation employees available, and we want those who are interested to begin getting involved,” said Mikki Gutierrez, human resources administrator for the Wildlife Department. “This test is a great first step.”
            Specific job and education requirements for Department positions as well as suggested study material for the exams are listed on the Department's official Web site at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
            Individuals may take the exam once in a 12-month period. Test scores are valid for 12 months from the test date, and top scorers will be invited to submit an employment application. When a job opening becomes available, selected applicants from the test register will be scheduled for an interview. For more information, contact the Wildlife Department's Human Resources office at (405) 521-4640.
 
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Meeting scheduled to gather public input on wind power policy
            A public meeting will be held in Woodward to gather input from hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts about the possible lease or sale of Cooper Wildlife Management Area for wind power development.
            The meeting will be held Wed., March 12, at 6 p.m. at the High Plains Technology Center. The Wildlife Conservation Commission, the governing board that sets policy for the Department of Wildlife Conservation, has created a subcommittee to look at wind power issues and make a recommendation to the full Commission regarding specific offers the Wildlife Department may receive for purchase or lease of its properties.
            “We have a letter of interest from OG&E about Cooper. The Commission is looking at this issue closely because it is a policy decision that could impact several other areas in western Oklahoma that are owned by the Department,” said Greg Duffy, Wildlife Department director.
            “For people who are interested in voicing their opinion but will be unable to attend the meeting in Woodward, we would encourage them to go to our Web site and email us their comments. We will compile all comments and make sure that they are presented to the Wildlife Commission.”
            The Wildlife Department’s Web site can be accessed at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Oklahoma History Center to feature Field, Forest & Stream exhibit this spring
            The outdoor heritage has always been strong in Oklahoma, and this spring the Oklahoma History Center will showcase an entire exhibit dedicated to the traditions enjoyed by so many Oklahomans over the years. But the help of Oklahoma’s outdoorsmen is needed to make the event a success.
            Beginning April 5, the Oklahoma Historical Society will put on display 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.
            “This will be a fun learning experience for visitors of all ages,” said David Davis, curator of special exhibits for the Oklahoma History Center.
            Visitors to the exhibit will be able to walk down the exhibit’s Forest Trail and view taxidermy dioramas and take part in an interactive hunting blind. A feature about Oklahoma catfish noodling in the exhibit’s Water Trail will allow guests to experience the sensation of the exciting sport, and 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.
            “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,” Davis said.
            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 exhibit project.
            “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.
            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 okhistorycenter.org.
 
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Trout Unlimited banquet to kick off March
            Anglers can show their support and appreciation for fish conservation by attending the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited’s 13th Annual Banquet and Auction Saturday, March 1.
            The banquet, to be held at the Sportsman’s Country Club in Oklahoma City, includes dinner, raffles and silent and live auctions. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. All anglers and their friends are welcome to attend. The auction begins at 6 p.m., but items can be previewed starting at 5 p.m.
            “The 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited has contributed thousands of dollars to the Wildlife Department’s fish conservation efforts in Oklahoma,” said Jeff Boxrucker, assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Groups like these play an enormous role in making the sport of angling great in Oklahoma. When out on the water, a lot of trout anglers may not realize the impact of groups like this on their favorite pastime, but they can show their support by attending the banquet.”
            To purchase tickets, or for other information about the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited, contact Tom Adams at (405) 751-7376 or Brian Ellis at (405) 236-1010. The Sportsman’s Country Club is located at 4001 Northwest 39th St. in Oklahoma City.
            For more information about trout angling in Oklahoma, log on to the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com
 
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Two huge fish break in new Lake Records Program
            You don’t have to convince Allen Gifford, Davis, that now is the time to be bass fishing in Oklahoma. He already knows, and the 14 lb., 8 oz., largemouth bass he caught Feb. 27 out of Arbuckle Lake proves it. Not only that, but the huge bass, along with a hefty 40.1-lb. blue catfish caught out of Grand Lake the same day are the first record setting fish to be landed since the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s new Lake Record Fish Program launched just weeks ago.
            Gifford landed his bass in the afternoon using a Terminator spinnerbait.
            “As soon as I set the hook, I knew it was big,” Gifford said. “But I didn’t know how big.”
            The bass has a girth of nearly 23 inches, is over 25 inches long and falls just over three ounces shy of the state record that was landed from Broken Bow Lake in 1999.
            And at Grand Lake, Illinois resident Denny Halgren managed to land his lake record blue catfish with natural bait. The fish was released, but had a length of 43 inches and a girth of 28.5 inches.
            The Lake Record Fish Program was initiated Feb. 1 to recognize the biggest fish from certain reservoirs and the anglers who catch them. Currently, thirteen major lakes are included in the pilot program, including Arbuckle, Broken Bow, Canton, Eufaula, Ft. Cobb, Grand, Kaw, Keystone, Sardis, Skiatook, Tenkiller, Texoma and Thunderbird.
            Species eligible for spots in the lake records book include blue, channel and flathead catfish and largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass in addition to crappie, paddlefish, striped bass, striped bass hybrids, sunfish (combined) walleye/saugeye and white bass. Minimum weights are set for each species are detailed on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            “The largemouth bass and blue catfish caught Feb. 27 are noteworthy catches, and we feel the fish as well as the anglers who caught them should be recognized,” said Barry Bolton, fisheries chief for the Wildlife Department. “These are the first record fish actually caught and certified since the program’s inception, and we couldn’t ask for a better way to kick of the program than with a bass going over 14 pounds and a nice, bragging size catfish.”
         Anglers who catch a potential record from a participating lake should contact designated business locations around the lake that are enrolled as lake record keepers. A listing of official lake record keepers is available on wildlifedepartment.com.
            Once it has been determined that an angler has landed a record fish, the media is notified and the public will be able to view information about the catch on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            An easily-operated search feature is available on the Web site that allows those interested to view a wealth of lake record fish information, ranging from the size of record fish caught to what kind of bait or rod and reel was used to catch them.
            All past and current state record fish are registered in the Lake Record Fish Program as records for their respective lakes.
            As for Gifford, whose new lake record largemouth nearly took state record status, it is not a coincidence that he caught the giant bass this time of year. According to fisheries biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, right now through the next month is among the best time all year for catching big bass.
            An avid, lifelong fisherman, Gifford agrees this is the time to be fishing, as well as into the spring.
            “I’ve been catching fish all winter to be honest with you,” Gifford said. “The fish have got to eat all year long.”
            Coming out of colder weather means bass are actively feeding and putting on weight for spawning, which in turn means they will be found in shallower waters and may bite more often.
            Bass are likely the most sought after game fish in Oklahoma.
            “This is such a great time to go bass fishing,” said Jeff Boxrucker, assistant chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department. “You can find them all over Oklahoma, and any angler, whether experienced in bass fishing or not, can catch plenty of them. But you have to be out there to catch them. Now through the next few months will be some outstanding fishing.”
            For more information about the new Lake Record Fish Program, or for more on bass fishing in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
 
Arbuckle largemouth bass 1:
 


 
 
 

 
Photo Credit: wildlifedepartment.com
Caption: Allen Gifford caught this 14 lb., 8 oz. largemouth bass Feb. 27, which sets a new lake record for Arbuckle Lake and falls just shy of the state record largemouth caught in 1999. The fish also goes down as one of the first fish caught and certified as a lake record since the Wildlife Department’s new Lake Record Fish Program was initiated just weeks ago.
 
Grand Lake blue catfish:


 
Photo Credit: wildlifedepartment.com
Caption: Denny Halgren, Ill., caught this 40.1 lb. blue catfish Feb. 27 at Grand Lake, setting a new lake record and going down as one of the first fish caught and certified as a lake record since the Wildlife Department’s new Lake Record Fish Program was initiated just weeks ago.
 
 
 
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