SEPTEMBER 2008 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 25, 2008  

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 18, 2008

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2008

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 4, 2008

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. A total of 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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Wildlife Expo offers outdoors, music, shopping and more

            Visitors to the 2008 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo Sept. 26-28 can try over 100 hands-on activities, taste wild game prepared by a master chef, check the latest outdoor gear and even hear a few country music tunes.
            The state's very own Devin Derrick will be at this year's Expo singing and celebrating the outdoors with fellow Oklahomans.
            Devin is a native Oklahoman, born and bred. He was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in the Guthrie and Edmond area. After graduating from Edmond High School, he decided to make his passion his life and be a full-time musician.
            Since 1994 he has been touring all across the country to perform at state fairs, rodeos, major concert venues, and he recently recorded at the Cash Cabin Studios in Nashville.
He is excited about the opportunity to be on stage at the Wildlife Expo.
            “This event combines my two passions – music and the outdoors. Hunting, fishing and the outdoors are a big a part of my life. The only thing I like as much as singing and performing for a crowd is going fishing,” Devin said.
            Also appearing at this year’s Expo is Ada-based country singer Clancy Davis. This up and coming performer will take the stage Sunday, Sept. 28 to entertain the crowd.
The Expo is the state's largest indoor and outdoor recreation event, drawing thousands of people to the Lazy E Arena north of Oklahoma City each year.
            Among many other activities, Expo visitors will be able to fish, shoot shotguns, kayak, ride mountain bikes and ATVs, see and touch wildlife, attend dog training seminars and learn about recreation in the great outdoors. They will also be able to win a variety of free prizes thanks to the Expo's generous sponsors.
            Expo visitors also will have a chance to shop for outdoor products and services at the Expo's Outdoor Marketplace, a huge tent where many of the state's outdoor businesses will be selling merchandise, services and memberships to outdoor organizations.
"I’m really looking forward to the Expo. Expo admission is absolutely free, so there is no excuse not to come join us," Devin said.
            To stay up to date on details for the upcoming Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, log on to 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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Waterfowl seasons set; STEP receives donation
            Waterfowl hunters will get another generous duck and goose season now that the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission has set the dates and limits for the 2008-09 migratory bird hunting season.
            “The federal framework sets our guidelines for the season, and then we set our season according to our situation,” said Alan Peoples, chief of Wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “This year nothing really has changed. We’re going back to the same seasons we had last year, only adjusting the calendar dates.”
            In zone 1 (most of northwest Oklahoma), the first half of the duck season will run Oct. 25 through Nov. 30, with the second half beginning Dec. 13 and running through Jan. 18, 2009. Pintail and canvasback season will be open Oct. 25 - Nov. 30, and then re-open on Dec. 13 and run through Dec. 14. Youth waterfowl hunting days in zone 1 will be Oct. 11 and 12.
            In zone 2, the duck season will run Nov. 1-30 and Dec. 13 - Jan. 25, 2009. Pintail and canvasback season will open Dec. 18 and run through Jan. 25, 2009. Youth waterfowl hunting days in zone 2 will be Oct. 25 and 26.
            Panhandle counties will offer the longest duck season, running Oct. 11 through Jan. 7, 2009. Pintail and canvasback season for the Panhandle counties will be open Oct. 11 through Nov. 18. Youth waterfowl dates for the panhandle will be Oct. 4-5
            Hunters will be allowed a daily limit of six ducks combined, no more than five of which can be mallards. Of those, only two mallards may be hens. No more than two scaup, two wood ducks and two redheads may be included in the daily limit, and no more than one pintail and one canvasback may be included during the specified time period in each of the established duck seasons.
            The statewide Canada goose season will run Nov. 1-30 and Dec. 13 - Feb. 15, 2009. The daily limit is three birds. The season for white-fronted geese will run Nov. 1-30 and Dec. 13 - Feb. 6, 2009. The daily bag limit is one. The regular season for light geese (snows, blues and Ross’) will run Nov. 1-30 and Dec. 13 - Feb. 15, 2009. The daily bag limit is 20.
            Sandhill crane season will be from Oct. 25 – Jan. 25, 2009, west of I-35 only. The daily limit is three birds.
            “Fortunately, we’ve been able to stay in a liberal package with our duck seasons, and now all we have to do is wait for the season and the ducks to arrive,” Peoples said.
            Hunters who wish to participate in the waterfowl season must have a resident or non-resident hunting license, a 2008 Federal Duck Stamp, and unless exempt, a 2008 Oklahoma Waterfowl License, a Fishing and Hunting Legacy Permit 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 “2008-09 Waterfowl Hunting Guide,” available soon at hunting and fishing license dealers statewide, for complete hunting regulations and license requirements. Hunters also can obtain complete regulation information from the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
           In other business, the Commission accepted an $8,400 donation from the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International to build upon its Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP). Through STEP, the Wildlife Department offers a broad range of learning opportunities for beginners as well as experienced hunters with special emphasis on teaching basic shotgun shooting techniques and fundamentals. The program projects a positive image toward hunting and general acceptance of responsible gun ownership. Another important purpose for the program is the recruitment of new hunters for future interest in wildlife conservation and outdoor activities.
            "The Oklahoma Station Chapter of SCI is pleased to contribute to the ODWC STEP program as it is vitally important that we introduce outdoor sporting activities to youth and the public in general if we want to pass on the heritage of hunting and conservation to our next generation,” said Scott Holmes, current president of Oklahoma Station Chapter of SCI.
            The STEP program currently operates out of 12 STEP trailers, and this donation will be used to purchase two additional trailers with target throwers and equipment.
            “Thanks to partnerships with groups like the Oklahoma Station of SCI, the Wildlife Department can do more to introduce newcomers to hunting,” Peoples said.
            The new Ouachita Wildlife Management Area – Cucumber Creek Unit was established as a walk-in only area when Commission voted for the finding of an emergency to establish regulations for the area, which will be open to public hunting this fall. The property, which covers 3,270 acres in LeFlore County’s Cucumber Creek area, is owned by The Nature Conservancy. The area will be used for public hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing and education purposes. Hunting seasons on the area will be the same as statewide season dates, and the agreement will be in place for 10 years with the possibility of renewal.
            The Wildlife Department and The Nature Conservancy are also partnering with the US Forest Service, which owns approximately 13,000 acres on three sides of the Cucumber Creek WMA. The three organizations will work cooperatively on a variety of habitat projects. Combined, the area will provide about 16,000 acres of walk-in public access.
            Southwest Oklahoma’s trophy-bass-designated Crowder Lake will be drained for repairs later this year, and while anglers will still be allowed to fish the lake, the Commission approved a resolution to close the lake to bass harvest until repairs are finished. Anglers can still catch and release bass.
            According to Barry Bolton, fisheries chief for the Wildlife Department, the lake will not permanently remain closed to bass harvest.  
            The Commission also accepted sealed bids to lease portions of the Department’s mineral interests on the Washita County Wildlife Management Area in Washita Co. and the Stringtown Wildlife Management Area in Atoka Co.
            Several Wildlife Department employees were recognized by the Commission for tenure, including John Stahl, northwest regional fisheries supervisor, for 30 years of service; Bill Wentroth, north central region fisheries supervisor, for 30 years; Rod Smith, southwest region wildlife supervisor, for 30 years; Craig Endicott, northeast region wildlife supervisor, for 25 years; Jon Cunningham, warden supervisor, for 25 years; and Steve O’Donnell, fisheries research lab technician, for 20 years.
            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 set for 9 a.m. Oct. 6 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.
 

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Two new bird species spotted in Oklahoma
            On Wednesday, Sept. 3, seven species of birds that are rare in Oklahoma were spotted at Red Slough Wildlife Management Area in southeast Oklahoma. Two of these – Cory’s Shearwater and Sooty Tern - had never been seen in the state before. The Cory’s Shearwater and the Sooty Tern are both open-ocean species, meaning that they are usually found around islands in the ocean and not along coastlines, let alone inland as far as Oklahoma.  
            David Arbour, the biologist aid for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation who documented these birds, said open-ocean birds sometimes get caught in the high winds of hurricanes that can carry them for hundreds of miles across the ocean and even inland. Since the eye of Hurricane Gustav passed directly over Red Slough WMA Sept. 3, these birds almost certainly must have been on a long ride.
            The unusual birds documented on that day included a Cory’s Shearwater, a Magnificent Frigatebird, two Red-necked Phalaropes, three Sabine’s Gulls, a Royal Tern, ten Sooty Terns and a Parasitic Jaeger. All of these birds are rare in our area and are typically found along the Gulf Coast or in the open ocean. This was only the second time a Royal Tern had been spotted in Oklahoma and one of only a handful of Magnificent Frigatebird and Parasitic Jaeger observations in the state.
            “In the case a hurricane comes inland, you will never know what you could spot.  Seeing these birds here in Oklahoma was the treat of a lifetime,” Arbour said.
            But when an open-ocean bird is that far inland, how does it make its way back out to sea? Arbour says that is simple.
            “Birds that travel across the open ocean have a well-developed sense of direction and can quickly re-orient themselves. Additionally, they tend to orient toward water and can easily follow the major river drainages like the Red and the Mississippi back to the gulf coast and further out to sea. Their sense of direction is genuinely impeccable,” Arbour said.
            It is rare to see oceanic birds in Oklahoma, but coastal species occasionally stray inland. Because Red Slough is the closest location a person can get to the gulf coast while still being in Oklahoma, there is always a chance to view unusual visitors. Other rare coastal birds that have been observed at Red Slough this summer include several dozen Wood Storks, a few Roseate Spoonbills and at least three Tri-colored Herons and four Laughing Gulls. Covering 7,800 acres, Red Slough has always been a great spot for birding. With more than 260 species of birds confirmed, there are now seven more reasons to travel to the southeast part of the state.  
Besides bird watching, there are many other activities available, including hunting and fishing. Waterfowl are present in good numbers along with deer, rabbits, and furbearers. There are also plenty of opportunities for fishing for bass, sunfish and catfish.  For more information about the area, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 

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 “Ranch Conservation III” forum scheduled in Buffalo
            Land owners, land managers and others interested in learning more about the updated status of the lesser prairie chicken will have an opportunity at the “Ranch Conversation III” scheduled for 6 p.m., Sept. 23, 2008 at the Community Building, Harper County Fairgrounds in Buffalo.
            “Almost ten years ago, High Plains Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, together with many other partners in the five state historical habitat area of the lesser prairie chicken undertook an effort which involved the creation of an open forum for all stakeholders, called ‘Ranch Conversations,’ followed by extensive efforts to place acres under voluntary habitat management as well as research,” says Tom Lucas, coordinator for the High Plains Resource Conservation and Development Council.
            Two of those Ranch Conversations were held in Buffalo and several others around the five state area.
            “We are now in the tenth year of that effort, and much has happened,” Lucas says. “We feel that it is now time to hold Ranch Conversation III in order to update the stakeholders on the status of the lesser prairie chicken and provide everyone an opportunity to speak and chart a course for the future.”
            Speakers for the event include Doug Schoeling, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, who will provide the current status of the lesser prairie chicken. The implications of an Endangered Species Act Listing will be presented by Jerry Brabander, US Fish and Wildlife Service. Don Wolfe, Sutton Avian Research Center, will give an update on Lesser Prairie Chicken research activities in northwest Oklahoma. Dwayne Elmore, Oklahoma State Cooperative Extension Service, will speak about opportunities for Landowners in the conservation of the lesser prairie chicken. Jay Pruett with The Nature Conservancy will be speaking about habitat fragmentation. Kenny Knowles, Ellis County Rancher, will offer his landowner’s perspective on lesser prairie chicken conservation and management. There will also be an opportunity for all attendees to participate in round table discussion.  Andrea Braeutigam, Program Manager, Oklahoma State University Institute for Dispute Resolution, will be the moderator for the meeting.
            The meal will be served at 6 p.m., and the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.  Registration for the meeting is free, and a meal will be provided. Please RSVP by September 19 for food planning purposes. Registration is available by e-mail to the High Plains RC&D at hprcd@pldi.net, phone at (580) 735-2033, Ext 4, or online at the High Plains RC&D website at www.highplainsrcd.com

            The meeting is being hosted by the High Plains RC&D, Oklahoma State University Extension Service, Quail Forever, Oklahoma Wildlife & Prairie Heritage Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, G.M. Sutton Avian Research Center and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The meal is sponsored by Bank Seven, Central National Bank, First American Bank, Harper County Conservation District, Northwestern Rural Electric Cooperative, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, OG&E Energy Corp, Save our Prairies, and Stock Exchange Bank.


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ATV course shows Expo guests a thrill; one visitor to win a John Deere Gator
            Many outdoorsmen know the value of a good utility vehicle, but those who don’t can test-drive one at this year’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, and one lucky sportsman will take one home with them.
            The fourth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is slated for Sept. 26-28 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, but those planning to attend can pre-register for the event online and be eligible to win a John Deere Gator utility vehicle, courtesy of Expo sponsor P&K Equipment. Then they just have to show up one day at the Expo to secure their chance to win. To pre-register, log on to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            “Everyone at the Expo needs to swing by the ATV course at the Expo and see a John Deere Gator in action,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “But first they need to make sure they pre-register for the event so they can have a chance to win one.”
            Along with the Gator, those who pre-register become eligible to win a lifetime combination hunting and fishing license, a $775 value.
            Other prizes will be given away every hour at the Expo to guests who enter drawings during their visit. Stop by the prize registration booth at the Expo to enter.
            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 a mountain bike, float in a kayak, build a birdhouse and more. 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 shop for outdoor gear at the Expo’s Outdoor Marketplace and hear music from native country music singer Devin Derrick on Saturday and Sunday and Ada musician Clancy Davis 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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Lake Record Fish Program still adding to the books
            Anglers are still adding to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Lake Record Fish program’s record books this year, most recently with the landing of a 22.3-lb. striped bass at Kaw Lake Sept. 10 and a 43.2-lb. flathead catfish at Lake Eufaula on Aug. 20.
            The striped bass was caught by Luke Cobb, Ponca City, in the Kaw Lake tailwaters. The fish measured 37.25 inches in length and had a 21.75-inch girth.
            The Lake Eufaula record flathead was caught by Mickey L. Stallings, Oklahoma City, from the back of a houseboat at the No. 9 Marina. The fish went 42.75 inches in length and had a 26.5-inch girth.
            The Lake Record Fish Program started 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.
        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.
            For pictures and more information about these and other lake record fish, log on to the following Web pages or wildlifedepartment.com.
 
Kaw Lake striped bass: http://lake-record.ou.edu/fishsite/public/fishView.php?id=520
Lake Eufaula flathead catfish: http://lake-record.ou.edu/fishsite/public/fishView.php?id=519

 

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Expo to feature unique fisheries field trip – sign up today
            Anglers have been enjoying fishing in Oklahoma for decades, but it’s hard to imagine fishing being any better than it is today. But just what exactly goes into managing a quality fishery like the ones found all across Oklahoma? Participants at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo can find out Sept. 26-28 by taking the Fisheries Management Field Trip at Guthrie City Lake.
            The field trip provides everyday anglers the chance to get an inside look at the daily activities of a fisheries biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Visitors will take a barge ride and observe the process of electrofishing (shocking) and trap netting to collect largemouth bass, crappie and other game fish. The field trip also will include an opportunity to learn how biologists age fish and see how these are used to maintain quality fisheries around the state.
            “Anyone, no matter your age or skill level, can enjoy good fishing in Oklahoma, but a lot of that is because of the work of biologists to manage and sustain good fishing in our waters,” said Jeff Boxrucker, assistant chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department.
            Those interested in taking the field trip must pre-register before Sept. 25 to reserve a time, but spots may be filled before then. Pre-register by calling Carol Lee at (405) 521-3721 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Space is limited on the trips, and sign-up is on a first-come, first-served basis. Five trips will be taken during Expo Sept. 26-28, including 6 p.m. Friday and at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
            Participants are encouraged to bring sunscreen, bug spray and appropriate clothing for outdoor conditions. Life jackets are required and will be provided, but participants are encouraged to bring their own life jacket if possible. Cancellation of trips is possible due to weather and safety conditions immediately prior to the session.
            The Fisheries Field Trip is only one of hundreds of activities and events featured at this year’s Expo, held at the Lazy E Arena just north of Oklahoma City.
            The Wildlife Department is partnering with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host this huge event. The Expo is designed to promote and perpetuate the appreciation of Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.
            Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each days.
            For more information about activities available at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, or to see how you can win one of several prizes thanks to the generosity of Expo sponsors, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Archery season fast approaching
            While deer gun season is still more than a month away, thousands of Oklahoma deer hunters have the Oct. 1 archery deer season opener in their sights.
            Last year, an estimated 74,194 Oklahoma archery hunters harvested 11,090 deer with the bow and arrow, of which about 80 percent were taken before the start of deer gun season.
            “Archery hunters have a great opportunity to get out there and see the woods and deer activity before everyone else,” said Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            According to Shaw, the state’s 2008-09 archery season looks good for hunters in terms of deer population and herd health, and after last year’s tough hunting conditions, hunters can expect another successful year in the woods.  
            Last year’s total deer harvest, including those taken during muzzleloader and gun season, was 95,891 deer, down from the year previous when a record-setting 119,349 deer were harvested.
            According to Shaw, last year’s heavy spring rains led to thick vegetation and abundance of natural food sources that kept many deer isolated and concealed, making it difficult for hunters to harvest them.
            The secret to harvesting a deer early in the archery season, according to Shaw, is really no secret at all and is something all hunters know is important — scouting and knowing the area where a hunt will take place.
            This year’s archery season will see some changes from previous years, particularly in the last 15 days of the season (Jan. 1-15) when harvest will no longer be limited to antlerless deer. Additionally, hunters will enjoy an increased archery season limit of six deer, of which two may be bucks.
            Archery season in Oklahoma runs from Oct. 1-Jan. 15. Resident archery deer hunters must possess an Oklahoma hunting license, a fishing and hunting legacy permit and a deer archery license for each deer hunted or proof of exemption. All resident youth hunters under 18 years old may purchase a $10 youth deer archery license, and resident youth 16 or 17 years old must also purchase a hunting license, unless exempt.
            Hunters age 10-35 who have not completed hunter education can use the Wildlife Department’s apprentice-designated license program to hunt while accompanied by a licensed hunter 21 years old or older who has completed the hunter education course, or a licensed hunter 21 years old or older who is otherwise exempt from hunter education (includes those 36 years old or older, those honorably discharged or currently active in the Armed Forces or members of the National Guard). Hunters under 10 years old must complete a hunter education course to hunt big game or to buy any big game hunting license. For more information on apprentice designated hunting licenses and deer licenses, consult page 8 of the  “2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            Nonresident archery deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license, but they must possess a nonresident deer archery license for each deer hunted as well as a fishing and hunting legacy permit or proof of exemption. Nonresident lifetime license hunters are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses.
            Upon harvesting a deer, all annual license holders are required to complete the “Record of Game” section on the license form. In addition, all hunters, including lifetime license holders, must immediately attach their name and hunting license number to the animal. The attached item can be anything, such as a business card, that will remain secure to the animal until checked at the nearest open hunter check station.
            All hunters who harvest a deer must check in their animal at the nearest open hunter check station or with an authorized Wildlife Department employee. A county-by-county listing of hunter check stations is available in the “2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or at wildlifedepartment.com.
            The archery deer season limit is six deer, of which no more than two may be antlered deer. Deer harvested during the archery season are included in the hunter’s combined season limit of no more than six deer, of which two may be antlered deer.
            For additional regulations, check station locations, other deer season dates and a wealth of other deer hunting information, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Plan for hunter education now; avoid the rush
            Those who plan to attend a hunter education course this year have plenty of opportunities to take the free course before deer gun season.
            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 study classes.
            “Now’s the time to attend a hunter education class if you plan to before the fall hunting season really gets underway,” Meek said. “You can find out all you need to know about attending a class, including where and when they are held and what you need to do, if anything, to pre-register for a class, on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.”
            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 wildlifedepartment.com.
            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.
            Individuals eligible for the Department’s apprentice-designated hunting license are still encouraged to attend a hunter education course, according to Meek.
            “While the apprentice-designated license is a good option, I still recommend that everyone take a hunter education course,” Meek said. “Whether you end up hunting with your mentor or not, the skills you pick up in a hunter ed class will make you a safer and more skillful hunter.”
            Hunting licenses can be purchased online at wildlifedepartment.com. In addition, licenses are available at more than 800 outlets across the state, including Wal-Marts, sporting goods stores and tackle shops. For more information about hunting licenses and hunting in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Oklahoma’s outdoors featured this weekend

    Fall has arrived in Oklahoma, which often means family gatherings, making memories and time spent outdoors —all of which can be done this weekend at the fourth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.
    The Wildlife Expo, sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and coordinated by hundreds of volunteer organizations and individuals, is slated for September 26-28 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. The event offers three days of nonstop outdoor action for all ages and levels of experience with the outdoors. And it’s free.
    The Expo takes a hands-on approach to educating visitors about the outdoors.  Guests can try their own hand at shooting a shotgun or bow and arrow, riding a mountain bike or ATV, floating in a kayak, building a birdhouse, catching a fish and more.
    Booths and other activities inside the arena offer information and facts about more outdoor opportunities than visitors may have even known were available to them in Oklahoma. Visitors can learn about fly fishing or deer hunting or even go inside a “butterfly tent” to get an up-close glimpse of a variety of winged-wildlife.
    Snacking at the popular Taste of the Wild” booth gives visitors a sample of wild game meat, and attending a seminar can enhance their knowledge on a number of outdoor topics ranging from aging deer on the hoof to training hunting dogs.            
    Additionally, shoppers have a chance to glance at and buy some of the best outdoor gear available at the Expo’s Outdoor Marketplace, a huge area at the Expo where vendors are set up to display and offer for sale a varied selection of outdoor-related products and services.
    “The Expo is a fun way to learn all about the outdoors, and it’s all completely free,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. “It draws tens of thousands of people who come for a day of fun and learning, and people leave with a better understanding of the value of conserving the outdoors.”
    The Wildlife Department will be working 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.
    Expo hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 26-28. Admission and parking are free.

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Wildlife Expo offers outdoors, music, shopping and more

    Visitors to the 2008 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo Sept. 26-28 can try over 100 hands-on activities, taste wild game prepared by a master chef, check the latest outdoor gear and even hear a few country music tunes.
    The state's very own Devin Derrick will be at this year's Expo singing and celebrating the outdoors with fellow Oklahomans.
    Devin is a native Oklahoman, born and bred. He was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in the Guthrie and Edmond area. After graduating from Edmond High School, he decided to make his passion his life and be a full-time musician.
    Since 1994 he has been touring all across the country to perform at state fairs, rodeos, major concert venues, and he recently recorded at the Cash Cabin Studios in Nashville.
    He is excited about the opportunity to be on stage at the Wildlife Expo.
    “This event combines my two passions – music and the outdoors. Hunting, fishing and the outdoors are a big a part of my life. The only thing I like as much as singing and performing for a crowd is going fishing,” Devin said.
    Also appearing at this year’s Expo is Ada-based country singer Clancy Davis. This up and coming performer will take the stage Sunday, Sept. 28 to entertain the crowd.
    The Expo is the state's largest indoor and outdoor recreation event, drawing thousands of people to the Lazy E Arena north of Oklahoma City each year.
    Among many other activities, Expo visitors will be able to fish, shoot shotguns, kayak, ride mountain bikes and ATVs, see and touch wildlife, attend dog training seminars and learn about recreation in the great outdoors. They will also be able to win a variety of free prizes thanks to the Expo's generous sponsors.
    Expo visitors also will have a chance to shop for outdoor products and services at the Expo's Outdoor Marketplace, a huge tent where many of the state's outdoor businesses will be selling merchandise, services and memberships to outdoor organizations.
    "I’m really looking forward to the Expo. Expo admission is absolutely free, so there is no excuse not to come join us," Devin said.
    To stay up to date on details for the upcoming Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

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Young outdoor writers to share their heritage, win trip of a lifetime

    Every year, young people across Oklahoma share their outdoor heritage by competing in a youth outdoor writing contest for a chance at a trip of a lifetime, and you need only ask Coweta High School student Shane Ellison if it was worth his time to enter the contest.
    The essay contest, sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and Oklahoma Station Chapter Safari Club International, took Ellison on a New Mexico antelope hunt after he won the senior division of the contest last year.
    Ellison, accompanied by his dad, attended his hunt at the Martinez Ranch in August and found just the right setup for his hunt.
    We had picked a spot the day before on the top of a ridge with a valley on one side of it,” Ellison said.
    After a 30-minute wait, a nice buck antelope showed itself and gave Ellison a hunt to remember.
    “I sat on the side of the ridge for about an hour while the buck was slowly approaching. When he got about 300 yards away, he sat down and was facing away from me. I got up and slowly started walking towards him until I was about 250 yards away. This is where I took my first and only shot to harvest my antelope!”
    According to Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Wildlife Department, the essay contest is an ideal way for youth to show their love for the outdoors and, in the process, possibly win a vacation in the great outdoors. There are two age categories (11-14 and 15-17), and one girl and one boy winner are chosen from each one.
    To participate, students must be 11-17 years of age and currently enrolled in any Oklahoma school or home school. Winners of the 2007 contest are not eligible. Applicants must have successfully completed an Oklahoma Hunter Education course by the entry deadline, which is Nov. 19, 2008. Students also must use the theme of “Hunting: Sharing the Heritage, Archery: What I like about Archery in the Schools and Bowhunting” or the concept of the theme to develop an expository essay or short story.
    Winners in the 15-17 age category (one boy and one girl) will receive a guided antelope hunt in New Mexico, and winners in the 11-14 age category are competing for scholarship for the Apprentice Hunter Program at the YO Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas. Safari Club International’s Apprentice Hunter Program is a unique, hands-on course designed for girls and boys aged 11-14. The program covers topics such as history of hunting, the ethical basis of modern sport hunting, wildlife management, field identification, tracking and interpreting sign, game cooking and the SCI Sportsmen Against Hunger Program. There are three sessions, each one week long, during the summer of 2009.
    The four statewide winners and their legal guardians will be invited to Oklahoma City to attend an awards ceremony in March. In addition, the top 25 essay entrants will receive a one-year youth membership to Safari Club International. The winning student essays will be published in the OSCSCI newsletter “Safari Trails.” Publication qualifies the winning entries for the National Youth Writing Contest sponsored by the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Several past national winners have come from Oklahoma.
    One educator also will be awarded an all-expenses-paid scholarship for an eight-day conservation education school at Safari Club International’s American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS) at Granite Ranch near Jackson, Wyoming, according to Berg.
    The AWLS program is conducted during the summer and presents an outdoor program for educators that concentrates on natural resource management. Participants learn about stream ecology, map and compass usage, fly tying, shooting sports, wildlife management, the Yellowstone ecosystem, camping, white-water rafting, educational resources, how to implement outdoor education ideas and language arts and creative writing in an outdoor setting.
    Both the essay contest rules and teacher scholarship applications are available from the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
    Essays and applications must be postmarked no later than Nov. 19, or delivered by Nov. 19 in person to the Department of Wildlife’s Jenks Office at 201 Aquarium Drive, in Jenks. Address entries to: Essay Contest, Attn: Education Section Supervisor, ODWC Jenks Office, P.O. Box 1201, Jenks, OK 74037. 

 

 

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BioBlitz 2008 rescheduled

            After heavy rains, flooding and a cancellation, BioBlitz is back on.
            Oklahoma’s eighth annual BioBlitz will showcase the natural world as scientists, educators, students and volunteers gather at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge and Great Salt Plains State Park Fri., Oct. 10 and Sat., Oct. 11, near Cherokee, OK in north central Oklahoma.
            Volunteers from across the state will scramble for 24 hours to find as many living organisms as possible. Everything living is fair game, from plants and insects to mammals, fish, birds and microorganisms in the soil. The inventory area includes the state park and the National Wildlife Refuge.
            Priscilla Crawford of the Oklahoma Biological Survey at the University of Oklahoma has been on board for all of the past gatherings but recently volunteered to coordinate the event.
            “It’s exciting to watch kids and adults learn about things they’ve been living next-door to their entire lives but never known about. You don’t have to go clear around the world to find biodiversity. We’ve got it right here in our beautiful state,” Crawford said.
            Crawford said volunteers are welcome for a hands-on experience. The inventory begins at 3 p.m. Oct. 10 and ends at 3 p.m. Oct. 11.  No experience is necessary, and there is no charge. A Friday night cookout and camping area will be provided for all volunteers.  To be included on an inventory team, download a registration form at http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/BioBlitz/BioBlitz2008.html.
            For those that would like to simply stop by to learn, BioBlitz is open to the public all day Sat., Oct. 11. There will be many activities to participate in such as a bird walk, plant identification and even a pollinator activity.
            Crawford said the event has “really evolved over the years thanks to great event sponsors.”
            The Oklahoma Biological Survey at the University of Oklahoma organizes BioBlitz, which is sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences, Southwestern Oklahoma State University Department of Biological Science, Cameron University Kids Investigating the Discovery of Science Camp, WILD in Southwest Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation.
            BioBlitz occurs in a different Oklahoma community each year. It has previously been held in Norman, Broken Bow, Woodward, Okmulgee, Tulsa, Altus and Lawton. For more information about BioBlitz visit http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/BioBlitz/BioBlitzabout.html

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