JULY 2008 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF JULY 31, 2008  

WEEK OF JULY 24, 2008

WEEK OF JULY 17, 2008

 

WEEK OF JULY 10, 2008

 

WEEK OF JULY 3, 2008

Wildlife Expo and readers’ photography featured in Outdoor Oklahoma magazine
            The latest issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine features eight full pages of all the information you need to know about the upcoming Oklahoma Wildlife Expo in addition to over 20 pages of photography submitted by readers across the state.
            “All of the things that have made the Expo such a success for three years running will be back this year, and you can read about them in Outdoor Oklahoma now,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The Expo has something for everyone, and this magazine issue offers just a taste what is to come Sept. 26-28 at the Lazy E Arena.”
            The free Wildlife Expo, which draws tens of thousands of people from around the state each year, will offer hands-on learning opportunities at nearly 200 booths and activities. The Expo is designed as an entertaining and educational event for both avid outdoor enthusiasts and those new to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. Activities include everything from shotgun shooting and fishing to ATV riding, mountain biking, wildlife seminars and more.
            “Most of the Expo is hands-on and focused on informing visitors about the outdoors in Oklahoma,” Holmes said. “Plus, it’s completely free. But those who do like to shop can check out the Outdoor Marketplace, which is a huge tent and outdoor area at the Expo where vendors will be showcasing their outdoor-related products and services.”
            The Wildlife Expo will take place Sept. 26-28, 2008, at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. all three days. Stay up to date on the developing 2008 Wildlife Expo by logging on regularly to wildlifedepartment.com
            The July/August issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine also features its annual Readers’ Photography Showcase, which displays Oklahoma photographs taken by readers from all across the state and beyond.
            Individual copies of the July/August issue of Outdoor Oklahoma are available for $3 if picked up at a Wildlife Department office, or $4 by mail (mail request with a certified check or money order to Outdoor Oklahoma, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152). One-year subscriptions, for only $10, are available by calling 1-800-777-0019, or you can order over the Internet by logging on to the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Benefiting Oklahomans while combating red cedar invasion
            High Plains Resource Conservation and Development of Oklahoma has, in connection with over 25 partners, cleared Eastern red cedar along stretches the North Canadian River in northwest Oklahoma, and partners in the project have scheduled a two-day seminar entitled “From Peril to Profit” July 8-9 in Oklahoma City.
            Eastern Red Cedar has become a major problem for Oklahoma and now covers over six million acres. Eastern Red Cedar can be harmful to wildlife habitat and rangeland production and can cause wildfires.
            The year-long project was conducted to show that cedar can be turned into marketable products, and that the removal of Eastern red cedar not only benefits rangeland producers, but also increases stream flow and ground water levels. Partners in the project include private businesses, state and federal agencies, conservation districts, and cities and towns.
            The seminar will provide the results of the study as well as provide information about uses of red cedar and opportunities for economic development. The program features a wide range of experienced speakers. Additionally, it will include an equipment demonstration July 9 at Draper Lake, located on the east side of Oklahoma City.
            Registration for the seminar is $50 per person, which includes three meals and all conference materials. The cost for companies interested in a booth or in participating in the demonstration is $200, and two complimentary registrations are included for company representatives. Companies participating will be mentioned in conference materials and recognized at a banquet July 8, which will be keynoted by the Lt. Governor of Oklahoma.
            Log on to highplainsrcd.com for more information. Those interested in a booth or the equipment demonstration should contact Tom Lucas at (580) 735-2033 Ext. 4 or tom.lucas@ok.usda.gov.
            The Resource Conservation & Development Program is federally authorized and is governed by a locally led council, with staff assistance provided by USDA-NRCS. The High Plains RC&D has received over $11 million in grants and program funds to stimulate over $125 million in new and expanded businesses in the region, utilizing industries that are tied to natural resources.
 
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Typical whitetail state record broken twice in 10 days; record now official
            Being in the right place at the right time has a whole new meaning for two Oklahoma deer hunters who both harvested record-breaking whitetail bucks in 2007. Both state record bucks were officially scored July 9 by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation officials with Boone and Crockett scoring certification.
            On Nov. 18, 2007, Jason Boyett of Glenpool harvested a buck in Pushmataha Co. while on his way to a friend’s deer stand after a morning hunt. The buck officially scored an impressive 192 5/8, nearly seven inches higher than the previous typical record of 185 6/8, harvested by Larry Luman of Atoka in 1998 in Bryan Co. But Boyett’s buck didn’t hold the record for long.
            Just 10 days later, on Nov. 28, John Ehmer of Tuskahoma harvested what he thought to be a “nice sized” buck in Pushmataha Co. But after having the rack initially measured, he found out just how important his shot actually was. With a total score of 194 inches, the deer edged Boyett’s buck by a slim margin of 1 3/8 inches.
            “I knew he was big when I saw him,” Ehmer said. “I was on my way to look at a place that I wanted to hang my stand for the next morning. All of a sudden he came running past me and he just stopped and turned around. I was simply in the right place at the right time.”
            According to Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Wildlife Department, there has never been two bucks taken in the same year that could be state records.
            “Since this was the first time I’ve ever seen this happen, our panel of scorers was very excited to see both deer together,” Shaw said. “It is simply amazing that both deer were taken in the same county only 10 days apart.”
            The deer will be included in the 2008 Cy Curtis Awards Program Deer Record Book. The Cy Curtis Awards Program acknowledges sportsmen that have harvested a deer that meets or exceeds the minimum requirements set for typical and non-typical bucks.
            For more information about record deer in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 

John Ehmer of Tuskahoma harvested what he thought to be a “nice sized” buck in Pushmataha Co. with a total score of 194 inches, the deer edged Boyett’s buck by a slim margin of 1 3/8 inches.

On Nov. 18, 2007, Jason Boyett of Glenpool harvested a buck in Pushmataha Co. officially scored an impressive 192 5/8.


 
 
More than 3,000 more acres open to hunters in SE OK
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has partnered with The Nature Conservancy to open more than 3,000 acres in southeast Oklahoma to public hunting and fishing. The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the memorandum of understanding to open the area to public access at its July meeting.
            “This is a great day for hunters, anglers and others who love the outdoors,” said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Wildlife Department. “Before this agreement the area wasn’t available for public access, but now it will be open for all Oklahomans to enjoy.”
            The property, which covers 3,270 acres in LeFlore County’s Cucumber Creek area, is owned by The Nature Conservancy. The area will be used for public hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing and education purposes. Hunting seasons on the area will be the same as statewide season dates, and the agreement will be in place for 10 years with the possibility of renewal.
            Cucumber Creek is a clear stream flanked to the north by Kiamichi Mountain and to the south by Blue Bouncer Mountain. Lynn Mountain divides Cucumber Creek from the Beech Creek National Scenic Recreation Area, part of the Ouachita National Forest. The creek is named for the Cucumber magnolia, a small tree native to Eastern forests whose range barely extends into Oklahoma in the Ouachitas.
            The Wildlife Department and The Nature Conservancy are also partnering with the US Forest Service, which owns approximately 13,000 acres on three sides of the Cucumber Creek WMA. The three organizations will work cooperatively on a variety of habitat projects. Combined, the area will provide about 16,000 acres of walk-in public access.
            “The new Cucumber Creek area is a great addition to the public hunting and fishing areas in southeast Oklahoma, and it was a great opportunity to work with The Nature Conservancy and Forest Service to make this happen,” Peoples said.
            In other business, the Wildlife Commission accepted nearly $90,000 in donations and grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, of which $75,000 is designated for the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP). Under WHIP, landowners enter into 10-year contracts with the Wildlife Department for approved projects to develop, preserve, restore and manage wildlife habitat on private lands. The Department shares part of the cost of habitat improvement work, and in exchange, the landowner agrees to maintain the habitat for a period of 10 years.
            Examples of approved projects include, but are not limited to, fencing projects, the creation of small openings in stands of timber and the planting of certain types of trees.
            The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also provided a $12,900 grant to the Department’s Oklahoma Archery in Schools program. The program is designed to introduce youth to the sport of archery through school curriculum by equipping educators with the tools and skills necessary to operate an archery program. The two agencies will educate school children, parents and teachers about the outdoors and wildlife conservation at the 2009 state Archery in the Schools tournament to be held at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
            The Commission also recognized Chris Cowlbeck as the 2008 Wildlife Department Landowner of the Year. Cowlbeck owns 115 acres in Carter Co., on which he has made a variety of wildlife habitat improvements including restoring native grasses in Bermuda pastures, restoring oak savannah and woodlands and creating permanent cover for quail and other wildlife. Cowlbeck is responsible for a number of habitat improvement projects both on and off his property and has started the Arbuckle Mountain Area Chapter of Quail Unlimited.
            Additionally, the Commission approved the Oklahoma Aquatic Nuisance Species Plan, developed by Wildlife Department fisheries personnel to control nuisance species such as golden alga, hydrilla and invasive species such as zebra mussels. The plan now goes before the governor for approval before being sent to the National Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force for approval and possible funding, which would be used to fight aquatic nuisance species through public education and outreach.
            The Commission also recognized Doug Gottschalk, game warden stationed in Noble Co., for 25 years of service to the Wildlife Department.
            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 set for 9 a.m. Sept. 8 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.
 
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New Three Rivers WMA regulations to go into effect Aug. 1
            New regulations go into effect Aug. 1 on one of the state’s most popular wildlife management areas – Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area in McCurtain County.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has a new land use agreement with Weyerhaeuser Company for the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area. Under the new three-year agreement which was signed in May, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will lease 250,190 acres at 50 cents per acre per year for recreational public access as the Three Rivers WMA. As in the past, a Land Access Permit will be required of users.
            Beginning Aug. 1, the cost of that permit will increase to cover the cost of the new lease. Oklahoma residents ages 18-63 are required to purchase the annual Land Access Permit, which will be available for $40 at any vendor that sells hunting and fishing licenses. A three-day non-hunting and non-fishing permit will be available to Oklahoma residents for $10. A non-resident permit will be $85 per year, with no exemptions. Permits purchased prior to the price increase will be valid through the end of the year.
            Additionally, beginning Aug. 1 ATV use will only be allowed during deer season (Oct. 1 – Jan. 15) and only by licensed deer hunters. The following guidelines will apply to ATV use on the area:
* Any hunter while operating an ATV/ORV at any time must comply with daylight fluorescent orange requirements as required for deer gun seasons. If a crash helmet is worn, only the fluorescent orange chest covering is required.
* ATV/ORV use is restricted to WMA roads that are on the current Three Rivers WMA map unless otherwise closed.
* Only unaltered standard manufactured ATV/ORVs with a 700 cc motor displacement or less are allowed.
* ATV/ORV use shall be restricted to a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour.
* ATV/ORV operators and passengers under the age of 18 must wear a crash helmet that complies with standards established by 49 C.F.R., Section 571.218.
* Passengers in addition to the operator are not allowed on ATV/ORVs unless that ATV/ORV has been specifically designed by the manufacturer to carry passengers in addition to the operator. Passengers must also be licensed to hunt deer in Oklahoma.
* Leaving any ATV/ORV unattended on Three Rivers WMA without the owner’s name and address conspicuously attached is prohibited.
* Use of ATV/ORVs off of delineated roads for retrieval of lawfully taken and tagged deer is permissible only with the following restrictions.
* ATV/ORVs shall not travel more than one half mile from the nearest road.
* ATV/ORVs shall not cross rivers and streams unless on a road with constructed stream crossing structures.
* ATV/ORVs used for deer retrieval shall not be used in areas otherwise closed to the use of motor vehicles.
            
            Located in McCurtain County, Three Rivers WMA comprises thousands of acres of timberland in the rugged hill country of the Ouachita Mountains. Each year about 15,000 users purchase a Land Access Permit. The area is a popular spot among deer hunters, and last year, hunters harvested more than 1,200 deer on the area.
            Composed primarily of pine and mixed oak forests, Three Rivers supports large numbers of whitetail deer and eastern wild turkey, as well as plentiful numbers of small game such as rabbits and squirrels. The area also supports an abundance of non-game wildlife, particularly songbirds. Several highland streams flow through both areas, offering excellent fishing opportunities for a number of game species, particularly smallmouth bass.
            Land access permit holders also have access to the nearby Honobia Creek WMA, an additional 76,000 acres of land.
            For more information about the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation or to see a map of Three Rivers WMA, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Wildlife Department announces 2008 Landowner of the Year Award recipient
            Chris Cowlbeck of Ardmore is not unlike other landowners in Oklahoma in that his piece of property is relatively small — just 115 acres — but his efforts to manage his land for wildlife stand out, so much so that he was recently selected as the 2008 Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Landowner of the Year.
            “Chris Cowlbeck has made a number of wildlife habitat improvements to his Carter Co. property that, though done on a smaller scale, set a strong example for other landowners like him,” said Mike Sams, senior private lands biologist for the Wildlife Department. “There are quite a few small scale landowners in Oklahoma whose habitat work can go a long way in conserving wildlife in our state.”
            Cowlbeck’s conservation efforts have included restoring native grasses by getting rid of Bermuda pastures, restoring oak savannah and woodlands, placing brush piles throughout open prairie habitat, fencing off riparian areas, constructing ponds, planting food plots and planting 1,700 sandplum trees to create permanent cover for quail and other wildlife. Additionally, Cowlbeck used prescribed fire to promote new growth while controlling overgrowth, and practices proper cattle stocking ratios for optimum grazing pressure. Cowlbeck also uses his property as a demonstration area for wildlife conservation practices.
            Cowlbeck refers to his management efforts as the “postage stamp” approach, in that he is able to coordinate with neighbors and other nearby landowners to create a greater impact for wildlife, even though tracts of land may be of varying sizes. He said he has worked with neighbors on a number of occasions to share information, assist with projects and achieve results.
            Cowlbeck’s 115 acres have been in his family for more than 30 years, but for much of that time he said it “laid idle” and became overgrown. When a friend took a walk on Cowlbeck’s land one day and reported seeing wild quail, Cowlbeck became increasingly interested in improving the property for quail habitat. From there, conservation and land management became a passion for Cowlbeck, and his passion has spread to others.
            In addition to his hard work on his own land, Cowlbeck is responsible for a number of habitat improvement projects on other property as well, including the initiation of a 2,000-acre demonstration area on the Lake Murray Field Trial Grounds. Cowlbeck also chairs the Arbuckle Mountain Area Chapter of Quail Unlimited, and he developed the Habitat Improvement Team (HIT), which assists landowners in conservation efforts by providing equipment and assistance. Additionally, Cowlbeck continues to help area landowners with management practices throughout the year.
            Visit with Cowlbeck and you will quickly learn why he puts so much effort into conservation. He calls it “infectious,” and though he owns six bird dogs and enjoys hunting, he has just as much interest in the actual work that goes into producing results ideal for hunting.
            “I get equal amounts of satisfaction in improving the land and harvesting quail and watching the birddogs work,” Cowlbeck said.
            Cowlbeck emphasizes his belief that many people want to practice habitat management on their property but do not know where to start, but he says the solution is not as complicated as it may seem and encourages landowners to go to work, even if it is just one step at a time.
            “You have to put your feet on the ground and your hands on the equipment to see the birds fly,” Cowlbeck said.
            The Wildlife Department offers several landowner programs ranging from deer management assistance (DMAP) to the Landowner Incentive Program, which provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners for habitat restoration and enhancement. There is also a wealth of information available for those interested in managing pond fisheries and publications and newsletters released regularly that contain useful information on conservation and habitat management.
            For more information about landowner programs offered by the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
 
Chris Cowlbeck of Ardmore was recently selected as the 2008 Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Landowner of the Year.


 
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Public invited to comment on aquatic nuisance management plan
            For fisherman, invasive aquatic species such as nuisance vegetation and wildlife can only mean one thing — trouble.
            Non-native invasive species threaten the ecology of natural systems as well as our economy. The costs of invasives to the U.S. economy have been estimated at $137 billion annually. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation works diligently to curb the advance of aquatic nuisance species in Oklahoma’s waters, and Oklahomans can help by voicing their opinions regarding the Department’s Oklahoma Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan, approved by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission at its July meeting.
            The plan relies on a coordinated effort of state agencies, municipalities, commercial resource users, and the private sector to be effective. Oklahomans can view the Oklahoma Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan online through Aug. 15 at wildlifedepartment.com, as well as email comments to the Wildlife Department regarding the plan.
            “We’re taking public comment through Aug. 15 because it is important to us to hear the concerns, interests and opinions of our constituents,” said Ashley Foster, aquatic nuisance species biologist for the Wildlife Department.
            Major aquatic nuisance species of concern include zebra mussels, golden algae, hydrilla, Asian carp, and viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). Zebra mussels currently inhabit several systems in northeast Oklahoma, and new infestations are being found annually. Zebra mussels have the potential to reduce the productivity of infested systems; cause economic loss by clogging pipelines, locks and dams, marinas and outboard motors; and impact recreational opportunities by fouling beaches.
            Additionally, golden alga has caused fish kills in Lake Texoma and Altus City Lake, while hydrilla is an invasive plant that has recently been found in Arbuckle, Murray and Sooner Reservoirs. VHS, though not found in Oklahoma, is a fish disease that has caused large fish kills on the Great Lakes, has recently been found in the Ohio River Basin and has the potential to show up in Oklahoma.
            “The Oklahoma Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan will offer a clear cut code of conduct to prevent the spread or eradicate invasive species if they enter the state, and we encourage anyone interested to review the plan and submit their comments,” Foster said.
            The plan now goes before the governor for approval before being sent to the National Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force for approval and possible funding, which would be used to fight aquatic nuisance species through public outreach and education.
            To view the plan or submit comments, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Wildlife Department seeks artists for waterfowl stamp design
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is accepting entries for this year’s Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp Design Contest through Aug. 15, 2008.
            The gadwall is the featured species for the 2009-10 contest, and the winning art will be printed on the 2009-10 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp.
            “Last year we introduced two new elements to this competition,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “We opened the doors for artists to be more creative by including hunting dogs in their entry, and we invited the public to help us choose a winner. The same is true for this year.”
            Artists may include a retriever in their artwork, but the gadwall must be the featured element of the painting.
            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, six and a half inches high and nine inches wide. It must be matted with white mat board nine inches high by 12 inches wide with the opening cut precisely 6.5 x 9. Artwork may not be framed or under glass, but acetate covering should be used to protect the art. All artists must depict the gadwall, and any habitat appearing in the design must be typical of Oklahoma. 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. Aug. 15.
            The winning artist will receive a purchase award of $1,200, and the winning entry will become the sole and exclusive property of the Wildlife Department.
            A selection of waterfowl stamp art from previous years is currently on display in the lobby of the Wildlife Department headquarters located at 1801 N. Lincoln in Oklahoma City.
            Prints of previous winning waterfowl artwork can be purchased at wildlifedepartment.com.
            For more information about the contest call (405) 521-3856. For a complete list of contest rules, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Year round trout fisheries make for fun summer vacation
            Though there are six seasonal trout fishing areas in Oklahoma, anglers don’t have to wait until Nov. 1 to catch trout. There are two additional first class trout fisheries in Oklahoma where anglers can fish for trout no matter what the time of year — at the Lower Mountain Fork River and the Lower Illinois River.
            Both the Lower Mountain Fork River and the Lower Illinois River are year round trout fisheries, and rainbow trout usually are stocked about every two weeks, while brown trout are occasionally stocked.
            “One of the great things about summertime trout fishing in Oklahoma is that you can take an affordable vacation with your entire family,” said Paul Balkenbush, southeast region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Take the Lower Mountain Fork River for example. Even though it’s hot outside, you’ve got this pristine, cool stream cascading through the mountains, mature forests all around you and great fishing. And the scenery is second to none. If trout fishing isn’t your thing, there is a beautiful reservoir — Broken Bow Lake — feeding the river where you can enjoy a multitude of activities, including some great white bass fishing. There’s also nice campgrounds and cabins nearby, swimming, boating, hiking, awesome summertime squirrel hunting in public areas, golfing, a nature center and a neat train you can ride through the state park. There is something for everyone in the family to enjoy, which makes for a great family vacation when gas prices are high and kids are still on summer break.”
            The Wildlife Department’s streams management team works vigorously on projects to enhance trout habitat in certain state waters. Recent trout habitat improvement projects have included renovations at the Evening Hole portion of the Lower Mountain Fork River during the summer of 2006. At the same time, a new trout stream dubbed “Lost Creek” was also created that is providing additional trout fishing opportunities.
            Seasonal trout fisheries in Oklahoma include Lake Pawhuska, Robbers Cave, Blue River, Lake Watonga, Quartz Mountain and Lake Carl Etling. Trout season in these areas kicks off Nov. 1.
            Trout are an introduced species to Oklahoma, and they are stocked regularly at all eight trout areas. Anglers can view the trout stocking schedules on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            Trout anglers must carry a resident or nonresident fishing license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit, unless exempt, while fishing. Additionally, a trout license is required for all who fish in state-designated trout areas or in tributaries of state-designated trout streams during trout season. Anglers should also note the special trout angling regulations that are in effect in certain areas.
            For trout angling tips as well as daily trout limits, season dates and other trout fishing regulations for each area, log on to wildlifedepartment.com or consult the current “Oklahoma Fishing Guide.”
 
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Schedule your fall hunts now
            With dove season only about a month away and Oklahoma’s deer seasons not far behind, Oklahoma hunters should begin marking their calendars and scheduling their fall hunts now. Season dates and information for planning fall hunts can be found in the new “2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available now at license dealers across the state.
            “Dove season opens Sept. 1, kicking off the fall hunting season in Oklahoma, and then you’ve got to plan for the deer archery season opener on Oct. 1,” said Larry Manering, law enforcement chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “And you don’t want to forget the deer muzzleloader season opener Oct. 25, the deer gun season opener Nov. 22 or the quail opener Nov. 8. There are several additional season dates to remember such as youth deer season, doe days, holiday antlerless season, dates on wildlife management areas that may differ from statewide season dates and also turkey and small game seasons. With all that going on, it’s important to get your hunts planned now so you don’t miss your favorite season, and the best way to get it planned out and marked on your calendar is to have the new ‘Oklahoma Hunting Guide’ on hand while you do it. It’s a great publication with all the dates and regulation information you need for a successful season, no matter what game you hunt.”
            There have been several changes to the hunting regulations designed to increase hunter opportunity and help better manage the state’s rich and diverse natural resources. Regulation changes are documented in the new “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” and the following are a few of the highlights:
 
* The deer archery season limit has been increased to six deer, which may include no more than two antlered deer.
* The Jan. 1-15 portion of the deer archery season is no longer antlerless only.
* Elk hunting opportunities have expanded.
* Apprentice licenses may now be purchased by residents 10 years old and older.
 
            For complete information about license costs, season dates, zones and other details about the upcoming hunting seasons, pick up a copy of the new “2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available at hunting license vendors across the state, or log on to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Wildlife Expo’s Outdoor Marketplace to offer even more in 2008
            Vendors planning to reserve a booth at the 2008 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo’s Outdoor Marketplace should sign up by Aug. 15 in order to guarantee they get a spot.
            Vendors who wish to obtain a booth at this year’s Outdoor Marketplace should contact Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, at (405) 522-6279, or Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department, at (405) 521-4635.
            “This is the kind of event that an outdoor product or service vendor doesn’t want to miss,” Rodefeld said. “With literally thousands upon thousands of outdoor-minded visitors converging on the Expo Sept. 26-28, there is a good chance most of them will want to take a stroll through the Outdoor Marketplace to see what each vendor has to offer.”
            Last year’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo drew about 40,000 people to the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. The Expo is a free three-day event hosted by the Wildlife Department and designed to perpetuate an interest in the outdoors and conservation through hands-on education and learning opportunities. Visitors to the Expo have the opportunity to shoot shotguns and archery equipment, catch a fish, ride an ATV or mountain bike, climb a rock wall, float in a kayak, build a birdhouse and more. Additionally, more than a hundred booths and activities are available that are designed to expose visitors to different outdoor pursuits and educational opportunities, and seminars are held on a number of wildlife and outdoor topics ranging from land management to training hunting dogs.
             The Outdoor Marketplace gives the Expo’s outdoor-minded guests a place to shop for the latest in outdoor products and services that cater to their lifestyles, while providing vendors a place to showcase their goods to the people that will want to buy them.
            “The Outdoor Marketplace is a win-win feature of the Expo for both the huge crowds in attendance and the vendors who come out to display their great products, some of which might be harder to access anywhere else,” Rodefeld said.
            The Wildlife Department works with a range of organizations, individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the Expo — an event intended to promote and develop appreciation for Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources.
            Log on to wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on the upcoming Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.
 
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Wildlife Department seeks artists for waterfowl stamp design
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is accepting entries for this year’s Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp Design Contest through Aug. 15, 2008.
            The gadwall is the featured species for the 2009-10 contest, and the winning art will be printed on the 2009-10 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp.
            “Last year we introduced two new elements to this competition,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “We opened the doors for artists to be more creative by including hunting dogs in their entry, and we invited the public to help us choose a winner. The same is true for this year.”
            Artists may include a retriever in their artwork, but the gadwall must be the featured element of the painting.
            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, six and a half inches high and nine inches wide. It must be matted with white mat board nine inches high by 12 inches wide with the opening cut precisely 6.5 x 9. Artwork may not be framed or under glass, but acetate covering should be used to protect the art. All artists must depict the gadwall, and any habitat appearing in the design must be typical of Oklahoma. 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. Aug. 15.
            The winning artist will receive a purchase award of $1,200, and the winning entry will become the sole and exclusive property of the Wildlife Department.
            A selection of waterfowl stamp art from previous years is currently on display in the lobby of the Wildlife Department headquarters located at 1801 N. Lincoln in Oklahoma City.
            Prints of previous winning waterfowl artwork can be purchased at wildlifedepartment.com.
            For more information about the contest call (405) 521-3856. For a complete list of contest rules, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Wildlife Department explores new avenues to improve angling through Kaw Lake study
            When it comes to managing the state’s fisheries, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation fisheries biologists are open-minded and innovative in their effort to improve opportunities for sportsmen. Nowhere is this concept more evident than in an ongoing study at Kaw Lake to improve hybrid striped bass fishing.
            Since 2005, fisheries biologists with the Wildlife Department have been stocking two different strains of hybrid striped bass into Kaw Lake each summer — the more common cross as well as the reciprocal cross. A common striped bass hybrid occurs when a female striped bass is crossed with a male white bass, whereas a reciprocal striped bass hybrid is a cross between a female white bass and a male striped bass. Though the difference may seem minor, biologists want to determine if one strain of hybrid is more successful in terms of remaining in Kaw Lake in greater numbers for anglers to catch.
             “Some limited research suggests that reciprocal hybrids may be more likely to remain in lakes with a high flow-through rate — that is, lots of water coming into a lake and lots of water leaving a lake through the dam,” said Kurt Kuklinski, senior biologist for the Wildlife Department’s fisheries research laboratory. “One more year is scheduled for stocking both crosses. After evaluating the project over five years of stocking, recommendations will be made to stock the better performing hybrid cross.”
            Hybrids do not reproduce naturally. Therefore, they are re-stocked periodically to keep the population at desired levels.
            So far, the study has revealed that both common and reciprocal striped bass hybrids are being caught from the lake in equal numbers. Additionally, each cross is being found in the tailwaters of Kaw Lake below the dam, with both strains leaving the lake in equal numbers.
            The only difference observed by fisheries biologists so far is that common striped bass hybrids are growing at a slightly faster rate than the reciprocal strain.
            “In other words, a two-year-old common cross hybrid in Kaw averages about 22 inches and 3 to 4 pounds,” Kuklinski said. “A two-year-old reciprocal cross hybrid averages about 18 inches and 2 to 3 pounds.”
            The crosses are distinguished using a common fish-marking technique that involves marking all common cross hybrids that are stocked in the lake with a chemical mark that can be seen by biologists using fluorescent lighting. The marker doesn’t harm the fish or affect the fish’s meat.
            This study has been possible through a joint effort between Wildlife Department fish hatcheries and other important partners such as the Oklahoma Striper Association, which has funded the purchase and production of hybrids used in the study.
            The production of the reciprocal striped bass hybrids in this study has involved an extensive process, including the use of a mobile hatchery trailer used to spawn and transport young fish, or fry, to various Wildlife Department hatcheries, where they are then raised to stocking size. Additionally, reciprocal hybrid fry are small and require a specialized food source.
            “Our hatchery personnel did a great job tackling this important and complex project,” Kuklinski said. “Reciprocal striped bass hybrids are difficult to raise, and they really did an outstanding job producing these fish for this study.”
            In 2008, nearly 86,000 reciprocal hybrids were stocked at Kaw.
            According to Kuklinski, the effort represents the Wildlife Department’s commitment to maintaining and improving quality fishing opportunities for anglers.
            “Our goal is to provide Oklahoma anglers with a quality hybrid fishery at Kaw Lake and elsewhere in the state,” Kuklinski said. “This evaluation will give us the concrete evidence needed to make the best management decision about which hybrid cross is most likely to produce the best fishery in Kaw and other high-flow through lakes. This project serves as a good example of the research, management, and hatchery sections of the Wildlife Department’s fisheries division working to achieve a common goal — producing a quality hybrid fishery for our anglers.”
            While Kaw anglers and those who fish in other high-flow through lakes stand to benefit from this ongoing study, other fisheries already have, such as Hugo Lake in southeast Oklahoma and Oologah Lake in northeastern Oklahoma.
            The Kaw Lake study produced a surplus of reciprocal striped bass hybrids that were released in Hugo and Oologah lakes. In May, 162,093 reciprocal hybrids were released in Hugo Lake, and 66,492 were released in Oologah Lake.
            To learn more about hybrid striped bass fishing in Oklahoma, log on to the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Ft. Gibson takes top spot in bass report -  Lake to host world championship bass tournament
           Fort Gibson Lake will host the 2008 Yamaha BASS Club World Championship Oct. 9-11, which could be a good thing for tournament anglers considering Ft. Gibson took the number one spot in the most recent Oklahoma Bass Tournaments Report published by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            The event will feature 38 six-angler teams that qualified for the championship event through their performance at six regional events.
            The six-angler teams will compete for a top prize of six Skeeter/Yamaha boat packages valued at $50,000 each, one for each winning team member.
            Daily tournament launches and weigh-ins will take place at Taylor’s Ferry North. Launches will begin at 7 a.m., with the weigh-ins starting at 3 p.m. Both are free and open to the public.  
            The most recent Oklahoma Bass Tournaments Report is now available at wildlifedepartment.com for anglers looking to gain knowledge on Oklahoma bass fishing.
            The Wildlife Department has been gathering data on bass fishing tournaments across the state for the last 14 years, and the information collected helps in the management of bass populations.
            “Competitive bass fishing can provide very useful information to fisheries biologists about the quality of angling in Oklahoma,” said Gene Gilliland, central region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “We cannot conduct electrofishing surveys every year on every lake. Tournament results allow our biologists to monitor bass populations between surveys. It is the only measure we have of what anglers are actually catching.”
            In 2007, the average winning tournament weight was 11.89 lbs., an increase of almost one pound over 2006. The overall success rate at tournaments based on anglers or teams who bring at least one bass to the tournament weigh-in was 61 percent, down four percent over the previous year.
            “Though the success percentage went down in 2007 from the previous year, the success rate is still equal to the long-term average,” Gilliland said.
            The average angler caught 2.3 bass per day that weighed 2.3 lbs. each, up from 1.9 bass per angler and 2.2 lbs. per fish in 2006.
            The largest tournament-caught bass reported in 2007 weighed 11.8 lbs. and was caught from Lake Arbuckle during a Little Dixie Bass Club tournament in March.
             The Top-20 lakes were ranked according to five fishing quality measurements (percent success, average first place weight, average fish per day, average weight per fish and hours of fishing to catch a 5-pound bass). Based on 2007 reports, Ft. Gibson reclaimed the top spot on the list of tournament lakes after being knocked out of the top 10 last year. Second place went to Sooner Lake, followed by Wes Watkins. Lakes Grand and Murray tied for fourth place, followed by Texoma, Arbuckle, Eufaula and Keystone. Eucha, Tenkiller and Thunderbird tied for ninth place, with McGee Creek coming in tenth. Lakes were ranked on the Top 20 list if a minimum of nine reports were received. According to Gilliland, information from lakes with fewer reports may not convey their actual fishing quality.
            “Konawa, for example, isn’t on the list because we didn’t get enough reports,” Gilliland said, “but it’s obviously a great bass lake.”
See the rest of the Top 20 list as well as other tournament results in the 14-page report by logging on to wildlifedepartment.com and going to “Fishing” then “Tournaments” then “Bass Tournament Reports.”
              Tournament organizations submitted 457 reports from 49 lakes for 2007. With an estimated 1,200 tournaments held each year in the state, tournament anglers are an important part of the Department’s fisheries management team. In the course of their pursuits, they provide biologists with hundreds of thousands of hours of fishing data every year.
            The Department collects the data from tournament reports submitted by mail or via the Internet.  Tournament directors can log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com for more information on submitting their results.
 
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August 29 deadline for bonus youth deer hunts
            Beginning deer hunters have a unique opportunity to participate in three youth controlled antlerless deer hunts that will take place on private lands in several Oklahoma counties. Applications must be received at the Wildlife Department by 4 p.m. Friday, August 29, 2008.
            The hunts are scheduled for either October or January. This year, 52 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 and we are thankful for the landowners' willingness to allow these kids the opportunity to hunt on their property.”
            To apply for a hunt, applicants must send the Department a 4” by 6” 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 driver’s license number, their order of hunt preferences (may list all 3 hunts) and lifetime license number if applicable. A non-hunting adult who is at least 21 years old must accompany the youth, and must also be listed on the index card. The envelope should be labeled “Private Lands Youth Deer Hunt” and should be mailed to: Department of Wildlife, Attn: Wildlife Division-Youth Deer Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
 
Hunts will be offered in the following counties:
Osage County (October 3-5)
Ellis County (October 10-11)
Alfalfa County (January 9-11)
 
            The drawing will be held Sept. 4, and successful applicants will receive a notification letter in the mail about their hunt the following week. The letter will inform them of their selection and provide details about the hunt and license requirements. Selected resident youth will need to purchase a $10 Resident Youth Deer Gun License unless they possess an Oklahoma Resident Lifetime Hunting or Resident Lifetime Combination License. Selected nonresidents will need to purchase a $201 Nonresident Deer Gun License. The youth's non-hunting adult does not need a license. Any antlerless deer harvested during the controlled hunt will be considered a bonus deer and will not count against the youths’ combined season limit.
            For additional information concerning the hunts, contact the Wildlife Department at (405) 521-2739.
 
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