AUGUST 2011
NEWS RELEASES
 

 

WEEK OF AUGUST 4, 2011

August 19: deadline for youth bonus antlerless deer hunt applications
            Beginning deer hunters have a unique opportunity to participate in three bonus antlerless deer hunts that will take place on private land in Osage County (Oct 7-9, 2011), Ellis County (Dec 9-10, 2011) and Alfalfa County (Jan 13-15, 2012).
            This year 42 youth will be drawn to receive one of the bonus private lands antlerless deer gun permits.  To be eligible, youth must have completed their hunter education requirements prior to applying and must be 12-17 years old at the time of their scheduled hunt.
            "These hunts are on private property and should provide young hunters a great opportunity to see some deer as well as a chance to harvest a doe," said Bill Dinkines, assistant chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission has endorsed the youth hunt program and we are thankful for the landowners' willingness to allow these kids the opportunity to hunt on their property.”
            To apply for a hunt, applicants must submit (mail or walk-in only) an index card with the following information:


*Each child participating in this hunt must have an adult (licensed or unlicensed) who is at least 21 years of age accompanying them on the hunt.
     List of the hunts by order of preference (Please do not list any hunt that you are not interested in or know in advance you cannot attend.)
            Envelope should be addressed to: OK DEPT OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION, Attn: Wildlife Division: “Private Lands Youth Deer Hunts,” PO BOX 53465, Oklahoma City, OK  73152. All applications must be received no later than Friday, August 19, 2011.
            Antlerless deer taken by selected applicants during these hunts will be considered a “bonus deer” and will not count toward the hunter’s season statewide limit.
            Applicants who are successfully drawn will receive a notification letter in the mail that includes specific information about their hunt and the deadline for purchasing required license(s) as listed below:
Resident Options (Ages 12-15):
            Lifetime Hunting or Lifetime Combination License
            OR
            $10 CH Private Lands Youth Deer License**
Resident Options (Age 16-17):
            Lifetime Hunting or Lifetime Combination License
            OR
            Resident Annual Youth Hunting + $10 CH Private Lands Youth Deer License**
            OR
            Resident Fiscal Year Hunting + $10 CH Private Lands Youth Deer License**
Non-Resident Options (Ages 12-17):
            CH Nonresident Private Lands Youth Deer License**  


**NOTE: The $10 resident or the $201 non-resident CH Private Lands Youth Deer Hunt Permits will be issued in lieu of the open season license and must be purchased through our Central Office. No Apprentice Licenses will be allowed due to the Hunter Education requirement.
            For additional information, please contact the Wildlife Division (405) 521-2730.
 
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Quail conservation banquet slated this month
            The sixth Annual Central Oklahoma 89er Chapter of Quail Forever fundraising banquet will be held at the Sportsman’s Country Club at 6 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 27 at the Sportsman’s Country Club in Oklahoma City.
            Quail Forever, a non-profit habitat conservation organization was founded in 2005 in response to the continuing decline of quail populations locally and throughout their natural range. Quail Forever is a part of Pheasants Forever, a conservation organization that was established in 1982.
            Quail Forever operates under the model of empowering its local chapters with the responsibility of determining how 100 percent of its locally-raised conservation funds will be spent within the state. Membership dinner tickets are $55, which includes a dinner, a one-year membership and subscription to the Quail Forever Journal and a Quail Forever decal. Corporate accommodations also are available upon request.  
            Along with dinner, the banquet will include auctions, raffles and entertainment, and the featured speaker will be Dr. Dwayne Elmore.
            Limited seating is available. Tickets to the banquet as well as more information about Quail Forever is available on the Central Oklahoma 89er Chapter’s website at centralokquailforever.org. Tickets also can be purchased by calling (405) 415-5724 or (405) 721-9405, or by mail. Mail checks to Quail Forever, 5937 N. Redmond, Oklahoma City, OK 73122.
 
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USSA unveils new program to defend sportsmen’s rights
            Oklahoma sportsmen interested in staying abreast of national and local legislation and initiatives that could affect hunting, fishing and trapping rights can now sign up for all the latest news. The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) recently unveiled a new initiative aimed at building a coalition of sportsmen from coast to coast to protect America’s outdoor heritage for future generations.
            The USSA’s Sentry Program is free to join and represents the most intense effort ever focused on attracting sportsmen to become active players in the fight to preserve hunting, fishing and trapping rights whenever they are threatened.
            By becoming a Sentry, sportsmen gain access to instant email communications about local and national threats to their outdoor rights as they happen. They will also be given specific instructions on which public officials to contact and when as these threats emerge. This communication network will enable sportsmen to mobilize quicker and more effectively than ever before.
            In addition to getting sportsmen engaged in advocacy, the Sentry Program offers additional benefits, giving sportsmen a “one stop” website for key information including state hunting regulations, information on where one can find a shooting range and other hunting and fishing tips from recognized leaders in the outdoor community.
            “There are many anti-hunting organizations seeking to do away with what we love,” said Bud Pidgeon, USSA president and CEO. “By coming together under the Sentry Program, sportsmen will enhance our ranks and collectively stand tall against those groups.”
            There is no cost to join the Sentry Program and only a minimal amount of information from those interested is required. For more information, call (614) 888-4868, visit the USSA’s website at ussportsmen.org/BeASentry, or e-mail info@ussportsmen.org
            The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organizations that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website at ussportsmen.org.
 
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New changes to Oklahoma hunter education requirements take effect Aug. 26
            Four changes to the state’s hunter education requirements will take effect this month, resulting in more opportunities for Oklahomans to try hunting while making hunting safer for the state’s youngest big game hunters.
            Effective Aug. 26, anyone 31 years of age or older will be exempt from hunter education requirements. Additionally, hunters ages 8-30 will be able to purchase an apprentice-designated hunting license that allows them to go hunting without first completing a hunter education course, provided that they are accompanied by a licensed adult mentor who is at least 18 years old and hunter education certified (or exempt from license and hunter education requirements).
            In previous years, hunters were not exempt from hunter education requirements until 36 years of age or older, apprentice-designated hunting licenses were only available to hunters at least 10 years old, and mentor hunters had to be at least 21 to accompany an apprentice hunter.
            “These three changes should simplify the requirements for responsible adult hunters to get involved in hunting while making the apprentice-designated license available to youth who are ready to start hunting under a mentor at a younger age,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “We also feel that 18-year-olds are adults and should be allowed to introduce their friends to the sport of hunting.”
            In addition to making the apprentice-designated hunting license more accessible, one other change will require more supervision for young hunters. Effective Aug. 26, all hunters under the age of 10, whether hunter education certified or not, must be accompanied when hunting big game.
            “Big game hunting is a safe and fun sport, and our state’s young hunters deserve to be introduced to the joys it offers,” Meek said. “But they also deserve to be mentored and guided so that they are equipped to be safe, responsible hunters in the future. This is a reasonable change, and we are confident it will result in safer hunting situations for our young big game hunters and will ensure they gain a true appreciation for conservation and the outdoors.”
            Most Oklahomans who want to hunt big game must be hunter education certified in order to hunt alone, or must possess an apprentice-designated hunting license and remain within arms reach of a qualifying mentor hunter. Exemptions from hunter education certification as of Aug. 26 will include anyone 31 years of age or older, anyone honorably discharged from or currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, and members of the National Guard.
            Meek encourages new hunters to complete the Department’s hunter education course, and reminds hunters who plan to hunt in other states that completing a course may be required. The Wildlife Department’s hunter education class covers a variety of topics including firearms safety, wildlife identification, wildlife conservation and management, survival, archery, muzzleloading and hunter responsibility. It is available as a standard eight-hour course held in communities across the state, an Internet home study course and a workbook home study course. A full listing of course dates and locations can be found online at wildlifedepartment.com.
            For more information about hunting in Oklahoma, log on to the Wildlife Department’s website at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
Caption: Effective Aug. 26, anyone 31 years of age or older will be exempt from hunter education requirements. Additionally, hunters ages 8-30 will be able to purchase an apprentice-designated hunting license that allows them to go hunting without first completing a hunter education course, provided that they are accompanied by a licensed adult mentor who is at least 18 years old and hunter education certified (or exempt from license and hunter education requirements). In addition to making the apprentice-designated hunting license more accessible, one other change will require more supervision for young hunters. Effective Aug. 26, all hunters under the age of 10, whether hunter education certified or not, must be accompanied when hunting big game.


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Dove season opener just around the corner
            The Sept. 1 dove season opener is fast approaching, marking for many the start of a fall season full of hunting memories.
            This year dove season will run Sept. 1 – Oct. 31, statewide, followed by another nine-day period open from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1, 2012, statewide. In previous years, dove season was split only in the southwest portion of the state.
            According to Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the concept of providing a late season dove hunt during the holidays worked so well in the southwest dove zone that the idea appealed to other regions of the state as well. But until this year, federal framework options set forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not provide for it. When the option became available to Oklahoma this year, the Wildlife Department took the opportunity.
            “This is a great opportunity that can benefit hunters statewide with more hunting opportunity,” Peoples said.
            According to Josh Richardson, migratory game bird biologist for the Wildlife Department, this season may be “slightly different” than normal.
            “ Our breeding counts were down at the start of the summer, we had several severe weather outbreaks, followed by extreme heat and drought,” Richardson said. “I'd expect dove numbers to be down some from all that. However, there will still be plenty around. Besides, we have had or are expected to get some ‘cold’ fronts moving through, which will bring birds in from the north.”
            According to Richardson, the biggest change for this year relates to habitat conditions.
            “A lot of wheat was plowed under early in the year due to the drought, with many farmers replanting, hoping for the spring and early summer rains to salvage the year,” Richardson said. “Fall crops like corn, milo, and sunflower provide
good dove foods, but again, the drought really limited production across most of the state.”
            It also changed the farming timeline.
            “Most of the corn around where I live was harvested two weeks ago, and farmers are beginning to plow the fields while the ground has a little moisture,” he said.
            By the time dove season arrives, there may little if any food left to attract birds, so Richardson said finding a good dove watering source could be the key to a good hunt.
            “Hunters in areas that have been fortunate enough to get enough rain to start refilling ponds will want to find areas that have most recently been harvested, or look for areas of natural foods like sunflower, snow-on-the-mountain or
croton,” Richardson said. “
            Richardson said areas that have been burned by wildfires due to drought this year might in fact offer some good dove habitat.
            “The fire creates a lot of bare ground and exposes and scatters seed for the birds to eat,” Richardson said.
            Full details and regulations for dove hunting are available in the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available free online at wildlifedepartment.com or at any location where hunting licenses are sold.
            To help well-meaning sportsmen avoid common dove season violations, law enforcement officials with the Wildlife Department advise hunters to read and familiarize themselves with the dove hunting portion of the Hunting Guide, and all other portions that pertain to species they plan to hunt.
            “When hunters make a check list before season and follow it, they will be much better prepared,” said Robert Fleenor, law enforcement chief for the Wildlife Department. “Going out at the last minute and not being prepared is the biggest problem.”
            The following is a basic checklist to help avoid some of the most common dove season mistakes:


 
* Obtain the appropriate hunting license as well as the Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit.
* Use appropriate shotgun plug. Taking migratory game birds such as doves with a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined, unless otherwise provided, is prohibited. Fleenor said even well meaning hunters who remember to plug their shotguns should still ensure that the plug they use limits the magazine to two shells.
* Obtain landowner permission before hunting on private property.
* Do not shoot across or from roadways. Shooting from or across any public road, highway (or right-of-way) or railroad right-of-way is prohibited. Public roadways are defined as any governmental or corporate roadways where vehicular traffic is not restricted and the roadway is routinely used by the general public.
* Know your doves. Identification of species is a key to hunter success.
* Know you limits. The daily limit for dove is 15, which may consist of any combination of mourning, white-winged and fully dressed Eurasian collared doves (“fully dressed” describes those birds without a head or fully feathered wing naturally attached to the carcass). However, there is no limit on Eurasian collared doves provided that the head or one fully feathered wing remain naturally attached to the carcass of all such birds while being transported to their final destination.

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Learn an outdoor skill at the Wildlife Expo
            Outdoorsmen find satisfaction in do-it-yourself-projects, and at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo Sept. 24-25, visitors can try their hand at making their own birdhouses or even learn how to cook a camp setting meal in a Dutch oven, tie their own fly fishing lure, or attract wildlife to their property.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is partnering with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the Wildlife Expo. Held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, the event is designed to promote and instill appreciation for Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts. The event is free and open to the public.
            Activities range from free shotgun and archery shooting to fishing, kayaking, ATV riding, mountain biking and much more. Additionally, numerous learning opportunities are available at booths and exhibits at the Expo. Visitors can speak with wildlife biologists and outdoorsmen experienced in fishing, hunting, game calling, wildlife and fisheries management, reptiles and amphibians and more, as well as attend seminars on hunting dog training, wild game cooking and basic firearm safety, among other topics. And for Expo visitors who like to shop, a large area called the Outdoor Marketplace is set aside at the Expo for vendors who will be on hand showcasing and offering for sale their outdoor merchandise and services.
            “In short, the Expo is a celebration of everything outdoors in the state of Oklahoma,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “We want you to leave the Expo with a new appreciation for wildlife and the hobbies of hunting, fishing and wildlife watching.”
            The Expo is Oklahoma’s largest outdoor recreation event, drawing thousands of people each year. The Expo will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily Sept. 24-25. Admission and parking are free.
 
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Free Hunting Days pave way for taking someone hunting
            Oklahoma Free Hunting Days take place Sept. 3-4, during which Oklahoma residents do not need a hunting license or HIP permit to go afield.
            According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s migratory game bird biologist, Free Hunting Days is a great way to introduce someone to hunting.
            “Dove season is a great time to introduce or reintroduce people to the world of hunting,” Richardson said. “Gear requirements are low, doves are found everywhere and usually in high numbers, and the hunting can occur in more of a social type outing — perfect for those new hunters who need supervision or instruction. And with the Free Hunting Days, potential new hunters don’t even have to buy a license to try this out.”
            In addition to dove hunting, squirrel season is open and there are other year-round hunting opportunities are available as well for species such as coyotes. To see a full listing of hunting opportunities, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available free on wildlifedepartment.com or anywhere hunting licenses are sold.
 
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Wildlife Expo gets families outside
            Visitors to the 2011 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo Sept. 24-25 will have a chance to catch a fish, shoot a bow and arrow or shotgun, ride a mountain bike, float in a kayak, pet an alligator and even sample wild game meat and camp cooking.
            The Wildlife Expo is a free public event designed to generate interest in the outdoors while providing hands-on learning opportunities. Hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in partnership with a range of other state agencies, businesses, organizations and volunteers, the Expo is the state’s largest outdoor recreation event.
            “The wildlife Expo is a unique, one-of-a-kind experience for the whole family,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “Where else can you go spend the day actively participating in everything from tossing an atlatl to paddling a kayak?  You can touch native reptiles and see bats up close. You can catch a fish or shoot a bow. You can learn about wildlife from birds to worms and how to conserve Oklahoma’s resources for future generations. You are sure to find your favorite outdoor activity as well as discover some new ones, and the best part is that it’s free!”
            Some opportunities at the Expo are considered common and popular among outdoorsman — such as fishing at a pond or shooting a shotgun — while others, like tanning a buffalo hide with primitive tools or even experiencing a mock bowfishing trip, will be new experiences for all involved.
            “The idea is to provide an absolutely free opportunity for people to come see all that Oklahoma’s outdoors have to offer,” Hurst said.  Hurst is confident that getting people interested in the outdoors leads to heightened awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation.
            The Wildlife Expo will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 24-25. The event draws thousands of people every year for a weekend of outdoor recreation and education.
            The Expo features archery and firearms ranges, a stocked fishing pond, bird watching areas, mountain bike trails, ATV test ride courses, Dutch oven cooking seminars, and even an indoor pond used for kayaking and sporting dog demonstrations. The event also features free wild game samples, live wildlife, and booths and activities that provide information, learning opportunities and recreation. Though admission and activities at the event are all free, visitors can shop at the Expo’s Outdoor Marketplace, a large area where vendors will be showcasing their outdoor-related goods and services.
            Log on to the all-new wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on this year’s Expo activities.
 
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Oklahoma hunters exempt from hunter ed have proficiency test option for out-of-state hunts
            Oklahoma resident hunters who are exempt from the state’s hunter education requirements may not be exempt in other states in which they plan to hunt this year. For them, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation offers a proficiency test that would allow them to bypass the eight-hour course.
            Exemptions from Oklahoma’s hunter education requirements include anyone 31 years of age or older, anyone honorably discharged from or currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, and members of the National Guard.
            “If you are exempt from hunter education requirements in Oklahoma and you are not hunter education certified, you should check other states’ requirements before planning an out-of-state hunting trip,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “You might find they have different requirements than Oklahoma.”
            “The proficiency test involves taking and passing the actual hunter education test at one of our offices or completing the online course quizzes through wildlifedepartment.com,” Meek said. “This is a quick and easy process for people who qualify.”
            According to Meek, hunters exempt from hunter education requirements who want to take the proficiency test should contact the Wildlife Department’s headquarters at (405) 521-4636 or Jenks office at (918) 299-2334.
            “This is a great service we can provide for Oklahoma hunters who are exempt from hunter education but who want to hunt out-of-state,” Meek said.
            To hunt in Oklahoma, those not exempt from hunter education requirements must either complete the Wildlife Department’s hunter education course or hunt with a mentor under an apprentice-designated hunting license. The apprentice-designated hunting license is available to hunters ages 8-30 and allows them to go hunting without first completing a hunter education course, provided that they are accompanied by a licensed adult mentor who is at least 18 years old and hunter education certified (or exempt from license and hunter education requirements). All hunters under the age of 10, whether hunter education certified or not, must be accompanied when hunting big game.
            Oklahoma’s hunter education certification is valid in all 50 states and Canadian provinces.
            For more information about hunting in Oklahoma, log on to the Wildlife Department’s website at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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New association to help simplify prescribed burning for landowners
            A new association has been formed to provide landowners and state prescribed burn associations with an organization that can assist them with liability insurance, finding funding for equipment and training, and a voice for prescribed burning throughout the state.
            The Oklahoma Prescribed Burn Association (OPBA) was formed through a three-year Conoco-Phillips challenge grant from the Playa Lakes Joint Venture through the High Plains Resource and Conservation District. Ron Voth is the executive director of this first of its kind organization to assist landowners with all aspects of prescribed burning.
            Prescribed burning is a useful and important habitat management tool employed to remove accumulated litter, encourage new vegetative growth and to control excessive invasion of brush and woody cover. Native rangelands that are burned periodically have a wider diversity of plants that are beneficial to wildlife than unburned prairies. Wildlife such as quail benefit from burns because they increase mobility by removing ground level clutter, attract greater density and diversity of insects used by quail chicks as food and increase the ability of birds to feed on those insects.
            The primary goal of the OPBA is to become the umbrella organization for landowners and local prescribed burn associations to receive reasonably priced liability insurance for conducting prescribed burns. Through the OPBA, the insurance will be available to burn association members at an affordable rate. The insurance covers escaped fires, suppression costs, injury to people assisting with the burn, and problems caused by smoke. A five-member board of directors has been formed to assist with the development of this organization. Members include Alva Gregory, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; Darrel Dominick, Oklahoma Conservation Commission; Paul Clark, Natural Resource Conservation Service; Karsen Davis, Roger Mills Prescribed Burn Association; and John Weir, NREM, Oklahoma State University.
            There will be a minimal annual fee, and a charge for each burn the landowner would like to have insured. There will be some requirements for each burn, which are currently being developed by the association and the insurance company.
            The OPBA is currently conducting a survey of landowners throughout the state to get information on the number of landowners that would be interested in joining a prescribed burn association and if they are interested in the liability insurance. The survey can be found at the Oklahoma Prescribed Fire Council website at www.oklahomaprescribedfirecouncil.okstate.edu. Click on “Burn Associations” and send the completed survey to Ron Voth at the address listed.
 
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Free Hunting Days pave way for taking someone hunting
            Oklahoma Free Hunting Days take place Sept. 3-4, during which Oklahoma residents do not need a hunting license or HIP permit to go afield.
            According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s migratory game bird biologist, Free Hunting Days is a great way to introduce someone to hunting.
            “Dove season is a great time to introduce or reintroduce people to the world of hunting,” said Josh Richardson, migratory game bird biologist for the Wildlife Department. “Gear requirements are low, doves are found everywhere and usually in high numbers, and the hunting can occur in more of a social type outing — perfect for those new hunters who need supervision or instruction. And with the Free Hunting Days, potential new hunters don’t even have to buy a license to try this out.”
            In addition to dove hunting, squirrel season is open and there are other year-round hunting opportunities are available as well for species such as coyotes. To see a full listing of hunting opportunities, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available free on wildlifedepartment.com or anywhere hunting licenses are sold.
 
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