MARCH 2011 NEWS RELEASES 

 

 

WEEK OF MARCH 31, 2011

 

WEEK OF MARCH 24, 2011

 

WEEK OF MARCH 17, 2011

 

WEEK OF MARCH 10, 2011

 

WEEK OF MARCH 3, 2011

Wildlife Department Youth Camp to offer youth a glimpse of careers in wildlife amid outdoor fun
            A lifetime of hunting and fishing is full of memories and lessons about life, nature and ethics — and Oklahoma youth who enjoy the outdoors can take that one step further by pursuing a career in wildlife conservation. Teenagers can apply now to attend the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s annual Wildlife Youth Camp slated for July 10-15 and learn about rewarding careers that focus on managing wildlife for the future.
            The youth camp, which is held at Oklahoma University Biological Station at Lake Texoma and open to Oklahoma residents, introduces youth age 14-16 to careers in wildlife-related fields and increases their awareness of conserving and managing Oklahoma’s wildlife resources.
            “The free camp allows youth to gain first-hand knowledge of careers in wildlife and fisheries management as well as law enforcement,” said Robert Fleenor, chief of law enforcement for the Wildlife Department. “Some participants even move on to rewarding careers as employees of the Wildlife Department.”
            Courses planned for the week include rifle and shotgun training, muzzleloading, wildlife identification, wildlife law enforcement, fishing, fisheries management, ropes and rappelling, swimming, and turkey and waterfowl hunting, management and enforcement.
            To attend youth camp, applicants must be Oklahoma residents and must turn 14 prior to July 10, 2011, and be no older than 16. Applicants must write a 75-word essay describing why they want to attend the camp, why they should be selected and what they expect to learn. Additionally, they must provide a letter of recommendation by someone other than a family member and a photograph from a recent outdoor-related event or activity.
            The camp will be open to a maximum of 40 youth, and applications will be accepted through April 15, 2010. More information and applications, as well as photographs from previous youth camps are available by logging on to
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Kiamichi Mountains to host 55th Youth Forestry and Wildlife Camp; applications now accepted
            One of Oklahoma’s longest running summer camps is now accepting applications from youth interested in learning more about forestry, wildlife and conservation in an outdoor setting.
            The 55th Annual Oklahoma Youth Forestry & Wildlife Camp is accepting online applications for campers aged 13 to 15 years old. The week-long camp will be held June 6-11 in beautiful Beavers Bend State Park near Broken Bow, Oklahoma, and is open to boys and girls from across the state.
            “Only 50 spots are available, so we urge interested campers to sign up now,” said Oklahoma Forestry Services’ District Forester and camp director Caleb Fields. “While learning about forestry and wildlife, campers will enjoy fly fishing, archery, skeet shooting and fun field trips.”
            Adult leaders and camp counselors are also urged to apply. Camp counselors, age 18 to 22, should be mature, responsible young adults with an interest in education or outdoor careers such as forestry or wildlife. In addition to working with the younger campers and gaining valuable experience in their field, camp counselors will receive a stipend of $200 for the week. Volunteer adult leaders are also eligible to bring one camper for no charge.
            The fee for campers is $175 and covers all costs including lodging, meals, transportation at camp, field trips, and workshops. A limited number of partial scholarships are available. Applications will be accepted until April 29, 2011, and are available at www.forestry.ok.gov  or by calling (405) 522-6158. The website also has additional camp information as well as photos from past camps.
            By experiencing nature in a fun atmosphere, students will gain a life-long awareness and respect for the world in which they live while learning from some of the top natural resource professionals in the state.
 
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Wildlife Department employment exam scheduled
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will be holding an open employment exam Friday, March 25, at Rose State College.
            With employees who have been on board for up to 20, 30 and even close to 50 years as well as new employees starting on a regular basis, the Wildlife Department is a desirable place to work and one of the longest tenured state agencies in Oklahoma.
            “Working for the Department is an extremely rewarding experience,” said Mikki Gutierrez, human resources administrator for the Wildlife Department.
            Taking the test is the first step in the hiring process for individuals seeking positions as game wardens, biologists, fish hatchery assistant managers or technicians with the Department.
            The standardized employment exam is set for 10 a.m. in the Tom Steed Development Center at Rose State College. The exam is free, and participants must have photo identification upon check-in. Late arrivals will not be permitted to enter the examination room after 10 a.m.
            “The Department looks for the best wildlife conservation employees available, and we want those who are interested to begin getting involved,” Gutierrez said. “This test is the first step for most positions at the Wildlife Department.”
            Specific job and education requirements for Department positions as well as suggested study material for the exams are listed on the Department's official website at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com.
            Individuals may take the exam once in a 12-month period. Test scores are valid for 12 months from the test date, and top scorers will be invited to submit an employment application. When a job opening becomes available, selected applicants from the test register will be scheduled for an interview. For more information, contact the Wildlife Department's Human Resources office at (405) 521-4640.
 
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New strides in bobwhite quail management on the horizon
            The bobwhite quail is an iconic symbol of the Great Plains, and Oklahoma has long been known as home to some of the best quail hunting and quail habitat in the nation. But the species is currently in a state of unexplained gradual decline across its range. While Oklahoma remains one of the strongest holdouts of bobwhite quail populations and habitat, wildlife professionals are proactively launching an extensive effort to understand and address what could be a number of contributors to the downward trend in quail populations.
            “Quail are dependent on weather and habitat, but there are other issues out there,” said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            The downward trend in bobwhite quail populations rangewide has been gradual since the 1960s. The number of quail hunters has declined as well — from 111,000 in 1986 down to 30,000 hunters last year.
            Quail decline has been attributed to a number of causes, and there is no shortage of theories blaming everything from diseases and food contamination to habitat loss, fragmentation and predation. But Wildlife Department officials say the issues need to be studied from all angles.
            Studies conducted from 1991 to 2000 on the Packsaddle Wildlife Management Areas in northwest Oklahoma yielded some helpful information, such as predation rates and mortality causes of quail fitted with radio tracking devices. But according to Doug Schoeling, upland game bird biologist for the Wildlife Department, an upcoming upland game bird initiative will provide extensive information on a range of matters that could lead to improvements in quail and quail habitat management.
            At its March meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission heard a presentation from Schoeling on plans for the comprehensive initiative underway to investigate the issues affecting bobwhite quail and other upland birds like the lesser prairie chicken.
            As part of the initiative, the Wildlife Department is working with Texas Parks and Wildlife as well Texas A&M and Texas Tech universities on a project called Operation Idiopathic Decline. The role of Wildlife Department biologists will include trapping quail in the fall and sending them to Texas Tech, where extensive research will commence in the areas of disease, parasitism, herbicides, insecticides and other issues.
            “We’re also going to work with Oklahoma State University,” Schoeling said. “We’re going to create a long-term, well-designed telemetry study that’s going to look at the dynamics of reproduction, recruitment and the movements of quail.”
            The study, which will focus on Packsaddle and Beaver River WMAs, also will examine the effects of predation and hunting on quail.
            Schoeling said researchers will study the amounts and lethal affects of aflatoxins in various seeds distributed in wildlife feeders as well as levels present in wild food sources like ragweed, sunflowers and others.
            Additionally, researchers will use weather stations on the two WMAs to intensively monitor and collect information on localized weather events. By fitting quail with radio tracking devices, biologists can track their movements in response to weather changes, and they can also look at how weather patterns affect vegetation used by quail.
            Intensive quail habitat management also will be applied on Packsaddle and Beaver River WMAs such as strip disking, patch burning and regulated grazing. Quail populations will be closely monitored before and after the application of these management efforts, and their response carefully documented. Additionally, the relationship between the weather, habitat and intensive management efforts will be studied as a whole as they pertain to quail success.
            After results are measured, biologists will prioritize the most beneficial efforts for quail and work with landowners to encourage those practices on private land, which makes up the majority of land in the state.
            The Wildlife Department also will be working to improve methods for monitoring quail populations on a yearly basis.
            “Ground nesting birds and all non-migratory birds are hard to monitor, anyway, so we’re going to look and see if we can find a new and better way to monitor those annual fluctuations in the quail population so we can better inform the hunters out there on an annual basis,” Schoeling said.
            Research facilities at Packsaddle and Beaver River WMAs may also be developed to provide on-site research facilities. Other efforts may include field days to showcase quail response to habitat work and involvement of landowners and hunters in monitoring quail populations.
            Schoeling also included in his presentation a rundown of efforts underway in management of another important upland bird — the lesser prairie chicken. Along with tracking populations during the spring, the Wildlife Department is searching for new ways to monitor the birds through expanded surveys and aerial studies.  Additionally, the Department will be exploring the use of telemetry studies, long-term research to discover the effects of energy development on bird populations, and studies to determine the return on efforts to improve habitat.
            The Wildlife Department has developed a voluntary offset program with OG&E to fund lesser prairie chicken habitat restoration, expanded WMAs in important habitat and worked with partners to develop a lesser prairie chicken spatial planning tool to help energy companies avoid development in prime habitat. Partnerships with private landowners, conservation organizations and other state and federal wildlife agencies are benefiting lesser prairie chickens. Additionally, the Department is working to develop the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances. This agreement will offer protection to landowners who follow prescribed management practices on their property to support lesser prairie chickens in the event the bird is added to the Endangered Species list.
 
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Wildlife Department to launch intensive quail population research to address decline
            Gradual downward trends in bobwhite quail populations have been attributed to a number of culprits, but officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation say challenges facing the species need to be addressed intensively through a comprehensive research effort.
            At its March meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission heard a presentation from Doug Schoeling, upland game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, on plans for a comprehensive upland game bird initiative to investigate the issues affecting bobwhite quail and other upland birds like the lesser prairie chicken.
            As part of the initiative, the Wildlife Department will be working with Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State universities on extensive research projects in the areas of disease, parasitism, herbicides, insecticides and in the development of a long-term, well-designed telemetry study to explore the dynamics of reproduction, recruitment and the movements of quail.
            According to Schoeling, everything from diseases and food contamination to habitat loss, fragmentation, predation, habitat responses to weather and management efforts will be studied extensively.
            “We are going to look at things like aflatoxins, coccidiosis, West Nile virus, and all of the other ‘black box’ diseases,” Schoeling said. “But we will always have weather running in the background.”
            Intensive quail management efforts also will be applied on Packsaddle and Beaver River Wildlife Management Areas in northwest Oklahoma, and quail populations will be closely monitored and documented. The efforts that prove the most beneficial for quail will be prioritized, and biologists will work with landowners to encourage those practices on private land, which makes up the majority of land in the state.
            The Wildlife Department also will be working to improve methods for monitoring quail populations on a yearly basis, and research facilities at Packsaddle and Beaver River WMAs may also be developed to provide on-site research facilities. Other efforts may include field days to showcase quail response to habitat work and involvement of landowners and hunters in monitoring quail populations.
            Schoeling also included in his presentation a rundown of efforts underway in management of another important upland bird — the lesser prairie chicken. Along with tracking populations during the spring, the Wildlife Department is searching for new ways to monitor the birds through expanded surveys and aerial studies.  Additionally, the Department will be exploring the use of telemetry studies, long-term research to discover the effects of energy development on bird populations, and studies to determine the return on efforts to improve habitat.
            In other business, the Commission accepted a monument donation from Tulsa-based conservation group NatureWorks. The monument features a larger-than-life-size bronze display of three whitetail deer that will be positioned at the entrance to the Wildlife Department headquarters in Oklahoma City. The monuments — which include a buck in pursuit of two does, are valued at approximately $80,000.
            “NatureWorks, through efforts from its volunteer board of directors, has funded a number of projects for the Oklahoma Department Wildlife,” said Dwayne Flynn, projects committee chairman for NatureWorks. “NatureWorks agreed to partner with the Department of Wildlife and donate the whitetail deer to the legacy of NatureWorks in an effort to support and promote our common mission — wildlife conservation. These monuments will be enjoyed by all visitors to the Department of Wildlife as well as those who drive by the building.”
            NatureWorks, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to wildlife conservation and education. Projects such as the Department's paddlefish management program, duck stamp print program and centennial duck stamp print have benefited from NatureWorks' support as well as habitat work at the Harold Stuart Waterfowl Refuge Unit at the Deep Fork WMA and the Grassy Slough WMA. NatureWorks is also an important supporter of the Wildlife Department's Hunters Against Hunger program in which hunters can donate their legally harvested deer to feed hungry Oklahomans. In addition, they have funded a project that puts Outdoor Oklahoma magazine in every school and library in the state.
            The Commission also heard an update from Steve Spade, hatcheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department and manager of the Byron State Fish Hatchery, on renovations at two of the state’s fish hatcheries.
            Oklahoma’s four state fish hatcheries — Byron, Durant, Holdenville and J.A. Manning — produce 13-15 million fish every year for stocking in public waters and private farm ponds. They are all old facilities built between 1913 and the 1930s that require upkeep to maintain production. Recent renovations have taken place at the Byron facility, and others are underway at Durant.
            At Byron, renovation projects included sealing and adding riprap to a reservoir dike to stop seepage and control erosion, as well as the installation of submersible pumps, a bypass drain line to provide more drainage options for the hatchery’s ponds, aeration technology to improve water quality and a water capture system to collect rainwater and pond runoff to increase quality and quantity water at the hatchery.
            “At Byron, quantity of water is a big issue as well as the quality, so anything we can do to improve both is beneficial to the hatchery and to the production of fish,” Spade said.
            Renovations at the Durant State Fish Hatchery will take place in four phases. The first phase includes repairing the water intake system, replacing pumps and repairing water transmission lines. Phase II includes repairing and reshaping water supply reservoirs, repairing and adding riprap to levies and constructing new drainage control structures. Phase III will include the construction of a new fish production building, and the last phase would include the construction of two over-wintering ponds for Florida strain largemouth bass to provide warmer, deeper waters.
            While the fish hatchery program continues to build on its legacy of providing better angling opportunities, other fisheries programs are making their mark on the history of improving fisheries management in the state. The paddlefish research program is a prime example.
            Located near the Twin Bridges State Park in northeast Oklahoma, the paddlefish research and processing center has been collecting data from paddlefish caught by anglers for three full seasons and has begun its fourth.
            The Commission heard an update from Brent Gordon, northeast region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department, on the progress of the program to date.
            Anglers who catch a paddlefish can bring their fish to the center and have it processed for free in exchange for biological data. The information collected from the fish can be used in future management. Additionally, Department employees collect eggs from female fish to be sold on the world market. By working with anglers, biologists can collect more and better information from fish that were going to be harvested, anyway, and in the process the program funds itself.
            Male paddlefish take six to eight years to mature to breeding age, and females take eight to 10 years, making it all the more important for biologists to understand and properly manage the species.
            Data collected at the center told biologists that the 1999 paddlefish age class was largely supporting the fishery and that a new age class has yet to begin spawning heavily. From 2008 to 2010, data indicated that more than 70 percent of the fish processed each year were from the 1999 age class. While reproduction success was strong in 2008, it will be several years before that age group reaches breeding age, meaning too much pressure could be placed on the 1999 age group in the meantime. To protect the 1999 age class from overharvest and sustain the fishery until a new age class begins actively spawning, fisheries biologists determined that a reduction in harvest would be necessary.
            “We wanted to figure out how we could impact that harvest and bring it down a little without stopping anglers from fishing and having a good experience,” Gordon said.
            According to Gordon, the fact that the data collected at the research and processing center helped avert an overharvest problem shows the true success of the program.
            “We saw this happening and were able to get on top of it before it became a problem,” Gordon said.
            Biologists used data and post-season surveys to reduce the harvest sufficiently while still offering plenty of opportunity to anglers by making Mondays and Fridays catch-and-release only days. Additionally, the Spring River was closed to snagging to provide a paddlefish spawning sanctuary. The rules were approved and passed, and as a result, the 2010 harvest was reduced in the first year of implementation, and anglers still enjoyed ample angling opportunities.
            In other business, Wildlife Department Director Richard Hatcher recognized Alan Stacey, wetland development biologist, for 25 years of service to the Wildlife Department. Stacey began his career in 1986 as a biologist at Okmulgee and Skiatook WMAs. He also spent time working on Keystone WMA. For almost 20 years, Stacey has specialized in wetland development, helping with major projects at Hackberry Flat, Red Slough, Grassy Slough, Drummond Flats, Green Tree and others throughout the state.
            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., April 4, at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.
 
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Arrows to fly at State Fair Park
            About 1,200 students from across the state are scheduled to shoot almost 50,000 arrows March 23 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools annual state shoot at the State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.
            The students qualified for the state shoot by competing in regional archery events held in February, in which almost 2,000 students participated.
            Over 250 schools across Oklahoma participate in the Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools Program (OKNASP), and more than 65 of those will bring students to compete in the state shoot after a season of practice and competition in their respective schools.
            “Coaches have told me time and again that this program has helped every child see success. From the typical athletic student to the child that does not usually excel in most other sports, archery is allowing all students to compete on a level playing field,” said Justin Marschall, OKNASP coordinator for the Wildlife Department.
            The number of students at the state and regional shoots reflect the growth of the OKNASP program during its seven years of existence.
            “Due to the continued growth of the program we held regional qualifiers across the state to aid us in making the number of shooters at the state shoot more manageable,” Marschall said.
            Coordinated by the Wildlife Department, OKNASP is part of the National Archery in the Schools Program. The program partners state wildlife agencies, schools and the nation's archery industry to introduce students to the sport of archery. The Archery in the Schools curriculum is designed for 4th-12th graders and covers archery history, safety, techniques, equipment, mental concentration and self-improvement.
            Medals and prizes will be awarded to top shooters in all categories. In addition, students participating in the state shoot have a chance to quality for the national tournament to be held May13-14 in Louisville, Ky.
            For more information about Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools or the Wildlife Department, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com

 

 


 
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Deadline to apply for Wildlife Department Youth Camp set for April 15
            A lifetime of hunting and fishing is full of memories and lessons about life, nature and ethics — and Oklahoma youth who enjoy the outdoors can take that one step further by pursuing a career in wildlife conservation. Teenagers can apply now to attend the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s annual Wildlife Youth Camp slated for July 10-15 and learn about rewarding careers that focus on managing wildlife for the future.
            The youth camp, which is held at Oklahoma University Biological Station at Lake Texoma and open to Oklahoma residents, introduces youth age 14-16 to careers in wildlife-related fields and increases their awareness of conserving and managing Oklahoma’s wildlife resources.
            “The free camp allows youth to gain first-hand knowledge of careers in wildlife and fisheries management as well as law enforcement,” said Robert Fleenor, chief of law enforcement for the Wildlife Department. “Some participants even move on to rewarding careers as employees of the Wildlife Department.”
            Courses planned for the week include rifle and shotgun training, muzzleloading, wildlife identification, wildlife law enforcement, fishing, fisheries management, ropes and rappelling, swimming, and turkey and waterfowl hunting, management and enforcement.
            To attend youth camp, applicants must be Oklahoma residents and must turn 14 prior to July 10, 2011, and be no older than 16. Applicants must write a 75-word essay describing why they want to attend the camp, why they should be selected and what they expect to learn. Additionally, they must provide a letter of recommendation by someone other than a family member and a photograph from a recent outdoor-related event or activity.
            The camp will be open to a maximum of 40 youth, and applications will be accepted through April 15, 2010. More information and applications, as well as photographs from previous youth camps are available by logging on to
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com


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Fifth annual youth spring turkey season keeps youth in the woods for a lifetime
            Youth who would like to go turkey hunting have a unique opportunity April 2-3, when young hunters have a chance to hunt turkeys before anybody else this spring. They just need an adult who will take them.
            The fifth annual youth spring turkey season is open to hunters under 18 years of age who are accompanied by an adult, and youth may harvest one tom turkey to count toward their county and regular spring season harvest limit.
            “A season designated for youth is a great way to make the sport all about them,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “I’ve had the good fortune to accompany several youth on hunts now, including my own son, and it is very rewarding. It’s a great time to be in the field with your family, and it’s a great way to instill a love for the outdoors at a young age.”
            Youth who have completed the Wildlife Department’s hunter education course and who plan to hunt during the youth spring turkey season must be accompanied by an adult 18 years old or older. The adult may not hunt or possess any firearms or archery equipment. Youth who have not completed the hunter education course can still hunt during the youth spring turkey season, but their license will have an apprentice designation and they must be accompanied by a licensed hunter 21 years old or older who possesses a certificate of hunter education or is exempt from the hunter education requirements.
            Youth who participate in the youth spring turkey season not only get an early opportunity to hunt, but those who do not harvest a turkey during the youth season may use their unfilled turkey license during the regular spring season, which runs April 6 – May 6.
            During the youth spring turkey season, resident youth under 16 and non-residents under 14 are not required to have a hunting license, but they are required to have a turkey license or proof of exemption. Resident youth ages 16 and 17 and non-resident youth ages 14-17 must possess an appropriate hunting license and turkey license or proof of exemption.
            Seasons on public lands may vary from statewide season dates. Consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” for full details and regulations.
 
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Anglers be ready; Oklahoma’s best fishing to be triggered at any time
            As the weather begins to show signs of spring, anglers’ minds turn to the water.
            “We’ve had some unusually warm weather that has driven the water temperature up above 50 degrees,” said Larry Cofer, southwest region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “That’s means it’s a good time to start getting out and scouting the waters.”
            Cofer advises that now is the time for anglers to make sure their fishing line is fresh and that their gear is together in one place. Lures, hooks, line, fillet knives, stringers and other gear should be checked and replenished or replaced as needed.
            “More than anything, just be ready to get to your favorite spot quickly,” Cofer said.
            Good fishing can be triggered quickly this time of year, and anglers should be prepared so they don’t miss out on the fishing or the memories.
            According to Cofer, anglers should not overlook farm ponds or lakes that are shallow and muddy this time of year, as they warm up more quickly than deeper reservoirs and may offer excellent fishing before larger waters do. Additionally, on warm, windy days early in the season such as those that Oklahoma has experienced lately, Cofer says one side of a lake may be warmer than the other and may offer better fishing.
            Fishing is big business in Oklahoma. The state includes over 1,100 square miles of lakes and ponds and 78,500 miles of rivers and streams, much of which is open to the estimated 611,000 anglers in the state. According to studies, Oklahoma anglers spend about $502 million a year in the state, and the sport creates 10,300 jobs for Oklahomans.
            The Wildlife Department will provide updates and news on fishing throughout the spring and summer through its free Weekly Wildlife News and Weekly Fishing Reports, available free by e-mail to those who sign up at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
            For more information about fishing in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Oklahoman and former Wildlife Department employee inducted into Bass Fishing Hall of Fame
            Oklahoman Ken Cook won the first B.A.S.S. angling event he ever fished—the 1980 BASS Federation Chapter Championship on Grand Lake, and after a successful career in professional angling, he was recently inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.
            Since then the former Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation fisheries biologist went on to qualify for 14 Bassmaster Classics, winning the 1991 world championship on Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.
            Cook has a B.S. degree in zoology from Oklahoma State University and was the southwest regional fisheries supervisor when he worked at the Wildlife Department.
            “I worked with Ken Cook when he was at the Wildlife Department, and we want to congratulate him on his induction,” said Barry Bolton, fisheries chief for the Wildlife Department.
            Cook was one of the first $100,000 tournament winners, capturing the first Super B.A.S.S. title on the St. Johns River in Florida in 1983. He has won six tournaments on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail. In addition, he was the American Angler Grand American Champion in 1980 and the U.S. Bass World Champion in 1985. He has earned more than $800,000 in B.A.S.S. competition alone. Bassmaster Magazine ranked him among the 10 most “fan popular” pros in the country.
            Now retired from his 30-year career as a professional angler, Cook and his wife Tammy now spend their time running their Tarbone Ranch in southwest Oklahoma.
 
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Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools State Shoot draws 1,159 youth archers
            Archery is a sport that appeals to students of all ages, sizes and athletic abilities to compete at the same level for top honors, and as a sport dominated by precision and practice rather than age and brawn, the annual Oklahoma Archery in the Schools State Shoot was anyone’s game.
            Over 1,150 students from about 70 schools Oklahoma schools involved in the program turned out at the Oklahoma State Fair Park in Oklahoma City March 24 for the state shoot. The event brought students together after a season of practice and competition in their respective schools as part of the Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools Program (OKNASP), administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            To help manage the sheer number of students participating in this growing program (about 250 schools statewide participate in the program), the Wildlife Department held regional shoots across the state last month to establish which teams and individual shooters would qualify for the state shoot.
            Partial grants are available for schools to acquire all the equipment, including bows, arrows, targets, safety nets, curriculum and training necessary to start an OKNASP program in their communities at little cost.
            Teachers interested in learning more about the OKNASP program or in starting the program at their school should contact Justin Marschall, OKNASP coordinator for the Wildlife Department, at (405) 522-4572  or contact Colin Berg, information and education supervisor for the Wildlife Department, at (918) 299-2334.
            Coordinated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, OKNASP is part of the National Archery in the Schools program. The program partners state wildlife agencies, schools and the nation’s archery industry to introduce students to the sport of archery. The Archery in the Schools curriculum is designed for 4th-12th graders and covers archery history, safety, techniques, equipment, mental concentration and self-improvement.
            The top three shooters in each category at the state shoot received medals and prizes. First place winners received a new Genesis bow, second place winners received a new set of Alpen binoculars and third place winners took home a new bow carrying case. The overall top boy and girl shooters received Morrell archery targets and a Genesis trophy bow, and the overall top shooter received a trophy. In addition, top shooters and teams automatically qualified for the national shoot to be held in Louisville, Ky.
            The top five shooters in each age category, as well as the overall top boy and girl shooters and top school teams are as follows:
 
Elementary Girls
Ambria Noman, Chickasha Elementary
Brittany Alexander, Chickasha Elementary
Kassidy Perkins, Zaneis School
Codi Tolliver, Zaneis School
Payton Glenn, Wayland Bonds Elementary
 
Elementary Boys
Jimmy Parham Chickasha Elementary
Jacob Latendresse, Coweta-Mission
Justin Veach, Chickasha Elementary
Jonathan Harris,Trinity Christian Academy
Travis Wade, Zaneis School
 
Middle School Girls
Hunter Tolliver, Zaneis School
Lacy Rutledge, Zaneis School
Lynsie Cantwell, Zaneis School
Cheyenne Keith, Greenville Middle School
Bailey Tolliver, Zaneis School
 
Middle School Boys
Wyatt Morgan, Sequoyah Middle School
Kolt Perkins, Zaneis School
Brooks Bush, Chickasha Middle School
Lane Kennedy, Coweta Middle School
Jacob Wade, Zaneis School
 
High School Girls
Shelby Douglas, Chickasha High School
Danielle Dooty, Chickasha High School
Evan Bush, Chickasha High School
Jessica Nadal, Sequoyah High School
Kayla Replogle, Coweta High School

High School Boys
Colton Woolbright, Wister High School
Caleb Riley, Ringling High School
Brydon Edmonds, Chickasha High School
Cody Bridges, Keys High School
Cole Thompson, Keys High School
 
Overall Top Female Shooter:
Hunter Tolliver, Zaneis
 
Overall Top Male Shooter
Colton Woolbright, Wister


 
Team Standings:
Elementary Teams, & Locations
1st place: Chickasha Elementary, Chickasha
2nd place: Wayland Bonds, Oklahoma City
3rd place: Zaneis, Wilson
 
Middle School Teams & Locations
1st place: Zaneis, Wilson
2nd place: Chickasha Middle, Chickasha
3rd place: Greenville Middle, Marietta
 
High School Teams & Locations
1st place: Chickasha High, Chickasha
2nd place: Coweta High, Coweta
3rd place: Keys High, Park Hill
 
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State fish offers hot angling action as spawning season arrives
            The coming weeks mark the annual spring spawning of the white bass — Oklahoma’s state fish, and biologists are more than willing to provide insight into where to find this fish this time of year when they move upstream from lakes across the state.
            The white bass, also called the “sand bass,” swim in large schools up rivers and creeks to spawn each spring, and anglers who fish at the right time can end up with near constant angling action as well as a stringer full of fish. Over the years, fisheries biologists have helped anglers plan their white bass fishing trips by compiling information on where and when to go fishing for white bass in each region of the state. They update the information each year to help anglers deal with any changes brought on by weather, available access and other factors that can cause fishing success to vary from year to year.
            The spring spawning run of the white bass can often tracked northward across the state, with initial reports of good tributary fishing coming from the southern portion of the state and improving to the north as early spring progresses.
            According to Kyle James, southeast region fisheries biologist for the Wildlife Department, white bass are already biting in the Mountain Fork River, but the best is yet to come.
            Looking back over the last two years, James has seem some variance on when the white bass fishing action has peaked. Two years ago, the spring spawning run in southeast Oklahoma was already well underway in the first week of March, and last year it reportedly picked up several weeks later. James said that different weather this year is once again holding off the peak of the spring run, adding that the region has seen very little precipitation this spring.
            “Temperatures are warming to mid to upper 60s, and fish are stirring. A good spring rain shower is all we lack to boost our numbers in all tributaries of southeast Oklahoma lakes and rivers.”
            While the weather has been different in the southeast part of the state than last year, the hotspots for catching white bass have not. Promising destinations include the narrows at Broken Bow, Pine Creek, Hugo, Sardis, and Wister reservoirs. James said both walk-in and boat access points are available throughout the region.
            According to James, a 1/8 oz. jig with a white or yellow curly tailed grub is a popular lure for catching white bass, and he even suggests using two jigs as once for a chance at a double.
            In the southcentral portions of the state, lake levels are below normal elevations, compared to last year about this time when they were reportedly at or above normal. According to Cliff Sager, southcentral region fisheries biologist for the Department, white bass are located near the mouths of creeks and tributaries waiting for inflows created by spring rains. The lakes have warmed over the last couple of weeks and have reached the ideal temperature for the spawning run. According to Sager, this means that only small amounts of inflow would be needed to trigger the spawning run, and excellent fishing.
            Further north, angling success can be had from creeks accessible from the Eufaula Wildlife Management Area in eastcentral Oklahoma. Duchess Creek is accessed by taking the Texanna Road exit off I-40 about four miles east of Checotah and driving south four and a half miles. Turn left on the dirt road and proceed one quarter mile to the first bridge. Fish upstream or downstream according to lake level.
            According to Danny Bowen, central region fisheries biologist for the Wildlife Department, sand bass also can be caught on Wewoka Creek south of Wetumka.
            Kaw Lake in northcentral Oklahoma can provide some sand bass fishing opportunities as well. According to Tom Wolf, northcentral region fisheries biologist, the Arkansas River and Beaver Creek flow into Kaw Lake and provide most of the white bass activity offered by the lake in the spring. Both streams have boat ramps for access.
            Eastern Oklahoma offers a number of white bass fishing opportunities, too, according to Josh Johnston, eastcentral region fisheries biologist for the Wildlife Department.
            Johnston suggests picking one of the larger tributaries to the Arkansas River and watching for increased water flow in early spring. Examples include Robert S. Kerr’s Sallisaw Creek arm, where fishing intensifies after a warm spring rain brings a water level rise. The same thing happens on Dirty Creek west of Webbers Falls, below Greenleaf Dam on Greenleaf Creek or below every dam on the Arkansas River Navigation System. It’s all a question of when the warm rains bring an increased water flow.
            Horseshoe Bend, on the Illinois River above Tenkiller Lake, is probably the best known white bass fishing “hot spot” in eastcentral Oklahoma, according to Johnston.
            Traditionally, white bass can be caught anytime from mid March to early May at Horseshoe Bend depending on water flow, but the peak is usually around the first week or so in April. Smaller males are the first to show up in significant numbers, and any water level rise after that will sends the female fish upriver to spawn.  Bank access is limited, but boaters can put in at the Horseshoe Bend boat ramp.
            To get to Horseshoe Bend, take State Highway 82 south from Tahlequah to Horseshoe Bend Road in Keys. Turn left, stopping at the Illinois River.
            Northwest Oklahoma’s Canton Lake is expected to be a hot white bass fishing destination over the next few weeks, according to biologists in the region.
            John Stahl, northwest region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department, said Canton Lake sees an “outstanding” white bass run during the spring.
            “The run will start about the end of the first week in April,” Stahl said.
            Plenty of lake access is provided at Canton, along with amenities such as food and fishing gear in Canton and nearby Longdale. According to Stahl, all you have to do is watch the trees to know when to catch the white bass run just right.
            Further south, white bass runs are not as typical due to low average rainfall and relatively short stream lengths, according to Larry Cofer, southwest region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
            The exception is above Lake Waurika in Beaver Creek in the event of rainfall in late March and early April, with access around the Hwy 53 bridges and the county roads above the Waurika WMA. Cofer said that striped bass hybrids also are caught running upstream from the lake. Striped bass hybrids are the result of crossing the white bass with the non-native striped bass in Wildlife Department fisheries hatcheries.
            Cofer said boat fisherman can catch “sandies” above Lakes Lawtonka and Ellsworth to the headwaters of Medicine and Cache creeks, where white bass congregate after a rain.
            Some of the southwest regions best sand bass fishing can be had where the fish spawn along windy rip-rap areas in lakes.
            Altus-Lugert, Lawtonka and Tom Steed hold healthy populations of sand bass that can be caught along windy, rocky banks throughout the spring, even after the spawn. Also, anglers can be successful fishing the rip-rap on the dams this month at lakes Chickasha, Clear Creek, Comanche, Elk City, Ellsworth, and Waurika, particularly in a north wind after fronts come through, according to Cofer.
            One female white bass can produce up to one million eggs. White bass reproductive activities are triggered when water temperatures reach 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Spawning occurs at random over weeds, debris and rocks. When tributary streams are available, white bass prefers upstream migration for spawning. No parental care is provided to eggs or young. Anglers should equip themselves with light to medium light action tackle and an assortment of jigs.
            To learn more about white bass or fishing in Oklahoma, or to sign up for the Wildlife Department’s weekly fishing report, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Free fly fishing offered in Tulsa courtesy of conservation groups
            Oklahoma Trout Unlimited and the Tulsa Fly Fishers club are hosting a free clinic to show Oklahomans how to fish with a fly rod Saturday, April 2 at the Buddy LaFortune Park in Tulsa.
            The clinic will cover equipment, skills, knots, and where and how to fly fish for trout and other fish in Oklahoma.
            Scott Hood, president of both the Oklahoma Chapter #420 of Trout Unlimited and the Tulsa Fly Fishers, wants everyone with an interest or curiosity in the sport to attend, experienced or not.
            “We are encouraging anyone who has ever thought that they'd like to learn how to fly fish and never done it before, or those who have done some fly fishing and want to learn more of the basics or even those who want to know where to go to fly fish in Oklahoma, that they come to this clinic," Hood said.
            After the clinic, attendees will be invited to try their new skills at the Tulsa Trout Pond at LaForturne Park.
            The clinic is open to the first 25 registrants, and admission is free. To register, call (918) 299-2334. The clinic will start at 8:30 a.m. April 2 at the Buddy LaFortune Community Center within Lafortune Park (5202 S. Hudson Ave.) and will last until 10 a.m. Those attending the clinic are asked to park in the Gardens parking lot (entrance is south off of 51st street just west of Hudson St. or just east of Yale on 51st street). Those attending must be at least 14 years old, and participants under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is registered to attend the event. Attendees who plan to stay for fishing on the pond after the clinic will need to bring their own fishing equipment.
            The clinic is made possible by the Tulsa Country Parks Department, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Tulsa Fly Fishers and the Oklahoma Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
 
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Last call for Outdoor Oklahoma readers’ photography contest entries
            March 31 is the last day for readers of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine to submit their entries to the “Readers’ Photography Showcase” contest. Selected photos will be published in the July/August issue of the magazine.
            “We are now entering the last stretch of the contest entry period,” said Michael Bergin, associate editor. “After that, the judges go to work selecting those photos that will be featured in the magazine. We receive a lot of entries, and it’s a challenge for the judges to make their final selections, but we are confident our readers will enjoy their fellow Oklahomans’ photography.”
            Each participant may submit up to five digital images.
            “Submissions should be photographs taken in Oklahoma, and they can be of anything related to wildlife and the outdoors,” Bergin said. “Everything from birds and deer to trees, insects, landscapes, and people hunting and fishing are good subjects.”
            Each submission must include a description of the photo, including the location taken, name and hometown of photographer, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. All submissions must be digital. Slides and print images will not be accepted. Though images will remain the property of the photographer, actual submissions that are e-mailed or mailed on CD or other storage device will not be returned.
            Individuals can subscribe to Outdoor Oklahoma by calling 1-800-777-0019. Outdoor Oklahoma is known for providing decades of outdoor entertainment to both youth and adults. Subscriptions are just $10 for one year, $18 for two years, or $25 for three years. You can also subscribe over the Internet by logging on to the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. Hunters who purchase a new Oklahoma Wildlife Management Area Atlas, available from the Wildlife Department for $25, also get a one-year subscription to Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
 
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Wildlife Department Youth Camp application deadline fast approaching
            Teenagers have until April 15 to apply for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s annual Wildlife Youth Camp.
            The popular camp is slated for July 10-15, and youth who attend will learn about rewarding careers that focus on managing wildlife for the future.
            The youth camp, which is held at Oklahoma University Biological Station at Lake Texoma and open to Oklahoma residents, introduces youth age 14-16 to careers in wildlife-related fields and increases their awareness of conserving and managing Oklahoma’s wildlife resources.
            “The free camp allows youth to gain first-hand knowledge of careers in wildlife and fisheries management as well as law enforcement,” said Robert Fleenor, chief of law enforcement for the Wildlife Department. “Some participants even move on to rewarding careers as employees of the Wildlife Department.”
            Courses planned for the week include rifle and shotgun training, muzzleloading, wildlife identification, wildlife law enforcement, fishing, fisheries management, ropes and rappelling, swimming, and turkey and waterfowl hunting, management and enforcement.
            To attend youth camp, applicants must be Oklahoma residents and must turn 14 prior to July 10, 2011, and be no older than 16. Applicants must write a 75-word essay describing why they want to attend the camp, why they should be selected and what they expect to learn. Additionally, they must provide a letter of recommendation by someone other than a family member and a photograph from a recent outdoor-related event or activity.
            The camp will be open to a maximum of 40 youth, and applications will be accepted through April 15, 2010. More information and applications, as well as photographs from previous youth camps are available by logging on to http://www.wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Gobbler season opens April 6; biologists report current turkey activity
            Spring turkey season opens April 6 in Oklahoma, and biologists’ reports from the across the state offer sportsmen early insight going in to the month-long season.
            The spring turkey season runs from April 6 through May 6 and is open to shotgun and archery equipment. Seasons on public land may vary from statewide season dates. For regulations, specific firearms and archery requirements, a state map showing individual county bag limits and full details on public lands season dates, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
 
Southwest
      “Turkeys have begun serious gobbling in the past few days,” said Rod Smith, southwest region wildlife supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Turkey movements and behavior are right on track for a normal breeding season this year.”
      In southwest Oklahoma, Smith said small groups of jakes have been spotted well away from typical habitat, a sure sign that turkeys are “on the move and about to locate in areas where they’ll spend the remainder of the spring.” Smith also reports that several groups of hens numbering as many as 12-20 birds have been observed with just two to three tom turkeys per group.
      “These observations tell us that all is well in the turkey world and that opening day of turkey hunting season should be similar to what we’ve experienced the past few years.”
      Biologist’s surveys in western Oklahoma indicate that hunters will find good numbers of wild turkeys throughout that portion of the state.
      “It appears there was good reproduction this past summer and that populations will be on par with those observed in 2010, which was a very good year,” Smith said.
      Smith added that hunters willing to “go to the turkey woods” in inclement weather may still find a tom turkey to hunt.
      “Weather seems to affect hunters more than it does turkeys,” Smith said. “While weather does have an affect on gobbling, the breeding season continues regardless of wind, temperature or rain. Many fine gobblers have been taken immediately after a spring thunderstorm or on an unusually cold morning.”
 
Northwest
      Further north, biologists report that the break-up of winter flocks may be slightly behind schedule, but provided useful information on current turkey behavior at a number of northwest Oklahoma wildlife management areas. Steve Conrady, northwest region wildlife supervisor, said the movement of birds from traditional winter roost locations to spring nesting habitat has already begun, but close to half of the winter flocks on the area have yet to disperse into smaller groups and individual birds.
      But Conrady warns that the break-up of flocks can happen very quickly with warmer weather — which is expected according to weather reports — so hunters should be prepare accordingly. He also added that weather conditions may be affecting the feeding behavior of turkeys, too.
      “Drought conditions across the northwest may be altering foraging patterns slightly,” Conrady said. “A lack of rainfall has limited growth of winter crops, which are heavily utilized by turkey through the spring until plant growth gets tall enough to discourage turkey use. Turkeys will probably continue to use these green fields longer than normal because of the slower plant growth.”
      At Cimarron Hills WMA in western Woods Co., birds are still in groups of 20-30 birds, most of which are roosting off of the WMA but access the property during the early to mid morning to forage near food plots or on areas with large amounts of cheat grass. According to Larry Wiemers, biologist for the area, gobbling activity in the area is still slow.
      “Hunter success will be dependent on selecting the most likely route the birds will take to a green field area,” Wiemers said. “The use of decoys may be helpful to pull toms into range."
      Eddie Wilson, biologist at Cooper and Ft. Supply WMAs, and Weston Storer, biologist on Beaver River and Optima WMAs, said turkey flocks are still grouped up on those areas, but toms are starting to strut and gobble. He reports good numbers of jakes and fair numbers of mature toms. On Beaver River and Optima WMAs, winter flocks also are still together, but birds are beginning to exhibit gobbling and strutting behavior. The onset of projected warmer weather as opening day approaches may be just what hunters need in order to find themselves in the middle of a gobbling frenzy April 6.
 
Central
      Though typical spring turkey behavior is beginning to take place in the western portions of the state, things look vastly different in the central region, with activity already well underway.
      According to Johnny Herd, central region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department, winter flocks are breaking up and at least two weeks ahead of the normal breeding season schedule.
      “If you can find a calm day you will hear gobbling, and you will also find toms henned up,” Herd said.
      Herd encourages hunters to take advantage of the youth spring turkey season April 2-3 if they know a youngster who would enjoy hunting under adult supervision. Details and regulations for the youth season are available online at wildlifedepartment.com or in the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
      According to Herd, “scouting is more productive than any phase of the hunt.”
      Herd said turkey numbers in the central region are down slightly from last year, but that hunters who take their scouting seriously should have good success. He reminds hunters that “gobbling attracts hunters,” so they should be alert in the woods, making safety a top priority.
 
Northeast
      Reports from the northeast region of the state indicate that spring turkey gobbling activity is underway. Birds are gobbling early on the roost but remain quiet while on the ground, a sure sign they are with hens, according to Craig Endicott, northeast region wildlife supervisor.
      “Winter flocks are starting to break up, but hunters will probably still find toms with hens, particularly during the youth season, and somewhat during the regular opening week,” Endicott said. “While hunters always have a difficult time luring a mature bird away from hens, persistent patient hunters will have a much better chance of being successful.”
      Endicott advises hunters to “do plenty of pre-season scouting,” in addition to talking with landowners of property where they have permission to hunt in order to learn what observations have been made about turkey activity.
      “While the wind is always a factor in Oklahoma, don't let that be discouraging, hunt the wind,” Endicott said. “When it’s windy, cover more ground to give yourself more opportunity to hear or locate a bird. In addition, patience and continuing to hunt when other hunters have headed home for the morning will pay-off at times.”
      Endicott says hunters should check locations that have been recently burned if they exist on areas where they hunt, as turkeys make use of such areas.
      “There is no doubt that scouting and being familiar with the area you hunt puts you at a distinct advantage,” Endicott said. “When the birds aren't gobbling, be persistent, don’t give up, and try different strategies and techniques. As normal, the first weekend of the season will bring out plenty of hunters. Don’t overlook hunting some areas after the “rush” has subsided or during the week if you have the chance. Don't get too close to a bird on the roost in early season. He may see you approaching since the trees are just starting to bud out.”
      Endicott also reminds hunters that seasons and regulations on public lands may vary from statewide seasons, so check the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” for details on areas they intend to hunt.
 
Southeast
      In southeast Oklahoma, loggers and scouting hunters have reported hearing some gobbling on the roost before they fly down to the ground in the mornings, and some gobblers are strutting and displaying for several hens.
      “It may be difficult to call the gobbler away from the hens but all you need is one to respond,” said Jack Waymire, southeast region senior biologist.
      Waymire said it has been fairly dry in the region, but habitat conditions are good at this time.
      “The vegetation is really beginning to green up, and the warmer nights have contributed to emergence of insects,” Waymire said.
      In southeast Oklahoma, decoys are reportedly effective, but may be less so on public land where hunting pressure is increased.
      Waymire encourages hunters to start in locations where they found turkeys last year.
 
 
            Huntable populations of turkeys exist in all 77 counties. Every county in Oklahoma has either a one- or two-tom season limit, and an eight-county region in southeast Oklahoma has a combined two-tom season limit. However, persistent hunters can harvest up to their season limit of three tom turkeys in one day, but individual county limits still apply. No more than one tom may be taken in any county with a one-tom limit and no more than two toms may be taken from any county with a two-tom limit. No more than two toms may be taken from Atoka, Choctaw, Coal, Latimer, LeFlore, McCurtain, Pittsburg and Pushmataha counties combined.
            To hunt turkeys, sportsmen need an appropriate state hunting license as well as a turkey license, unless exempt. Upon harvesting a turkey, all annual license holders are required to complete the “Record of Game” section on the license form, and all hunters, even lifetime license holders, must attach their name, hunting license number, and date and time of harvest to their turkey as soon as it is harvested. Only toms, or bearded turkeys, may be taken during the spring season, and all turkeys taken east of I-35 must be checked at the nearest open hunter check station, with an authorized Wildlife Department employee or online at wildlifedepartment.com.
For license information and regulations for spring turkey hunting, log on to wildlifedepartment.com or consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
 
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Watch country music star Blake Shelton land a lake record fish on TV this weekend
            Last April, country music star and avid outdoorsman Blake Shelton of Tishomingo landed a lake record paddlefish from below the Lake Hudson dam, and sportsmen can tune in to watch him catch the fish this weekend on the Outdoor Oklahoma TV series
            Outdoor Oklahoma TV airs on OETA statewide and on local channels. For a full listing of channels that air the show, log on to
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
            Shelton’s 40-lb. fish measured 41 inches in length and was caught by way of snagging — the most common approach to catching “spoonbills.” Paddlefish do not strike lures or live bait but instead feed on tiny organisms called plankton.
            “I have been an outdoorsman my whole life and I love to hunt and fish,” Shelton said. “I have been fishing as long as I can remember, and catching a paddlefish is the most exciting kind of fishing I have ever experienced.”
            The airing of the show this weekend comes just as the paddlefish angling in northeast Oklahoma is starting to pick up. The best time to fish for paddlefish is during the spring (usually late March to mid-April) when the fish move up from reservoirs into rivers for their annual spawning run. The fish travel upstream and become concentrated, making it easier for anglers to locate good fishing spots.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s lake record fish program was initiated in 2008 to recognize big fish from certain lakes and the anglers who catch them.
            The program has grown from about a dozen lakes at its inception to more than 40 lakes today. So anglers all over the state can go fishing just for leisure, but they can also go with a sense of competitive drive in hopes of putting their name in a record book.
            For more information about the lake record fish program, including the process for certifying a potential lake record fish, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
 

http://lake-record.ou.edu/fishsite/public/fishView.php?id=926


 
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Southeast Oklahoma man convicted of illegally killing 220-class buck
            A Bokoshe man has been convicted of four counts associated with the illegal killing of a well-known trophy buck in Latimer County and has counts pending against him on the illegal possession of over 100 other deer antler racks and other wildlife.
            Kenny Nixon is convicted of taking deer in closed season, illegally possessing deer parts, removing the antlers and head of a deer while abandoning the body and abandoning a deer carcass without proper disposal in Latimer County District Court. The conviction resulted in Nixon’s lifetime hunting license being revoked for 20 years, and he was ordered to pay fines and court costs at around $5,000.
            “Wildlife violators make up just a small number compared to the thousands of sportsmen who respect and follow our state’s wildlife laws, but those who do violate the law take something away from other hunters and everyone in Oklahoma who enjoys wildlife,” said Robert Fleenor, law enforcement chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The Wildlife Department works hard to stop the illegal taking of wildlife to protect our resources for everyone to enjoy.”
            The case dates back to Oct. 1, 2009, when the carcass of a trophy whitetail deer dubbed the “BP buck” was found on British Petroleum property in Latimer County with its head and antlers missing.
            Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation game wardens Shane Fields stationed in Pittsburg Co., Randy Fennell and Thomas Gillham stationed in LeFlore Co. and James Williams stationed in LeFlore and Latimer counties have all been actively involved in working the case.
            Game wardens first learned of the BP buck in September 2008, and they kept watch on the animal’s whereabouts.
            The buck survived the 2008 deer season and was rediscovered in February 2009 after it had gone some time without being observed by game wardens. In August 2009, the buck was photographed on BP land. By then, the buck was well known by locals, and game wardens continued efforts to keep tabs on the deer.
            The buck lived until sometime in late September 2009, and shortly after that the deer carcass was found. It’s head and antlers were removed, and the carcass was abandoned. It was not immediately confirmed whether the carcass was that of the BP buck, but it was suspected, especially when photographs of the well-known deer’s antlers began appearing on websites across the Internet.
            Because of the high interest and visibility of the deer in newspaper photographs and online, wardens began receiving a number of leads. But it was a tip offered in November 2009 by the Oklahoma Drug Task Force that eventually led wardens to a residence in LeFlore Co. other than Nixon’s where the antlers were reportedly hidden. A search warrant was obtained, and the antlers were seized from an air duct compartment.
            When contacted, Nixon admitted to killing the BP buck with a .25-06 Browning rifle and filled out a voluntary statement for game wardens. He was cited for poaching the buck, and the antlers, as well as a dead owl, were tagged and confiscated for evidence. The next day 103 untagged deer racks were confiscated along with an elk antler, and counts against Nixon are currently pending in those cases.
            Additionally, through the Wildlife Department’s involvement in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, Nixon’s lifetime hunting license revocation will apply in at least 34 other participating states. Recently the Wildlife Department joined the compact, which assures that illegal hunters who violate certain game laws in member states will receive the same treatment as residents of the state in which the violation occurred.
            Game wardens are employees of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the state agency charged with conserving Oklahoma’s wildlife. For more information about the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 

Antlers

Photo Caption: Antlers from the “BP buck” that were found in an air duct compartment by search warrant at a LeFlore County residence. Kenny Nixon, Bakoshe, has been convicted of four counts associated with the illegal killing of the well-known trophy buck, resulting in Nixon’s lifetime hunting license being revoked for 20 years. He also was ordered to pay fines and court costs at around $5,000.
 


Trail camera image
 


Photo Caption: The “BP buck” was photographed multiple times on game cameras in years leading up to late 2009, when the buck was poached. Kenny Nixon, Bakoshe, has been convicted of four counts associated with the illegal killing of the well-known trophy buck, resulting in Nixon’s lifetime hunting license being revoked for 20 years. He also was ordered to pay fines and court costs at around $5,000.
 
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Close to Home trout fishing made possible by BancFirst
            Even the most urban dwellers have a number of local spots to catch fish as part of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Close to Home fishing program, a partnership between the agency, local municipalities and even private companies to provide angling opportunities within a close drive of metro locations.
            Oklahoma City residents even have an opportunity to catch trout — a non-native, coldwater fish — from Dolese Youth Park Pond thanks to the Wildlife Department’s partnership with the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department and a generous donation from BancFirst that provides several stockings of rainbow trout for the two-month winter season.
            “It’s because of BancFirst’s donation and support that city residents can go to a pond practically in their own backyard and catch a fish that some people spend thousands of dollars a year to pursue in Rocky Mountain streams,” said Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department. “And the partnership that exists between the Wildlife Department and local municipalities as well as sportsmen makes it possible for metro kids, parents and families to enjoy fishing right in the city.”
            Though the Dolese trout season runs from Jan. 1 – Feb. 28 and most waters will soon be too warm for trout to survive, city residents can still enjoy fishing at Dolese and other Close to Home waters throughout the spring and summer for some of the most popular fish among anglers. Catfish, bass and sunfish are commonly stocked in these local waters, ranging from lakes, ponds and stretches of rivers.
            The Close to Home fishing program provides fishing areas that are often just a short drive away from even the most urban locations, saving families time and gas money. In addition, it allows parents and children to fish together after school or on a busy weekend.
            Close to Home fishing opportunities can be found in Oklahoma City, Edmond and Tulsa as well as Choctaw, Del City, Guthrie, Harrah, Jones, Lawton, Moore, Mustang, Norman and Yukon.
            Close to Home fishing is limited to no more than three rods and reels per person, with no more than three hooks per line. Certain species bag limits and special regulations apply.  
            For more information on the “Close to Home” fishing program, including regulations and a full listing of locations of Close to Home waters, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Wildlife Department Youth Camp application deadline fast approaching
            Teenagers have until April 15 to apply for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s annual Wildlife Youth Camp.
            The popular camp is slated for July 10-15, and youth who attend will learn about rewarding careers that focus on managing wildlife for the future.
            The youth camp, which is held at Oklahoma University Biological Station at Lake Texoma and open to Oklahoma residents, introduces youth age 14-16 to careers in wildlife-related fields and increases their awareness of conserving and managing Oklahoma’s wildlife resources.
            “The free camp allows youth to gain first-hand knowledge of careers in wildlife and fisheries management as well as law enforcement,” said Robert Fleenor, chief of law enforcement for the Wildlife Department. “Some participants even move on to rewarding careers as employees of the Wildlife Department.”
            Courses planned for the week include rifle and shotgun training, muzzleloading, wildlife identification, wildlife law enforcement, fishing, fisheries management, ropes and rappelling, swimming, and turkey and waterfowl hunting, management and enforcement.
            To attend youth camp, applicants must be Oklahoma residents and must turn 14 prior to July 10, 2011, and be no older than 16. Applicants must write a 75-word essay describing why they want to attend the camp, why they should be selected and what they expect to learn. Additionally, they must provide a letter of recommendation by someone other than a family member and a photograph from a recent outdoor-related event or activity.
            The camp will be open to a maximum of 40 youth, and applications will be accepted through April 15, 2010. More information and applications, as well as photographs from previous youth camps are available by logging on to
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com


 
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