Wildlife calendar featured in magazine

   A unique wildlife calendar is the centerpiece in the latest issue of Outdoor Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s official bi-monthly magazine.

   Covering 24 pages in the Jan./Feb. 2001 issue, the calendar not only showcases award-winning color photography of the state’s most scenic landscapes and wildlife, but it also provides tips for landowners, hunters and fishermen to improve their fishing and hunting. Each calendar month lists up to 10 suggested habitat management practices, along with interesting fish and wildlife notes for that month. Among others, featured photographs include a strutting tom turkey, a foggy river bottom, a sunrise on a southeast Oklahoma stream, a whitetail buck in velvet and scenic fall shots of bull elk and migrating waterfowl.

   “We recognize the important role sound land management plays in promoting healthy fish and wildlife habitats,” said Nels Rodefeld, Outdoor Oklahoma editor. “From that standpoint, it’s important for the Department to provide timely management information to those who might implement it on the landscape. Of course, anyone with an outdoor interest will enjoy the stunning photography.”

   Rodefeld added that the current issue also features a special section outlining odds for drawing hunts through the Department’s controlled hunts program. It also contains an article on the agency’s Information and Education Division, along with two popular magazine mainstays – Off the Beaten Path and Watchable Wildlife Profile. The Jan./Feb. Watchable Wildlife Profile features the porcupine.

   “The controlled hunts information can help hunters better prioritize the hunts they apply for,” he said. “And we’ve received numerous comments from hunters who used the information to improve their odds. For those who like to study data, this is a must-see issue.”

            Individual copies of the Jan./Feb. 2001 issue of Outdoor Oklahoma are available for $3 if picked up at any of the Wildlife Department’s offices, or $4 by mail (mail to Outdoor Oklahoma, 1801 N. Lincoln, Oklahoma City, OK 73105). One-year subscriptions, which are only $10, are available by calling 1-800-777-0019, or you can order over the Internet by logging on to the Department’s website at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Fur auction set for Feb. 3 in Chandler

   Hunters and trappers wanting to sell their furs will have an opportunity Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Agri-Civic Center in Chandler, and based on initial market reports, prices will be better than last year.

   The auction, sponsored by the First Oklahoma Trappers and Predator Callers Association, begins at 9 a.m., with doors opening at 8 a.m. The building will also be open from 2-6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, for sellers to bring their furs and register.

   “Fur markets change daily, but the trend is for higher demand, and better prices, especially on the top-end furs,” said Bill Jackson, auction coordinator. “The colder weather has also helped, making furs primer and more marketable. Stabilizations of financial markets in China, Russia, Korea and Japan have also helped create higher prices.”

   Results from a fur auction held in Kansas in mid-January provide a reasonable baseline for what hunters and trappers might expect from the Chandler sale. Average and top prices for pelts sold in Kansas were as follows:

   Bobcat: $25 average and $43 high;

   Raccoon: $9 average and $21 high;

   Skunks: $8 average;

   Beaver: $10 average and $20 high;

   and Coyote: No furs offered.

   Jackson said furs may be sold stretched or green, but that all sellers must have a valid hunting or trapping license from Oklahoma or their respective state. All bobcats must have an export tag affixed to the pelt before it can be sold. Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation personnel will be on hand to tag bobcats. Bobcats from other states must have export tags on the pelts before entering Oklahoma.

   For reservations or more information on the auction, contact Jackson at 918/336-8154.


Phillips Petroleum Co. honored for commitment

In a ceremony Jan. 25, partners of the Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLVJ) honored Phillips Petroleum Company's commitment to support habitat conservation projects for waterfowl and other wildlife. †Since 1990, Phillips has contributed nearly $1.1 million to protect, enhance, and restore wetlands in the playa lakes region of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas.

Additionally, Dr. L.J. Mayeux, president of Ducks Unlimited, presented the organization's top award to Jim Mulva, president and chief executive officer of Phillips Petroleum Co., at a luncheon at the company's headquarters in Bartlesville, OK.

“The Diamond Legacy award is the most prestigious of all awards from Ducks Unlimited,” said Mayeux. “It honors donors whose commitment to waterfowl and wetlands conservation reaches $1 million or more in contributions-but the value of the contributions is even greater to the waterfowl and other wildlife who depend on wetlands to survive and to the people who care about our natural resources. To them, the value of a Diamond Legacy contribution is immeasurable.”

“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of Phillips Petroleum Company,” said Mulva. “We are proud to be a partner in habitat conservation work that ensures a special place where waterfowl and other wildlife can come to rest, feed, and reproduce. We are especially pleased that our contributions have been matched many times over by other partners to leverage the dollars in the most efficient and effective manner possible. I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the entire Playa Lakes Joint Venture for honoring Phillips Petroleum Co.”

The ceremony also commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the Playa Lakes Joint Venture, a public-private partnership comprised of corporations, conservation organizations and state and federal agencies, which was formed in 1990 under the auspices of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

PLJV funding has helped restore and enhance nearly 8,000 acres of critical habitat in Oklahoma. The Hackberry Flat restoration project (7,100 acres) in Tillman County near Frederick is the largest and most acclaimed project within the playa lakes region. Additional Oklahoma projects supported by PLJV dollars include the Cimarron playa in Cimarron county, Lunsford playa in Beaver county and Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area playa in Ellis county.

“Partners come together to accomplish collectively what is often difficult or impossible to do individually,” says Ross Melinchuk, chairman of the PLJV. “It takes cooperation and teamwork from many different types of organizations and agencies to accomplish Joint Venture objectives. All of our partners should be recognized for 10 years of hard work and determination to turn goals into reality for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife-and Phillips Petroleum Company has played a pivotal role in this success story.”

The PLJV Management Board partners include, alphabetically, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited, the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Parks, the Nature Conservancy of Texas, the New Mexico Dept. of Game & Fish, the Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, Pheasants Forever, Phillips Petroleum Company, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept., Texas Tech University, the Texas Waterfowlers Association, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

The PLJV partners work together to conserve playa basins, saline lakes, marshes, and riparian environments. The long-term objectives of the PLJV are to protect, restore and enhance 86,000 acres of critical habitat. Since 1990, partners have spent more than $9.2 million to protect, restore and enhance 55,000 acres.

Each spring and fall, 15 million birds migrate through the five-state region, with about one-third of the birds wintering in the 200,000-square-mile Playa Lakes region. An aquifer beneath this area is the largest in North America and gives rise to the vital wetlands that support millions of migratory and resident birds as well as other wildlife.

Playa Lakes Joint Venture projects will provide a reliable source of water during critically dry times of the year. Water levels are managed according to the habitat needs of waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, and other wetland wildlife. At times, the area's wetlands will no doubt be the only migration, wintering, and breeding habitat available in the Playa Lakes region.

Partners, including hundreds of private landowners, have demonstrated how corporations, agencies, and conservation-minded individuals can work together to safeguard our natural resources for the benefit of all society.

Governor recognizes Outdoor Oklahoma

At its regular January meeting, held Jan. 8 in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission was recognized by Governor Frank Keating for its role in providing 25 years of outdoor programming through the Wildlife Department's weekly TV program, Outdoor Oklahoma.

"It's a very impressive legacy of celebrating our outdoor heritage," Keating said, referring to Outdoor Oklahoma's 25th anniversary. "I watch Outdoor Oklahoma frequently, and it has a very high viewership across the state."

Keating also presented the Oklahoma Education Television Authority (OETA) with a proclamation recognizing OETA's partnership with the Department in producing the show. Airing twice weekly on OETA – 6 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. Sunday – Outdoor Oklahoma also can be seen on the KSBI network at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, 5 p.m. on Monday, and 10:30 p.m., Thursday. An avid conservationist and outdoor enthusiast, Keating himself has appeared on the show, along with his wife, Cathy, and son, Chip.

Following the Governor's presentation, the Wildlife Commission voted to allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to purchase 357 acres for the Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge in eastcentral Oklahoma, and 670 acres for the Little River National Wildlife Refuge, located in far southeast Oklahoma's McCurtain County.

The property is being offered by willing sellers, but because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans on using duck stamp funds to purchase the land, state approval is required. In discussing the sale, several Commissioners indicated they would like to see the Fish and Wildlife Service continue to increase hunting and fishing opportunities at national wildlife refuges in Oklahoma, especially at the Deep Fork and Little River NWRs.

Wildlife Department Executive Director Greg Duffy recognized five Department employees for their tenure with the agency. Dennis Maxwell, assistant chief of law enforcement; Larry Manering, district one law enforcement chief; and Jim Rolin and Carlton Sallee, both law enforcement supervisors, were each recognized for their 25 years of service to the Department and state sportsmen. All four are excellent ambassadors for the agency, Duffy said. Also recognized at the January meeting was Dennis Geary, wildlife biologist at Fobb Bottom and Texoma WMAs. Geary has 20 years of service with the Department.

The Commission's regular February meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 5, at 9 a.m. at the Wildlife Department's headquarters in Oklahoma City.

Aquatic Resources Education training announced

Oklahoma has an abundance of fishing opportunities, but many Oklahomans still have not experienced the thrill of fishing and catching their first fish.

To help expose Oklahomans of all ages to the timeless thrills of fishing, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation offers basic angling instruction through its Aquatic Resources Education Program. The program is supported by volunteers which share their angling knowledge with those just starting out.

"Volunteers are very important to this program," said Damon Springer, aquatic resources education coordinator for the Department. "Most anglers are introduced to fishing by a family member or friend, but there are a lot of kids who have never had a chance to go fishing. The Aquatic Resources Education Program can provide them that opportunity."

Volunteer instructors are trained to coordinate and instruct beginning anglers at fishing clinics and other educational events. A typical clinic consists of several educational stations such as fish I.D., proper casting technique, outdoor ethics, knot tying and water safety. After completing the education portion, clinic participants test their newly acquired knowledge at a local fishing hole.

"We would not be able to provide the number of clinics we do without help from our volunteers, and we're always looking for new volunteers," Springer added. "Fishing clinics provide many kids and adults with their first fishing opportunity, and we want it to be an enjoyable experience. Our trained volunteer instructors share their knowledge and offer a helping hand to clinic participants, allowing those who attend to feel more secure and the opportunity to simply enjoy themselves."

Volunteers must be 18 years or older and must attend a free volunteer instructor workshop. A workshop will be held Jan. 30, 6-9 p.m. at the Department's Oklahoma City headquarters at 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd. (one block south of the State Capitol Bldg.). Pre-registration is required. For information, call (405) 521-4603.

Tournament results available

Bass fishing can be easy at times.

It is just a matter of knowing where to fish.

Anglers can get a jump on the action by checking out the Oklahoma Bass Tournaments 2000 Annual Report. The report ranks the top 22 bass lakes in Oklahoma based on fishing results from more than 700 tournaments held in 2000, providing anglers and tournament directors useful information for future outings.

The 14-page report is compiled by personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Fishery Research Lab in Norman. Charts within the report contain statistics such as angler success, average number of bass caught per day, average weight per bass caught and the number of hours of fishing taken to catch a bass five pounds or larger at specified lakes.

"The data generated from tournament anglers provides very useful information for fisheries biologist to help gauge trends in bass populations at specific lakes," said Gene Gilliland, senior fisheries biologist for the Department. "We can't survey every lake every year during our spring electrofishing surveys, so the tournament data is very important. It provides us continuous information on fishing conditions and success at these lakes.

"The program is voluntary, but tournament officials are contributing more data every year," he added. "This information benefits everyone in the long run. The more we know about bass populations in Oklahoma lakes, the better informed our management decisions will be."

Based on the 2000 data, Okemah Lake took the state's top honors. Kerr Lake came in second and Keystone Lake placed third in the rankings which factored five angling quality measurements.

Additional highlights from this year's report include the following:

• Each tournament averaged 51 bass weighing 119.85 pounds.

• The average bass weighed 2.35 pounds.

• The average first-place weight was 12.31 pounds, the highest seen since the program began in 1994.

• A report about the Largemouth Bass Virus.

• Tournament report cards and instructions.

• Table outlining the top 22 bass lakes in Oklahoma based on angler success, average weight per bass, number of bass caught per day, hours fishing per bass greater five pounds and average first place weight.

The reports are available by calling the Department's Fishery Research Lab at 405/325-7288.

2001 Fishing Guides available soon

The 2001 Oklahoma Fishing Guides will soon be available statewide at sporting goods stores and fishing license dealers. The 31-page booklets not only list regulations governing fishing in the state, but they also contain fishing tips and other helpful information.

The booklet outlines new regulations for 2001 and provides regional listings of lake-specific regulations. A sport fish of Oklahoma chart is also provided in the centerfold. The chart covers preferred spawning temperatures and locations, best bait choices and prime feeding times and key fishing areas for common fish species.

All of Oklahoma's state designated trout areas also are outlined in the new guide. Maps, individual area regulations and trout fishing tips are provided to help anglers enjoy greater success. Lake descriptions and contact information and a list of enclosed fishing docks also are listed in this year's booklets.

Anyone with questions about fishing in Oklahoma or about state fishing regulations should contact their local game warden, or contact the Department's Fisheries Division at (405) 521-3721. Further information also is available at wildlifedepartment.com.

Time to renew hunting and fishing licenses

While ushering in a new year on the calendar, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation officials remind sportsmen to renew their annual hunting and fishing licenses.

To hunt or fish, sportsmen must possess a 2001 annual hunting and fishing license, said Melinda Sturgess, chief of administration for the Department. The exceptions are the Trapping and Bobcat-Raccoon-Gray Fox licenses, which expire Jan. 31 and Feb. 28, respectively.

For those who enjoy both hunting and fishing, sportsmen can save more than 15 percent off the cost of individual hunting and fishing licenses by purchasing an annual combination license.

"A combination license is a great bargain," Sturgess said, "and it means one less license you have to carry, especially if you purchase some of the auxiliary permits at the same time."

Some of the more popular auxiliary permits are the special trout fishing permit, as well as permits for deer and turkey. Another auxiliary permit available is the unique Land Access Fee. For just $16, the permit gives hunters and anglers a passport to enjoy more than 725,000 acres of the Three Rivers and Honobia Creek wildlife management areas in southeast Oklahoma.

License requirements and exemptions are outlined in the Oklahoma Hunting Guide and Regulations and the Oklahoma Fishing Guide. These publications are available at hunting and fishing license dealers statewide.

Those who have questions about hunting and fishing license requirements should contact their local game wardens. The Oklahoma Hunting Guide and Regulations contains a complete list of game wardens and phone numbers for the entire state. Information is also available from the Department's licensing section at (405)521-4629 or at wildlifedepartment.com.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is responsible for managing Oklahoma's fish and wildlife resources. The department does not receive any general state tax revenues to accomplish its mission. Its operations are funded primarily from revenue generated by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, and also from revenue generated by special excise taxes on guns, ammunition, motorboat fuel and fishing equipment.

Trout like it cold

The small bobber twitched, then slowly disappeared in the clear, blue water. The excited angler paused, then swept his spinning rod upward. After a brief tussle, he held a colorful rainbow trout in his hand.

With winter's cold setting its sights directly on the Sooner State, most anglers have traded their fishing rods for VCR remotes. But unlike many warm-water species, trout favor cold water and will actively attack an angler's bait this time of year. And with six wintertime and two year-round state-designated trout areas, there are good trout fishing opportunities within an easy drive of most anglers.

"The newest trout area is Pawhuska Lake, located in Osage County," said Barry Bolton, assistant chief of fisheries in charge of management for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Pawhuska is a clear-water lake with good bank fishing access. This area should be especially attractive to Tulsa-area anglers and those who live in north-central Oklahoma."

Bolton said that the Department also has adjusted its stocking strategy this winter and will be incorporating some large (14- to 24-inch) rainbow trout into its stocking schedules for each area and encourages anglers to periodically check the Department's official website (wildlifedepartment.com) for an updated stocking schedule.

Complete details on the Wildlife Department's trout areas, along with season dates, regulations, fishing tips and area maps are printed in the 2001 Oklahoma Fishing Guide.

"We certainly encourage anyone who enjoys fishing to give one of our trout areas a try this winter," Bolton said. "It's a fun activity and can really help cure cabin fever."

Anglers are reminded that anyone fishing in a designated trout area must have the required $7.75 trout permit. There are no exemptions, including lifetime license holders and nonresidents.