Grass carp record falls twice in two days

The events of the last few days have fisheries officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation checking their pencil erasers and waiting by the telephone. In the past two weeks, bowfishermen on Arbuckle Lake have arrowed three new state records in the unrestricted division (non-rod and reel category) for grass carp.

Brandon Taber of Oklahoma city officially put his name in the record books with a 77-pound monster he arrowed at Arbuckle Lake on July 30. The fish was 53 inches long with a girth measurement of 36 1/4 inches. Taber's giant fish bumped his bowfishing buddy, Richard Snow, off the record list after a mere 48 hours as the record holder.

“I didn’t think it was going to break Snow’s record until I put it on the scale, but when it registered over 70-pounds, I got really excited” said Taber.

While Snow and Taber were bowfishing together July 28, Snow set the record with a fish that beat the previous record set two weeks before. Little did Snow know at the time, his record wouldn't stand for long.

"I spotted the fish laying against the side of the cove. It ran under the boat and was coming head on when I drew back my bow. When I connected with my arrow, the fight was on," said Snow.

Snow's short-lived record weighed 69-pounds, 9-ounces and was 48 3/4 inches long and had a 35-inch girth.

As if setting three records in a two-week span wasn't strange enough, the first time the record was set this summer was by duo-archers David Carter and Steven Edgar. The pair each arrowed the same fish simultaneously on July 13. The giant weighed 68-pounds, 6-ounces and was 43 1/2 inches long with a girth of 32 1/4 inches. Carter and Edgar's two-week-long record bested the previous mark by 18 pounds set by David Mann in 1993.

"The Wildlife Department does not stock grass carp in Arbuckle Lake to control vegetation," said Barry Bolton, the Wildlife Department's assistant chief of fisheries. The grass carp in Arbuckle are escapees from private farm ponds located in Arbuckle's watershed that have washed into the lake after high-water events," said Bolton.

Bolton said many Oklahoma private pond owners have stocked grass carp, also known as white amur, to control aquatic vegetation. A native of Asia, the fish are voracious vegetarians that can clear ponds chocked with nuisance aquatic plants such as hydrilla or water milfoil. Due to lack of their native riverine spawning habitat, the fish have not reproduced in Oklahoma's ponds or reservoirs. Bolton said the removal of grass carp from Arbuckle is not an undesirable practice.

"Arbuckle has never had a severe problem with nuisance aquatic vegetation so the grass carp in the lake are really serving no purpose and may be eating plants which provide habitat for other fish species," Bolton said. "We'd sure like to see someone figure out how to catch them consistently on a rod and reel, but for now the bowfisherman are the ones having all the fun.”

Rod and reel anglers have occasionally caught grass carp using bread balls or prepared dough bait, however, most success has come from farm ponds where all of the vegetation has been eaten by the fish

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recognizes two divisions of state record fish. Restricted division records are limited to those fish legally caught with a rod and line and played by no more than one person. The unrestricted division records are for fish legally taken by methods other than rod and line and can be played by more than one person.

For a complete list of state record fish and for instructions on what to do if you think you have caught a record fish, log on to


Cutline: Brandon Taber of Oklahoma City breaks Snow’s unrestricted state record on July 30, 2002 with a 77-pound, grass carp taken by bow and arrow from Arbuckle Lake.


Cutline: Richard Snow of Shawnee set a new unrestricted state record on July 28, 2002 with a 69-pound, 8-ounce grass carp taken by bow and arrow from Arbuckle Lake.




Go fishing and stay at a state park cabin

Oklahoma families heading for the perfect vacation spot will likely find great fishing not far away.

"Incorporating some fishing in your vacation can be a great way to make some memories with your family," said Rich Fuller, information supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "There is some great fishing in early fall and most all of Oklahoma's larger lakes have state parks adjacent to them."

Fifteen Oklahoma state parks feature first-rate cabins. Many of these cabins are located near some of the state's most beautiful areas, with fishing just a leisurely walk away. State parks with cabins are operated at Keystone lake, Lake Tenkiller, Beavers Bend, Great Salt Plains and many other scenic destinations.

"We absolutely welcome fishermen," said Ron Stahl with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. "It's a perfect fit, just about all our cabins are located near lakes and you can often rent boats at our marinas if you don't want to bring your own."

Stahl added there are also activities for the whole family to enjoy.

"One of the nice things about staying in a cabin, besides the air conditioning, is there are plenty of things to do. There are nature centers, hiking trails and nearby communities that offer shopping, dining and other entertainment," Stahl said.

To find out more about state park cabins, log on to and for up to date fishing reports log onto


Cutline: Find a great place to fish and stay at state parks.

NWTF supports sportsmen's programs

The National Wild Turkey Federation is sticking to its guns not only for turkey hunters, but for all sportsmen. The NWTF took another step to preserve America's hunting and shooting heritage in 2002 by awarding $250,000 to the National Shooting Sports Foundation and $100,000 to the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (formerly known as the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America).

"The restoration of the wild turkey, white-tailed deer and even the bald eagle would not have happened without sportsmen. Conservation can't exist without the hunting and shooting sports," said Rob Keck, CEO of the NWTF. "The Federation's mission statement makes it 100 percent clear that we're committed to hunting, and our contributions to NSSF and USSA will be used to protect and advance the rights of sportsmen throughout North America."

This commitment shows the focus the NWTF, a 450,000-member conservation organization dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of the North American hunting tradition, has to ensuring the future of America's hunting heritage.

The donation is helping finance a major educational campaign that will introduce to the general public the historic role of hunting and shooting traditions in America and the wholesome recreation hunting and shooting provides for millions of men, women and children across the United States.

"Some have asked why an organization dedicated to wildlife conservation would make such a major contribution to the firearms industry," said Keck. "To us it's simple-without firearms there would be no hunting, without hunting there would be no conservation and without conservation there would be no wildlife, in our case the wild turkey."

The donations were made possible through a combination of support from the NWTF and its nearly 2,000 state and local chapters. For more information about the NWTF, call 1-800-THE-NWTF or visit the web site at


Free dove hunting Sept. 7-8

No bitter cold temperatures, no extravagant equipment necessary, no long road trips required - dove hunting is about as simple as it comes. It is hard to think of a better time to introduce someone to the upcoming fall hunting seasons and residents of Oklahoma do not even need a license to hunt Sept. 7 and 8.

"The annual free hunting days are a perfect chance to introduce friends or family members to hunting," said Nels Rodefeld, information and education assistant chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Dove are plentiful from border to border and offer sportsmen lots of action during early to mid-September. Squirrel hunting also is a great starter outing and early September can be both pleasant and productive."

According to Rodefeld, dove hunting will be the biggest draw during Free Hunting days, though. The birds are acrobatic flyers and put just about everyone on a level playing field when it comes to wing shooting whether they are brand new to the sport or veterans of many Septembers.

When it comes to dove hunting there are really only two major considerations: equipping yourself with the right shotgun and shells and finding a place to hunt.

When selecting a shotgun for dove hunting, you can go as plain or as fancy as your budget allows. You can purchase a brand new, 12- or 20-gauge slide-action (pump) shotgun for less than $200, or you can find used guns for considerably less. For those who want to try the sport for the first time, Rodefeld recommends borrowing a gun from a friend.

When hunting migratory birds like dove, shotgun magazines must be plugged so that they can not hold more than three shells (one in the chamber, two in the magazine). Most new shotguns are already plugged, but older guns might not be. In either case, check before you go afield.

Selecting a good dove load is simple, too. If you use a 20-gauge shotgun, you can get by with 7/8-ounce loads, but one-ounce loads deliver a heavier payload and more energy. A good 12-gauge dove load should have at least 1 1/8 ounces of number seven or eight shot. The payload, powder load and shell size are always clearly marked on the box.

If you need a place to hunt, now is the time to start scouting for areas and visiting with landowners for permission to hunt. The sooner you start the better because if you wait until the last minute, you may find it more difficult to get permission.

Many of the wildlife management areas owned by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation also offer good dove hunting opportunities. To help you find the best areas near you, information about the Department's wildlife management areas can be found at complete with descriptions of their habitat and what types of hunting are available at each.

Pay close attention to regulations for public areas. Some, like Hackberry Flat WMA, allow only the use of federally-approved non-toxic shot for dove hunting. You can find out by picking up a copy of the "2002-2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide & Regulations," available at sporting goods retailers and license vendors statewide.

Dove hunters also should be sure to pick up a new Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program Permit before the season begins. The free HIP permits are required of all migratory bird hunters in the United States. Data collected from the surveys helps federal migratory bird biologists better gauge bird harvests and hunter numbers, which will translate to improved migratory bird management.


Hunters, get ready!

It's official- its time to start preparing for the upcoming fall hunting seasons, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has released its "2002-2003 Hunting Guide and Regulations," available at retail outlets, sporting goods stores, and license vendors throughout the state.

With dove season less than a month away and deer seasons following right behind, the new regulations are just in time to help Oklahoma's sportsmen and sportswomen begin planning their fall outings. Now is the time to pencil in some hunting dates, put in for some time off from work and get things squared away around the house so you can get the most enjoyment from Oklahoma's autumn hunting opportunities.

The "2002-2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide and Regulations" is a hunter’s complete and comprehensive resource. It has information on both resident and non-resident permits, season dates, wildlife management area information, colorful maps and contact information. In addition to picking them up from license vendors and sporting goods retailers, an electronic form of the "2002-2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide and Regulations" can also be downloaded from


Editors note: Hunting Season listed at

Now is the time to attend a hunter education clinic

Over the past 30 years, hunting related accidents and fatalities have declined by more than 70 percent in Oklahoma and it is no wonder why. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Hunter Education Program has proven to be one of the Departments most successful endeavors.

"Virtually all the states and provinces now require some form of hunter education for first-time hunters," said Lance Meek , hunter education coordinator for the Department. "Everywhere programs have been started, the number of fatalities and accidents have dropped dramatically. Certainly, even one hunting related accident or fatality is too many as far as we are concerned. And that's why we develop more effective teaching strategies so that hunters will gain the knowledge and good habits to prevent accidents."

Approximately 13,000 hunter education students are certified annually at over three hundred courses statewide, and one of the most popular courses has been the Norman Hunter Education Clinic. More than 600 students are expected to attend the clinic, an all-day course which will be held on August 24.

One of the neat things about this clinic is that there is a great diversity of information taught by our best instructors, Meek said.

According to Meek, participants will be able to participate in live fire at the Norman Police gun range, as well as attends seminars covering wildlife management, survival, ethics and much more. The course culminates with the certification exam. Scores of 70 percent or higher will earn participants a hunter education certification card.

To find out more about the Norman Hunter Education Clinic or other upcoming clinics, log on or call (405) 521-4636.

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1972, upon reaching 16 years of age must have completed a certified hunter education course in order to purchase a hunting license. Additionally, any hunters under the age of 16 (below the age required to purchase a hunting license), must complete a hunter education course if they use a firearm to hunt big game (deer, elk or antelope).

Hunting Show coming soon

Are you craving the sight of a nervous bird dog and the falling leaves of autumn?

A quick fix is right around the corner, the Oklahoma Hunting Show, scheduled for August 23-25 in Oklahoma City, will have just about everything an outdoorsman needs to hold him over the last few weeks of summer.

Whether a pro or just getting started, the show held at the fairgrounds transportation building, will have something for everyone. There is no need to flip through the same old catalog, over 200 exhibitors will have the latest hunting and fall fishing merchandise. Everything from bows to blinds, calls to camo, it will all be on display.

Besides finding new equipment, visitors can attend one of the great seminars being offered at the show. Learn from the experts on bow hunting, bass fishing, dog training and much more. Officials from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will also be on hand to answer your questions.

Those feeling a little competitive or just wanting to brush up on your calling skills, can enter one of the duck, goose or turkey calling contests held at the show.

Admission to the show is $5 per person, kids under 12 are free with paid adult. For more information about the Oklahoma Hunting Show call (405) 943-3800, or log onto

Hunters helping biologists

Migratory bird hunters, including dove hunters, will have a great opportunity to get out and enjoy Oklahoma's outdoors this fall and winter. Before they head to the field, hunters are reminded to complete and carry a Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit.

Hunters are helping to improve the management of North Americas migratory birds through the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program. HIP is a cooperative state and federal program designed to gather accurate information on the level and distribution of harvest of migratory birds, including doves, ducks and woodcock.

Anyone who hunts doves or other migratory birds in the United States must be HIP-certified. Those hunters reports are then used to develop reliable estimates of the total harvest of migratory birds throughout the country. In this way, hunters serve as biologists eyes and ears in the field, helping to improve wildlife conservation efforts and protecting the hunting heritage.

Hunters were concerned about wildlife conservation long before it was trendy to do so. American hunters have a long history of taxing themselves, paying license fees and buying stamps, all to ensure the health and vigor of wildlife populations. HIP is just another page in that history of conservation.

The free permit is part of the universal license form available free at any license dealer across the state. Permits are valid from September 1 of the current year through March 31 of the following year. Migratory bird hunters can obtain and complete the permit by answering a few simple questions.

All migratory bird hunters, including lifetime license holders , must obtain, complete and carry the HIP Permit while hunting. Exemptions to the HIP permit include: hunters under 16 years of age, senior citizens age 64 and over or hunters who turn 64 during the calendar year in which they intend to hunt and landowners hunting only on their own property.


Virus risk extremely low for sportsmen

Although the spread of West Nile Virus has some concerned, common sense is the order of the day for sportsmen heading afield this fall.

The risk of contracting the virus is extremely low, said Dr. Kristy Bradley with the Oklahoma State Department of Health. This disease is just running its course and it is important that we keep everything in perspective. Avoiding mosquitoes is a simple precaution everyone can take while outdoors.

According to Dr. Bradley, there has been no evidence that the disease, which was first found in the US three years ago, has ever been spread by person-to-person contact, by contact with infected animals, or by eating game birds such as dove, ducks or quail. The bite from an infected mosquito is the only way the disease is spread.

Dr. Randall Crom, with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, agreed that there is no need for individuals to change their outdoor activities or plans.

"Before I knew anything about West Nile virus, I didn't like being bitten by mosquitoes," said Dr. Crom. "And I still don't like being bitten, so I still do the things I have always done, wear DEET-based insect repellent, wear protective clothing like long sleeves if possible, and move to a different place if I'm still being bitten."

Although no Oklahomans have contracted the virus, some people who have been infected, mostly in the eastern half of the U.S., have developed a mild flu-like illness, for a short period and a fraction of a percent have developed the more serious complications of encephalitis.

Even if a person is bitten by a infected mosquito, only a tiny percentage of those people ever develop any serious complications, said Dr. Bradley.

Dr. Bradley added that bird dogs are not at risk of becoming ill if bitten by an infected mosquito or retrieving a WNV-infected bird. According to Bradley, both dogs and cats are resistant to the effects of the virus.

Crows, blue jays and raptors seem to be the most susceptible to West Nile virus and several birds have tested positive in the state. Officials at the Oklahoma Department of Health have asked citizens for help in tracking the disease. Persons who find birds that have recently died can call a toll-free number, 1-800-990-CROW (2769) during regular business hours to report their sightings. Callers are asked to give a description of the bird and report where the bird was found. If the bird is suitable for testing, the caller will be asked to transport the bird to the nearest drop-off point. Health officials have also begun mosquito trapping and testing in locations around the state to enhance West Nile virus monitoring.

For more information on West Nile virus and regular surveillance updates, check out the state health department's Web site at

Jay Novaceks Hunters Against Hunger Auction: Aug. 23

Good barbecue, good company and a great cause. Sounds like an excellent way to spend an evening. But thats not all, attendees of the annual Hunters Against Hunger barbecue and auction will also have an opportunity to bid on first class hunting trips and outdoor equipment.

It is always a fun evening and we have some excellent items for the auction this year, said Steve Scott, auction coordinator. We hope sportsmen will come join us for this event. You might be able to pick up a deal on a trip or hunting item you have always wanted, plus all the money raised goes right back into the program.

Hunters who legally harvest a deer during this years deer season can donate the meat to feed hungry Oklahomans. Hunters simply deliver the deer to the nearest participating meat processor after you check the deer in. To help with processing charges, each donator is requested to contribute a tax-deductible $10 to assist with the program. The ground venison will then be distributed to the needy through a network of qualified, charitable organizations. In 2001 alone, Oklahoma hunters donated 25,800-plus pounds of venison which provided meals for 103,000 needy people.

Participation by meat processors and hunters is the key to success and to helping feed Oklahomas hungry.

The barbecue, hosted by former Dallas Cowboys all-pro Jay Novacek, begins at 6:30 p.m., Friday August 23 and will take place at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in the Transportation Building in Oklahoma City. Tickets can be purchased for $30 at the door.


Resident Canada geese season coming soon

Do you like waterfowl hunting, but don't care much for bitter north winds?

The upcoming resident Canada goose season may be just the ticket. Non-migratory Canada geese can be found all across the state and for the past two years sportsmen have had the opportunity to harvest the big birds.

This year the season will run September 21-30 statewide and although the birds may be full time residents that does not mean they aren't a challenge to hunt. Sportsmen will meet with more success if they spend some time scouting and patterning the birds movements before the hunt. For complete regulations, consult the "2002-2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide."

More information about Oklahoma's resident Canada goose season can be found on an upcoming episode of "Outdoor Oklahoma" TV show which will air Sunday, September 1 at 8:00 a.m. on OETA-The Oklahoma Network.

Also featured on the show will be a father and son crappie fishing trip to Canton Lake in northwest Oklahoma.

Dr. Joe Grzybowski, professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, will also provide an update of the black-capped vireo population in the western part of the state.

For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at or your local TV guide.


Dove hunting opportunities abound

Dove are certainly the most equal opportunity species of all the gamebirds pursued by Oklahomans. Sportsmen do not need the latest head-to-toe camouflage patterns, a private land honey hole is not necessary to have a good hunt, and the bird's high speed acrobatics can cause even the most experienced gunners to wonder if they are shooting blanks.

Dove can be found from one corner of the state to the next and some of the best hunting around can be found on wildlife management areas managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. In fact many areas of those properties have been managed specifically for doves.

A long road trip may be a great way to see the state and kick off the fall hunting seasons, but hunters do not have to travel far to find dove. Recently harvested grain fields and cattle watering ponds on private lands can be excellent places to hunt dove, and they can often be found only a few miles outside city limits. A little homework and initiative can go a long way when it comes to securing a place to hunt doves. Land owners will often give permission to responsible hunters who ask courteously to hunt on their land. Sportsmen should always treat the land they hunt with respect: leave gates the way you found them, always pick up any trash or spent shells, and never enter any land without first asking permission.

Although many hunters head west to look for doves in September, excellent hunting can be found in the eastern half of the state as well. Keystone Wildlife Management Area near Mannford attracts both doves and dove hunters to the fields along the lake shores. Copan and Ft. Gibson often hold good number of birds also.

No matter where you choose to hunt, a little scouting will undoubtedly pay off. Dove, a migratory species, can often swarm an area one week and be gone the next. Just a few minutes of scouting can help avoid the dreaded line - "Should've been there yesterday."

Once dove move into an area, hunters are often not far behind. Even a relatively small area can support several hunters provided they keep safety and courtesy in mind. If sportsmen find themselves in a popular area, they should remember to not take low angle shots and treat their fellow hunters with respect. Great hunting can also be found by hiking in a little further or trying a new area.

According to Bill Dinkines, assistant chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, western Oklahoma has traditionally been the best bet for finding doves year in and year out, unless an early cold front moves in and pushes the birds south. Dinkines added that several wildlife management areas in the western part of the state have attempted to manage fields to provide habitat conditions to attract dove on their journey south. However, many fields were impacted by lack of rainfall early in the growing season. If it stays hot and dry, watering holes may be a better bet.

Only a few years old, Hackberry Flat wildlife management area has quickly established itself as one of the premier dove hunting locales in the state. The "Flat," located near Frederick, encompasses over 7,000 acres of prime migratory bird habitat. The area provides plenty of fast paced action for dove hunters in early fall, holds thousands of ducks, geese and sandhill cranes in the winter, and also serves as important nesting habitat for a wide range of shorebirds.

Sandy Sanders and Packsaddle Wildlife Management Areas in western Oklahoma have long been known for great quail hunting, but that is not the only good hunting in the area. Dove are often quite plentiful on the areas particularly around windmills and small ponds with bare shorelines.

Hunters heading to the northwest part of the state should bring at least two things: a jug or two of cool water and plenty of shotgun shells. Not only is the weather hot, but so is the hunting. The wide-open spaces of Beaver and Cooper wildlife management areas allow plenty of room for doves to dive and turn and challenge hunters.

The rolling hills around Kaw Wildlife Management Area in north central Oklahoma near Ponca City can be a great place to find migrating doves. Okmulgee and Deep Fork wildlife management areas might also be a good place to check out.

Hunters should contact their local biologist, whose numbers are listed in the "2002-2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide," for specific, up-to-date information on conditions at wildlife management areas they are considering hunting.


Bonus youth deer hunts deadline near

Beginning deer hunters have a unique opportunity to participate in 10 youth controlled antlerless deer hunts that will take place on private lands in several Oklahoma counties.

The hunts are scheduled for either mid October or late December. Approximately 130 bonus antlerless deer gun licenses will be drawn for youth 12 to 16 years of age who have completed their hunter education requirements.

"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.

"The Department is also thankful for the landowners' willingness to participate in this program and for allowing these youngsters the opportunity to hunt on their property," said Douglas Schones, district seven wildlife commissioner. "It also helps Department personnel to solidify their relationship with farmers and ranchers."

A non-hunting adult that is at least 21 years old must accompany any youth chosen for the hunts. To apply for a hunt, applicants must send the Department a 4 inch by 6 inch index card titled "Private Lands Youth Deer Hunts." The card should provide the hunter's name, date of birth, mailing address, telephone number, hunter education certification number, social security or drivers license number, the county in which they prefer to hunt and lifetime license number if applicable. The name of the non-hunting partner must also be included.

The October hunts offered include sites in Alfalfa, Ellis, and Osage counties. The December hunts offered include sites in Beckham, Canadian, Craig, Dewey, Harmon and Roger Mills counties. Each hunter may apply for up to two hunts. If applying for more than one hunt, hunters must designate the order of hunt preference. Applications must be received at the Department no later than 4:00 p.m. September 5, 2002.

Successful applicants will receive a notification letter about their hunt. The letter will inform them of their selection, details about the hunt and license requirements. Any youth selected for the hunt will need to purchase a $14.75 Resident Youth Deer Gun License unless they possess an Oklahoma Resident Lifetime Hunting or Resident Lifetime Combination License. The youth's non-hunting adult partner will not be required to possess a license of any type. Any antlerless deer harvested during the controlled hunt will be considered "bonus" deer and will not count against the youths’ annual statewide bag limit.

Applications for the Private lands Youth Deer Hunt should be sent to: Department of Wildlife, Attn: Wildlife Division-Youth Deer Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. For additional information concerning the hunts, contact the Department at (405) 521-2730.



Quail management

His neighbors had complained for years - quail numbers were dropping faster than cattle prices. They told him there was nothing a person could do about the situation, but Roger thought he could make a difference.

He bought 310 acres of worn out Kansas farm land and began managing the property to not only benefit his family's balance sheet, but also to provide habitat for bobwhite quail. A few of his neighbors and, at times, even his wife questioned his mental aptitude when it came to some of his land practices. Leaving weed patches where crops could grow, burning perfectly good grass, even cutting down trees in windrows were all methods that were a country mile from the status quo in the area.

"Farm income and quail management can co-exist," said Roger Wells, national habitat coordinator for Quail Unlimited.

His acreage is a testament to that very fact, and his experience isn't unique to Kansas - his success can be applied right here in Oklahoma.

Wells and other top quail experts from around the nation recently gathered at the third annual Bollenbach Quail Symposium to discuss the most efficient ways for farmers, ranchers and other landowners to support quail on their operations.

"Private landowners are the answer to quail restoration in Oklahoma and across the country," Wells said. "The people who live and work on the land can have a huge impact on wildlife populations."

When Wells purchased his property in 1985 the tired fields only supported two bobwhite coveys; this year he expects 11 coveys to call his acreage home. He said not everything he has tried has worked but three methods have been essential to the success of quail on his property.

"Quail don't do too well in pastures infested with cedar trees and hay doesn't grow very well there either," Wells said.

By removing invasive cedars he not only helped out wildlife, he also boosted the bottom line. More hay equals more money. Wells used a local tree service to clear 50 acres of trees in approximately 10 hours. The going rate for the mechanical tree cutting is approximately $70 per hour.

According to Wells, there is at least one job on his farm that is better done just halfway.

"By cutting trees about knee high just enough to push them over, you can create living brush piles," Wells said. "The trees fall over but remain alive for many years."

This serves two important functions, Wells said. First, it eliminates perches for avian predators such as owls or hawks. Second, it provides important escape cover when quail are fleeing coyotes or other ground based predators.

When planning any habitat changes on his property, Wells keeps one thing in mind - connections. Whether a prescribed burn, grazing rotations or hay mowing, he knows the fact that quail need cover, such as weed patches, when moving to or from feeding areas, roosting areas and brooding areas.

"Quail can move from one corner of my place to another without ever having to get out in the open," Wells said.

Wells told the audience that individuals do not have to own 1,000 or more acres to make a difference in quail numbers.

"Every little bit counts. By planning ahead and thinking about how their land practices effect wildlife, landowners can benefit quail and many other wildlife species," Wells said.

To find out more about quail and quail management contact the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at (405) 521-2730.


Dove season is right around the corner

It's finally here. You have made it through the heat of summer. Now it's time to seriously get ready for upcoming hunting seasons.

With dove season just a matter of days away, sportsmen should remember a few important items.

Don't forget to put the plug back in your shotgun. While tuning up on sporting clays, some hunters remove the plug from their gun. When hunting migratory birds in Oklahoma a shotgun can legally hold a maximum of three shells including the one in the chamber.

While this summer has been somewhat cooler than years past, dove hunting often takes place in hot weather. Bring a jug of water to help cool you and your partners off. If you hunt with a retriever, bring a water dish for them too.

Hunters are required to pick up a new Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit. HIP is a cooperative state and federal program designed to gather accurate information on the level and distribution of harvest of migratory birds, including doves, ducks and woodcock.

The free permit is part of the universal license form available at any license dealer across the state. Permits are valid from September 1 of the current year through March 31 of the following year.

A dove hunting checklist is only one of the subjects of an upcoming episode of "Outdoor Oklahoma" TV show which will air Sunday, Aug. 25 at 8:00 a.m. on OETA-The Oklahoma Network.

Also featured on the show will be a wide variety of activities available to sportsmen this fall.

"Outdoor Oklahoma" features such topics as fishing, hunting; and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute program can be seen on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. "Outdoor Oklahoma" can also be seen on the following television stations: KSBI Network (greater OKC metro area), Mondays-5:00 p.m., Thursdays-10: 30 p.m., Saturdays-1:30 p.m., KTEN (south-central and southeastern Oklahoma) Sundays-5 a.m., KWEM (Stillwater), Wednesdays-8:00 p.m., Fridays-7:00 p.m. and Sundays-8:00 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at or your local TV guide.


Waterfowl seasons set

Practice your calling, dust off the decoys and get the dog in shape. Waterfowl season will be here before you know it. Once again duck and goose hunters will have ample opportunity to chase migrating birds in marshes and fields all across the state. Waterfowlers can pursue the migrating birds from September all the way through March.

The 2002-2003 Oklahoma waterfowl dates and bag limits remain essentially the same as the last few years with two notable differences. Due to the decline in the continental population of pintails and efforts to reduce pintail harvest, a shortened season of 39 days will be allowed by federal framework on pintails in Oklahoma and throughout the Central Flyway. In addition, there will be no open season on canvasbacks. The season was closed on canvasbacks because of the declines in breeding population and anticipated poor production.

Hunters will also notice that the duck season was moved a week later to correspond with the new federal closing framework date of the last Sunday in January.

Waterfowl hunters should be sure to pick up a new state and federal waterfowl stamp and a new Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit before the season begins. The free HIP permits are required of all migratory bird hunters in the United States. Data collected from the surveys helps state and federal migratory bird biologists better gauge bird harvests and hunter numbers, which is used to improve migratory bird management.

All regulations and season dates are tentative until approved September 9 by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. For complete details see the “2002-2003 Oklahoma Waterfowl Hunting Guide” available at hunting license vendors beginning in October.


2002-2003 Oklahoma Waterfowl Seasons

Ducks, Mergansers and Coots Season Dates:

Panhandle Counties (High Plains Mallard Management Unit)

October 12 - January 15, 2003

Pintail Season December 8 - January 15, 2003

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend October 5 - 6, 2002

Zone 1 October 26 - December 8, 2002, and December 14 - January 12, 2003

Pintail Season - November 30 - December 8, and

December 14 - January 12, 2003

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend October 19 - 20, 2002

Zone 2 November 9 - December 8, 2002, and December 14 - January 26, 2003

Pintail Season December 19 - January 26, 2003

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend November 2 - 3, 2002

Bag Limits:

Duck Limits - The daily bag limit for ducks is six. The daily bag limit may include no more than: five mallards (only two may be hens), three scaup, two wood ducks, two redheads. THE SEASON ON CANVASBACKS IS CLOSED. There is a shortened season on pintails with a daily bag limit of one pintail per day allowed for the last 39 days of each of the established duck seasons in the panhandle and in Zones 1 and 2 (see specific pintail season dates above). One pintail will be allowed in the bag during youth waterfowl weekends

Merganser Limits - The daily bag limit for mergansers is five. The daily bag limit may include no more than one hooded merganser.

Coot Limits - The daily bag limit for coots is fifteen.

Possession Limits:

The possession limit after the first day of hunting is two times the daily bag limit

for ducks, mergansers and coots.

Shooting hours:

One-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Geese and Sandhill Crane Season Dates:

Canada Geese November 9 - December 8, 2002, and

December 14 - February 16, 2003

Special September Resident Canada Goose Season September 21 - 30, 2002

White-fronted Geese November 9 - December 8, 2002, and

December 14 - February 7, 2003

Light Geese (Snow, Blue & Ross')

November 9 - December 8, 2002, and

December 14 - February 16, 2003

Conservation Order Light Goose Season (COLGS) February 17 - March 30, 2003

Sandhill Crane November 9 - February 9, 2003

Bag Limits:

Canada Geese - The daily bag limit is three.

White-fronted Geese - The daily bag limit is two.

Light Geese - The daily bag limit is twenty.

Sandhill Crane - The daily bag limit is three.

Possession Limits:

The possession limit for Canada & White-fronted geese and sandhill crane is two times the daily bag limit. There is no possession limit for light geese (snow, blue & Ross').

Shooting Hours:

Unless specified other wise shooting hours for all waterfowl seasons is one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

American eel record broken

From the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi, through the 16 locks and dams of the Arkansas River and into Webbers Falls Lake, an epic journey for an eel or anything else for that matter.

Billy Davison, of Ft. Gibson, broke the unrestricted state record with a 5-pound, 8-ounce American eel that made that very trip. He caught the unique, 40-inch long fish on a trotline from Webbers Falls Lake.

"It is pretty neat. I have been trying to break the flathead catfish record for years, but I never thought I would break the eel record," Davison said.

He was using a small shad for bait when he pulled in the writhing fish from the eastern Oklahoma reservoir.

"Over the years I have caught a few others," Davison said. "So when I saw this one I knew it was big."

The American eel is certainly one of the state's most peculiar fish. It is characterized by a slender snakelike body with very small scales, a long dorsal fin and a olive-green or brown coloration.

The American eel (not to be confused with the electric eel found in South America) occurs in a variety of habitats and is found from Greenland to Brazil. American eels occur as far west as New Mexico, and are common throughout the Caribbean and the West Indies. It is native to Oklahoma, most commonly found in the eastern half of the state.

Perhaps the most unique thing about the eel is that it spawns in the Sargasso Sea, a tropical area northeast of Cuba. Upon hatching, young eels slowly move out into the Gulf of Mexico. Male eels spend most of their lives in the riverine estuaries along the coast, however female eels migrate up rivers and spend their lives in fresh water. To reach Oklahoma, American eels have to swim all the way up from the Gulf of Mexico through the Mississippi River then the Arkansas River.

When not migrating, female American eels live in medium to large streams and lakes with muddy bottoms and quiet waters. They are most active at night. During the day they are found hiding in the mud or under objects such as rocks and logs at the bottom of the lake or river.

Once the female eel has reached maturity (after 10-20 years in the freshwater streams and lakes), she starts back down the river towards the ocean to spawn. Males and females pair up in the Gulf of Mexico and swim for 2 to 3 months until they reach the spawning area. They arrive at the spawning area in the late winter or early spring. The breeding extends into the summer months, and the adult American eels then die after spawning.




Cutline: Billy Davison of Ft. Gibson set a new unrestricted state record with a 5-pound, 8-ounce American eel taken on an trotline from Webbers Falls Lake. Photo by Ruth Friedberg, Muskogee Daily Phoenix.


BioBlitz organized for Beavers Bend

Biologists from across Oklahoma and neighboring states will be converging on Beavers Bend Resort Park near Broken Bow for the second annual BioBlitz September 13 - 14.

The name "BioBlitz" is given to any rapid, comprehensive biological inventory of plants and animals. The Beavers Bend BioBlitz is being organized by the Oklahoma Biological Survey, with assistance from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Oklahoma Division of State Parks. The two primary goals of this event are to develop a complete biological inventory of the Beavers Bend Resort Park and adjacent public land, and to promote an awareness of the biological diversity that exists within Oklahoma.

Volunteer biologists, representing all disciplines within botany and zoology, have been recruited to spend a 24-hour period working together to document the flora and fauna of the park including every species from algae, freshwater mussels and aquatic insects to woody plants, birds and mammals. Between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 14, the public is invited to participate. There will be interactive displays and exhibits of local plants and animals presented by state park naturalists and university biologists. These exhibits will showcase the diversity of species found in the Ouachita Mountains, and the field techniques used by biologists. At the end of the event there will be a presentation of the final tally species that were found.

"Oftentimes, the biological diversity of an area is much greater than we expect," said Mark Howery, natural resources biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "During last year's BioBlitz, nearly 500 species were located in 24 hours in a relatively small 160-acre park in Norman. This year's event will cover a larger and more diverse area and as many as 1,200 species could be recorded in the same time period.

Our aim is to show people the tremendous diversity of life here in our own state and why it is important."

The idea of conducting rapid, 24-hour biological surveys, or BioBlitzes, is relatively new. The first BioBlitz was organized in 1996 by scientists from the National Parks Service and the Smithsonian Institution.

According to Ron Suttles, Natural Resources Coordinator for the Department of Wildlife, the BioBlitz is beneficial in three different ways. First, it provides useful, scientific information about wildlife species, information which is critical in making planning and regulations decisions. Second, the event promotes cooperation between a wide range of agencies and organizations. Finally, the BioBlitz encourages interaction from individuals from all over the state who share a common goal - a healthy Oklahoma environment.

Additional information about the BioBlitz can be found at the Oklahoma Biological Survey's Web site, or by contacting either the Oklahoma Biological Survey at (405) 325-1985 or the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at (405) 521-4616. The 2002 BioBlitz will be headquartered out of the Carson Creek Area of Beaver's Bend Resort Park, approximately eight miles north of Broken Bow, Oklahoma off State Highway 259. For information regarding lodging, camping or other activities at Beavers Bend, contact the park office at (580) 494-6300.


Great hunting and fishing spots within a few miles of Stillwater

Miles away from home, a campus full of strangers and not a rabbit or catfish in sight.

Just because you are off at Oklahoma State University to get an education doesn't mean you have to put off hunting and fishing for four years. There is ample opportunity to get out and about while you are in Stillwater. Within just 50 miles of the crowded halls of the student union, enterprising sportsmen can find plenty of room to roam.

Whether you enjoy wetting a line or stalking the woods for squirrels, rabbits or turkey, Keystone Wildlife Management Area is hard to beat. Located about 40 miles east of Stillwater, the area offers over 16,000 acres of river bottomlands, mixed grass prairie and open water. Not only does the area offer some surprisingly good dove and squirrel hunts, Keystone is also home to rabbit, turkey and even white-tailed deer. The area is close enough to campus to hunt in the early morning or later in the afternoon and never miss a class. Keystone is also an excellent place to gather a few friends for a weekend camping trip, throw out a few lines, fire up the grill and forget about studying, at least for an evening.

Head north on state highway 177 and you will run into two of the better hunting and fishing spots in the state, Sooner Lake and Kaw Lake. The warm water discharge from Sooner's electric power plant, keeps water open in the coldest of winters attracting large numbers of migrating geese and ducks, especially diving ducks. Check with the lake manager at (580)762-7441 to find what specific hunting regulations apply to the area. Sooner is also a great place to catch good numbers of striped bass hybrids.

If you walk into the rolling hills of the Kaw Wildlife Management Area you will find good rabbit hunting and you are likely to bust a covey a bobwhite quail. Kaw WMA also is a popular destination for deer hunters and offers excellent deer hunting opportunities. Nice stringers of channel catfish can be caught particularly where the Arkansas River flows into Kaw Lake.

Just a few minutes from Stillwater there are no less than four lakes that offer excellent fishing. Saugeye and crappie are abundant at Lake Carl Blackwell and Lake McMurtry is known for good bass fishing and nighttime catfishing. For a quick trip or an afternoon picnic, Boomer Lake or Sanborn Lake are great all around fishing lakes. Check with the City of Stillwater, (405)747-8070, for license regulations.

There is no reason to leave your tacklebox and shotgun in storage while during your college years. Get out there and enjoy all the great places to hunt and fish around Stillwater.