OCTOBER 2006 NEWS RELEASES 

 

WEEK OF OCTOBER 26, 2006

WEEK OF OCTOBER 19, 2006

WEEK OF OCTOBER 12, 2006

 

WEEK OF OCTOBER 5, 2006

Wildlife Department employees honored for extended tenure

                At its October meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission recognized a dozen different Department employees who have collectively served sportsmen and the state’s fish and wildlife resources for nearly 300 years – 290 years to be exact.

                “We are blessed to have so many hardworking and talented employees who share a common dedication for the outdoors and to the sportsmen of the state,” said Wildlife Department Director Greg Duffy. “And our agency is blessed with some of the longest tenured employees of any state agency.”

                There are many other Wildlife Department employees who have served at least 20 years and tenure milestones are recognized on the anniversary of employment. The following employees were recognized for their service to the Department at the Commission’s October meeting:

Honored for 20 years of service:

·          Tom Cartwright, Wildlife Department game warden stationed in Hughes County

·          Brady May, Wildlife Department game warden stationed in Cherokee County

·          David Smith, Wildlife Department game warden stationed in Kiowa County

Honored for 25 years of service:

·          Tracy Daniel, Wildlife Department game warden supervisor stationed in Kay County

·          James Champeau, Wildlife Department game warden supervisor stationed in Logan County

·          Keith Green, Wildlife Department game warden supervisor stationed in Craig County

·          Tony Woodruff, Wildlife Department game warden stationed in Cleveland County

·          Ed Rodebush, Wildlife Department game warden stationed in McIntosh County

·          Bill Sartin, northeast region wildlife senior biologist at Copan, Hulah and Osage wildlife management areas

Honored for 30 years of service:

·          Robert Fleenor, Wildlife Department game warden stationed in Creek County

·          James Young, Wildlife Department game warden supervisor stationed in Adair County

                In other business, the Commission established fishing and hunting rules for the newly acquired Lower Illinois River Public Fishing and Hunting Area – Simp and Helen Watts Management Unit. Trout anglers will continue to be able to try their luck in the cold, clear waters of the Lower Illinois River and hunters will be able to pursue deer with archery equipment and small game and turkeys with shotguns (pellets only). The regulations should be effective in November.

                The unique, 320-acre tract of Lower Illinois river front property is located in Sequoyah County between Lake Tenkiller and the town of Gore. The Wildlife Department purchased the property using Legacy Permit funds, donated funds from the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation and Sport Fish Restoration funds.

                Also at their October meeting, the Commission heard a presentation from Dr. Bob Whitson, Oklahoma State University vice president of agricultural programs. Dr. Whitson told Commissioners that OSU has created a new department to better focus on natural resources education and outreach - the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management.

                “Together Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have a strong history of first-class wildlife and fisheries research, and we at the university are excited about continuing this great partnership,” Whitson said.

                Commissioners also accepted a pair of donations at the October meeting.

                The Oklahoma Station of the Safari Club International continued their strong support of the Hunters Against Hunger program through a donation of $2,000.

                “We are proud to partner with the Wildlife Department in this great program,” said Scott Holmes, president of the Oklahoma Station Chapter of the Safari Club International.

                Hunters who harvest a deer during this year's deer seasons can simply deliver the deer to the nearest participating meat processor after checking the deer in. To help with processing charges, each donor 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.

                Another important Wildlife Department program, the Shotgun Training and Education Program, also received a boost. The Oklahoma Game Wardens Association donated $4,428 to go towards the purchase of a new, specially-equipped enclosed trailer for the program.

                The Wildlife Department’s STEP program offers seminars free of charge for groups of 25 or more people. Guns, ammunition and targets are provided through the program and there is a different seminar for every skill level. The STEP program now has nine trailers located statewide fully equipped to conduct shooting seminars. 

                The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department, and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

                The next scheduled Commission meeting is November 6 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 9 a.m.

 

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Youth waterfowl hunts hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

                Oklahoma youngsters age 12 to 15 have an opportunity to apply for special controlled waterfowl hunts sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

                The hunts are designed to provide youth who do not have an adult mentor who waterfowl hunts an opportunity to experience the traditions of waterfowling.

                “When it comes to our hunting traditions there is nothing more important we can do than taking a young hunter afield,” said Mike O’Meilia, migratory game bird biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “These hunts can provide a unique opportunity for those kids that might otherwise never have the chance to experience waterfowl hunting.  Our hope is that the experience will spark a lifelong interest in hunting and dedication to wildlife conservation as an adult sportsman or woman.”

                Youth hunters will be randomly drawn from a list of applicants for each hunting area. Applicants must be 12 to 15 years of age, have proof of successfully completing a certified hunter education course, and have an adult guardian who can accompany them on the hunt.

                A Wildlife Department employee will accompany each youth and their adult guardian for the controlled waterfowl hunt at one of several Department-managed areas. Only the youth hunter will be allowed to hunt.

                Each youth applicant and their guardian may apply only once and must provide the following information on a 3x5 card in an envelope to be eligible for the drawing: names, addresses, telephone numbers, youth’s hunter education number, and the name of the desired hunt location and two alternate hunt locations where they would like to hunt.  The scheduled date of the hunt will be coordinated with successful applicants after the drawing.  Applicants may apply only once and should specify the primary hunt area desired and two alternate locations.

                The locations to choose from are: Altus-Lugert Lake, Canton Lake, Ft. Gibson Refuge, Ft. Cobb Lake Refuge, Hackberry Flat, Vann’s Lake, Wagoner Co., Webbers Falls Refuge, and Wister Lake Refuge.

                 Applications must be received by November 15, 2006, and should be mailed to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Youth Waterfowl Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.  Successful applicants will be notified by November 17, 2006.    

                The Wildlife Department will provide successful applicants the necessary nontoxic  shotgun shells and a 20 gauge single shot shotgun will be available for use if  the youth does not have his or her own shotgun. For more information contact Jeff Neal, Wildlife Department migratory game bird technician at (405) 424-0122.
                Youth between the ages 14 or 15 years of age have another opportunity to participate in a special two-day waterfowl hunt coordinated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The hunt will take place on the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge near Vian.

                On the field day, Thursday, Dec. 21, youth will participate in several waterfowl hunting related demonstrations including duck calling, hunting safety, decoy placement, waterfowl identification, shotgun shooting and retriever training.

                The following day, Dec. 22, the youth will be taken on a guided waterfowl hunt on the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge.

                Participants will be chosen through a random drawing and youth must submit a postcard with their name, address and age to:

                                Youth Hunt

                                Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

                                Rt. 1 Box 18-A

                                Vian, OK 74962

                All entries must be received by November 1. Lodging will not be provided, however lunch on the field day and breakfast on the hunt day will be provided by the Oklahoma Game Warden Association.

 

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Youth waterfowl hunts hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

                Oklahoma youngsters age 12 to 15 have an opportunity to apply for special controlled waterfowl hunts sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

                The hunts are designed to provide youth who do not have an adult mentor who waterfowl hunts an opportunity to experience the traditions of waterfowling.

                “When it comes to our hunting traditions there is nothing more important we can do than taking a young hunter afield,” said Mike O’Meilia, migratory game bird biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “These hunts can provide a unique opportunity for those kids that might otherwise never have the chance to experience waterfowl hunting.  Our hope is that the experience will spark a lifelong interest in hunting and dedication to wildlife conservation as an adult sportsman or woman.”

                Youth hunters will be randomly drawn from a list of applicants for each hunting area. Applicants must be 12 to 15 years of age, have proof of successfully completing a certified hunter education course, and have an adult guardian who can accompany them on the hunt.

                A Wildlife Department employee will accompany each youth and their adult guardian for the controlled waterfowl hunt at one of several Department-managed areas. Only the youth hunter will be allowed to hunt.

                Each youth applicant and their guardian may apply only once and must provide the following information on a 3x5 postcard to be eligible for the drawing: names, addresses, telephone numbers, youth’s hunter education number, and the name of the desired hunt location and two alternate hunt locations where they would like to hunt.  The scheduled date of the hunt will be coordinated with successful applicants after the drawing.  Applicants may apply only once and should specify the primary hunt area desired and two alternate locations.

                The locations to choose from are: Altus-Lugert Lake, Canton Lake, Ft. Gibson Refuge, Ft. Cobb Lake Refuge, Vann’s Lake, Wagoner Co., Webbers Falls Refuge, and Wister Lake Refuge.

                 Applications must be received by November 15, 2006, and should be mailed to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Youth Waterfowl Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.  Successful applicants will be notified by November 17, 2006.    

                The Wildlife Department will provide successful applicants the necessary nontoxic  shotgun shells and a 20 gauge single shot shotgun will be available for use if  the youth does not have his or her own shotgun. For more information contact Jeff Neal, Wildlife Department migratory game bird technician at (405) 424-0122.
                Youth between the ages 14 or 15 years of age have another opportunity to participate in a special two-day waterfowl hunt coordinated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The hunt will take place on the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge near Vian.

                On the field day, Thursday, Dec. 21, youth will participate in several waterfowl hunting related demonstrations including duck calling, hunting safety, decoy placement, waterfowl identification, shotgun shooting and retriever training.

                The following day, Dec. 22, the youth will be taken on a guided waterfowl hunt on the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge.

                Participants will be chosen through a random drawing and youth must submit a postcard with their name, address and age to:

                                Youth Hunt

                                Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

                                Rt. 1 Box 18-A

                                Vian, OK 74962

                All entries must be received by November 1. Lodging will not be provided, however lunch will be provided on the field day and breakfast will be provided on the hunt day.

 

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Hunters sharing their harvest

                One of the main reasons hunters head to the woods each fall is to provide good, nutritious food for their families and many hunters are taking that a step further.

Each year Oklahoma hunters donate thousands of pounds of venison to the Hunters Against Hunger program.

                The program recently received an important donation of $2,000 from the Oklahoma Station Chapter of the Safari Club International.

                “We are proud to partner with the Wildlife Department in this great program,” said Scott Holmes, president of the Oklahoma Station Chapter of the Safari Club International.

                The program facilitates the distribution of deer meat to hungry families in the state. Through the program, hunters provided over 34,000 pounds of venison to the needy families around the state last year.

                “This is another example of support from one of our many partners in conservation,” said Richard Hatcher, assistant director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “It is an important program, because it’s not just about wildlife management – there’s a human side to it too.”

                Hunters who legally harvest a deer during this year's deer seasons can simply deliver the deer to the nearest participating meat processor after checking the deer in. To help with processing charges, each donor 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.

                To find out more about the Hunters Against Hunger Program, or for a list of cooperating meat processors, check out page 26 of the “2006-07 Oklahoma Hunting Guide."

 

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Burn ban remains in place for 39 counties

                As hunting seasons are entering full swing, hunters are reminded that about half the state is currently under a burn ban.

                According to the 39-county burn ban order, outdoor campfires or bonfires are prohibited. LPG and natural gas grills and charcoal-fired cooking outside in a grilling receptacle are permitted provided that the activity is conducted over a non-flammable surface and at least five feet from flammable vegetation. Coleman-type pressurized stoves are exempt.

                “With so many hunters heading to the woods in the coming weeks, this is a good reminder for sportsmen to remain vigilant in preventing accidental fires,” said Bill Dinkines, assistant chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

                For additional guidelines for Oklahoma's ban on outdoor burning, log onto the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry-Forestry Services Division's Web site at: www.oda.state.ok.us/redflag/forred.html

                The following counties are affected by this ban:

Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Cherokee, Choctaw, Cleveland, Coal, Comanche, Cotton, Craig, Delaware, Garfield, Garvin, Grant, Haskell, Hughes, Jefferson, Johnston, Latimer, LeFlore, Love, Marshall, McCurtain, McIntosh, McClain, Murray, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Okfuskee, Osage, Pawnee, Payne, Pittsburg, Pottawatomie, Pushmataha, Pontotoc, Seminole, Sequoyah, and Stephens.

 

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STEP program receives trailer donation

                The Wildlife Department’s Shotgun Training and Education Program (STEP) received a generous donation from the Oklahoma Game Wardens Association.

                The Association donated $4,428 to the STEP program to go towards the purchase of an enclosed trailer and electronic trailer jack.

                “On behalf of the Wildlife Department’s STEP program we are very grateful for this donation. It will allow us to introduce even more kids and adults to shotgun shooting,” said Ed Cunnius, Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP) coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

                According to Cunnius, nearly 100,000 people have gone through a STEP seminar since 1995 and about 65 percent of those were youngsters under the age of 18.           

                With the new donation, the Department now has nine STEP trailers across the state, as well as many certified STEP instructors. The Wildlife Department’s STEP program offers seminars free of charge for groups of 25 or more people. Guns, ammunition and targets are provided through the program.

                There is a different seminar for every skill level whether you have never picked up a gun before or you are a skilled shooter. Since all the classes use non-toxic shot, waterfowl hunters can improve their wing shooting by attending one of the seminars.

                For more information about the Wildlife Department’s STEP program log on to  www.wildlifedepartment.com

 

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Muzzleloader deer season opens Oct. 28

  A record number of hunters could take to the field Sat., Oct. 28, the opening day of Oklahoma’s nine-day muzzleloader season, according to officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

In recent years, participation in muzzleloader season has been on the rise, in part due to better technology that makes it easier for hunters to participate. The hunter success rate has also been going up for those who take to the field.

“We continue to see an increase in the number of hunters taking advantage of this season. Last year, more than 107,000 hunters participated in the muzzleloader season harvesting a total of 24,747 deer,” said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “There are good reasons why it is so popular, not only is it a great time to be in the woods, but it also offers patient hunters a good chance of harvesting a quality buck.”

Muzzleloader season always opens on the fourth Saturday in October and this year that date is Oct. 28 – good news in the minds of many hunters.

“This is the latest muzzleloader season has ever been, or will be in the future for that matter, and many hunters see that as a good thing. Some hunters feel that the later in the month muzzleloader season falls, the better chance to see lots of bucks and early rut activity,” Shaw said.

Not only can hunters harvest a buck, most of the state is open to antlerless hunting every day during the muzzleloader season. Hunters can harvest two deer (one antlered and one antlerless) and must have a license to hunt for each.

In over half the state, hunters have the opportunity to harvest a turkey with their muzzleloader on Nov. 4-5 – the last weekend of muzzleloader season.

“I’m sure many hunters will want to have their turkey license in their back pocket if they are hunting that weekend. Hunters put a lot of time and effort into their trips and most of them want to be prepared for whatever opportunity comes up,” said Michelle Imel, license supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

From wide-open prairie to pine-covered mountains, Oklahomans are blessed with a wide variety of terrain that whitetail deer call home. Many of the wildlife management areas in the state are open for all, or a portion of, the nine-day muzzleloader season.  Regardless of where you go it is always a good idea to do some scouting before the season.

Hunters can do a little virtual scouting and never leave the comfort of home by logging onto wildlifedepartment.com. The Web site offers an award-winning digital wildlife management area atlas. And best of all it is free. In addition to detailed maps, sportsmen can find additional information such as camping locations and contact information for local biologists.

For specific information regarding which areas are open to muzzleloader season, licenses, bag limits, blaze orange clothing requirements or legal firearms, consult the "2006-07 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" or log onto www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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Youth deer season opens Oct. 20-22

Hunters head to the woods each fall for many different reasons - to connect with nature, to enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors, and to match themselves against the challenges of the pursuit. But at the top of that list for many Oklahomans is the special time hunting allows families to spend together.

The youth antlerless deer gun season, October 20-22, offers just that chance for families to enjoy a weekend in the great outdoors. Just ask 14-year-old Kyle Springer.

“I look forward to hunting season all year long, especially the youth deer season,” said Springer, who lives in Weatherford. “I haven’t always got a deer or even seen a deer for that matter, but I still love to go and just hang out with my uncle and the rest of the family.”

Kyle learned to hunt while he was still in elementary school and he was mentored by his family, especially his uncle Damon Springer, of Yukon.

“I’ve taken Kyle on every one of the four youth deer seasons and I wouldn’t trade the time we’ve been able to spend together for anything,” said the elder Springer. “You hear it all the time, but kids grow up so fast. I am really glad I’ve given up a weekend here and there to take Kyle hunting. We’ve shared memories and formed a friendship that I think will last the rest of our lives.”

Open to kids under 18 years of age, the youth antlerless deer gun season was created to encourage youth to head afield and to provide additional opportunities to harvest antlerless deer. Oklahoma kids under the age of 16 are exempt from the purchase of a hunting license and kids 16 or 17 years old can purchase a combination youth hunting and fishing license for just $9 or a youth hunting license for only $5. Unless they hold a lifetime hunting or combination license, all youth participants must purchase a $10 youth antlerless deer gun license.

Youth hunters who do not harvest a deer during the youth antlerless season may use their unfilled license to harvest an antlerless deer during the regular deer gun season. Participating youth are required to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult at least 18 years of age. The three-day hunt is open statewide although youth may not harvest a mule deer.

For complete season dates and other regulations, pick up a copy of the “2006-07 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log onto wildlifedepartment.com.

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Wildlife Department seeks artists for waterfowl stamp design

The Wildlife Department is accepting entries for the Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp design competition. The deadline to submit art is 4:30 p.m., October 27.

The redhead duck will be featured on the 2007 stamp and all artists must depict this species, and any habitat appearing in the design must be typical for the redhead in Oklahoma. The winning art will be printed on the 2007 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp.

Duck stamp sales help finance many projects that benefit ducks and geese. Since the duck stamp program began in 1980, thousands of acres of waterfowl habitat have been created through duck stamp revenues.

Artwork may be of acrylic, oil, watercolor, scratchboard, pencil, pen and ink, tempera or any other two-dimensional media. The illustration must be horizontal, 6 1/2 inches high and 9 inches wide. It must be matted with white mat board 9 inches high by 12 inches wide with the opening cut precisely 6 1/2-by-9. Artwork may not be framed or under glass, but acetate covering should be used to protect the art. For complete entry guidelines, call (405) 521-3856.

Entries should be sent to the Duck Stamp Competition Coordinator, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Fed Ex, UPS and other ground deliveries should be sent to 1801 N. Lincoln, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.

Entries will be judged on anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for printing. The winner and three honorable mentions will appear in a future issue of “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine.

A non-refundable entry fee of $20 (cash, money order or cashier’s check) must accompany each entry. No entries will be accepted after 4:30 p.m., Oct. 27.

The winning artist will receive a purchase award of $1,200 and 50 prints (special artist's proof editions) of the design if the Wildlife Department makes such a reproduction. The winning entry will become the sole and exclusive property of the Wildlife Department.

            For more information about the contest call (405) 521-3856.  

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Free replacement hunter education cards offered at wildlifedepartment.com

Hunters who may have misplaced their hunter education card can print off a free replacement by logging onto the wildlifedepartment.com.

"One of the most common calls we receive are from people who have lost their hunter education card. It’s always nice to be able to tell hunters they can get a replacement card for free off the Internet 24-hours a day," said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

To print off a temporary card, go to the Department’s home page (wildlifedepartment.com) and click “need a hunter education class or replacement card.” Once on the Hunter Education page, individuals can click on, “print off replacement hunter ed card.” Follow the directions by filling in the requested information; then click 'submit' and the card should appear on the screen.

"Hunters can print the card out and use it to get their licenses. It will be accepted by license vendors across the state and in other states as well. The information can also be useful if you want to request a permanent replacement card," Meek said.

If a card does not come up, the hunter can contact the Department's Information and Education Division at (405) 521-4636, Monday-Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and Department personnel will try to locate the hunter in the Department’s database to find a hunter’s certification records. Those wanting a permanent plastic replacement card can receive one for $5 (check, cash, money orders or cashiers checks accepted) by visiting the Department's Oklahoma City headquarters or submitting a letter with payment to: Attn: Replacement Hunter Education Card, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

Letters must contain the hunter's name as it appeared on the original card, current address, birth date and student number if known. Those who do not know their student number should provide the date and location for the course they attended. They should also include a daytime phone number so additional information can be obtained if needed. 

 

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Oklahoma teachers and students eligible to win trips to Wyoming, New Mexico and Texas

Several students and one educator will win a trip of a lifetime thanks to a contest sponsored by the Oklahoma Station Chapter of the Safari Club International (OSCSCI) and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). Winners will compete for trips to New Mexico, Wyoming and Texas through a youth writing contest and teacher application process.

“It’s absolutely imperative that we do everything we can to give kids the opportunity to share and actively take part in their hunting heritage, and that is exactly what this contest is designed to do,” said Sam Munhollon, who serves on the board of directors for the Oklahoma Station Chapter of the Safari Club International. “As a grandfather of 12 grandchildren, I know first hand what a special bonding experience it can be to go hunting with your family.”

Winners in the 15-17 age category (one boy and one girl) will receive an all-expense-paid guided antelope hunt in New Mexico. Funding for the trips, including a full shoulder taxidermy mount of the youth’s harvested antelope will be provided by the Oklahoma Station Chapter Safari Club International.

Students in the 11-14 age category are competing for an all expense paid trip to the Apprentice Hunter Program at the YO Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas. The Safari Club International’s Apprentice Hunters’ Program is a unique, hands-on experience which covers a wide range of topics including; the ethical basis of modern sport hunting, wildlife management, field identification, and wild game cooking. The Oklahoma Station Chapter of the Safari Club International will provide travel reimbursements to attend the weeklong course.

The four statewide winners and their legal guardians will be invited to Oklahoma City to attend an awards ceremony in March. In addition, the top 25 essay entrants will receive a one-year youth membership to Safari Club International. The winning student essays will be published in the OSCSCI newsletter “Safari Trails.” Publication qualifies the winning entries for the National Youth Writing Contest sponsored by the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Several past national winners have come from Oklahoma.

“Students aren’t the only ones eligible to win,” said Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “One educator will be awarded an all-expenses-paid scholarship for an eight-day conservation education school at Safari Club International’s American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS) at Granite Ranch near Jackson, Wyoming.”

The AWLS program is conducted during the summer and presents an outdoor program for educators which concentrate on natural resource management. Participants learn about stream ecology, map and compass, language arts and creative writing in an outdoor setting, fly tying, shooting sports, wildlife management, the Yellowstone ecosystem, camping, white-water rafting, educational resources and how to implement outdoor education ideas. Lodging, meals and training materials will be provided by Oklahoma Station Chapter Safari Club International. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will cover transportation to Jackson, Wyoming.

Both the essay contest rules and teacher scholarship applications are available from the Department's Web site  www.wildlifedepartment.com. Essays and applications must be postmarked no later than Nov. 17, 2006, or delivered by 5 p.m. Nov. 17, 2006, in person to the Department of Wildlife’s Jenks Office at 201 Aquarium Drive, in Jenks. Address entries to: Essay Contest, Attn: Education Section Supervisor, ODWC Jenks Office, P.O. Box 1201, Jenks, OK 74037. 

 

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Recent rains in southern Oklahoma the start waterfowl hunters were looking for

Dust off the decoys, find your duck calls and patch your waders; duck season has already begun in the three Panhandle counties and will begin soon in the remainder of the state.

“Biologists are reporting excellent duck reproduction in Canada, which translates to more young birds in the fall flight. And more young birds can have a big impact on hunter success,” said Mike O’Meilia, migratory game bird biologist for the Wildlife Department. “Of course, the overall success of our Oklahoma waterfowl season depends on the weather. The good news is that there is lots of food and vegetation around the lakes, but we really need some more timely rains to bring the water levels up so that ducks can get to that food. If we could get some more rains like we had last week across the state it could shape up to be a great year for waterfowl hunters.”  

Duck season dates and daily limits are similar to last year, with most of the state enjoying a six-bird daily limit and 74-day season with a 12-day mid-season closure.

O’Meilia noted that Oklahoma, as a member of the Central Flyway, will be participating in the Hunter’s Choice trial over the next three years. Oklahoma is participating only as a control state, meaning Oklahoma hunters will not use the Hunter’s Choice bag limit. The trial will evaluate the effectiveness of a new bag limit system designed to maintain maximum duck hunting opportunity. For more information about Hunter’s Choice, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

In zone 1 (most of northwest Oklahoma), the first half of the duck season will open Oct. 28 and run through Dec. 3, with the second half beginning Dec. 16 and running through Jan. 21, 2007.  Pintail and canvasback season will open Oct. 28 and run through Dec. 3, and then re-open on Dec. 16 and run through Dec. 17. Youth waterfowl hunting days in zone 1 will be Oct. 21 and 22.

In zone 2, the duck season will run from Nov. 4 through Dec. 3 and Dec. 16 through Jan. 28, 2007. Pintail and canvasback season will open Dec. 21 and run through Jan. 28. Youth waterfowl hunting days in zone 2 will be Oct. 28 and 29. 

Panhandle counties will offer the longest duck season. It is currently open and will run through Jan. 4, 2007. Pintail and canvasback season will run through Nov. 14. Youth waterfowl dates for the panhandle were Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

Hunters will be allowed a daily limit of six ducks combined, no more than five of which can be mallards. Of those, only two mallards may be hens. Only two scaup, two wood ducks, two redheads may be included in the daily limit. There is a shortened season on pintails and canvasbacks with a daily limit of one pintail and one canvasback during the specified time period in each of the established duck seasons.

The statewide Canada goose season will run from Nov. 4 through Dec. 3 and Dec. 16 through Feb. 18, 2007. The daily limit will be three birds.  The season for white-fronted geese will run Nov. 4 through Dec. 3 and Dec. 16 through Feb. 9, 2007.  The daily bag limit is one. The regular season for light geese (snows, blues and Ross’) will run Nov. 4 through Dec. 3 and Dec. 16 through Feb. 18. The daily bag limit is 20.

Sandhill crane season will be from Oct. 28 – Jan. 28, west of I-35 only. The daily limit will be three birds.

Hunters who wish to participate in the waterfowl season must have a resident or non-resident hunting license, a 2006 Federal Duck Stamp, and unless exempt, a 2006 Oklahoma Waterfowl License, a Fishing and Hunting Legacy Permit and a Harvest Information Program Permit. The federal duck stamp costs $15 and is available at U.S. Post Offices. Hunters pursuing sandhill cranes must also purchase a separate sandhill crane hunting permit.

Hunters should consult the “2006-07 Waterfowl Hunting Guide” for complete hunting regulations and license requirements. Waterfowl Guides are available at hunting and fishing license dealers statewide or hunters can obtain complete regulation information from the Wildlife Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

 

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Deadline nears for special youth waterfowl hunts

Brek Henry loves his job. Henry serves as a game warden stationed in Rogers County for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Every day is a new adventure with new challenges, but some days are just plain fun. One day last December was one of those days.

“Several game wardens and other Wildlife Department employees got together to host a youth waterfowl hunt where we introduced several kids to hunting for the first time,” Henry said. “That morning as the sun was coming up and the ducks were coming in, the boy I was taking hunting turned around and said, ‘This is as much fun as I’ve had in my whole life,’ and the first thing I thought was, ‘Me too.’”

Henry and his colleagues are hoping to recreate that experience for more Oklahoma youngsters this year. Youth 14 or 15 years of age have a special opportunity to participate in a special two-day waterfowl hunt coordinated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and hosted at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge near Vian.

On the field day, Thursday, Dec. 21, youth will participate in several waterfowl hunting related demonstrations including duck calling, hunting safety and decoy placement.

“The day before the hunt, the kids will get an opportunity to shoot a shotgun, learn about retriever training and how to identify ducks on the wing. We’re even going to give every kid a duck call to take home with them – which I’m sure the parents will love,” Henry said.

The following day, Dec. 22, the youth will be taken on a guided waterfowl hunt on the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge.

“The area we are going to be hunting on that Friday is normally closed so the kids will have the area all to themselves. This should make for a real memorable hunt,” Henry said.

Participants will be chosen through a random drawing and youth must submit a postcard with their name, address and age to:

                                Youth Hunt

                                Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

                                Rt. 1 Box 18-A

                                Vian, OK 74962

All entries must be received by November 1. Lodging will not be provided, however, lunch will be provided by the Oklahoma Game Wardens Association the field day and breakfast will be provided on the hunt day.

Oklahoma youngsters age 12 to 15 have another opportunity to apply for special controlled waterfowl hunts sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The hunts are designed to provide youth who do not have an adult mentor who waterfowl hunts an opportunity to experience the traditions of waterfowling.

“When it comes to our hunting traditions there is nothing more important we can do than taking a young hunter afield,” said Mike O’Meilia, migratory game bird biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “These hunts can provide a unique opportunity for those kids that might otherwise never have the chance to experience waterfowl hunting.  Our hope is that the experience will spark a lifelong interest in hunting and dedication to wildlife conservation as an adult sportsman or woman.”

Youth hunters will be randomly drawn from a list of applicants for each hunting area. Applicants must be 12 to 15 years of age on the day of the hunt, have proof of successfully completing a certified hunter education course, and have an adult guardian who can accompany them on the hunt.

A Wildlife Department employee will accompany each youth and their adult guardian for the controlled waterfowl hunt at one of several Department-managed areas. Only the youth hunter will be allowed to hunt.

The locations to choose from are: Hackberry Flat, Altus-Lugert Lake, Canton Lake, Ft. Gibson Refuge, Ft. Cobb Lake Refuge, Vann’s Lake, Wagoner Co., Webbers Falls Refuge, and Wister Lake Refuge.

Each youth applicant and their guardian may apply only once and must provide the following information on a 3x5 postcard to be eligible for the drawing: names, addresses, telephone numbers, youth’s hunter education number, and the name of the desired hunt location and two alternate hunt locations where they would like to hunt.  The scheduled date of the hunt will be coordinated with successful applicants after the drawing.  Applicants may apply only once and should specify the primary hunt area desired and two alternate locations.

Applications must be received by November 15, 2006, and should be mailed to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Youth Waterfowl Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.  Successful applicants will be notified by November 17, 2006.

The Wildlife Department will provide successful applicants the necessary nontoxic shotgun shells and a 20-gauge single shot shotgun will be available for use if the youth does not have his or her own shotgun. For more information contact Jeff Neal, Wildlife Department migratory game bird technician at (405) 424-0122.         

 

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Quail and pheasant numbers on the rise in areas with field buffers

            The old cliché is true – build it and they will come.

            Oklahoma farmers who recently installed buffers around their agriculture fields are finding the features to be a magnet for upland game birds and small game. As icing on the cake these landowners were paid to establish this grassy habitat through a relatively new program called the Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds (CP-33) program.

            “We’re in the midst of surveying these fields and when we compare fields with buffers to fields without buffers we see significantly more quail, pheasants, rabbits and even deer in fields with buffers,” said Mike Sams, private lands biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “In Grant County an average of nine pheasants were found within the buffers.”

            Enrollment in the program is completely voluntary and simply requires establishing 30-120 foot buffers of planted or native vegetation around the perimeter of crop fields. In turn, the landowner or farmer receives annual rental payments for the life of the 10-year contract as well as the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping to restore vital wildlife habitat.  Payments are based on the type of soils on the property and differ in various parts of the state. In Oklahoma, the average annual rental payment is $32 an acre. Additionally, landowners also receive a sign-up bonus of up to $100 an acre and cost share for installing the buffers.

            Oklahoma has been approved to install up to 2,500 acres of buffers across the state under the CP-33 provisions, however just over 600 acres have been enrolled so far.

            “This is real win-win program for landowners and wildlife. And this is the time to sign up for the program while there is still an opportunity to get in while the program is new,” Sams said. “I would highly encourage farmers across the state to do themselves a favor and look into this program.”

            For example, depending on the soil type, if a landowner installs a 120-foot wide buffer on 160 acres of agricultural ground, the program will pay an incentive payment of $2,780 to install the 27 acres of buffers as well as an annual rental payment of $900 per year for the next 10 years. If a landowner chooses to install a 35-foot wide buffer on a 160 acres of agricultural ground, the program will pay an incentive payment of $420 to install the four acres of buffers as well as an annual rental payment of $136 per year for the next 10 years.

            According to Sams the program offers several benefits to farmers, including:

            Landowners can sign-up for this voluntary program at their local Farm Service Agency. More information on this and other initiatives is also available at the Farm Service Agency’s Web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov

 

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 Trout return to the Panhandle – winter trout season begins Nov. 1 at six Department trout areas

            After a year’s absence, trout are returning to the Oklahoma Panhandle. Summer rains provided about 30 acres of water to the once dry Lake Carl Etling near Boise City.

            “It is great to have this trout area open once again. We are stocking about 1,000 pounds of rainbow trout including about 35 fish at least 14 inches long,” said John Stahl, northwest region fisheries supervisor.

Beginning Nov. 1, trout season opens at the six designated winter trout areas managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. These fisheries provide trout fishing in areas where warm water temperatures are not suitable for trout during the summer.

            There are plenty of adventures to choose from. You can camp out at Roman Nose State Park near Watonga, you can stay in a cozy cabin at Robbers Cave State Park in southeast Oklahoma or you can really “rough it” at the first class Quartz Mountain State Park Lodge in southwest Oklahoma.

            Trout are stocked approximately every two weeks with catchable size rainbows and anglers can find maps, fishing tips and even up-to-date trout stocking schedules on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's official Web site, www.wildlifedepartment.com.

            To fish for trout in Oklahoma, anglers need either a resident or non-resident fishing license, as well as a trout license, which costs $10. Youth trout licenses are available for just $5. There are no exemptions from purchasing the trout license to fish in a state designated trout area. Before visiting one of Oklahoma’s trout areas, check the “2006 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” for complete regulations, as well as maps and additional information for each area.

State designated winter trout fishing areas:

 

·         Quartz Mountain - The trout water is in the North Fork of the Red River directly below the dam at Lake Altus-Lugert. Trout season runs Nov. 1 - March 15. To get there from Altus, take OK-44A north about 18 miles. Lodging and camping facilities are available at Quartz Mountain State Park.

·         Blue River - The Blue River flows through the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area near Tishomingo. Trout season runs Nov. 1 - March 31. To get there from Tishomingo, go four miles east on OK-78 and then six miles north. Bank access and wade fishing is available throughout the area. Primitive camping is allowed at the Blue River campground. Anyone on the area must have a hunting or fishing license or a Blue River Conservation Passport unless exempt.

·         Robbers Cave - Located in Robbers Cave State Park, the Robbers Cave trout fishery is in the Fourche Maline River directly below Carlton Dam to the south boundary of the park. Trout season runs Nov. 1 - March 15. To get there from Wilburton, go five miles north on OK-2. Bank access and wade fishing is available anywhere within state park boundaries. Camping facilities and cabins are available at the park.

·         Lake Watonga - This 55-acre lake is in Roman Nose State Park. Trout season runs Nov. 1 - March 31. To get there from Watonga, go seven miles north on OK-8A. Bank access and a boat ramp are on the west side of the lake. Camping and lodging are available at the park.

·         Lake Pawhuska - This 96-acre lake is about three miles south of Pawhuska. Trout season runs Nov. 1 - March 31. During that time, the City of Pawhuska waives the City fishing fee. To get there from Pawhuska, go three miles south on OK-60, and then go 1.75 miles east on a marked County road. The lake has a boat ramp, fishing dock and restrooms. Primitive camping is available at the lake.

·         Lake Carl Etling - This lake is located at Black Mesa State Park in Cimarron County. Trout season runs Nov. 1 - April 30. To get there, take US-325 28 miles west of Boise City. Boat ramps are on the south and east sides of the lake. Primitive and developed camping facilities are available at the park.

            In addition to these areas, the Department also manages year-round trout fisheries at the Lower Illinois and Lower Mountain Fork rivers. The Department stocks both of these areas with not only rainbow trout, but also occasionally brown trout as well. 

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 Last chance to take a hunter education class before deer gun season

            Time is running out for would-be deer gun hunters needing to take a hunter education course, With deer gun season just a matter of days away, the opportunities to complete a hunter education class are dwindling by the day.

            "In the next couple of weeks there are more than 20 hunter education classes around the state, but they are filling up fast and I would encourage folks to sign for a class very soon," said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

            For a complete list of hunter education classes, sportsmen can log onto the Department's Web site – wildlifedepartment.com. All classes are free of charge.

            "One of the worst parts of my job is having to tell kids or even adults on the day before gun season that they can’t buy a deer license because they did not complete a hunter education class. That is one of the reasons I want anyone who even thinks they might go deer hunting to sign up for the next class they can attend," Meek added.

            Anyone under 16 years of age must successfully complete a hunter education course before hunting big game (deer, elk, antelope) during primitive firearm and gun seasons. The law also requires that anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1972, upon reaching 16 years of age, must exhibit a hunter education certificate from the Wildlife Department or a like certificate from another state to purchase or receive any Oklahoma hunting license.

            Hunters born after the above date who purchased a lifetime license before they turned 16 must complete a hunter education class before the can hunt big game with a firearm unless otherwise exempt. For complete information on hunting seasons and hunter education requirements, hunters should pick up a copy of the "2006-07 Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”

 

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