NOVEMBER 2010 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 24, 2010

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 18, 2010

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 11, 2010

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 4, 2010

Prairie chickens to benefit from landowner opportunities; Game Warden of the Year Award presented
            At its November meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved two new measures intended to draw more landowners into the fight to conserve the lesser prairie chicken while also protecting landowners if the bird is placed on the endangered species list.
            One of the measures offers stewardship payments to agricultural producers for work done to protect and expand habitat for the rare upland bird. The new program is known as the Wildlife Credits Program and is part of an agreement between the Wildlife Department, Oklahoma Conservation Commission and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts.
            The program will be funded by money from the Association of Conservation Districts combined with portions of donations made by OG&E to offset habitat loss caused by two of the company’s wind farm developments in northwest Oklahoma — the OU Spirit Wind Farm and 151 MW Keenan Phase II wind farm from which OG&E is purchasing 100 percent of the energy produced.
            The other measure, as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances Program (CCAA), can provide landowners with assurances against certain liabilities and federal restrictions in the event that the lesser prairie chicken is listed as an endangered species.
            The CCAA is a voluntary program, and no incentive payments to landowners are issued by the Wildlife Department for participation in the program. Rather, landowners agree to perform certain habitat work to benefit lesser prairie chickens in exchange for the assurances provided under the program. When a species is listed as federally endangered or threatened, additional federal regulations and oversight can apply to landowners that may affect what happens on their property or how it may be used. Additionally, conservation measures accomplished through the program could help altogether halt the listing of the species.
            “First and foremost, the goal is to conserve the lesser prairie chicken and keep it off the endangered species list,” said Richard Hatcher, director of the Wildlife Department. “But we also would like our landowners to get involved with conservation and in turn receive some federally-backed assurances in the event the lesser prairie chicken is declared endangered.”
            According to Dixie Bounds, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the lesser prairie chicken has been a candidate for listing on the endangered species list since 1998, and since 2008 has been a category 2 species, which is the highest level of priority given to a species before being listed.
            “There are several threats that are eminent,” said Bounds. “There’s the loss of all the Conservation Reserve Program acres, the multi-state transmission lines, the development of wind power, and overall the biggest issue is the fragmentation of habitat.”
            The Wildlife Credits Program and CCAA are two more tools in an arsenal of resources aimed at conserving prairie chickens. Other tools such as the Oklahoma Spatial Planning Tool are being used to help energy developers identify key prairie chicken habitat before development. Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and agreements between landowners and the Wildlife Department all stand to benefit key habitat and the prairie chickens that rely on them for survival.
            In other business, the Commission presented its Game Warden of the Year Award to Jay Harvey, game warden stationed in Choctaw and Bryan counties in southeast Oklahoma. The award was presented along with the Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year Award by club members Bill Brewster and his wife, Suzie Brewster.
            Harvey is active in many projects and programs of the Wildlife Department and has been involved in numerous public outreach events such as the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo. Harvey also has served as the Wildlife Department Youth Camp director the last two years and works closely with other Department employees both in the law enforcement division as well as other divisions.
            “Jay is an asset to the Department, and he’s made us proud,” said Robert Fleenor, law enforcement chief for the Wildlife Department. "Jay has community spirit and is a great asset to the youth of our state. He keeps them in the outdoors and continually introduces them to the outdoors. His qualities go above and beyond what's required in his normal duties as a game warden."
            Shikar-Safari Club International was started more than 55 years ago and is limited to 200 members worldwide. While it is a social organization, its sole purpose is hunting and conservation and issues that affect hunters and conservation. The club has a foundation that puts almost $1 million into wildlife and conservation every year, including more than 30 scholarships a year for children of wildlife professionals majoring in wildlife fields. The scholarships, each $4,000 a year, are designed to perpetuate an interest in wildlife careers and conservation.
            The Commission also heard a presentation from Finley & Cook, PLLC, including the results of the Department's fiscal year 2010 annual financial audit. The independent audit, which also reviewed federal grant programs, revealed no material findings. A clean audit report was rendered.
            Additionally, the Commission recognized Harry Steele, game warden stationed in Beckham Co., for 30 years of service to the Wildlife Department; Benny Farrar, wildlife biologist stationed at James Collins WMA, for 20 years of service; and Ira Wood, wildlife technician stationed at Atoka and Stringtown WMAs, for 20 years of service.
            Commission meeting dates for 2011 were scheduled as well, with meetings slated for Jan. 3, Feb. 7, March 7, April 4, May 2, June 6, July 5 (Tuesday), Aug. 1, Sept. 6 (Tuesday), Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5.
            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., Dec. 6, at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.
 
-30-
 
 
Landowners gain new incentives to fight decline of lesser prairie chicken
            As agencies like the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation continue to place emphasis on restoring and preserving dwindling lesser prairie chicken habitat, landowners in focal areas have some important reasons to get involved.
            Wildlife officials say private landowners are key to wildlife conservation in Oklahoma, since about 97 percent of the land in Oklahoma is privately owned. At its November meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved two new measures intended to draw more landowners into the fight to conserve the lesser prairie chicken while also protecting them if the bird is placed on the endangered species list.
            One of the measures offers stewardship payments to agricultural producers for work done to protect and expand habitat for the rare upland bird. The new program is known as the Wildlife Credits Program and is part of an agreement between the Wildlife Department, Oklahoma Conservation Commission and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts.
            According to Clay Pope, executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, the program basically pays agricultural producers to perform certain management practices and avoid others that would negatively impact the habitat of the lesser prairie chicken.
            The program will be funded by money from the Association of Conservation Districts combined with portions of donations made by OG&E to offset habitat loss caused by two of the company’s wind farm developments in northwest Oklahoma — the OU Spirit Wind Farm and the 151 MW Keenan Phase II wind farm from which OG&E is purchasing 100 percent of the energy produced.
            “Any time we can combine our resources, we’re a lot more effective together than we are apart,” said Mike Thralls, executive director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.
            The other measure, as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances Program (CCAA), can provide landowners with assurances against certain liabilities and federal restrictions in the event that the lesser prairie chicken is listed as an endangered species.
            The CCAA is a voluntary program, and no incentive payments to landowners are issued by the Wildlife Department for participation in the program. Rather, landowners agree to perform certain habitat work to benefit lesser prairie chickens in exchange for the assurances provided under the program. When a species is listed as federally endangered or threatened, additional federal regulations and oversight can apply to landowners that may affect what happens on their property or how it may be used. Additionally, conservation measures accomplished through the program could help altogether halt the listing of the species.
            “First and foremost, the goal is to conserve the lesser prairie chicken and keep it off the endangered species list,” said Richard Hatcher, director of the Wildlife Department. “But we also would like our landowners to get involved with conservation and in turn receive some federally-backed assurances in the event the lesser prairie chicken is declared endangered.”
            According to Dixie Bounds, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the lesser prairie chicken has been a candidate for listing on the endangered species list since 1998, and since 2008 has been a category 2 species, which is the highest level of priority given to a species before being listed.
            “There are several threats that are eminent,” said Bounds. There’s the loss of all the Conservation Reserve Program acres, the multi-state transmission lines, the development of wind power, and overall the biggest issue is the fragmentation of habitat.”
            The Wildlife Credits Program and CCAA are two more tools in an arsenal of resources aimed at conserving prairie chickens. Other tools such as the Oklahoma Spatial Planning Tool are being used to help energy developers identify key prairie chicken habitat before development. Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and agreements between landowners and the Wildlife Department all stand to benefit key habitat and the prairie chickens that rely on them for survival.
            The lesser prairie chicken is an upland game bird found in northwest Oklahoma, but the species has struggled to survive in its native habitat due to habitat fragmentation and land use changes over time. The birds avoid vertical structure, such as wind turbines and fences, as they may perceive them as perches for potential predators.
            For more information about the lesser prairie chicken, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-
 
 
Jay Harvey honored by Shikar Safari and ODWC
            Jay Harvey, game warden stationed in Choctaw and Bryan counties, received the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Game Warden of the Year Award along with the Shikar Safari Club International’s Officer of the Year Award at the November meeting of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission
            Harvey is active in many projects and programs of the Wildlife Department and has been involved in numerous public outreach events such as the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools Program, the Shotgun Training and Education Program and more. Harvey also has served as the Wildlife Department Youth Camp director the last two years and works closely with other Department employees both in the law enforcement division as well as other divisions.
            “Jay is an asset to the Department, and he’s made us proud,” said Robert Fleenor, law enforcement chief for the Wildlife Department. “Jay has community spirit and is a great asset to the youth of our state. He keeps them in the outdoors and continually introduces them to the outdoors. His qualities go above and beyond what’s required in his normal duties as a game warden.”
            Not only does Harvey have a strong working knowledge of his assigned counties and their surrounding areas, but he knows the sportsmen and landowners in the region and frequently works with other game wardens in his district. Harvey is a certified airboat operator for the Department and serves voluntarily as an airplane spotter for Department operations.
            Harvey attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University, where he earned his BS in biology. He began his career at the Wildlife Department in 1986 as an hourly employee. In 1987, he was hired as a full-time employee at the Durant State Fish Hatchery and remained there until 1990. In 1992 he was hired as a game warden in Texas Co., where he remained until 1995 when he was transferred to Bryan and Choctaw counties.
            Harvey has been married to his wife Misty for 22 years. They have a daughter, Spencer, who is 13 years old and a son, Jared, who is 10 years old.
            Shikar-Safari Club International was started more than 55 years ago and is limited to 200 members worldwide. While it is a social organization, its sole purpose is hunting and conservation and issues that affect hunters and conservation. The club has a foundation that puts almost $1 million into wildlife and conservation every year, including more than 30 scholarships a year for children of wildlife professionals majoring in wildlife fields. The scholarships, each $4,000 a year, are designed to perpetuate an interest in wildlife careers and conservation.
            For more information about game wardens, or for information on having a career as a game warden, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-

Last chance for young outdoor writers to share hunting heritage, win outdoor getaways
            Oklahoma youth planning to participate in the youth outdoor essay contest hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International have until Nov. 19 to postmark or hand deliver their entries. Entrants have a chance to share their outdoor heritage as well as compete for an unforgettable outdoor getaway.
            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.
            To participate, students must be 11-17 years of age and currently enrolled in any Oklahoma school or home school. Students also must use the theme of “Hunting: Sharing the Heritage” or “Archery: What I like about Archery in the Schools and Bowhunting” or the concept of the theme to develop a descriptive essay or short story. Winners of the previous year’s contest are not eligible. Applicants must have successfully completed an Oklahoma Hunter Education course by the entry deadline, which is Nov. 19, 2010. There are two age categories — 11-14 and 15-17.
            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 a scholarship within 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 the 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 2011.
            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 Oklahoma State Chapter will reimburse trip travel expenses to New Mexico and Texas up to $500 per essay contest winner. The winning student essays will be published in the OSCSCI newsletter, “Safari Trails.” Publication qualifies the winning entries for the Outdoor Writers Association of America Youth Writing Contest. Several past national winners have come from Oklahoma. Essays may also be printed in Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
             Two educators also will be awarded all-expenses-paid scholarships for an eight-day conservation education school at Safari Club International’s American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS) at Granite Ranch near Jackson, Wyoming.
            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, language arts and creative writing in an outdoor setting, fly tying, shooting sports, wildlife management, the Yellowstone ecosystem, camping, white-water rafting, educational resources and how to implement outdoor education ideas.
            Both the essay contest rules and teacher scholarship applications are available from the Department's Web site at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com .
            Essays and applications must be postmarked no later than Nov. 19, 2010, or delivered by Nov. 19 in person to the Department of Wildlife’s Jenks Office at 201 Aquarium Drive, Jenks. Address entries to: Essay Contest, Attn: Education Section Supervisor, ODWC Jenks Office, P.O. Box 1201, Jenks, OK 74037. Fax entries will not be accepted.
 
-30-
 
 
Time running out to vote online for favorite 2011-12 duck stamp art
            It just takes the click of a mouse for sportsmen to vote on the artwork that that will be printed on the 2011-12 Oklahoma waterfowl stamp, but time is running out.
            Hunters can vote online at wildlifedepartment.com until Nov. 15. A number of voting options are available thanks to submissions from artists from all over the United States.
            Every year wildlife artists from across the nation submit their rendition of a specified waterfowl species to the Wildlife Department’s duck stamp design contest. In recent years the Wildlife Department has relied on input from the public to help determine the winner, whose work is printed on the Oklahoma waterfowl stamp the following year. This year, artwork was centered on the bluewing teal which can be found near Oklahoma’s wetlands during early fall and spring.
            “In recent years, people who wanted to vote on the next duck stamp design had to travel somewhere to see the entries, but technology is allowing us to make voting possible from home or even on the go for those folks with laptops or smart phones,” said Micah Holmes, information and education supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
            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.
            Along with public input, entries will be judged on anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for printing.
            The winning artist will receive a purchase award of $1,200 provided by NatureWorks, a Tulsa-based conservation organization. Additionally, the winner and three honorable mentions will appear in a future issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
            “This is a good chance for duck hunters to weigh in on their favorite artwork,” Holmes said. “After all, it’s their duck season and their waterfowl stamp. They should have a say in what artwork is featured, and they should take the opportunity to give their input.”
            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 .
            More information about the annual duck stamp design contest, including official rules, is available online at wildlifedepartment.com
 
-30-
 
 
Free Wildlife Department “Rut Report’ slated for Nov. 17
            With the Nov. 20 Oklahoma deer gun season opener just around the corner, reports of deer activity from hunters are beginning to buzz, no doubt through e-mails and text messages as well as in workplaces, schools and at dinner tables all over the state. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is getting in on the excitement with its own last minute “Rut Report,” scheduled for Nov. 17.
            The report, available for free by e-mail to anyone who subscribes to the Wildlife Department, will contain the latest possible status reports from Wildlife Department biologists on deer rutting activity in all regions of the state. It will also include venison recipes, information on the Department’s online deer check station option, the Hunters Against Hunger program and information about driving vehicles on country roadways during the deer breeding season, or rut. Deer breeding activity can vary from region to region based on a range of factors, but with personnel stationed in all corners of Oklahoma, the Wildlife Department is able to collect useful information for hunters no matter where they hunt.
            “Right now Department employees are either talking about deer or hearing about deer,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. “Our employees are constantly visiting with sportsmen, landowners and others who spend time in the outdoors, so we are getting a lot of information that could prove useful to deer hunters. I’d encourage anyone interested in some last minute details on deer activity to check out our free report next week.”
            The report will be part of the Wildlife Department’s free weekly e-mail news release, which is sent to thousands of subscribers each week. To subscribe for the free weekly e-mail and to receive next week’s rut report, log on to
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com . The weekly news release provides updates on hunting and fishing seasons, state record fish, outdoor activities, annual wildlife migrations, and more. Weekly fishing reports from lakes and rivers across the state are provided, as well as seasonal waterfowl reports that duck hunters can use to plan their hunting seasons. A televised version of the rut report also will be aired on Outdoor Oklahoma TV, the Wildlife Department’s official television program, starting at 8 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 21 on OETA. The program is aired at additional times and on other stations throughout the week as well. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com to find airtimes and channels for regions across the state.
            “Whatever you want to know about current activities in the outdoors — whether it is when to expect whooping cranes to come through Oklahoma on their annual migrations, where to go to hunt for pheasants, where to catch a paddlefish or when to plan a trout fishing trip — the Department’s weekly news release is all you need,” Rodefeld said. “It’s instant, it’s up to date and it is free. The Wildlife Department also is online at wildlifedepartment.com and on twitter, and we have a range of online and print publications to stay in touch with our hunters and anglers.”
            For more information about the Wildlife Department or deer hunting in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-

Wildlife professionals detail current statewide deer rutting activity
            Deer rifle season kicks off Saturday, Nov. 20, and personnel with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are reporting that the rut is heating up just in time.
            Hunters have been harvesting mature deer all throughout archery and muzzleloader. Even celebrities are getting in on the action. Country music star Blake Shelton took a trophy buck Nov. 12 in southcentral Oklahoma, and other mature deer are being taken statewide.
            “Making music is my livelihood, and I love it, but when it comes to my time I head to the woods,” Shelton said. “I can’t wait to be in the deer woods. Deer season is like early Christmas around our place.”
            The rut, or deer breeding season, is a biological process that typically occurs around the second week of November. Deer activity during the rut picks up but the amount of activity can be influenced by a host of factors such as day length, temperatures, moon phase and herd condition.
            The northwest region of Oklahoma is famed for its excellent deer hunting — not to mention big deer — and biologists believe the fall-like weather brought in over this past weekend was the trigger needed to increase deer activity in the region.
            According to Wade Free, northwest region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department, conditions during deer muzzleloader season were unusually warm and windy.
            “There were a few really nice bucks harvested, but overall the harvest was down, mostly a result of limited deer movement due to hot, windy conditions,” Free said, adding that hunters don’t stay afield as long when they are dealing with heat, mosquitoes and limited deer sightings. Additionally, Free said most winter wheat fields were not going strong yet and deer were therefore not moving to and from crop fields.
            However, Free expects far different results this weekend.
            “Fortunately, as of late, bucks are starting to show increased breeding activity, with fresh rubs and scrapes,” Free said.
            According to Free, “rifle season has the potential to coincide perfectly with rutting activity.”
            “The deer are going to breed regardless of weather, but colder temperatures allow the deer to move during the day when otherwise, temperatures make it too stressful if not impossible to go all day,” he said.
             In the opposite corner of the state — the southeast — the rut is increasing in intensity and has not yet seen its peak, according to Jack Waymire, southeast region senior wildlife biologist for the Wildlife Department.
            “Archers are harvesting mature bucks, and bucks are cruising and beginning to chase does,” Waymire said. “The highest peak of the rut is still ahead.”
            Waymire said acorn production in the region was poor this year but that some may still be found along river systems. Deer movement, though, is picking up, increasing the chances for hunters to see and harvest deer.
            “If the weather cooperates, it is shaping up to be a good deer gun season,” Waymire said.
            Southeast Oklahoma is known for large expanses of public land open to deer hunting, particularly on wildlife management areas such as Honobia Creek and Three Rivers WMAs.
            For just $40 — the cost of a Land Access Permit from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation — Oklahoma hunters can gain hunting or fishing access on the Honobia Creek and Three Rivers Wildlife Management Areas, where some of the most rugged terrain and abundant cover in the state allow deer to grow to mature age classes.
            Additionally, the upcoming deer season is expected to be a good one on Honobia Creek and Three Rivers WMAs.
            “Our 2010 deer surveys were even better than the record-breaking year of 2009,” said Kyle Johnson, Wildlife Department biologist stationed on Honobia Creek and Three Rivers WMA. “With a little effort and willingness to do some hiking through the woods and hunting away from roadways, hunters will have a good opportunity to see deer this gun season.”
            Johnson also has noted increased rutting activity in the southeast region.
            “Just in the last couple of days, I’ve started seeing and hearing reports of mature bucks chasing does aggressively.”
            Reports from the southwest region indicate the rut has been slow developing this year.
            “This is probably good news for those planning to hunt the deer gun season opener,” said Rod Smith, southwest region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “The cool wet weather last weekend should be the stimulus to increase deer movements and typical deer rutting behavior.”
            Smith said deer activity through muzzleloader season and controlled hunts that took place in early November was very slow. Last week, hunters were reporting new scrapes, but adult bucks were also still being observed in groups. According to Smith, people in the field were not observing significant rutting activity last week. Though some bucks appeared to be rutting heavily, the majority had not begun rutting actively. An increase in vehicle-killed deer was noted last week, “a sure sign that the rut is beginning,” Smith said.
            In the central region, rutting activity was observed by hunters toward the end of muzzleloader season.
            “A cool front dropped temperatures to the lows 30s at daylight and high 50s at sunset,” said Rex Umber, central region senior biologist for the Wildlife Department. “Above normal temperatures have followed with limited activity, but bucks appear to be on the move again.”
            According to Umber, deer harvest is currently down about 25 percent or more in the central region compared to last year’s data, but as usual, some mature bucks were harvested during both archery and muzzleloader seasons.
            “The acorn crop appeared good in early summer, but weather conditions were not favorable for development in July and August,” Umber said.
            But while acorns are spotty, other food sources are available.
            “The persimmon crop is good on most sites and deer are hitting these sites very hard,” Umber said. “Wheat crops are also spotty — some sites good to excellent.”
            While Umber refrains from predicting the dates of the rut in the central region, he sites Nov. 15 as the “usual” time to observe the rut taking place in Oklahoma.
            According to reports from the northeast part of the state, rutting activity is beginning to pick up and, though it may be winding down in the early part of deer gun season, deer will still be active and hunters should have opportunities to see and harvest rutting deer.
            The northeast region also experienced a warm early muzzleloader season, and bucks were not overly active. However, as the season progressed, pre-rut activity picked up. Reports submitted by Craig Endicott, northeast region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department, indicate that deer harvested during muzzleloader season were in good physical condition and a number of “good average bucks” were harvested, though few may have been considered trophy animals.
            While some breeding activity will likely still be occurring on the opening weekend of the deer gun season, hunters in the northeast region should expect the peak to be winding down and adjust techniques accordingly. Doe estrous calls, antler rattling, and grunt tubes may still work, but hunting travel lanes to and from bedding or feeding areas may be more effective. Scouting is key, as putting in time afield beforehand will almost always increase a hunter’s odds of harvesting a deer. According to Endicott’s report, most oak species in the northeast produced at least some acorns, and deer are feeding on them. Oak stands may be ideal spots, and any other food sources where does may be feeding, as bucks may be close at hand as breeding activity lingers.
            Deer gun season runs Nov. 20 through Dec. 5. For more information about license requirements, regulations and antlerless deer hunting requirements, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            Hunters all over the state are reminded of the importance of scouting out their hunting spots before the season, including searching out food sources like acorns, persimmons, agriculture fields and others.
            Hunters are advised to use weekdays as much as possible and to stay in the woods as long as they are able on the days they choose to hunt. The second week of the deer gun season should not be overlooked as a prime time to harvest a buck as well. Hunters not successful early on opening day should remember that deer frequently get up to feed and move about around mid-morning to mid-day. Those still in the woods during that time frame often go home with a deer.
 

Photo Caption: Country music star Blake Shelton took this trophy buck Nov. 12 in southcentral Oklahoma, and other mature deer are being taken statewide. Deer gun season opens Nov. 20 and runs through Dec. 5. Consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” for details and regulations.

 

 


 
 

 
-30-
 
 
Hunters making a difference for the hungry
            Every year thousands of hungry Oklahomans reap the benefits of deer season through the Hunters Against Hunger program.
            “Last year hunters donated over 42,000 pounds of venison, which provided 168,000 meals to hungry Oklahomans,” said Rhonda Hurst, administrator of the Hunters Against Hunger program for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            Through the program, hunters who legally harvest a deer during any of this year’s deer seasons can donate the meat to feed the hungry. All they have to do is deliver their harvested deer to the nearest participating meat processor after checking the deer at a hunter check station or online at wildlifedepartment.com. Sportsmen can also use wildlifedepartment.com to view a list of participating meat processors.
            To help with processing charges, each hunter is requested to contribute a tax-deductable $10 to assist with the program.
            The ground venison is then distributed to the needy through a network of qualified, charitable organizations
            “Participation by meat processors and hunters is critical in providing this meat source to Oklahoma’s hungry,” Hurst said.
            The Wildlife Department pays a special thanks to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of eastern Oklahoma for their participation in the Hunters Against Hunger program. Important donors to this program also include Tulsa-based conservation group NatureWorks, and the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International. To learn more about NatureWorks, log on to natureworks.org. To learn more about the Oklahoma Station Chapter of SCI, log on to oklahomastationsci.org.
            To learn more about the Hunters Against Hunger program, contact the Wildlife Department at (405) 522-6279.
 
-30-
 
 
Deer gun season: bringing family and friends together
            Since 1933, deer gun hunters have been making their way into the woods and fields of Oklahoma for a tradition as deeply rooted as any in the state. Every year a huge portion of Oklahoma’s 356,257 licensed hunters join family members and friends for the opening day of deer gun season, and this year looks to be no different, with opening day slated for Nov. 20.
            “Every year, I spend opening day of deer gun season with my wife and our extended family,” said Michael Bergin, information and education specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Only a few of us hunt, but we all show up at the same place for the weekend. We eat big meals together and spend hours talking in the evenings after a good day in the field. Deer season provides a great medium for us to get together, and the same is true for thousands of other hunters across the state. Deer gun season is just a big deal in our state, and it looks like it’s going to stay that way.”
            While deer hunting is a time for fun, family and the outdoors, it’s also important to realize the critical role that hunting plays in wildlife conservation across the state. In fact, Oklahoma’s record of restoring deer populations and other species of fish and wildlife and protecting natural habitat can be largely credited to the millions of dollars generated by the state’s sportsmen and women.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is the state agency responsible for managing fish and wildlife. The Wildlife Department receives no general state tax dollars and is supported by sportsmen through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. Additionally, for each hunting gear purchase, a portion of the money is returned to state fish and wildlife agencies for conservation efforts. Through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, passed in 1937 at the request of the hunting and shooting sports enthusiasts, special excise taxes on hunting gear have contributed billions of dollars for wildlife conservation.
            In the early part of the last century, when deer populations were down to just a few hundred animals, hunters and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation took up the call to once again have healthy deer populations across the state. Part of this conservation effort began with the historic deer trap-and-transplant projects of the mid-1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. Today, Oklahoma can boast having deer in every county and a whitetail population in excess of 500,000 animals. Hunters have generous harvest limits and expansive opportunities statewide for hunting deer.
            For more information about Oklahoma's deer season, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” or log onto wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-


 
Oklahoma game warden finds occupied flipped vehicle in rural creek
            Every day Oklahoma game wardens have the important task of ensuring the state’s fish and wildlife laws are enforced, and sometimes they help save a human life. That’s what happened to David Robertson, game warden stationed in McIntosh and Okmulgee counties, recently when he responded to a tip that a vehicle was flipped over in a rural area south of Hanna.
            Robertson arrived at the scene to find the vehicle, which was not visible from the road.
            “I went to investigate and found that the vehicle was upside down in a creek,” Robertson said.
            But an empty vehicle is not what Robertson found.
            “I was shocked when I found that the vehicle was still occupied,” Robertson said.
            Inside the flipped vehicle, Robertson found an elderly woman who at the time was unconscious but breathing. Robertson was able to get inside the vehicle and try to speak to the woman, who after several minutes awoke and began responding to Robertson. He informed her that she had been in an accident and should remain still, and he obtained her name and the name of her daughter, who Robertson later learned had reported her elderly mother missing. According to Robertson, the elderly woman was an Alzheimer’s patient who told him she had been trying to drive to a store in Midwest City.
            Robertson also had called for medical assistance, and when it arrived they were able to free the driver and transport her to a medical facility.
            To Robertson, it was just being in the right place at the right time that allowed him to assist the driver.
            Robertson came on board as a game warden for the Wildlife Department in 1990. He spent his first five years stationed in Latimer Co., and then transferred to McIntosh and Okmulgee counties, where he has been ever since.
            Game wardens with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have a unique opportunity to help in their communities.
            “A lot of times, we’re the only law enforcement the rural public sees,” Robertson said.
            The work of a game warden involves everything from public service such as that provided by Robertson to a person in need to providing lake reports. The primary role of the job is to ensure compliance of wildlife laws and ensure sportsmen have an equal opportunity to enjoy hunting and fishing.
            In addition, game wardens are some of the most recognized employees of the Wildlife Department and help at a range of public events, such as hunter education courses, sportsmen’s club events, the Department’s annual Wildlife Expo and others.
            Game wardens start their training at the Wildlife Department’s headquarters in Oklahoma City. There they receive five weeks of training in criminal law, arrest procedures and how to professionally contact the public. Then they move on to a 10-week field training and evaluation program in which they are paired with veteran officers for field training. Once they have completed that, they attend 576 hours of training through the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training Academy (CLEET). Only after completion of all training will the wardens begin their first solo assignments.
            The first step in becoming a game warden in Oklahoma is to take the Department’s Standardized Employment Exam. This exam consists of 100 questions covering state and federal wildlife laws and regulations, Oklahoma geography, biological and environmental sciences relating to fish and wildlife, environmental education and communications, general journalism, photojournalism, technical writing and editing.
            To take the exam to become a game warden, you must be at least 21 years of age and have a bachelor’s degree with at least 16 credit hours in wildlife or biology-related coursework. A bachelor’s degree in a wildlife-related field is preferred.
            Those selected for a game warden position are interviewed and submit to psychological and physical exams, a urinalysis to screen for illegal drug use, and a thorough background investigation. Wardens must be able to meet a physical ability standard, jog/walk over rough terrain, swim, be able to physically control and arrest law violators, operate a boat and operate 2/4 wheel drive vehicles.
            Oklahoma game wardens are able to handle almost any problem that comes up during their workday. They are able to render first aid service, assist in lifesaving and water safety, and assist stranded motorists along roadways. They investigate illegal hunting and fishing and help landowners improve wildlife habitat.
            For more information about Oklahoma game wardens or employment at the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-
 

Pheasant season opens December 1
            December 1 marks the opening day of pheasant season in Oklahoma, and for the second year in a row the daily limit will be three cocks.
            According to biologists with the Wildlife Department, two main factors that determine how many pheasants will be available for hunters to pursue each season are how many adult birds survive the winter and how many hatchlings survive in the spring and early summer.
            The Wildlife Department keeps tabs on these two critical factors through two different surveys. First, biologists conduct the annual crow count survey, which provides an idea of how many adult males survived through the winter. In late April and early May, biologists drive county roads and listen for crowing cock pheasants in search of mates. These 20-mile surveys are conducted in Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Ellis, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Major, Noble, Texas, Woods, and Woodward counties.
            The other factor considered is results from the annual brood count surveys, which are conducted in late August to help biologist determine how many young pheasants were produced during the nesting season. The brood survey is conducted in the same counties as the crow count survey, and observers count the number of pheasants observed and classify the size of young birds to provide an index of pheasant abundance (number seen per mile) and reproductive success.
            Crow counts in recent years show high survival rates of adult birds, and there has been an increasing population trend over the last several years.
            “There was good carryover of adult male birds going into nesting season, and that will also carry over into the hunting season and should provide good hunting opportunity,” said Doug Schoeling, upland game bird biologist for the Wildlife Department.
            This year, brood survey results were up 30 percent from 2009. According to Schoeling, the nesting season this summer was favorable in most of the pheasant range.
            “With a good carryover of adult birds and the increase in brood production, the 2010 pheasant season looks like it could turn out very good for hunters,” Schoeling said.
            Pheasant season in Oklahoma runs Dec. 1 through Jan. 31 (only in open areas) and offers hunters a chance at a popular game bird that, though not native to Oklahoma, thrives in northcentral and northwestern portions of the state.
            The increase in daily limits was approved by the Oklahoma Wildlife Commission in April of 2009 as part of an effort to give the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation flexibility to adjust pheasant bag limits each year based on the population, allowing for improved pheasant management capabilities and increased hunting opportunities in years of high pheasant numbers.
            According to Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for Wildlife Department, research and data taken from annual spring and summer population surveys show some years are better than others for pheasant recruitment.
            “The option to adjust our pheasant season daily limit so it's consistent with the bird population each year will mean more opportunities for hunters in those years when bird numbers are high,” Peoples said.
            The ringneck pheasant was first introduced into Oklahoma in 1911, and the colorful birds prefer cultivated farmland habitat mixed with weedy fencerows and overgrown pastures common across northcentral Oklahoma and the Panhandle.
            Hunters should consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” for open counties and wildlife management areas. The daily bag limit for pheasants is three cocks, with a possession limit of six after the first day and nine after the second day. Evidence of sex (head or one foot) must remain on the bird until it reaches its final destination.
            To hunt pheasants, hunters most possess a valid state hunting license, available online at wildlifedepartment.com or at sporting good stations and other locations across the state. When the deer gun and the holiday antlerless deer seasons overlap with pheasant season, all pheasant hunters must wear either a hunter orange cap or vest. For further regulations, including open areas, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
 
-30-
 
 
 
 
Oklahoma economy made stronger by hunting
            Hunting may be a mainstream, popular pastime in Oklahoma, but it is also an important part of the state’s economy, sustaining jobs, drawing in-state and out-of-state business, and flooding the economy with millions of dollars each year.
            The number of people who hunt in Oklahoma could fill both Memorial Stadium and Boone Pickens stadium almost two times, and deer hunters make up a large portion of those hunters.
            The role deer hunters play in the state simply by participating in the outdoors is far-reaching. Original expenditures made by hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers generate rounds of additional spending throughout the economy. The total economic effect of deer hunting activity in Oklahoma during 2006 was estimated at nearly $500 million, and the total economic effect from 2006 hunting activity in Oklahoma in general was estimated to be $843 million.
            Expenditures made for hunting, fishing and wildlife watching activities support jobs throughout the state. Many of these jobs are in companies that directly serve recreationists, such as retailers, restaurants, motels and more. Others are in companies that support the first companies and employees such as wholesalers, utilities, manufacturers, grocers and more. Total jobs, full and part time, supported in Oklahoma in 2006 from deer hunting-related activities was estimated at 5,662.
            Given that outdoor recreation dollars are often spent in rural or lightly populated areas, the economic contributions of fish and wildlife resources can be especially important to rural economies.  
            Deer season draws hunters to Oklahoma from across the country as well as thousands of sportsmen who live and work in Oklahoma. These hunters purchase gear — some of which is made right here in Oklahoma — and they stay in small-town hotels and spend money at local grocery stores, restaurants, and other vendors. Hunting is big business in Oklahoma and an important part of the fabric of the state’s economy, which is relatively healthy compared to other parts of the country.
            During hard economic times, families and friends are drawn closer together through hunting, and the fabric of Oklahoma’s economy is woven even tighter and stronger thanks to a pastime enjoyed by thousands and supported by Oklahoma’s rich natural resources.
 
-30-
 
 
From field to freezer the right way
            Many hunters will tell you that one the greatest rewards of deer hunting is the many meals that will be enjoyed from the freezer full of meat that a deer provides. It’s not difficult to take a deer from the field to the freezer, but some care and effort is required.
            First and foremost, hunters must be properly licensed. To hunt deer in Oklahoma, residents must possess an appropriate hunting license. Additionally, hunters must carry a valid deer license for each deer hunted. Nonresident deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license while hunting deer, but they must possess an appropriate nonresident deer gun license for each deer hunted or proof of exemption. Holders of nonresident lifetime hunting and combination licenses are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses. Licenses are available online at wildlifedepartment.com or at sporting goods dealers and other businesses across the state.
            Upon harvesting a deer, all hunters, including lifetime license holders, must immediately attach their name and hunting license number and, new this year, the date and time of harvest to their deer. The attached item can be anything, such as a business card, as long as it contains the required information and remains attached to the carcass until it is checked. In addition, all annual license holders are required to complete the “Record of Game” section on their license form.
            All deer must be checked at the nearest open hunter check station, with an authorized Wildlife Department employee or online at wildlifedepartment.com within 24 hours of leaving the hunt area. Once checked, the deer will be issued a carcass tag or online confirmation number, which must remain with the carcass to its final destination or through processing and storage at commercial processing or storage facilities.
            Deer should be field-dressed, or “hog-dressed,” as soon as possible to prevent spoilage of the meat. After field dressing, hunters may opt to butcher their own deer or have a reputable meat processor prepare it for them. In either case, the meat should be kept clean, cool and dry until it reaches the freezer.
            “Dirt, heat and moisture are three things you’ll want to keep away from and off of your deer meat all the way through field dressing and processing,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “The better you care for your venison in the hours immediately after a harvest, the better it will taste throughout the coming year when you go to the freezer for a cut of venison for the dinner table.”
            Venison can be prepared in a vast number of ways and in many cases can serve as a substitute for other meats, such as beef.
 
 
Savory venison recipes for your 2010 deer harvest
 
MARINATED VENISON BROCHETTES (ALSO KNOWN AS “DEER KABOBS”)
Ingredients:
2 pounds of venison loin, rump or flank steak. (will make approximately 12 to 15 brochettes)
vinegar and oil based Italian Salad Dressing (i.e. Zesty Italian).
10 oz. jar of either mild or hot jalapeno peppers (sliced).
1 pound bacon
1 8 oz. jar of pearl cocktail onions (a.k.a. Martini Onions), or 2 to 3 small yellow onions cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
salt, pepper, seasoned salt to taste
wooden toothpicks and/or skewers
 
Preparation:
Remove as much of the "silver skin" and any connective tissue (white) from venison as possible and cut into strips approx. one and a half inches wide, by 1/2 inch thick by approximately three  to four inches long. Place all strips into large bowl and mix with Italian Salad Dressing and refrigerate overnight (Hint: give the meat at least one stir overnight to marinate the venison strips evenly). Take each strip and place 2-3 slices of jalapeño at one end with one cocktail onion (or cube of onion). Roll (or fold) the onion/peppers inside the strip of venison, then take one strip of bacon and wrap around the venison roll, then secure in place by tooth picks (Hint: spearing the toothpicks through the onion in the center of the roll really helps to hold everything together). Season outside of each brochette with salt, pepper or your favorite meat seasoning (i.e. Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, Cavender's Greek Seasoning etc.).
 
Grilling or Smoking:
Brochettes can be grilled on a normal gas or charcoal barbecue grill, but be careful not to cook in direct flame.  Grilling over an open flame can be dangerous once the bacon fat begins dripping on the open flame, which can cause flare ups. Place meat where it will not drip on the grill burners, or charcoal. Or, for the safest (and most tender) brochettes, place in a slow smoker (225 degrees for 2 hours). Brochettes can also be broiled in an oven, but a pan must be placed below to catch drippings from bacon. Although cooking the jalapeño peppers lessens their spiciness, you may want to prepare some brochettes with no jalapeños. Or, you may want to use milder pepper varieties (i.e. mild chili, banana or bell peppers) for those with a low tolerance for hot and spicy foods. A surprisingly tasty variation to the above involves placing a dried apricot in the brochette along with the onion and pepper!  
 
 
VENISON TIPS AND GRAVY
Ingredients
1-2 lbs. chopped venison (any choice cuts, diced to one-inch cubes)
1 packet brown gravy mix
1 cup water
salt, pepper, or steak & fajita spice
3-4 servings rice
 
Whisk brown gravy mix into one cup cold water. Set aside. Season venison cubes and brown in large skillet, then add gravy mixture. Cover and simmer at least one hour. Serve over rice.
 
 
VENISON STEW PAPRIKA
2 1/2-3 lbs. venison stew meat cut into one-inch cubes
1/2 C flour
3 T paprika
Salt and Pepper
2 T butter
2 med. Onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 t marjoram
1-11 oz. Can tomatoes or 1 can tomato sauce
1/2 C sour cream at room temperature
1/2 C wine or 7-Up
 
Shake meat cubes in plastic bag with the flour, 1T paprika, salt and pepper. In Dutch oven, melt butter and sauté coated venison cubes until browned (may have to brown the cubes in stages, do not crowd them to get nicely browned). Remove cubes to warm dish and in the same Dutch oven, sauté onions and garlic with 2 T paprika until soft. Then add marjoram, tomatoes and wine or 7-Up. Add browned venison cubes and simmer over low heat until meat is tender (45 min-1.5 hours). Just before serving, stir in 1/2 C sour cream. Serve with egg noodles or rice.
 
 
GROUND VENISON FOIL WRAP
Take a 12" square piece of foil. Put a venison patty (about the size of a hamburger patty) on middle of foil. Pull up sides of foil to form a bag. Add about 1/4" slices of potatoes to top of meat, then add onion slices, put about a teaspoon of butter and 1/8 cup of water in foil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, & a little garlic powder. Close foil and put in hot coals for about 20-30 minutes. Or you can cook at 350 degrees in an oven for about the same time. You can add other vegetables and sauces, such as barbecue sauce or ketchup, if you want to the foil wraps.
-Submitted by Susan Jones
 
-30-

Last chance for young outdoor writers to share hunting heritage, win outdoor getaways
            Oklahoma youth planning to participate in the youth outdoor essay contest hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International have until Nov. 19 to postmark or hand deliver their entries. Entrants have a chance to share their outdoor heritage as well as compete for an unforgettable outdoor getaway.
            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.
            To participate, students must be 11-17 years of age and currently enrolled in any Oklahoma school or home school. Students also must use the theme of “Hunting: Sharing the Heritage” or “Archery: What I like about Archery in the Schools and Bowhunting” or the concept of the theme to develop a descriptive essay or short story. Winners of the previous year’s contest are not eligible. Applicants must have successfully completed an Oklahoma Hunter Education course by the entry deadline, which is Nov. 19, 2010. There are two age categories — 11-14 and 15-17.
            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 a scholarship within 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 the 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 2011.
            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 Oklahoma State Chapter will reimburse trip travel expenses to New Mexico and Texas up to $500 per essay contest winner. The winning student essays will be published in the OSCSCI newsletter, “Safari Trails.” Publication qualifies the winning entries for the Outdoor Writers Association of America Youth Writing Contest. Several past national winners have come from Oklahoma. Essays may also be printed in Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
             Two educators also will be awarded all-expenses-paid scholarships for an eight-day conservation education school at Safari Club International’s American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS) at Granite Ranch near Jackson, Wyoming.
            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, language arts and creative writing in an outdoor setting, fly tying, shooting sports, wildlife management, the Yellowstone ecosystem, camping, white-water rafting, educational resources and how to implement outdoor education ideas.
            Both the essay contest rules and teacher scholarship applications are available from the Department's Web site.
            Essays and applications must be postmarked no later than Nov. 19, 2010, or delivered by Nov. 19 in person to the Department of Wildlife’s Jenks Office at 201 Aquarium Drive, Jenks. Address entries to: Essay Contest, Attn: Education Section Supervisor, ODWC Jenks Office, P.O. Box 1201, Jenks, OK 74037. Fax entries will not be accepted.
 
-30-
 
 
Time running out to vote online for favorite 2011-12 duck stamp art
            It just takes the click of a mouse for sportsmen to vote on the artwork that that will be printed on the 2011-12 Oklahoma waterfowl stamp, but time is running out.
            Hunters can vote online at wildlifedepartment.com until Nov. 15. A number of voting options are available thanks to submissions from artists from all over the United States.
            Every year wildlife artists from across the nation submit their rendition of a specified waterfowl species to the Wildlife Department’s duck stamp design contest. In recent years the Wildlife Department has relied on input from the public to help determine the winner, whose work is printed on the Oklahoma waterfowl stamp the following year. This year, artwork was centered on the bluewing teal which can be found near Oklahoma’s wetlands during early fall and spring.
            “In recent years, people who wanted to vote on the next duck stamp design had to travel somewhere to see the entries, but technology is allowing us to make voting possible from home or even on the go for those folks with laptops or smart phones,” said Micah Holmes, information and education supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
            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.
            Along with public input, entries will be judged on anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for printing.
            The winning artist will receive a purchase award of $1,200 provided by NatureWorks, a Tulsa-based conservation organization. Additionally, the winner and three honorable mentions will appear in a future issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
            “This is a good chance for duck hunters to weigh in on their favorite artwork,” Holmes said. “After all, it’s their duck season and their waterfowl stamp. They should have a say in what artwork is featured, and they should take the opportunity to give their input.”
            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/oklahomastampprogram.htm
            More information about the annual duck stamp design contest, including official rules, is available online at wildlifedepartment.com
 
-30-
 
 
Free Wildlife Department “Rut Report’ slated for Nov. 17
            With the Nov. 20 Oklahoma deer gun season opener just around the corner, reports of deer activity from hunters are beginning to buzz, no doubt through e-mails and text messages as well as in workplaces, schools and at dinner tables all over the state. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is getting in on the excitement with its own last minute “Rut Report,” scheduled for Nov. 17.
            The report, available for free by e-mail to anyone who subscribes to the Wildlife Department, will contain the latest possible status reports from Wildlife Department biologists on deer rutting activity in all regions of the state. It will also include venison recipes, information on the Department’s online deer check station option, the Hunters Against Hunger program and information about driving vehicles on country roadways during the deer breeding season, or rut. Deer breeding activity can vary from region to region based on a range of factors, but with personnel stationed in all corners of Oklahoma, the Wildlife Department is able to collect useful information for hunters no matter where they hunt.
            “Right now Department employees are either talking about deer or hearing about deer,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. “Our employees are constantly visiting with sportsmen, landowners and others who spend time in the outdoors, so we are getting a lot of information that could prove useful to deer hunters. I’d encourage anyone interested in some last minute details on deer activity to check out our free report next week.”
            The report will be part of the Wildlife Department’s free weekly e-mail news release, which is sent to thousands of subscribers each week. The weekly news release provides updates on hunting and fishing seasons, state record fish, outdoor activities, annual wildlife migrations, and more. Weekly fishing reports from lakes and rivers across the state are provided, as well as seasonal waterfowl reports that duck hunters can use to plan their hunting seasons. A televised version of the rut report also will be aired on Outdoor Oklahoma TV, the Wildlife Department’s official television program, starting at 8 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 21 on OETA. The program is aired at additional times and on other stations throughout the week as well. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com to find airtimes and channels for regions across the state.
            “Whatever you want to know about current activities in the outdoors — whether it is when to expect whooping cranes to come through Oklahoma on their annual migrations, where to go to hunt for pheasants, where to catch a paddlefish or when to plan a trout fishing trip — the Department’s weekly news release is all you need,” Rodefeld said. “It’s instant, it’s up to date and it is free. The Wildlife Department also is online at wildlifedepartment.com and on twitter, and we have a range of online and print publications to stay in touch with our hunters and anglers.”
            For more information about the Wildlife Department or deer hunting in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-