2008 habitat donor patches available now
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s 2008 habitat donor patch is now available to collectors, and by purchasing a patch, buyers help provide public land access for the future.
            The 2008 habitat donor patch, displaying a Canada goose in flight, is now available through the Department’s Outdoor Store for $10.  
            To purchase a donor patch, visit the Department’s Outdoor Store by logging on to wildlifedepartment.com. Outdoor Store order forms also can be found in copies of “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine. Additionally, patches can be purchased at the Wildlife Department headquarters in Oklahoma City office adjacent to the Oklahoma Aquarium.
            All proceeds go to the Department’s Land Acquisition Fund, which is used to provide public hunting and fishing access. To view the new patches and those from previous years, log on to the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            "Habitat patches have been around for some time, and they keep getting better and better with each year," said Michelle Imel, license supervisor for the Wildlife Department. "They are a great collectable and provide another way for sportsmen to support conservation, which everyone can enjoy."
            The colorful patches have displayed a different game or fish species every year since 1986, and collectors can purchase a patch from any year.
            “The patches have showcased everything from fish to mammals to birds,” Imel said. “This year’s patch is unique in that it marks the first habitat donor patch of Oklahoma’s second century of statehood. The 2007 centennial patch was available in both trout and bobwhite quail designs, and both are still available to collectors.”
            For more information about the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
That time of year again — Outdoor Oklahoma readers’ photos wanted
            The editors of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine are once again calling on readers to step forward and submit their best outdoor images to the annual Reader’s Photography Showcase competition. Submissions are being accepted through March 31, and winners will have their work featured in the July/August 2008 issue of Outdoor Oklahoma.
            The special summer issue gives both professional and amateur photographers the chance to have their digital photos displayed in a magazine nationally recognized for its photography.
            Last year’s competition marked the first all digital Reader’s Photography Showcase.
            “Last year’s Showcase was successful, and we expect this year’s showcase — also all digital — to be even better,” said Nels Rodefeld, editor of Outdoor Oklahoma. “Once again, we are asking readers to consider submitting their favorite digital images of people enjoying the outdoors, but as usual we enjoy and welcome any great outdoor images related to hunting and angling, wildlife, fish, insects, sunsets, storms, landscape and more in Oklahoma. The wide range of photo submissions we receive is what makes the Showcase such an entertaining, dynamic issue.”
             Rodefeld said that although reader submissions usually include a variety of subjects, the magazine has been focusing on “faces in the outdoors” to show hunters, anglers, kids and other outdoor enthusiasts enjoying the outdoors.
            “Sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts are the very individuals who help make conservation happen in our state when they purchase licenses and sporting goods and actually get out there and participate in the outdoors,” Rodefeld said. “So it only makes sense to capture and showcase what it’s all about, and that starts with those people.”
            Each participant may submit up to five digital images. Each submission must include a description of the photo, including the location taken, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. Slides and print images will not be accepted.
Hopeful photographers can mail a disk to: "Outdoor Oklahoma" magazine, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
            Individuals can subscribe to “Outdoor Oklahoma” by calling 1-800-777-0019. Subscriptions are just $10 for one year, $18 for two years, or $25 for three years. You can also subscribe over the Internet by logging on to the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
Wildlife Department schedules public hearings
            Public hearings held by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will kick off across the state Monday Jan. 7, 2008, to collect input on a slate of proposed hunting and fishing regulation changes. Hearings will be held through Jan. 10.
            Sportsmen are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions on proposals, which range from certain deer hunting regulation changes to changes in size and daily limits on some fish.
            Several of the proposals involve adjustments to deer seasons and deer bag limits both statewide and in designated areas. Specifically, one proposal would allow deer archery hunters to harvest a deer of either sex during the period from Jan. 1-15. Currently, only antlerless deer may be taken during that time period. Also involving deer archery season is a proposal to increase the number of deer that can be harvested by archers from four deer to six deer. Another proposal would open deer gun season to the same as statewide season dates on Broken Bow, Honobia Creek, Three Rivers and Ouachita wildlife management areas.
            Among the fishing-related proposals is one to exempt spotted bass from length limits and to remove the bag limit on spotted bass statewide, except in certain streams. Another proposal would limit the harvest of alligator gar to one fish per angler per day statewide, except from April 1 - June 15, when fishing for alligator gar would be catch and release only.
            Other fishing-related items are on the public hearing agenda as well, such as tightening restrictions on dealing with invasive aquatic species, adjusting definitions related to limbline angling and making permanent a currently established emergency rule requiring paddlefish anglers to carry a free paddlefish permit.
Other hunting-related proposals include the following:
* Changing the deer gun season limits and muzzleloader season limits on Keystone and Skiatook WMAs so that the limit on each season would be one antlered and one antlerless deer.
* Changing the muzzleloader season at Lexington WMA to allow for the harvest of antlerless deer the second Saturday and Sunday of the season. Currently, deer muzzleloader season on Lexington WMA is limited to antlered deer only.
* Allowing those persons certified to use a crossbow to use a device that permits a bow to be held mechanically at full or partial draw for archery hunting.
* Clarifying that persons with disabilities and youth hunters are eligible to draw more than one controlled hunt per year and clarifying permit requirements (nonambulatory or motor vehicle permits) for those applying for the Deer Hunts for Persons with Disabilities category of the Controlled Hunts program.
            A slate of other wildlife, hunting and fishing-related items will be open for discussion during the public hearings across the state, including allowing the use of poison to control prairie dogs on public land, establishing rules regarding the nuisance control programs for beaver and coyote and the Feral Hog Depredation Program and others. To view the complete agenda for the public hearings, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            Those unable to attend the hearings are encouraged to send their comments by mail to: Attn: Proposed hunting and fishing regulation changes – Wildlife Department, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. All comments are weighted equally whether received in writing or delivered at the public hearings. Comments will be accepted at this address until 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 25.
The following is a list of public hearing dates, times and locations. The public is encouraged to attend.
Date: Jan. 7, 2008 Time: 7 p.m.
Ada – Pontotoc County Technology Center, 601 W. 33rd
Jenks – Tulsa Technology Center, 801 E. 91st St.
Lawton – Lawton Public Library, 110 SW 4th
Oklahoma City – Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Auditorium – 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd.
Date: Jan. 8, 2008  Time: 7 p.m.
Clinton – City Hall, 415 Gary Blvd.
Durant – Durant Fish Hatchery Meeting Room, 2021 Caddo Hwy
Enid – Central Fire Station, 410 W. Garriot
Date: Jan. 9, 2008  Time: 7 p.m.
Miami – Miami Civic Center, 129 5th Ave NW
Date: Jan. 10, 2008  Time: 7 p.m.
Guymon – OSU Extension Center, 301 N. Main
Hugo – Kiamichi Tech Center, 107 South 15th St.
Okmulgee – East Central Electric Co-op, 2001 S. Wood Dr. (U.S. Hwy 75)
“2008 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” hitting shelves now
            The “2008 Oklahoma Fishing Guide,” produced and published by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, is available now and hitting shelves at fishing and hunting license dealers across the state.
            The full-color guide provides regulations for fishing in Oklahoma and well as a wide range of fishing-related articles and other helpful information such as contacts for Department lakes, “Close to Home” fishing locations, game warden phone numbers, license fees and fish identification tips.
            “It may be cold outside now, but you can still catch plenty of fish, and before long the peak of angling season will be right in front of us,” said Barry Bolton, fisheries chief for the Wildlife Department. “Having a copy of the new ‘Oklahoma Fishing Guide’ is a vital part of a successful year of fishing. Without it, you’ll miss some great information as well as important regulations that help anglers stay in the know on the state’s fishing laws.”
            Anglers also can find the “2008 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” online by logging on to wildlifedepartment.com. Additionally, the Department’s Web site provides a weekly fishing report where anglers can find out how some of the state's most popular game fish are biting and what baits are working best at different fishing locations. Compiled by Wildlife Department personnel and independent reporters, the reports even include techniques and locations to increase angler success. To sign up for the weekly electronic news release, which also includes the weekly fishing report, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com
           Anglers fishing for trout this time of year will find that the Fishing Guide, weekly fishing report and wildlifedepartment.com are a useful combination for improving their success. Articles with fishing tips and outlines of each of the state’s trout fishing areas can be found in the Fishing Guide, while the weekly fishing report details the current conditions of several trout waters. The Department’s trout stocking schedule is also available to anglers when they log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            The Department Web site also provides the most recent “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” online hunting and fishing license sales and all kinds of information about conservation, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and other recreational opportunities across the state. Additionally, wildlifedepartment.com features online brochures, outdoor news reports, information on non-game species and digital interactive maps that allow hunters to do some virtual scouting on wildlife management areas across the state, all while never putting a single mile on a vehicle. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com/wmas2.htm to view the maps, which include a wealth of information such as topography and aerial photos.

Cold water angling to heat up at Lower Mountain Fork River
            The Lower Mountain Fork River (LMFR) in Southeast Oklahoma is known as a trout angler’s paradise, and anglers are enjoying some hot fishing thanks to several supplemental trout stockings scheduled during the coming months.
            “We usually stock trout every two weeks throughout the trout season at the Lower Mountain Fork River,” said Jay Barfield, southeast region fisheries technician for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “But this year we are able to provide an additional six stockings of fish to be released this winter and spring. That’s an additional 14,400 fish available for anglers to catch, and at about 11 inches each, they’re ready to be hooked by anglers as soon as they are released.”
            The additional rainbow trout are being provided to the Wildlife Department by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help offset the impacts caused by Broken Bow Dam on the LMFR. Wildlife Department personnel will transport the fish from the Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery in Arkansas and then release them into the LMFR trout fishery, mostly between the State Park Dam and the US Route 70 bridge.
            “There’s going to be about 2,400 trout released in each of the six supplemental stockings,” Barfield said. “We strive to provide the best trout angling possible on the Lower Mountain Fork River, and we are sure these trout will be a nice contribution to more than one angler’s success this season. We’ve already released some of these additional trout and will continue to do so for several weeks.”
            The first supplemental stocking took place Jan. 10, and others are scheduled for Jan. 24, Feb. 14, 28 and March 13 and 27.
            “One of the great things about this is that these stockings are in addition to the normal, by-weekly stockings that are on-going,” Barfield said. “What it comes down to is simply more fish for anglers to catch.”
            To view the regular, bi-weekly trout stocking schedule and specific regulations for all the state’s trout waters, including the LMFR, log on to wildlifedepartment.com. The Web site also includes tips on how to catch trout as well as a wealth of information about the state’s streams restoration program, which works to provide healthy streams and better trout angling in Oklahoma.
Wildlife Department works to increase fishing activity statewide
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is teaming up with the Recreational Boating Fishing Foundation (RBFF) to encourage Oklahomans go fishing using a direct mail marketing effort to encourage the purchase of state fishing licenses.
            Oklahoma joins 26 other states in the direct mail marketing initiative, designed by RBFF, to increase participation in the sport and generate awareness of the connection between fishing license sales and conservation efforts. A direct mail training workshop for participating states took place recently in Dallas, Texas.
            In Oklahoma, the Wildlife Department receives no general state tax revenues and is funded largely by the sale of fishing and hunting licenses, and officials with the Department say participation in fishing by the state’s outdoorsman is a critical key to conservation.
            "Communication and outreach to our customers has always been important to our agency," said Greg Duffy, director of the Wildlife Department. "We also think the agency has an important role in encouraging and fostering participation in fishing and other outdoor recreational activities. Fishing is one of the most wholesome, fun, family-oriented ways to spend time, and sometimes it's our job to remind people of that. Partnering with the Recreational Boating Fishing Foundation was a natural fit for us. It will enhance our efforts to predict who will become a lapsed angler, and we'll focus special attention on communicating with them."
            The RBFF is a nonprofit organization established in 1998 to increase participation in recreational angling and boating. RBFF helps people discover, share and protect the legacy of boating and fishing through national outreach programs.
            For more information about the RBFF, contact Helena Basche at (703) 519-6917 or hbasche@rbff.org.
Calling all outdoor photographers; time to submit images to Outdoor Oklahoma
            Amateur or professional, it makes no difference. Any Oklahoman with a digital camera and an interest in the outdoors is eligible to see their work published in this years Annual Reader’s Photography Showcase edition of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine. Submissions are being accepted through March 31, and winners will have their work featured in the July/August 2008 issue.
            Last year’s competition marked the first all digital Reader’s Photography Showcase.
            “We are encouraging everybody who enjoys the outdoors in Oklahoma to make a submission this year,” said Nels Rodefeld, editor of Outdoor Oklahoma. “Photos can be of anything related to the outdoor heritage in Oklahoma, such as shots of wildlife, birds, insects, landscape and people enjoying hunting and angling trips or even watching bird feeders in their own backyards. We just want to see how people participate in the outdoor in Oklahoma.”
             Although the editors of Outdoor Oklahoma encourage readers to submit images including a variety of outdoor-related subjects, the magazine has been focusing on “faces in the outdoors” to show hunters, anglers, kids and other outdoor enthusiasts enjoying the outdoors.
            Each participant may submit up to five digital images. Each submission must include a description of the photo, including the location taken, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. Slides and print images will not be accepted.
Hopeful photographers can mail a disk to: "Outdoor Oklahoma" magazine, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
            Individuals can subscribe to “Outdoor Oklahoma” by calling 1-800-777-0019. Subscriptions are just $10 for one year, $18 for two years, or $25 for three years. You can also subscribe over the Internet by logging on to the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
Oklahoma quarter goes into production
            Wildlife enthusiasts across Oklahoma will be excited to know that the first commemorative quarter of 2008 will go into circulation Jan. 28 and will feature the Oklahoma’s state bird — the scissortail flycatcher.  
            Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry had asked Oklahomans for design suggestions for the state’s quarter, and about 1,000 ideas were submitted. About a half-million Oklahomans then voted for their favorite design. The quarter is the 46th coin released in the 50 State Quarters Program.  Between 300 and 500 million Oklahoma quarters are expected to be produced.  
            Governor Henry was in Denver, Colorado, Jan. 10 for the striking of the first Oklahoma quarters.
            “I think there’s tremendous Oklahoma pride here today,” Henry said after the ceremony. “Coming on the heels of the state centennial, I think it’s appropriate that the Oklahoma quarter is the first one in 2008, and it gives Oklahoma a chance to shine throughout the land.”
            With its distinctive tail and beautiful coloring, the scissortail flycatcher is easily recognizable and is quite popular with birding enthusiasts. Just one of Oklahoma’s neotropical migrants, scissortail flycatchers will travel distances of up to 1,200 miles to Oklahoma to breed and raise their young before traveling back to their tropical wintering destinations in Central and South America.
            Anyone can help support the beautiful state bird of Oklahoma by purchasing a wildlife conservation license tag from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Proceeds from the license tags go to the Department’s Wildlife Diversity fund, which does not receive any state tax appropriations and is largely supported through voluntary contributions. To purchase a plate, log on to the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            For more information about the Oklahoma commemorative quarter, log on to www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/50sq_program/states/index.cfm?state=OK  For more information about the Wildlife Diversity program, log on to wildlifedepartment.com

Small game offers chance to keep hunting
            Though some Oklahomans have put away their hunting gear until spring, there are still others who know that now is still a great time to be hunting almost anywhere in the state. Seasons such as quail, pheasant, rabbit and squirrel seasons are still open and offer endless hunting opportunities all over Oklahoma.
            Quail season runs through Feb. 15, while pheasant season ends Jan. 31. Rabbit season remains open statewide until March 15, and squirrel until Jan. 31. Resident small game hunters only need a hunting license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit unless exempt, and residents age 15 and under are exempt from having to purchase a hunting license and fishing and hunting legacy permit.
            Additionally, those age 16-35 who have not completed a hunter education course can hunt with a licensed adult hunter age 21 or older (or a licensed adult hunter age 21 years or older who is exempt from hunter education requirements) under certain conditions using the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s apprentice-designated hunting license.
            For complete license information and guidelines regarding the apprentice-designated hunting license, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to wildlifedepartment.com. After obtaining the proper license, hunters only need a place to hunt. But when you consider that the Wildlife Department offers public hunting areas all across the state that often have minimal small game hunting pressure, finding a place to hunt is not a problem.
            “Countless hunters have been introduced to the sport through small game hunting,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “It gives them a great opportunity to learn about hunting safety and ethics and to hone their outdoor skills.”
             For bag limits and regulations on small game, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            Seasons on public lands may vary from statewide seasons, so hunters should consult wildlife management area regulations in the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” before hunting. For more information on small game hunting in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
Eagle viewing opportunities abound statewide
            Each winter as northern lakes freeze over, thousands of bald eagles migrate to warmer southern waters, providing Oklahomans the chance to view one of the magnificent birds at one of several areas across the state.
            Oklahoma is visited by 750-1,500 eagles annually. According to the National Wildlife Federation, Oklahoma is one of the top 10 states in the nation for winter eagle viewing.
            Events are hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, state parks, lake management offices and local conservation groups.
            “This winter there are more than 60 viewing events all across the state,” said Lesley McNeff, wildlife diversity information specialist with the Wildlife Department. “That equals a lot of opportunities to catch a glimpse of a bald eagle.”
            Most events are free or have a minimal charge and occur on weekends during January. Many begin with informative bald eagle programs led by naturalists and biologists. At all events, people will be on hand to assist visitors with viewing wild eagles.
“Not only is the bald eagle an American symbol, it’s also an endangered species success story, having recently been removed from the national threatened species list,” McNeff said.
When adopted as the nation’s symbol in 1782, eagles inhabited every large river and major concentration of lakes in North America. They nested in 45 of the lower 48 United States, but by the 1950s had been reduced to fewer than 400 nesting pairs. Due to nationwide concern and action, eagle numbers have increased seven-fold since the early 1970s.  
View event descriptions, locations, dates and times by logging onto wildlifedepartment.com or call (405) 522-3087 for more information.

Lake Record Fish Program to recognize Oklahoma anglers and fish
            Anglers who reel in a monster fish from select Oklahoma lakes could find themselves going in the record books, even if their fish is not a state record.
         Feb. 1 marks the kick-off of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Lake Record Fish Program, which will recognize anglers who catch a fish that qualifies as a record setter for the reservoir in which it was caught. Twelve major lakes and 13 species of popular Oklahoma fish will be included initially.
            “The Lake Record Fish Program could change the way we tell fishing stories around the bait shop from now on,” said Jeff Boxrucker, assistant chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department. “It’s one of the most exciting things to come along in quite some time. This is a great way to recognize anglers, big fish and even the lakes that produce them. We’re very excited to see the state’s anglers begin filling up the books with lake records. The program is also an outstanding way to generate even more interest in fishing.”
         Though the program was established as a way to serve anglers and recognize significant fish, officials with the Wildlife Department said there is a fisheries management benefit to the program as well.
         “From a management standpoint, the Lake Record Fish Program will serve as an indicator of trophy fish production in our state’s lakes,” said Greg Summers, fisheries research laboratory supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
         Though Summers said the program has room to grow, lakes initially enrolled in the lake records program are all over 500 acres and include Broken Bow, Canton, Eufaula, Ft. Cobb, Grand, Kaw, Keystone, Sardis, Skiatook, Tenkiller, Texoma and Thunderbird.
         According to Summers, anglers who catch a potential record from a participating lake should contact designated business locations around the lake that are enrolled as lake record keepers, or vendors. The lake record keeper may then enter the fish into an automated database via the Internet.
            Once it has been determined that an angler has landed a record fish, the media is notified and the public will be able to view information about the catch on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            “Anyone interested will be able to use an easily-operated search feature through the Wildlife Department’s Web site to view all kinds of interesting record fish information, ranging from the size of record fish caught to what kind of bait or rod and reel was used to catch them,” Summers said.
            All past and current state record fish are registered in the Lake Record Fish Program as records for their respective lakes.
            Species eligible for spots in the lake records book include blue, channel and flathead catfish and largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass in addition to crappie, paddlefish, striped bass, striped bass hybrids, sunfish (combined) walleye/saugeye and white bass. Minimum weights are set for each species included to avoid a rush of potential yet easily broken records early in the program’s inception.
            For more information about the new Lake Record Fish Program or for contact information for lake record keepers, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International's annual banquet around the corner
            Outdoor enthusiasts can contribute to important projects supported by the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International by attending their 23rd Annual Awards Banquet and Charity Fundraiser Saturday, March 8 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
            The Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International offers support and funding to a number of sportsmen’s causes, especially local efforts that benefit the sportsmen and wildlife of Oklahoma. The chapter is a sponsor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo and a donor to the Hunter's Against Hunger program, which oversees the distribution of thousands of pounds of hunter-harvested venison to needy families.
            The organization also helped fund the purchase of an airboat used by the Wildlife Department on waterfowl surveys and other wetland management tasks, and they provided the Department with a 24-foot trailer for use in the Department's Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP). The STEP program introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms. Additionally, the chapter purchased eight elk for introduction into an existing herd in southeast Oklahoma. The chapter also sponsors the Department's annual youth essay contest, which gives youth the opportunity to share their feelings about Oklahoma’s outdoors and to win great prizes, including a guided pronghorn antelope hunt in New Mexico.
            One of the highlights of the annual event is the live auction, where bidders have a chance to buy guided hunts in Oklahoma, across the United States and around the world. There also will be a selection of items on the auction block including art, firearms, camping equipment, vacations, jewelry and much more.
            This year’s banquet also may offer something new to those who cannot attend through its online bidding option. Log on to oklahomastationsci.org regularly between now and the banquet to learn more about the possibility of bidding online for auction items. The Web site also provides a growing list of items up for auction.
            The banquet begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 8, but registration begins at 5:30 p.m. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is located at 1700 N.E. 63rd St. Oklahoma City 73111.
            Tickets may be purchased in advance through Thursday, March 6 for $75 or at the door for $100. To purchase tickets or for further information, contact Verilea Faust at (405) 721-7229 or 1-800-405-3580.
            For more information on the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International, log on to oklahomastationsci.org.
Oklahoma's hunters and anglers impact economy, spend $1 billion a year
            Oklahoma's 602,000 hunters and anglers are among the most prominent and influential of all demographic groups, spending more than $1 billion a year on hunting and fishing, according to a new report.
            The report, "Hunting and Fishing: Bright Stars of the American Economy," was produced by the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and spotlights the immense impact hunters and anglers have on the economy at the national and state level.
            In Oklahoma, spending by hunters and anglers directly supports 20,000 jobs, which puts $534 million worth of paychecks into pockets of working residents around the state, and spending by sportsmen in pursuit of these outdoor activities generates $108 million in state and local taxes. These latest figures demonstrate that season after season, hunters and anglers are driving the economy from big businesses to rural towns, through booms and recessions.
            Sportsmen support more jobs in Oklahoma than Baptist Medical Center, St. Francis Health System and St. John Medical System combined (20,000 jobs vs. 19,500).
            Annual spending by Oklahoma sportsmen equals the combined revenues of Continental Resources, SandRidge Energy and Diamondback Energy Services, three of the fastest growing energy companies in the state.
            Oklahoma sportsmen annually spend more than the combined cash receipts for hogs and wheat, two of the state's top agricultural commodities ($1 billion vs. $950 million).
            Oklahoma sportsmen outnumber the populations of Tulsa, Norman and Lawton (602,000 vs. 574,000).
            The economic stimulus of hunting and fishing equates to an astounding $2.8 million a day being pumped into the state's economy.
            "Spending by sportsmen benefits not only the manufacturers of hunting and fishing-related products, but everything from local mom-and-pop businesses to wildlife conservation," said Doug Painter, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. "And because most hunting and fishing takes place in rural areas, much of the spending benefits less affluent parts of the state.”
            On the national level, 34 million sportsmen age 16 and older spent more than $76 billion in 2006, supporting 1.6 million jobs. If a single corporation grossed as much as hunters and anglers spend, it would be among America's 20 largest, ahead of Target, Costco and AT&T. And if all hunters and anglers had voted during the last presidential election, they would have equaled 31 percent of all votes cast. If all hunters and anglers living in Oklahoma voted, they would have equaled 63 percent of all votes cast in the state.
            These statistics are impressive and, if anything, they underestimate the impact of sportsmen since they do not take into account the millions of hunters and anglers under 16 years of age or people who were not able to get out and hunt or fish in 2006. When sportsmen's spending is thought of in business terms and compared to other sectors of the economy, it is quite remarkable. From small rural towns scattered across our country's landscape to the bottom-line of Fortune 500 companies located in major cities, if you take away hunting and fishing, you take away the equivalent of a multi-billion dollar corporation.
            The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation produced the report with support from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, National Marine Manufacturers Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and SCI - First For Hunters. The report uses the results from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation and statistics provided by the American Sportfishing Association and Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The report, along with state facts, are available on the Web at sportsmenslink.org.
            For more information about hunting, fishing and conservation in Oklahoma, log on to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.


Outdoor Oklahoma offers Controlled Hunts tips and a free issue to new subscribers
            Oklahoma sportsmen may be able to increase their hunting opportunity in 2009-10 through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Controlled Hunts program, and the current issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine tells how. Not only so, but new subscriptions ordered now through the end of February will include the January/February issue free.
            Outdoor Oklahoma magazine is published by the Wildlife Department, and the January/February issue features the Controlled Hunts program, which offers hunts on Department or other government-owned or managed lands where unrestricted hunting would pose safety concerns or where overharvest might occur.
            The feature includes details for each hunt offered last year, including those for elk, deer, antelope, turkey, quail and raccoons in some of the state’s hottest hunting destinations. Useful information ranging from where and when the hunts are held to the number of permits drawn and the odds of being drawn for each hunt is included in the article.
            “The Controlled Hunts program is a great resource for making your hunting season a memorable one,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. “And the current Outdoor Oklahoma issue provides insider tips on how to improve your odds of getting drawn for a hunt. It also can help you plan out your hunting season so you get the most from your time in the field.”
            Controlled Hunts applications will be available in March online at wildlifedepartment.com.
            The January/February issue also features articles on alligator gar in Oklahoma, paddlefish angling, essays written by young sportsmen and more.
            Single copies of Outdoor Oklahoma are available by mail for $4 and can be requested by calling (405) 521-3856. Subscriptions are $10 for one year, $18 for two years and $25 for three years.
            Though a one-year subscription includes six issues, new subscribers who order a subscription by Feb. 28 by calling (405) 521-3856 will receive the January/February issue as a bonus, in addition to the next six issues.
            “This is a great way to get the current issue and all the useful information it contains about the Controlled Hunts program for free while also getting signed up for the next year,” Rodefeld said. “That’s seven issues covering everything related to hunting, fishing and other wildlife conservation in Oklahoma for just $10. That really is a bargain.”
            For more information about the Wildlife Department, the Controlled Hunts program or Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
Sportsman recognized for 20 years of volunteer service
            An Oklahoma City man recently was recognized by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for his work over the last 20 years — work that has impacted the lives of thousands of people.
            Recently, Joe McCrary, affectionately referred to as “Big Joe,” was recognized by the Wildlife Department for his 20 years as a volunteer with the Department’s aquatic resource education program.
            “He has put a lot of volunteer time into the program, and he loves what he does,” said Damon Springer, aquatic education coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “His volunteer work has been a positive thing for Oklahoma for a long time and we hope for a long time to come.”
            McCrary’s volunteer work has included over 500 events over the years.
            The Aquatic Resources Education Program is one of the Department's tools to promote the sport of fishing and aquatic resource awareness as well as a way to give youth an opportunity to learn about Oklahoma's aquatic environments and how to fish.
            “The main thing I like about this and why I’ve been so involved in it for so many years is I feel we’re making a positive influence on young peoples’ lives,” McCrary said.
            Developed in 1988, the program's objectives are to increase the understanding, appreciation, and awareness of Oklahoma's aquatic resources while teaching basic angling skills and ethics. Additionally, the program is used to promote sportfishing opportunities in the state, enhance urban fishing opportunities; develop adult fishing clinics and seminars and provide information on fishing techniques.
            These one-day events present information on such topics as fish identification, knot-tying, fish cleaning and cooking, fishing tackle selection and use, outdoor ethics and more. Most clinics include fishing at a nearby pond or lake.
            For more information about the aquatic resources education program, log on to the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. Oklahoma anglers interested in becoming a volunteer with the Wildlife Department’s aquatic resource education program should contact Springer at (405) 521-4603.