AUGUST 2008
NEWS RELEASES
 

WEEK OF AUGUST 28, 2008  

WEEK OF AUGUST 21, 2008

WEEK OF AUGUST 14, 2008

 

WEEK OF AUGUST 7, 2008

Duck blind drawings slated for Sept. 20; different date than years past  
            Drawings for permanent duck blinds at Fort Gibson, Eufaula, Webbers Falls, Waurika, W.D. Mayo and Ft. Supply will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, a different date than normal according to officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            In years past, the duck blind drawings have been held the fourth Saturday in September in conjunction with National Hunt and Fish Day, This year, that weekend falls Sept. 26-28, which marks the dates of the Wildlife Department’s fourth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, so officials rescheduled the drawing so sportsmen would have the opportunity to attend both events.
            Anyone wanting a permanent blind permit must be 16 years of age and they must be present at the drawings.
            Registration and drawings for duck blinds at Fort Gibson, Eufaula and Webbers Falls will take place at the Wildlife Department’s field office in Porter, located between Wagoner and Muskogee on Hwy. 69. Registration and drawings for Fort Gibson will be at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., respectively; for Eufaula, 9:30 and 10:30, respectively; and for Webbers Falls, noon and 1 p.m., respectively.
            Drawings for Waurika will be at 9 a.m. at the Corps of Engineers office at the Waurika Lake dam.
            The drawing for duck blinds at W.D. Mayo will be at 10 a.m. at the Spiro City Council Chamber, 510 South Main St. (located at the south end of Main).
            The drawing for duck blinds at Ft. Supply will be held from 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. at the Wildlife Department’s northwest region office in Woodward.
            Applicants must have a current Oklahoma hunting or combination license, a valid state waterfowl license and a federal duck stamp, unless they are exempt. Additionally, they need a valid Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit.
            For waterfowl hunting regulations and information, consult the “2008-09 Oklahoma Waterfowl Guide,” available in September.
 
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New Outdoor Oklahoma TV season to kick off Aug. 17
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s weekly television series Outdoor Oklahoma has been guiding Oklahoma sportsmen in all things hunting, fishing and conservation for more than 30 years, and this year’s slate of new shows, which begin Aug. 17, covers everything from wild game cooking to sighting in a rifle, archery hunting and bass fishing.
            “Outdoor Oklahoma exclusively features Oklahoma hunting, fishing and outdoor opportunities across the state,” said Todd Craighead, information specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and host of the show. “It’s also the only show where you can get timely and valuable information directly from the Wildlife Department, including interviews with biologists and inside scoops on land management, wildlife and fisheries research, regulation changes and more. We are the one source for a lot of information that is not on TV anywhere else.”
            Though the show airs several times throughout the week on various channels, the season premiere is scheduled for 8 a.m. Aug. 17 on OETA and will take a close look at black bears in Oklahoma and the research performed by Wildlife Department biologists to better understand the bruins. Other shows slated this season include southwest Oklahoma dove hunting, making your own archery equipment, youth duck hunting and more. A complete listing of shows scheduled this season can be viewed on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            Oklahomans have several viewing options, including multiple weekly airings on three television networks and via iPod or computer through podcasts available on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            The program can be seen on OETA on channels 13 (Oklahoma City), 11 (Tulsa), 3 (Eufaula) and 12 (Cheyenne) at 8 a.m. Sundays and repeating at 6 p.m. Saturdays. The show also airs on the KSBI Network on Saturdays at 4 p.m. UHF coverage includes channel 52 in Oklahoma City, channel 21 in Stillwater, channel 35 in Ada and on KSBI cable channels in more than 30 communities in central Oklahoma. KWEM-UHF Channel 31 out of Stillwater also airs the show Mondays at 8:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 11 a.m. Channel 31's "approximate" coverage area includes the southern half of Noble Co. (including Perry and Morrison), the western 2/3 of Payne Co. (including Stillwater, Glencoe and Perkins), the northeastern half of Logan Co. (includes Orlando, Mulhall, Langston and Coyle) and the northwest corner of Lincoln Co. (Tryon and Carney). KWEM is carried on the local cable network (viewers should check with their local cable provider listing for channel numbers that may be different than 31).
            Outdoor Oklahoma is the official television show of the Wildlife Department, the state agency charged with conserving Oklahoma’s wildlife. It’s sister publication, Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, includes similar information about hunting, fishing and outdoor programs and conservation in Oklahoma as well as exclusive articles and content to give readers an inside look at the outdoors. Subscriptions are available for $10 a year, $18 for two years or $25 for three years. For more information or to subscribe, call 1-800-777-0019 or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Wildlife Department seeks artists for waterfowl stamp design
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is accepting entries for this year’s Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp Design Contest through Aug. 15, 2008.
            The gadwall is the featured species for the 2009-10 contest, and the winning art will be printed on the 2009-10 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp.
            “Last year we introduced two new elements to this competition,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “We opened the doors for artists to be more creative by including hunting dogs in their entry, and we invited the public to help us choose a winner. The same is true for this year.”
            Artists may include a retriever in their artwork, but the gadwall must be the featured element of the painting.
            Duck stamp sales help finance many projects that benefit ducks and geese. Since the duck stamp program began in 1980, thousands of acres of waterfowl habitat have been created through duck stamp revenues.
            Artwork may be of acrylic, oil, watercolor, scratchboard, pencil, pen and ink, tempera or any other two-dimensional media. The illustration must be horizontal, six and a half inches high and nine inches wide. It must be matted with white mat board nine inches high by 12 inches wide with the opening cut precisely 6.5 x 9. Artwork may not be framed or under glass, but acetate covering should be used to protect the art. All artists must depict the gadwall, and any habitat appearing in the design must be typical of Oklahoma. For complete entry guidelines, call (405) 521-3856.
            Entries should be sent to the Duck Stamp Competition Coordinator, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Fed Ex, UPS and other ground deliveries should be sent to 1801 N. Lincoln, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
            Entries will be judged on anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for printing. The winner and three honorable mentions will appear in a future issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
            A non-refundable entry fee of $20 (cash, money order or cashier’s check) must accompany each entry. No entries will be accepted after 4:30 p.m. Aug. 15.
            The winning artist will receive a purchase award of $1,200, and the winning entry will become the sole and exclusive property of the Wildlife Department.
            A selection of waterfowl stamp art from previous years is currently on display in the lobby of the Wildlife Department headquarters located at 1801 N. Lincoln in Oklahoma City.
            Prints of previous winning waterfowl artwork can be purchased at wildlifedepartment.com.
            For more information about the contest call (405) 521-3856. For a complete list of contest rules, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Dove season to kick off fall hunting
            Largely viewed as the kick-off to fall hunting in Oklahoma, dove season’s Sept. 1 opening day is sure to attract sportsmen to the field, no matter where in Oklahoma they live.  
            Last year’s dove season took on some unusual qualities. Not only did the 2007 dove season come after an unusually rainy year that created muddy conditions and forced many farmers to harvest their grain fields later than normal, but some hunters also took part in a new season format with the formation of the southwest zone, which offered additional hunting opportunities during late December and early January. Biologists say the circumstances of last year’s dove season did not appear to affect the success of hunters, however.
            “Last year, the rainy conditions may have had some affect on certain areas where hunters were used to finding higher concentrations of birds most years, so some hunters may have had to look at different areas to hunt,” said Rod Smith, southwest region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “But dove hunters are persistent, and they were able to locate some good areas and found plenty of birds. This year, though, the management of crops is pretty much back to normal, and we should have a good year.”
            The southwest zone will be open again this year as well. The season for the southwest zone is the same as the statewide season — Sept.1 - Oct.30 — but also Dec. 27 – Jan. 5. The southwest zone starts on U.S. 62 from the Texas border west of Hollis, east to Interstate 44, Interstate 44 south to OK 7, OK 7 east to U.S. 81 and U.S. 81 south to the Texas border at the Red River. Regulations for the rest of the state have not changed.
            Dove hunting is wildly popular in Oklahoma. In fact, with the exception of the opening day of the deer rifle season, there are more Oklahomans in the field on the opening day of dove season each year than at any other time.
            Dove hunting is a favorite for several reasons. For starters, there is plenty of action. Youngsters and adults alike can have an enjoyable yet challenging hunt in Oklahoma no matter where they choose to hunt. Dove can be found from one corner of the state to the next, but hunters do not have to travel far to find them. Excellent hunting can be found on wildlife management areas managed by the Wildlife Department, some of which have been managed specifically for doves. Additionally, persistent dove hunters can often obtain permission from landowners to hunt private land, such as those where grain fields have been recently harvested.
            Dove season is even more appealing to new hunters because it offers two days of free hunting. September 6-7 marks Oklahoma’s Free Hunting Days, and Oklahoma residents do not need a hunting license, fishing and hunting legacy permit or HIP permit to go afield.
            Dove hunters also enjoy a generous daily limits of 15 doves, except in the southwest zone, where the daily limit is 12 doves. The limit may consist of any combination of mourning doves, white-winged doves and Eurasian collared doves.
            To hunt doves, sportsmen need a hunting license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit, unless exempt. Additionally, all hunters, unless otherwise exempt, must carry a Harvest Information Permit (HIP) while afield. For complete hunting license information and dove hunting regulations, be sure to pick up a copy of the “2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” at a sporting goods retailer or at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Pre-register for Wildlife Expo; win huge prizes
            The fourth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is slated for Sept. 26-28, but those planning to attend can pre-register now for the event at wildlifedepartment.com and secure their chance at one of several great prizes.
            “Tens of thousands of people show up to the Expo each year, but those who take a few extra minutes to pre-register may be real glad they did,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “We’re giving away a lifetime combination hunting and fishing license and a John Deere Gator from P&K equipment. These are valuable prizes, but you can’t win them unless you log on to wildlifedepartment.com and pre-register.”
            The Expo is a free three-day event hosted by the Wildlife Department and designed to perpetuate an interest in the outdoors and conservation through hands-on education and learning opportunities. Visitors to the Expo have the opportunity to shoot shotguns and archery equipment, catch a fish, ride an ATV or mountain bike, float in a kayak, build a birdhouse and more. Additionally, more than a hundred booths and activities are available that are designed to expose visitors to different outdoor pursuits and educational opportunities, and seminars are held on a number of wildlife and outdoor topics ranging from land management to training hunting dogs.
             Expo visitors can also see what the Outdoor Marketplace has to offer. The huge shopping area gives the Expo’s outdoor-minded guests a place to shop for the latest in outdoor products and services that cater to their lifestyles, while providing vendors a place to showcase their goods to the people that will want to buy them.
            According to Blake Shelton, country music star and special guest at the Expo last year, there is no excuse not to check out the Expo.
            “If you and your family don’t come out to the Expo, you’re going to really miss out on a fun time,” Shelton said. “The Expo is the perfect family event its fun, its free and I’ll guarantee your kids will be tired at the end of the day.”
            This year, Oklahoma native country music singer Devin Derrick will be sharing his passion for the outdoors and singing on Saturday and Sunday at the Expo. Ada musician Clancy Davis also will perform on Sunday.
            The Wildlife Department works with a range of organizations, individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the Expo — an event intended to promote and develop appreciation for Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources.
            To pre-register for the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Plan for hunter education now; reduce headaches later
            The fall hunting season is sneaking up on sportsmen, and those needing to attend a hunter education course should plan to do so now to avoid last minute hang-ups in scheduling and trip planning.
            According to Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, there are still over 100 classes scheduled across the state between now and deer gun season, including traditional eight-hour courses and home studies.
            The best place for sportsmen to view hunter education course options and class schedules in their area is to log on to the Wildlife Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
            “Just as pre-season scouting and hanging a treestand early are important parts of planning for the hunting season, it’s important to make sure you and everyone in your hunting party knows how to hunt safely by the time season rolls around. Doing a little bit of planning now can save some headaches later on closer to deer season,” Meek said. “For example, some classes require pre-registration, which means you have to call to get a spot in the class. Also, attending a class now instead of at the last minute means you might be able to get into a class closer to home or into a smaller class that offers more individual attention to students. The most important thing is to be prepared.”
            Individuals age 10-35 who do not have hunter education certification can still hunt deer, but they must purchase an appropriate apprentice-designated license, and they must be accompanied by a licensed hunter 21 years or older who possesses a certificate of hunter education or is exempt from the hunter education requirements.
            “The apprentice-designated licenses makes it much easier to invite someone to go hunting with you,” Meek said. “It paves the way for sportsmen looking to mentor a youth or introduce a family member, friend or co-worker to the outdoors even if they haven’t completed the course and don’t have time to before the season opens. It also allows parents to teach their kids about hunting under close supervision.”
            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 age nine or younger who hunt big game (deer, antelope or elk) are required to have hunter education. When hunting small game, youth under nine years old must carry their hunter education certification or be accompanied by an adult who meets the requirements needed to accompany an apprentice hunter. Those nine years old and younger 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 Wildlife Department has worked hard to provide more and better hunting opportunities,” Meek said. “Taking a hunter education course is still the best way to get the most opportunity from your hunting season. The class teaches you to hunt safely and allows you the most freedom when going afield.”
            About 15,000 students enroll in hunter education courses each year. The course covers hunter responsibility, firearms safety, wildlife identification, wildlife conservation and management, survival, archery, muzzleloading and more.
            Hunting licenses can be purchased at more than 800 outlets across the state, including Wal-Marts, sporting goods stores, tackle shops or online at wildlifedepartment.com. For more information about hunting licenses and hunting in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Join the celebration at the Hackberry Flat Family Fun Day Sept. 13
            The Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area Family Fun Day on Sept. 13 will be a day of celebration of the enormous success of this southwest Oklahoma wetland jewel.
            “This will be the first chance for the public to tour the brand new Hackberry Flat Center. We’ve got a bunch of great activities planned for the Family Fun Day and I am really looking forward to meeting young and old alike and showing them around Hackberry Flat,” said Melynda Hickman, wildlife diversity biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            The Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area has been widely recognized nationwide as one of the most successful wetland restoration efforts ever attempted. Once a drained and plowed shadow of a former ecosystem, Hackberry Flat is now a shining example of what a wetland can be – and of what individual citizens, government agencies and private businesses can accomplish when they work together toward a common goal.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, which owns and manages Hackberry Flat, has built upon the success of this restoration by constructing a 4,600 square foot center on the area. This unique, multi-functional facility will serve as a wetland outreach center, meeting place and wetland laboratory.
            The facility will serve as a jumping-off point for visitors to the area. Included in the interpretive displays is information on the area’s history, species of special interest and maps to help newcomers navigate the area. The center also provides meeting spaces for students and a workspace for on-site research. A boardwalk is connected via a trail to the center that will usher visitors into the heart of the wetland. Along with the new center, additional observation towers and viewing platforms are in the development stages. These facilities will provide even more access for visitors to enjoy the area’s fantastic bird life.
            The festivities for the Family Fun Day will kick off at 8 a.m. with a birding tour of the area.
            “There will be experienced birders pointing the many different species on the area. We especially want you to join us if you are new to birdwatching. It will be a lot of fun,” Hickman said.
            Also beginning at 8 a.m. new hunters can get their hunter education certification – just in time for the fall hunting seasons. The home study course is free, but participants must pre-register by calling (580) 335-2126.
            Families will get a chance to try shooting a shotgun through the Wildlife Department’s Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP). STEP introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms.
            Educators will certainly want to see the Oklahoma Archery in the Schools program in action at the family fun day. The program, coordinated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, 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.
            Beginning at 1 p.m. visitors will be able to take an old-fashioned hayride with a few stops along the way with information about the restoration of the wetland.
             The staff from the Oklahoma Wildlife and Prairie Heritage Alliance and the Quartz Mountain State Park Nature Center will be there all day with fun, hands-on activities. The staff from the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site will be on hand to provide insight on the unique history of the area. The conservation-minded, volunteer group, Friends of Hackberry Flat, will also be there to share their love of the area.
            The first 750 visitors will receive a complimentary, commemorative Hackberry Flat WMA water bottle. Families are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and picnic suppers about 5 p.m. A dessert will be provided.
            Hackberry Flat WMA covers 7,120 acres of southwestern Tillman County in southwest Oklahoma. Located southeast of the town of Frederick, Hackberry Flat WMA is a combination of upland and wetland habitats. Approximately 99 water control structures, 35 miles of dikes, four miles of water distribution canals and 35 wetland units have been constructed to provide wetland wildlife habitat.
            For more information about the Hackberry Flat WMA or the Family Fun Day call the Hackberry Flat Center (580) 335-7057.
 
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August 29 deadline for bonus youth deer hunts
            Beginning deer hunters have a unique opportunity to participate in three youth controlled antlerless deer hunts that will take place on private lands in several Oklahoma counties. Applications must be received at the Wildlife Department by 4 p.m. Friday, August 29, 2008.
            The hunts are scheduled for either October or January. This year, 52 bonus antlerless deer gun licenses will be drawn for youth 12 to 16 years of age who have completed their hunter education requirements.
            "These hunts are on private property and should provide young hunters a great opportunity to see some deer as well as a chance to harvest a doe," said Bill Dinkines, assistant chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission has endorsed the youth hunt program and we are thankful for the landowners' willingness to allow these kids the opportunity to hunt on their property.”
            To apply for a hunt, applicants must send the Department a 4” by 6” index card titled "Private Lands Youth Deer Hunts." The card should provide the hunter's name, date of birth, mailing address, telephone number, hunter education certification number, social security or driver’s license number, their order of hunt preferences (may list all 3 hunts) and lifetime license number if applicable. A non-hunting adult who is at least 21 years old must accompany the youth, and must also be listed on the index card. The envelope should be labeled “Private Lands Youth Deer Hunt” and should be mailed to: Department of Wildlife, Attn: Wildlife Division-Youth Deer Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
 
Hunts will be offered in the following counties:
Osage County (October 3-5)
Ellis County (October 10-11)
Alfalfa County (January 9-11)
 
            The drawing will be held Sept. 4, and successful applicants will receive a notification letter in the mail about their hunt the following week. The letter will inform them of their selection and provide details about the hunt and license requirements. Selected resident youth will need to purchase a $10 Resident Youth Deer Gun License unless they possess an Oklahoma Resident Lifetime Hunting or Resident Lifetime Combination License. Selected nonresidents will need to purchase a $201 Nonresident Deer Gun License. The youth's non-hunting adult does not need a license. Any antlerless deer harvested during the controlled hunt will be considered a bonus deer and will not count against the youths’ combined season limit.
            For additional information concerning the hunts, contact the Wildlife Department at (405) 521-2739.
 
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September geese and teal offer September waterfowling opportunities
            September is a big month for hunters across Oklahoma, and not just for those pursuing doves. The resident goose season (Sept. 1-10) opens the same day as dove season, and about two weeks later, teal hunters get to hit the field as well.
            During the resident goose season, shooting hours are one half hour before official sunrise to one half hour after official sunset. Electronic calls and unplugged shotguns are permitted, and hunters can harvest five geese daily.
            Bluewing and greenwing teal are the first ducks to migrate through Oklahoma, and hunters will have the opportunity to pursue the small birds Sept. 13-28 as they migrate southward on their traditional journey to wintering grounds in Mexico and Central and South America. The limit on teal is four daily.
            To participate in the September teal season or resident Canada goose season, hunters must possess a resident or nonresident Oklahoma hunting license, a Fishing and Hunting Legacy Permit and a Harvest Information Permit (HIP). Additionally, hunters 16 years old and older must carry on his person a valid federal duck stamp and Oklahoma waterfowl license, unless otherwise exempt.
            All waterfowl hunting is restricted to federally-approved nontoxic shot in all areas of the state. Possession of lead shot while hunting waterfowl is prohibited.
            For complete regulations, consult the “2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" or log onto the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Wildlife Department employment exam scheduled
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will be holding an open employment exam Friday, Sept. 26, and though the test is scheduled at Rose State College as usual, it will take place at a different location on campus than normal.
            “Due to renovations by Rose State College, the Wildlife Department’s standardized employment exam will be held at the Professional Training and Education Center located at 1720 South Hudiburg Drive,” said Mikki Gutierrez, human resources administrator for the Wildlife Department.
            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. 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,” Gutierrez said. “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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Trout stocking at the Lower Illinois River halted by Tenkiller’s warm water
            Extreme spring and summer weather conditions have prompted the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to postpone regular trout stockings until water quality conditions improve. The area affected is the Lower Illinois River trout fishery located below Tenkiller Reservoir near Gore.
            “Heavy spring rains and a period of extreme heating have combined to create unusually warm water in Tenkiller Reservoir,” said Jim Burroughs, east central region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
            These waters are released through turbines used for hydropower generation and flow directly in to the Lower Illinois River trout stream.
            “Water temperatures are approaching potentially lethal limits for trout. Regular stockings, as well as those temporarily postponed will begin as soon as conditions improve that will allow survival of the stocked trout,” Burroughs said.
            According to biologists with the Wildlife Department, trout that were in the water before temperatures warmed to near lethal limits have a better chance of adapting to the temperatures and may find springs and other refuges where colder temperatures may exist. Anglers are still having good success catching largemouth bass on topwater lures, and striped bass fishing is currently excellent on shad all along the river. Anglers are also catching channel catfish, walleye and saugeye.
            The Lower Illinois River is one of the only two year-round trout fisheries in the state and is managed by the Wildlife Department.
            For more information about trout fishing in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Save the date — hunting season openers coming soon
            Whether hunters use a desk calendar, a Blackberry or a Post-it note to keep track of their schedules, they will want to write down several key upcoming season dates.
            Dove season kicks off the fall hunting seasons on Sept. 1. The first full weekend of September (Sept. 6-7) marks Oklahoma’s Free Hunting Days, and Oklahoma residents do not need a hunting license, fishing and hunting legacy permit or HIP permit to go afield. The southwest zone will be open again this year as well. The season for the southwest zone is the same as the statewide season — Sept. 1 - Oct. 30 — but also Dec. 27 – Jan. 5.
            As a bonus, the resident goose season (Sept. 1-10) opens the same day as dove season. Sportsmen in the right place could have the chance at bagging both game birds in the same day.
            Bluewing and greenwing teal are the first ducks to migrate through Oklahoma. Large migrations can occur through the state as the days grow shorter and northern cool fronts give hunters the first taste of fall. Hunters will have the opportunity to pursue the small birds Sept. 13-28 as they migrate southward on their traditional journey to wintering grounds in Mexico and Central and South America.
            Oct. 1 is a big day for archery hunters because it marks the first of 107 straight days of opportunities to bag whitetail and wild turkey with a bow and arrow. Thousands of archers will head for the woods on the first full weekend of the season (Oct. 4-5) each hoping that this is their lucky year.
            Hunters should mark Oct. 17-19 on their calendars if they have a youth in the family. Youth under the age of 18 will have the chance to take a buck and a doe during the youth deer gun season.
            Muzzleloader hunters will get their first chance on Oct. 25 and will have nine days of hunting to take up to three deer in certain areas. Deer hunters in southeast Oklahoma (zone 10) should note that the dates for antlerless deer hunting opportunities were printed incorrectly in the “Oklahoma Hunting Guide.” The deer muzzleloader season runs Oct. 25-Nov. 2, and antlerless deer may be taken Oct. 25 through Oct. 27 and Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 in zone 10, which includes all or portions of Atoka, Bryan, Pittsburg, Haskell, Latimer, LeFlore, Pushmataha, McCurtain and Choctaw counties.
            Running Nov. 8 through Feb. 15, quail season is much anticipated both by Oklahomans and non-residents. Oklahoma regularly ranks among the top three quail hunting states in terms of both quail populations and hunter success, and Oklahoma promises to be a major destination for bird hunters again this year.
            The granddaddy of Oklahoma hunting seasons, deer gun season, traditionally kicks off the weekend before Thanksgiving and this year is no different. Over 150,000 hunters will take to the woods for the Nov. 22 opener. The season runs through Dec. 7, and up to three deer can be taken in certain areas.
            For more information about Oklahoma’s hunting seasons log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
Attention Editors with coverage in these counties — Atoka, Bryan, Pittsburg, Haskell, Latimer, LeFlore, Pushmataha, McCurtain, Choctaw: The deer muzzleloader season runs Oct. 25-Nov. 2 and antlerless deer may be taken Oct. 25 through Oct. 27 and Oct. 31 through Nov. 2.
 
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Public invited to attend Hackberry Flat Family Fun Day Sept. 13
            The Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area Family Fun Day on Sept. 13 will be a day of celebration of the enormous success of this southwest Oklahoma wetland jewel.
            “This will be the first chance for the public to tour the brand new Hackberry Flat Center. We’ve got a bunch of great activities planned for the Family Fun Day and I am really looking forward to meeting young and old alike and showing them around Hackberry Flat,” said Melynda Hickman, wildlife diversity biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            The Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area has been widely recognized nationwide as one of the most successful wetland restoration efforts ever attempted. Once a drained and plowed shadow of a former ecosystem, Hackberry Flat is now a shining example of what a wetland can be – and of what individual citizens, government agencies and private businesses can accomplish when they work together toward a common goal.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, which owns and manages Hackberry Flat, has built upon the success of this restoration by constructing a 4,600 square foot center on the area. This unique, multi-functional facility will serve as a wetland outreach center, meeting place and wetland laboratory.
            The facility will serve as a jumping-off point for visitors to the area. Included in the interpretive displays is information on the area’s history, species of special interest and maps to help newcomers navigate the area. The center also provides meeting spaces for students and a workspace for on-site research. A boardwalk is connected via a trail to the center that will usher visitors into the heart of the wetland. Along with the new center, additional observation towers and viewing platforms are in the development stages. These facilities will provide even more access for visitors to enjoy the area’s fantastic bird life.
            The festivities for the Family Fun Day will kick off at 8 a.m. with a birding tour of the area.
            “There will be experienced birders pointing the many different species on the area. We especially want you to join us if you are new to birdwatching. It will be a lot of fun,” Hickman said.
            Also beginning at 8 a.m. new hunters can get their hunter education certification – just in time for the fall hunting seasons. The home study course is free, but participants must pre-register by calling (580) 335-2126.
            Families will get a chance to try shooting a shotgun through the Wildlife Department’s Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP). STEP introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms.
            Educators will certainly want to see the Oklahoma Archery in the Schools program in action at the family fun day. The program, coordinated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, 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.
            Beginning at 1 p.m. visitors will be able to take an old-fashioned hayride with a few stops along the way with information about the restoration of the wetland.
             The staff from the Oklahoma Wildlife and Prairie Heritage Alliance and the Quartz Mountain State Park Nature Center will be there all day with fun, hands-on activities. The staff from the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site will be on hand to provide insight on the unique history of the area. The conservation-minded, volunteer group, Friends of Hackberry Flat, will also be there to share their love of the area.
            The first 750 visitors will receive a complimentary, commemorative Hackberry Flat WMA water bottle. Families are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and picnic suppers about 5 p.m. A dessert will be provided.
            Hackberry Flat WMA covers 7,120 acres of southwestern Tillman County in southwest Oklahoma. Located southeast of the town of Frederick, Hackberry Flat WMA is a combination of upland and wetland habitats. Approximately 99 water control structures, 35 miles of dikes, four miles of water distribution canals and 35 wetland units have been constructed to provide wetland wildlife habitat.
            For more information about the Hackberry Flat WMA or the Family Fun Day call the Hackberry Flat Center (580) 335-7057.
 
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Duck blind drawings slated for Sept. 20; different date than years past  
            Drawings for permanent duck blinds at Fort Gibson, Eufaula, Webbers Falls, Waurika, W.D. Mayo and Ft. Supply will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, a different date than normal according to officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            In years past, the duck blind drawings have been held the fourth Saturday in September in conjunction with National Hunt and Fish Day, This year, that weekend falls Sept. 26-28, which marks the dates of the Wildlife Department’s fourth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.
            “The main reason for changing the date of the duck blind drawings is to provide a way for those who normally attend to also attend the Expo” said Mike Plunkett, northeast region senior biologist for the Wildlife Department. “Moving the date of the drawings this year let’s sportsmen attend both events.”
 so officials rescheduled the drawing so sportsmen would have the opportunity to attend both events.
            Anyone wanting a permanent blind permit must be 16 years of age and they must be present at the drawings.
            Registration and drawings for duck blinds at Fort Gibson, Eufaula and Webbers Falls will take place at the Wildlife Department’s field office in Porter, located between Wagoner and Muskogee on Hwy. 69. Registration and drawings for Fort Gibson will be at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., respectively; for Eufaula, 9:30 and 10:30, respectively; and for Webbers Falls, noon and 1 p.m., respectively.
            Drawings for Waurika will be at 9 a.m. at the Corps of Engineers office at the Waurika Lake dam.
            The drawing for duck blinds at W.D. Mayo will be at 10 a.m. at the Spiro City Council Chamber, 510 South Main St. (located at the south end of Main).
            The drawing for duck blinds at Ft. Supply will be held from 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. at the Wildlife Department’s northwest region office in Woodward.
            Applicants must have a current Oklahoma hunting or combination license, a valid state waterfowl license and a federal duck stamp, unless they are exempt. Additionally, they need a valid Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit.
            For waterfowl hunting regulations and information, consult the “2008-09 Oklahoma Waterfowl Guide,” available in September.
 
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Wildlife Department Vehicle auction slated for Sept. 11
            Those in the market for a used vehicle may find just what they need at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s public vehicle auction Thursday, Sept. 11 at the Department’s headquarters located at 1801 N. Lincoln in Oklahoma City.
             “There’s a number of vehicles up for auction, mostly Chevy ton four-wheel drive trucks,” said Johnny Hill, property manager for the Wildlife Department. “Potential bidders can see information on the trucks on wildlifedepartment.com, including estimated mileage and other details.”
            The auction vehicles may fit the needs of sportsmen who need a new hunting or fishing truck, someone looking to replace their daily driver or even a parent searching for just the right first vehicle for their teenage drivers.
            “Since there’s a designated time period before the auction where buyers can come inspect the vehicles, bidders can get a better idea of what the trucks have to offer,” Hill said.
            A total of 30 vehicles will be available, and items may be inspected Sept. 11 from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Vehicles will be sold individually and “as is.”
            For a complete list of auction vehicles, log on to wildlifedepartment.com, or for more information call (405) 521-4600.
 
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