JUNE 2010
NEWS RELEASES

WEEK OF JUNE 24, 2010

WEEK OF JUNE 17, 2010

 

WEEK OF JUNE 10, 2010

 

WEEK OF JUNE 3, 2010

Unusual state record fish point to Oklahoma’s angling diversity
            To the average angler, terms like black buffalo and river redhorse might appear to be references to obscure breeds of livestock, but they are both Oklahoma fish species that have earned state record listings this spring.
            The same is true of species such as smallmouth buffalo, common carp, river carpsucker, northern hognose sucker, smallmouth buffalo and even the flathead catfish. While none of these species are classified as game fish and only a few of them may be recognizable among most anglers, they are all actively pursued by sportsmen and represent the diversity of fishing opportunities in Oklahoma.
            “So often when we think of fishing in Oklahoma, we think of a rod and reel and our most sought after species like stripers, black bass, crappie, sunfish and other popular sport fish,” said Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “But there are a lot of less commonly discussed species in our waters that we can catch — both on rod and reel as well as by other methods such as archery and gigging.”
            Examples include the 48 lb., 13, oz., common carp arrowed May 16 at Broken Bow Lake by Scotty Littles, as well as the northern hognose sucker and river redhorse taken in March by gigging, or spearing, by brothers Clint and Carl Williams, respectively.
            And while nongame fish species may seem less common, they continue to show up as record breakers when anglers land them both intentionally and unexpectedly.
            Just last month, El Reno angler Richard Williams was bass fishing with a crankbait at El Reno Lake when he caught a 78 lb., 8 oz., state record flathead catfish. He was not trying to catch a state record flathead, nor is he a catfish angler, but he admitted that catching a state record fish was “pretty cool.”
            Though flathead catfish are well known and highly sought after by anglers, they are still not considered game fish. But flathead fishing opportunities are abundant as are opportunities for other nongame fish, such as the state record black buffalo caught on a rod and reel by E. Dale Dampf in April, the record smallmouth buffalo caught on a trotline May 20 by Rickey Wayne Smith, or the river carpsucker arrowed April 25 by Jeffrey Ray at Ft. Cobb Lake. None of these fish were small, either — Dampf’s black buffalo weighed over 22 lbs., Ray’s carpsucker topped 8 lbs., and Smith’s smallmouth buffalo weighed a whopping 50 lbs., 4 oz.
            “Not only do the nongame fish provide some unique ways to fish like archery, gigs, trotlines and even noodling, but they also are species that have a tendency to grow very large,” Bolton said. “And when you combine these two things, it makes for some great fishing opportunities to compliment all of our popular favorites,” Bolton said.
            Nongame fish species like carp can be found at most lakes and often are best pursued by way of archery. Anglers who consistently land large numbers of carp often do so with specialized baits and equipment. Flathead catfish are an exception, however, as they can be caught regularly by rod and reel and are often caught by noodling, or fishing bare-handedly.
            For a complete list of record fish and the procedures regarding certifying state record fish, consult the current “Oklahoma Fishing Guide” or log on to wildlifedepartment.com. Anglers who believe they may have hooked a record fish must weigh the fish on an Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale, and a Wildlife Department employee must verify the weight.
 
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Sixth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo to offer outdoor learning opportunities
            Oklahomans interested in the outdoors should mark their calendars now for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s sixth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo slated for Sept. 25-26 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City.
            The Wildlife Department is working with a range of organizations, individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the Expo — a free event intended to promote and develop appreciation for Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources by providing hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.
            “The Expo is a one-of-a-kind outdoor recreation event,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “This is a place where literally tens of thousands of outdoor-minded people of all ages and skill levels gather for a weekend of activities and learning opportunities that are entirely focused on Oklahoma’s outdoors.”
            Organizations interested in helping promote the outdoors through and educational booth or activity should contact Hurst at (405) 522-6279.
            Among many other activities, Expo visitors will be able to try firsthand activities such as fishing, shooting sports such as shotguns and archery, kayaking, mountain biking and more. They will have access to seminars on hunting dog training, outdoor cooking, camping, hunting, fishing, birdwatching, and other activities in the great outdoors. Visitors to the event also can win a variety of free prizes thanks to the Expo’s generous sponsors. Additionally, guests can shop at the Outdoor Marketplace, a large area at the Expo designated for shopping for the latest in outdoor gear and merchandise.
            Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days, Log on to wildlifedepartment.com as the event draws near to stay up to date on the upcoming Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.
 
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Outdoor Marketplace returning to 2010 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo
            Though very little equipment is required to enjoy the outdoors, shopping for outdoor gear is a favorite activity for sportsmen, and for the fourth year in a row, vendors at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo’s Outdoor Marketplace will be on hand offering their outdoor goods and services visitors at the event.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s sixth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is slated for September 25-26 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. The Wildlife Department will be working with a range of organizations, individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the event — intended to promote and develop appreciation for Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources. Last year’s Expo drew an estimated 42,000 visitors to the Lazy E Arena over the course of three days.
            “Admission for the Expo is free, and all of the events and activities it offers are free,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “Tens of thousands of visitors come out to the Lazy E Arena to enjoy the fun, so this a great opportunity for vendors of outdoor goods and services to showcase their products to outdoor-minded people at the Outdoor Marketplace.”
            The Outdoor Marketplace is a large area where commercial vendors will be selling their hunting and fishing-related merchandise and services. The Marketplace features vendors under a large tent, but outdoor open-air spaces also are available for displaying larger items such as ATVs and hunting blinds. A 10’ x 10’ booth space under the tent or a 20’ x 20’ outside space costs $300. Both include electricity. Nonprofit conservation organizations also will be able to sign up for free booth spaces to promote membership and educate sportsmen about their organizations.
            Along with shopping at the Outdoor Marketplace, Expo visitors will be able to fish, shoot shotguns, kayak, ride mountain bikes, 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 generous sponsors of the event.
            “Any vendor who wants to reach people interested in the outdoors needs to be a part of the Outdoor Marketplace at this year’s Wildlife Expo,” Hurst said.
            Log on to wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on the upcoming Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.
            For more information about obtaining a booth in the Outdoor Marketplace or to obtain an application for a booth, contact Ben Davis, Outdoor Marketplace coordinator, at (405) 521-4632.
 
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Conservation passport provides new way to support conservation
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will soon offer a new avenue for wildlife enthusiasts to support wildlife conservation.
            At its June meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission established a special use permit that will be required of persons using certain Department-owned lands who do not hold a valid hunting or fishing license. The permit has been designated the conservation passport and will be available in the form of a license that will be sold online at wildlifedepartment.com or anywhere hunting and fishing licenses are sold.
            House Bill 2862, by Representative Phil Richardson and Paul Roan and Senator Ron Justice, authorized the Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish the passport on lands owned by the Wildlife Department. The passport was already required at the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area in southcentral Oklahoma.
            Many other WMAs offer shooting ranges, camping, hiking, horseback riding, nature trails, wildlife watching and other activities as a result of sportsmen’s dollars used to purchase, enhance and develop those areas primarily used for hunting and fishing.
            “We had a number of conservation groups that wanted to have a permit that could help support these public use areas,” said Jim Edwards, assistant director of the Wildlife Department. “And since these properties are bought or managed by sportsmen’s dollars, people that use those properties ought to also pay at least a corresponding amount for upkeep and maintenance.”
            The new requirement will go into effect Jan. 1, 2011, at all Wildlife Department owned areas except Blue River, where the passport is already required. The price for the conservation passport is set at $26, which is $1 more than a hunting or fishing license. In addition to saving money on the purchase price, those who opt for a hunting or fishing license will also see their dollars go further in conserving wildlife because of matching federal dollars from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that apply to hunting and fishing license sales but not to conservation passport sales.
            Other opportunities to support wildlife conservation in addition to the purchase of a hunting and fishing license or a conservation passport include the purchase of a wildlife license plate, offered through local tag agencies, as well as habitat patches and caps, which feature a range of wildlife artwork and are sold online at wildlifedepartment.com.
            In other business, the Commission approved changes to its retirement plan for Wildlife Department employees.
            Under the new plan, employees hired after July 1, 2010, will be provided a defined contribution retirement based on their years of service to the Department. For current employees, there will be no changes to the lifetime retirement benefit under their defined benefit plan — a guarantee that promises they’ll receive a specified pension throughout retirement.
            The new plan is expected to save millions of dollars and avoid financial troubles before they have a chance to develop, while at the same time maintaining obligations to retirees.
            The Commission also accepted a contribution of $2,000 from Whitetails of Oklahoma for the 2010 Wildlife Expo, slated for Sept. 25-26 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Whitetails of Oklahoma is non-profit organization for whitetail enthusiasts, including among others, those who hunt and raise whitetail deer in Oklahoma.
            Whitetails of Oklahoma has given away hunts at the Wildlife Expo in past years and already has secured three deer hunts and a striper fishing trip at Lake Texoma to give away at the 2010 Expo.
            The Wildlife Department is working with a range of organizations, individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the Expo — a free event intended to promote and develop appreciation for Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources by providing hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.
            Among many other activities, Expo visitors will be able to try firsthand activities such as fishing, shooting sports such as shotguns and archery, kayaking, mountain biking and more. They will have access to seminars on hunting dog training, outdoor cooking, camping, hunting, fishing, birdwatching, and other activities in the outdoors.
            The Commission also approved the Department’s fiscal year 2011 annual budget at $42 million.
            The Commission elected new officers at the meeting as well, who will begin serving in their positions at the July Commission meeting. Serving as chairman will be District 7’s Mart Tisdal; serving as vice-chairman will be District 3’s Mike Bloodworth; and serving as secretary will be District 1’s M. David Riggs.
            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., Tuesday, July 6, at the Wildlife Department’s Outdoor Education and Training Center located at the Arcadia Conservation Education Area (7201 E. 33rd St., Edmond).
 
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Wildlife Conservation Commission establishes new officers
            The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission established new officers to begin serving next month on the Commission.
            The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and is responsible for establishing state hunting and fishing regulations, setting policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly overseeing all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
            Commissioner Mart Tisdal will serve as the new Commission chairman. Tisdal represents District 7, including Ellis, Dewey, Roger Mills, Custer, Beckham, Washita, Kiowa, Greer, Jackson, Harmon and Tillman counties.
            Tisdal was named by Gov. Brad Henry in 2007 to serve the remainder of a vacated district seven term.
            Tisdal, whose current appointment on the Commission runs until 2011, was born and raised in Clinton and founded Tisdal Law Firm, a general practice legal office which has oil and gas, environmental law and complex litigation among its areas of focus. He earned both a Bachelor of Arts degree and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Oklahoma. In addition to receiving numerous professional awards, he has served as the president of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation. He is also a veteran, having served on active duty in the U.S. Army, field artillery, from 1971-73.
             An avid quail hunter, Tisdal says he has many fond memories of growing up in western Oklahoma. Tisdal also enjoys turkey hunting, fishing, golf, running, snow skiing, and just being outdoors. He also has a keen interest in wildlife conservation. He says sharing Oklahoma’s outdoor heritage with the next generation is an important part of the future of conservation.
            Serving as Commission vice-chairman will be District 3 Commissioner Mike Bloodworth. District 3 consists of LeFlore, Latimer, Pittsburg, Atoka, Pushmataha, McCurtain, Choctaw, Bryan, Marshall, Carter and Love counties.
            Bloodworth is from Hugo and was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Brad Henry in 2007. Bloodworth's term will run through 2015. A lifelong resident of Hugo, Bloodworth founded an independent insurance agency in that Choctaw County community after serving as a sixth-grade teacher and elementary school principal for 10 years. He earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree in education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant. He is also an active duck and goose hunter.
            Serving as Commission secretary will be District 1 Commissioner M. David Riggs. District 1 consists of Ottawa, Delaware, Craig, Mayes, Nowata, Rogers, Washington, Tulsa, Pawnee and Osage counties.
            Riggs, of Sand Springs, was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Brad Henry, and his term will expire in 2013.
A lifelong resident of Sand Springs, Riggs is a partner in one of the state's largest law firms - Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison & Lewis. Riggs also served as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1971 to 1987 and in the Oklahoma Senate from 1987 to 1988.
            Riggs is active in a number of local conservation organizations including serving of the board of trustees of The Nature Conservancy and serves as the chairman of the board of directors for the Sutton Avian Research Center.
He graduated from Phillips University in Enid in 1959, received a Masters of Arts form the University of Oklahoma in 1962 and graduated first in his class at the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1968.
 
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World’s best bass anglers to descend on the Arkansas River Navigation System this weekend
            The best bass fisherman in the world are coming to Oklahoma June 17-20 for the Bassmaster Elite Sooner Run bass tournament on the Arkansas River near Muskogee.
            The tournament is part of a sports league, membership organization and multimedia company called B.A.S.S. that draws anglers to tournaments held at some of the finest fishing destinations across the country. The Arkansas River is no exception, offering several lakes that all provide good black bass fishing opportunities. But it’s the Three Forks Harbor area of the river that will host the tournament.
            “Attracting a B.A.S.S. Elite Series tournament to Oklahoma is not just about fishing quality — although the Webbers Falls, Robert S. Kerr and Chouteau pools on McClellen-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System are know for great summertime bass fishing — it is about facilities and people,” said Gene Gilliland, central region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, who added that a range of groups have come together to make the tournament happen.
            Launch time for the tournament is 6 a.m. at the Three Forks Harbor, and weigh-ins take place at 3:30 p.m. at the same location. According the to the Muskogee Chamber of Commerce website, free parking will be available at the site.
            “We are excited to have ESPN bring the Elite Series Auto Zone Sooner Run to Muskogee,” said Treasure McKenzie, vice president of tourism and marketing for the Muskogee Chamber of Commerce. “The new Three Forks Harbor on the Arkansas River is beautiful and perfect for this kind of event. What better way to premier this new attraction to the world than on ESPN?”
            The B.A.S.S. membership organization has more than half a million members, and multimedia platforms include a range of magazines, websites and TV shows on ESPN and ESPN2 designed to entertain and inform anglers. It’s tournament series draws anglers from all skill levels to compete for millions of dollars in cash and prizes.
            For more information about B.A.S.S., log on to http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/bassmaster/index

 

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Annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is a chance to introduce newcomers to the outdoors
            The sixth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is coming to Oklahoma Sept. 25-26 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, providing an ideal opportunity for sportsmen to introduce a friend or family member to the outdoors.
            The Wildlife Department is working with a range of organizations, individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the Expo — a free event intended to promote and develop appreciation for Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources by providing hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.
          "Aside from actually taking someone hunting or fishing, the Expo is the best place for Oklahomans to learn about the outdoors,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “There’s going to be something for even the most seasoned sportsmen to learn about at the Expo, as well as lots of opportunities for people to try activities they may never have tried before, like shooting a shotgun or bow or catching a fish in the pond.”
            Organizations interested in helping promote the outdoors through an educational booth or activity should contact Hurst at (405) 522-6279.
            Among many other activities, Expo visitors will be able to try firsthand activities such as fishing, shooting sports such as shotguns and archery, kayaking, mountain biking and more. They will have access to seminars on hunting dog training, outdoor cooking, camping, hunting, fishing, birdwatching, and other activities in the great outdoors. Visitors to the event also can win a variety of free prizes thanks to the Expo’s generous sponsors. Additionally, guests can shop at the Outdoor Marketplace, a large area at the Expo designated for shopping for the latest in outdoor gear and merchandise.
            Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. Admission is free. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com as the event draws near to stay up to date on the upcoming Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.
 
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Free family fishing clinics slated throughout summer
            Free fishing clinics offered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Aquatic Resource Education Program are being held throughout the summer to teach families about the sport of fishing. And now is a great time to learn, as the month of June offers prime opportunities to catch spawning sunfish along banks of local waters.
            Through the program, kids and adults can choose from one-day courses held near urban areas of the state to learn about fish identification, fishing tackle selection, knot-tying, fish cleaning and cooking, water safety, outdoor ethics and more. Most clinics even include fishing opportunities where families can put to immediate use the lessons they learned from their instructor.
            According to Damon Springer, aquatic education coordinator for the Wildlife Department, the free clinics will benefit families trying to learn about the sport as well as those looking for easy and affordable opportunities to spend time with family.
            “The family fishing clinics are a great opportunity for families to have an activity they can all do together,” Springer said.
            The Aquatic Resource Education Program will hold classes throughout the summer, many of which will be held at the Wildlife Department’s Arcadia Conservation Education Area in Edmond or the Zebco Pond in Tulsa. Others will be held at local ponds in Oklahoma City and in Jenks. A full course listing is available on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. Pre-registration for each course is required and can be done by calling the phone number listed with each course.
            For more information about the Aquatic Resources Education Program, log on to the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Oklahoma sportsmen’s organization to give away $25,000 worth of outdoor getaways
            For the next few months, sportsmen could win big simply by being a member of the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International, a major supporter of wildlife conservation who is giving away $25,000 worth of free outdoor getaway trips now through September.
            According to Mike Mistelske, SCI’s Oklahoma Station Chapter president, new members as well as current members who sponsor newcomers to the organization are entered to win a range of free getaways. Trips to be given away range from waterfowling opportunities in Oklahoma to pheasant hunting in Kansas, fishing in Alaska, and even hunting trips abroad in locations like Namibia and Macedonia. The trips range in value from $1,200 to $10,000 and will be given away courtesy of the Oklahoma Station Chapter of SCI.
            Complete details are available on the chapter’s website at oklahomastationsci.org. The site provides descriptions of the six trips to be given away as well as membership applications for those interested in joining the organization and entering to win a trip.
            The Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International offers support and funding to local conservation efforts that benefit the sportsmen and wildlife of Oklahoma. The chapter is a supporter of projects conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, such as the Hunters Against Hunger program that coordinates the annual distribution of over 30,000 of pounds of venison to needy families. The Chapter is also a sponsor of the Wildlife Department’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, which educates tens of thousands of Oklahomans each year on the value of wildlife and the outdoors to quality of life in Oklahoma.
            The organization also has helped fund the purchase of an airboat used by the Wildlife Department on waterfowl surveys and other wetland management tasks, and several trailers for use in the Department's Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP). The STEP program introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms. The Oklahoma Station Chapter also partners with the Wildlife Department each year to hold an annual youth essay contest that provides youth a chance to share their feelings about Oklahoma’s outdoors and to win great prizes, including a guided pronghorn antelope hunt in New Mexico. Additionally, the chapter purchased eight elk for introduction into an existing herd in southeast Oklahoma.
            For more information on the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International, log on to oklahomastationsci.org.
 
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Lawton attorney named to Wildlife Conservation Commission
            Lawton attorney John P. Zelbst is the newest member of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, the governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            The Wildlife Commission establishes most state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities.
            Zelbst, appointed by Governor Brad Henry and confirmed this past session by the State Senate, will begin his eight-year term July 1. He will serve as the Commission’s District 6 representative, which includes Blaine, Kingfisher, Canadian, Caddo, Grady, Comanche, Stephens, Jefferson and Cotton counties.
            “Wildlife is the peoples’ treasure and I’m committed to helping ensure sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts have access to their wildlife resources,” Zelbst said. “I come from a long ranching background. In fact, my son will be a fifth generation rancher, so I know the importance and value of being connected to the outdoors and environment.
            “A concern of mine is that our young people aren’t as connected to the outdoors as they used to be and many know very little about the environment. Outdoor recreation and activity leads to a higher quality of life, so it’s important we work on getting children involved in the outdoors.”
            Zelbst has 30 years experience as a trial lawyer and is the managing partner at Zelbst, Holmes & Butler law firm. The firm serves Oklahoma City, Lawton, Edmond, Norman and with the assistance of local counsel, all of the United States. Zelbst’ legal career has focused solely on representing people who have been injured, wronged, falsely accused and mistreated.
            A member of the Oklahoma Association for Justice (formerly the Oklahoma Trial Lawyers Association), he served as the Association’s President in 2000. He also holds the distinction of having secured $24 million in the largest known personal injury verdict in state history.
            Along with other professional memberships, recognition and awards, he was awarded the title of Oklahoma Super Lawyer for the years 2006-2010, Superlawyers.com; and is a member of the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, 92nd Edition, Martindale Hubbell and is also Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.
            Zelbst received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Cameron University in Lawton in 1976 and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa, College of Law, in 1980. He is a graduate of and a board and faculty member of the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, DuBois, Wyo.
            Zelbst and his wife, Cindy, own and reside on the U2 Ranch in Meers. They have a son, Clay, and are actively involved in cattle operations on the ranch. He also supports numerous civic and community development programs, and currently chairs both the Comanche County Board of Trustees and the Comanche County Memorial Hospital Trust.
 
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Photo caption: Lawton attorney John Zelbst is the newest member of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, representing District 6 for a term running until 2018.
 
 
 
Learn jerky-making at this year’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo
            Few snacks have the unique flavor and ability to conjure up good memories and excitement for the outdoors like the ever popular treat known as jerky, which will be celebrated at this year’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo through hands-on learning seminars that teach visitors how to refine their own jerky-making skills.
            Put simply, jerky is dried meat. But there are many ways to create the delicious mixture of flavors, texture and satisfaction enjoyed by sportsmen who know how create their own nutritious snack from game meat they harvested themselves. The nutritional value, resistance to spoilage, and versatility of jerky has been known most likely for centuries and was used by early Native Americans and explorers as a high-energy food.
            At this year’s Expo, slated for Sept. 25-26, visitors can learn about a variety of techniques, equipment and game meats used for making jerky, and they can sample different types of jerky as well at one of several seminars hosted at the event.
            In fact, in addition to trying their hand at all kinds of outdoor activities like shotgun shooting, kayaking and mountain biking, visitors can enjoy a range of outdoor cooking and learning opportunities. The Expo’s popular Taste of the Wild booth offers wild game samplings like fried catfish, venison bacon and buffalo chili. Last year thousands of pounds of wild game samples were prepared and handed out free to Expo visitors, making the booth one of the most popular exhibits at the Expo.
            Visitors can stop at the booth as they work their way through more than 100 booths and activities set up at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City.
      Additionally, Expo visitors can try Dutch-oven-prepared food samples in a camp setting as well as attend seminars on Dutch oven cooking.
      The Wildlife Expo is Oklahoma’s largest outdoor recreation event, offering guests the chance to try shooting sports, ride mountain bikes and ATVs, catch fish in a fully-stocked pond, experience kayaking, attend seminars and more — all for free.
      “If you like sampling good outdoor food, you need to come to the Expo,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “Booths and seminars serving up good food and teaching you how to improve your own outdoor cooking skills are a favorite at the Expo, but on top of that there are so many other reasons to attend, like watching a child learn to bait a line and catch a fish, or taking a friend or spouse to learn how to shoot a shotgun and hit a moving clay target.”
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation partners with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host Expo every year. The huge event is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts while promoting and instilling an appreciation for Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources.
            Whether catching a fish for the first time or building a bird house to take home with them for free, visitors to the Expo get the chance to soak up a full weekend of free outdoor knowledge, skills and experiences as hundreds of volunteers and Wildlife Department employees work to keep the event exciting, educational and entertaining.
            The Wildlife Expo will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily Sept. 25-26. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on this year’s Expo activities.
 
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Free family fishing clinics slated throughout summer
            “Gone fishin’” or “I’d rather be fishing” are common sayings found on Oklahoma bumper stickers, cabin greeting signs, or other paraphernalia, but such messages might say something entirely different — “gone video gaming” just doesn’t have the same ring to it — if people had no one to teach them about fishing and the outdoors.
            Enter the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s free Aquatic Resource Education Program (AREP).
            Through the program, kids and adults can choose from courses held near urban areas throughout the state this summer to learn about fishing and try their own hand at catching a fish.
            Oklahoma has thousands of miles of shoreline along its many lakes, rivers, streams and ponds, and many of them are close to urban areas and open to the public for angling. The AREP program is designed to help people get a start in the sport so they can take advantage of the many fishing opportunities available to them.
            According to Damon Springer, aquatic education coordinator for the Wildlife Department, the free clinics will benefit families trying to learn about the sport as well as those looking for easy and affordable opportunities to spend time with family.
            The Aquatic Resource Education Program will hold classes through August, many of which will be held at the Wildlife Department’s Arcadia Conservation Education Area in Edmond or the Zebco Pond in Tulsa. Others will be held at local ponds in Oklahoma City and in Jenks. A full course listing is available on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. Pre-registration for each course is required and can be done by calling the phone number listed with each course.
            The Aquatic Resources Education Program is the Department's means to promote the sport of fishing and aquatic resource awareness as well as a way to give youth, regardless of family situation, an opportunity to learn about Oklahoma's aquatic environments and how to fish.
            Developed in 1988, the program's objectives are to increase the understanding, appreciation, and awareness of Oklahoma's aquatic resources; facilitate the learning of angling skills, outdoor ethics, and sport fishing opportunities in the state; enhance urban fishing opportunities; develop adult fishing clinics and provide information on specialized fishing techniques.
            These events — usually lasting a few hours — present information on such topics as fish identification, knot-tying, fish cleaning and cooking, fishing tackle selection and use, water safety, outdoor ethics and more.
            Most clinics, including Lake Arcadia family fishing clinics, include fishing at a nearby pond or lake.
            According to Springer, the fishing clinics will benefit youth as well as play an important role of the future of Oklahoma’s outdoor heritage.
            For more information about the Aquatic Resources Education Program, log on to the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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