OCTOBER 2008 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF OCTOBER 31, 2008  

WEEK OF OCTOBER 23, 2008

 

WEEK OF OCTOBER 16, 2008

 

WEEK OF OCTOBER 9, 2008

 

WEEK OF OCTOBER 2, 2008

October brings in three hunting seasons
            The month of October means hunting, as evidenced by the Oct. 1 openers for deer archery, turkey fall archery and rabbit seasons in Oklahoma.
            This year’s archery season will see some changes from previous years, particularly in the last 15 days of the season (Jan. 1-15) when harvest will no longer be limited to antlerless deer. Additionally, hunters will enjoy an increased archery season limit of six deer, of which two may be bucks.
            Archery season in Oklahoma runs from Oct. 1-Jan. 15. Resident archery deer hunters must possess an Oklahoma hunting license, a fishing and hunting legacy permit and a deer archery license for each deer hunted or proof of exemption. All resident youth hunters under 18 years old may purchase a $10 youth deer archery license, and resident youth 16 or 17 years old must also purchase a hunting license, unless exempt.
            Nonresident archery deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license, but they must possess a nonresident deer archery license for each deer hunted as well as a fishing and hunting legacy permit or proof of exemption. Nonresident lifetime license hunters are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses.
            Upon harvesting a deer, all annual license holders are required to complete the “Record of Game” section on the license form. In addition, all hunters, including lifetime license holders, must immediately attach their name and hunting license number to the animal. The attached item can be anything, such as a business card, that will remain secure to the animal until checked at the nearest hunter check station.
            All hunters who harvest a deer must check in their animal at the nearest open hunter check station or with an authorized Wildlife Department employee. A county-by-county listing of hunter check stations is available in the “2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or at wildlifedepartment.com.
            The archery deer season limit is six deer, of which no more than two may be antlered deer. Deer harvested during the archery season are included in the hunter’s combined season limit of no more than six deer, of which two may be antlered deer.
            The turkey fall archery season runs Oct. 1-Jan. 15 as well. Hunters can harvest one bird, but it can be either a tom or a hen. Turkey fall archery season is the only time when a hen may be harvested, offering a unique opportunity for hunters. Fall archery turkey hunters must conspicuously wear either a head covering or an outer garment above the waistline that consists of hunter orange when hunting during any deer season that requires hunters to wear hunter orange.
            Rabbit hunters have it good in Oklahoma, with a long season spanning Oct. 1, 2008-March 15, 2009 and a generous daily limit of 10 cottontail rabbits, three swamp rabbits and three jackrabbits. In Cimarron, Texas and Beaver counties, the limit on jackrabbit is 10 daily, and jackrabbits may only be harvested west of 1-35.
            For more information about hunting seasons in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com
 
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Veterans eligible for special hunt
            The Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International will host two Oklahoma war veterans for a three-day guided hunting and fishing trip. The veterans will each get a chance to harvest a cow elk and lodging and meals will be provided.
            “We here in the United States of America owe our many freedoms to the men and women of all generations who have served in our armed forces, giving their time, and in many cases their health or even their lives, to win and preserve our way of life. We thank all of these most honored citizens,” said Mike Mistelske, with the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International.
            SCI’s Oklahoma Station Chapter has partnered with Wild Game Outfitters near Porum to organize this special three-day/four-night outing in January or February, 2009. Others contributing to the event thus far include Oklahoma fishing guide Hubert Sanders, Shannon Ostertag of Reflections Taxidermy, Jim Allgood and Keith Rayborn of Redneck Adventures TV Shows, Cabela’s, Tulsa Red Castle Gun Club, and members of the Oil Capital Rod & Gun Club.
            Anyone who has received or been officially determined to be eligible for the “Afghanistan Campaign Medal,” the “Iraq Campaign Medal,” or the “Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal,” is eligible to apply for this hunting and fishing adventure.  Eligibility is open to veterans without or with disabilities.  Many disabilities, including wheelchairs, can be accommodated.
            Please submit your nominations for this special hunt by e-mail to Mike Mistelske at mjmistelske@yahoo.com  no later than October 31st. Provide the name, age, and all contact information for the veteran; and provide your name and contact information. Please include a brief description of the veteran’s military service and combat experience, and please describe any physical limitation he or she may have. Two veterans will be selected at random from those nominated and confirmed to be eligible; SCI’s selection will be final.
            Additional information, including how local organizations, businesses, or individuals can contribute to this veterans’ hunt or to an ongoing program of providing such hunts is available at SCI’s website,
http://oklahomastationsci.org/ , by clicking on Special Hunt for Oklahoma Veterans http://oklahomastationsci.org/?page_id=32283 .
            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 partners with the Wildlife Department to sponsor several important programs, including the Wildlife Expo and the Hunter's Against Hunger program, which oversees the distribution 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). STEP 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 Oklahoma Station of the Safari Club International also partners with Wildlife Department to sponsor an annual youth essay contest. The contest gives youth the opportunity to share their feelings about Oklahoma’s outdoors and gives them the opportunity to win great prizes, including a guided pronghorn antelope hunt in New Mexico.
            The Oklahoma Station Chapter of SCI serves four basic purposes: protecting the freedom of sportsmen to hunt, offering education on the value of hunting as a valuable wildlife management tool, conserving wildlife to preserve the hunting heritage for future generations and providing humanitarian services.
 
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Young outdoor writers to share their heritage, win trip of a lifetime
            Every year, young people across Oklahoma share their outdoor heritage by competing in a youth outdoor writing contest for a chance at a trip of a lifetime.
            According to Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Wildlife Department, the essay contest is an ideal way for youth to show their love for the outdoors and, in the process, possibly win a vacation in the great outdoors. There are two age categories (11-14 and 15-17), and one girl and one boy winner are chosen from each one.
            To participate, students must be 11-17 years of age and currently enrolled in any Oklahoma school or home school. Winners of the 2007 contest are not eligible. Applicants must have successfully completed an Oklahoma Hunter Education course by the entry deadline, which is Nov. 19, 2008. Students also must use the theme of “Hunting: Sharing the Heritage” or “Archery: What I like about Archery in the Schools and Bowhunting” or the concept of the theme to develop an expository essay or short story.
            Winners in the 15-17 age category (one boy and one girl) will receive a guided antelope hunt in New Mexico, and winners in the 11-14 age category are competing for scholarship for the Apprentice Hunter Program at the YO Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas. Safari Club International’s Apprentice Hunter Program is a unique, hands-on course designed for girls and boys aged 11-14. The program covers topics such as history of hunting, the ethical basis of modern sport hunting, wildlife management, field identification, tracking and interpreting sign, game cooking and the SCI Sportsmen Against Hunger Program. There are three sessions, each one week long, during the summer of 2009.
            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.
             One educator also 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, according to Berg.
            The AWLS program is conducted during the summer and presents an outdoor program for educators that concentrates on natural resource management. Participants learn about stream ecology, map and compass usage, fly tying, shooting sports, wildlife management, the Yellowstone ecosystem, camping, white-water rafting, educational resources, how to implement outdoor education ideas and language arts and creative writing in an outdoor setting.
            Both the essay contest rules and teacher scholarship applications are available from the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com
            Essays and applications must be postmarked no later than Nov. 19, or delivered by Nov. 19 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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Fourth annual Wildlife Expo draws 35,000
            The fourth Oklahoma Wildlife Expo held Sept. 26-28 was a success, according to officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, but the sheer number of visitors and activities that were available at the Expo speak for themselves.
            The Expo’s estimated 35,000 visitors included 4,000 students who attended the event Friday through field trips with their schools, as well as families, friends and individuals with all levels of outdoor experience.
            “For the fourth year running, Wildlife Department employees and other groups and organizations put on an outstanding Wildlife Expo that attracted thousands of visitors and brought people closer to the outdoors,” said Greg Duffy, director of the Wildlife Department. “The Expo could not have happened without the help of all our volunteers and visitors who came out to celebrate the state’s outdoors, and I am confident some of guests walked away with a greater appreciation for what Oklahoma’s outdoors have to offer.”
            Visitors tried outdoor activities ranging from shooting sports to kayaking and received hands-on instruction from volunteers at each activity. About 4,200 guests participated in shotgun shooting, firing off a total of around 27,500 shells. About 67 percent of those who shot shotguns at the event were under 18 years old, officials say.
            Around 25,000 worms were used by approximately 3,000 people who tried fishing in the pond at the Expo.
            Additionally, thousands of arrows were shot at the Expo’s archery area, and visitors consumed more than 1,000 pounds of fried catfish, more than 1,000 pounds of venison and about 220 gallons of buffalo chili at the popular “Taste of the Wild” booth. Dutch oven demonstrators also served about 7,000 samples of camp-style food and provided seminars on the basics of Dutch oven cooking.
            Other activities at the Expo included ATV rides, birdwatching, fishing, air rifle shooting, shopping for outdoor gear and more in addition to booths and seminars about dog training, game and fish management, wild game cooking, mountain biking camping, backpacking, furbearer trapping and calling and more. Additionally, visitors were able to shop at the Expo’s Outdoor Marketplace, a large area where nearly 40 vendors provided outdoor gear and services ranging from small gifts to all terrain utility vehicles and hunting blinds.
            Held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, the free Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is hosted by the Wildlife Department and designed to perpetuate an interest in the outdoors and conservation through hands-on education and learning opportunities.
            The Wildlife Department worked 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.
            Wildlife Department officials say plans are already underway for the fifth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, slated for Sept. 25-27, 2009.
 
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Muzzleloader deer season nears
            While deer archery hunters are already afield hunting, hunters await the opening of the 2008 deer muzzleloader season slated for Oct. 25.
            Muzzleloader season spans nine days (Oct. 25 - Nov. 2). The modern gun season opens Nov. 22 and runs for 16 days. Archery season remains open through Jan. 15, 2009.
            From wide-open prairie to pine-covered mountains, deer call every part of Oklahoma home, and several wildlife management areas across the state offer hunting for at least part of the muzzleloader season, some through special draw hunts that give sportsmen a unique opportunity to change up their usual hunting routine.
            To learn more about deer hunting on wildlife management areas, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. The Web site offers regulations, useful hunting information and an award-winning digital wildlife management area atlas. And best of all, it is free. In addition to detailed maps, sportsmen can find information such as camping locations and contacts for local biologists.
            During muzzleloader season, hunters can harvest a buck and two antlerless deer, and most of the state is open to antlerless hunting every day during the season. In addition to an appropriate hunting license and fishing and hunting legacy permit (unless exempt), resident muzzleloader hunters must possess a deer license for each deer harvested. If a hunter harvests two antlerless deer, at least one of those antlerless deer must be taken in antlerless zone two (consult page 21 of the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide for a map of antlerless zones). Nonresident muzzleloader hunters must also carry a fishing and hunting legacy permit and a nonresident deer muzzleloader license for each deer harvested. However, nonresidents are exempt from the purchase of a hunting license while hunting deer.
            Hunters can harvest a turkey with their muzzleloaders Nov. 1-2 in most of the state. A fall turkey license is required, unless exempt. Fall turkey gun season runs Nov. 1-21, and details on the season are available in the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
            Hunters age 10-35 who have not completed hunter education can buy an apprentice-designated hunting license and hunt while accompanied by a licensed hunter 21 years old or older who has completed the hunter education course, or a licensed hunter 21 years old or older who is otherwise exempt from hunter education (includes those 36 years old or older, those honorably discharged or currently active in the Armed Forces or members of the National Guard). Hunters under 10 years old must complete a hunter education course to hunt big game or to buy any big game hunting license.
            For specific information regarding which areas are open to muzzleloader season, licenses, bag limits, blaze orange clothing requirements or legal firearms, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide" or log onto wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Youth deer gun season offers young hunters first shot
            Young Oklahoma hunters the chance at a buck and a doe before the rush during the youth deer gun season Oct. 17-19.
            “We want to attract youth to the sport of hunting, because they are the future of the sport and the future of conservation in Oklahoma, and giving them their own deer gun season is a great way to get them involved and out afield with a mentor,” said Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            Last year was the first year youth were allowed to harvest both a buck and a doe during the youth season. Previously, the season was only open antlerless deer hunting.
            “We are always working to provide better hunting opportunities to sportsmen, and setting up the season so that youth can harvest a buck or a doe during youth deer gun season makes for a better chance at harvesting a deer and brings more excitement to the hunt,” Berg said.
            The youth season is open to hunters under 18 years of age. Youth hunters must be accompanied by a hunter 18 years or older. Youth hunting with an apprentice-designated license must be accompanied by a licensed hunter who is 21 years old or older who is hunter education certified or exempt. Oklahoma kids under the age of 16 are exempt from the purchase of a hunting license and legacy permit, and youth 16 or 17 years old can purchase a combination youth hunting and fishing license for $9 or a youth hunting license for $5. Unless they hold a lifetime hunting or combination license, all youth participants must purchase a $10 youth antlered deer gun license and/or a $10 youth antlerless deer gun license if they want a chance to harvest a buck and a doe. Nonresident youth hunters must possess a nonresident deer license, and those age 14-17 must also purchase a fishing and hunting legacy permit.
            Youth hunters who do not harvest a deer during the youth deer gun season may use their unfilled youth deer gun license during the regular deer gun season. Hunters who do harvest a deer during the youth deer gun season may purchase another youth deer gun license and harvest a deer during the regular gun season. Deer taken by hunters participating in the youth deer gun season are included in the hunter’s combined season limit.
            For complete information on the apprentice-designated hunting license, youth season regulations and season dates, pick up a copy of the “2007-08 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log onto wildlifedepartment.com.
            For those youth who do not have their hunter education certification, the Department is offering several courses before the season opens in communities across the state. Some require pre-registration. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com for more information on each available class.
 
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High water temperatures result in continued delays for Lower Illinois trout stockings.

            Warm weather conditions have prompted the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to postpone regular trout stockings at the Lower Illinois River below Tenkiller, but biologists say water temperatures are slowly decreasing.  

            Wildlife Department officials had hoped to resume stockings by the end of October, but water temperatures have remained too warm for trout, temporarily preventing further stocking.

            According to Jim Burroughs, east central region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department, it was heavy spring rains and a period of extreme heating that combined to create the unusually warm water in Tenkiller Reservoir.

            These waters are released through turbines used for hydropower generation and flow directly into the Lower Illinois River trout stream.

            “This has been a very unusual year,” says Gary Peterson, east central region fisheries biologist for the Department. “Temperatures need to be 65 degrees or lower in the tailrace during power generation before regular stockings can begin again.”

            Officials are routinely monitoring water temperatures, and although they are beginning to decrease, it is at a very slow rate.  Stockings have been discontinued since August 12 and will resume as soon as temperatures reach optimum levels.

            According to biologists with the Wildlife Department, trout that were in the water before temperatures warmed to near lethal limits have a better chance of adapting to the temperatures and may find springs and other refuges where colder temperatures may exist.

            The Lower Illinois River is one of only two year-round trout fisheries in the state and is managed by the Wildlife Department.

            Anglers are still having success at the Lower Illinois River catching largemouth bass on topwater lures in the backwaters and weed beds. Additionally, striped bass fishing is good on cut bait, and catfish angling is fair on cut bait along the bottom of the river.

            For more information about trout fishing in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

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Young outdoor writers to share their heritage and win trip of a lifetime

            Every year, young people across Oklahoma share their outdoor heritage by competing in a youth outdoor writing contest for a chance at a trip of a lifetime.

            According to Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Wildlife Department, the essay contest is an ideal way for youth to show their love for the outdoors and, in the process, possibly win a vacation in the great outdoors. There are two age categories (11-14 and 15-17), and one girl and one boy winner are chosen from each one.

            To participate, students must be 11-17 years of age and currently enrolled in any Oklahoma school or home school. Winners of the 2007 contest are not eligible. Applicants must have successfully completed an Oklahoma Hunter Education course by the entry deadline, which is Nov. 19, 2008. Students also must use the theme of “Hunting: Sharing the Heritage” or “Archery: What I like about Archery in the Schools and Bowhunting” or the concept of the theme to develop a descriptive essay or short story.

            Winners in the 15-17 age category (one boy and one girl) will receive a guided antelope hunt in New Mexico, and winners in the 11-14 age category are competing for a scholarship within the Apprentice Hunter Program at the YO Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas. Safari Club International’s Apprentice Hunter Program is a unique, hands-on course designed for girls and boys aged 11-14. The program covers topics such as the history of hunting, the ethical basis of modern sport hunting, wildlife management, field identification, tracking and interpreting sign, game cooking and the SCI Sportsmen Against Hunger Program. There are three sessions — each one week long — during the summer of 2009.

            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.

             One educator also 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, according to Berg.

            The AWLS program is conducted during the summer and presents an outdoor program for educators that concentrates on natural resource management. Participants learn about stream ecology, map and compass usage, fly tying, shooting sports, wildlife management, the Yellowstone ecosystem, camping, white-water rafting, educational resources, how to implement outdoor education ideas and language arts and creative writing in an outdoor setting.

            Both the essay contest rules and teacher scholarship applications are available from the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.

            Essays and applications must be postmarked no later than Nov. 19, or delivered by Nov. 19 in person to the Department of Wildlife’s Jenks Office at 201 Aquarium Drive, Jenks. Address entries to: Essay Contest, Attn: Education Section Supervisor, ODWC Jenks Office, P.O. Box 1201, Jenks, OK 74037. 

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Outdoor Calendar offers full schedule of fall activities

            As temperatures cool down in Oklahoma, outdoor activities heat up, and there’s no better way to find out just what is taking place each week than by checking out the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s online Outdoor Calendar.

            The Outdoor Calendar is available on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com and highlights each month’s event’s, activities and other important dates for sportsmen. Visitors to the Wildlife Department's Web site can use the Outdoor Calendar to find out what activities are going on in their area — whether it is a wildlife tour, hunting season, shooting sports event, hunter education course or any other number of activities.

            The Outdoor Calendar provides information about upcoming hunting seasons and events such as banquets sponsored by conservation organizations and wildlife watching tours, such as the Bugling Elk tours taking place throughout the fall at the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. The tours take visitors throughout the refuge in hopes of hearing the bugle of male elk during mating season.

            Sportsmen also can use the Outdoor Calendar to access a schedule of hunter education courses slated throughout the fall all across the state. And travelers can use the calendar as a tool for planning a hunting trip during their favorite season.

            To learn more about other outdoor activities this fall, log on to wildlifedepartment.com and check out the Outdoor Calendar.

            Those interested in receiving the Outdoor Calendar by e-mail can also subscribe to the Department’s weekly Wildlife News at wildlifedepartment.com. The weekly news release provides detailed information about events, breaking outdoor news, hunting and fishing opportunities and more.

 For even more information about Oklahoma’s outdoors, log on to the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. The site is a great source for information to help sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts get the most from Oklahoma’s outdoors while benefiting wildlife at the same time.

            Whether you’re interested in learning more about the Wildlife Department or fish and wildlife species in Oklahoma, or you want to buy a hunting or fishing license, it can all be done with a few clicks of the mouse. In addition, the Department’s annual hunting and fishing regulations also are available on the site.

 

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 Archer kills giant buck at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant
            When it comes to the Wildlife Department’s Controlled Hunts program, few places are revered and esteemed so highly as the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (McAAP) in southeast Oklahoma, and one hunter added to the mystique Oct. 17 when he harvested one of the area’s most sought after “nicknamed” bucks, known as the “Ace of Spades.”
            Ronny Lambeth of Edmond said he was not very familiar with the ammunition plant’s “10 Most Wanted” bucks when he drew into the McAAP hunts, but after bringing the big non-typical buck into the McAAP’s check station, it was immediately recognized as one of the deer on the list.  
Over the years, McAAP’s wildlife managers have given nicknames to various deer with exceptionally large or unusual antlers. Many of the bucks are given their names during the summertime when McAAP managers conduct population surveys and have viewed or photographed the bucks while their antlers are still “in velvet,” as was the case with the “Ace of Spades.”
Although unofficial until scored by a certified Boone and Crockett Club (B&C) big game measurer after a mandatory 60-day drying period, Lambeth’s buck has been “green scored” at a gross measurement of 201 4/8, with a net score of 197 2/8 after deductions. Although far from surpassing Oklahoma’s state record 248 6/8ths non-typical buck taken by Michael Crossland in Tillman county during the 2004 rifle season, Lambeth’s deer will likely meet the Boone and Crockett  Awards minimum of 185 points and may meet B&C’s minimum of 195 points for inclusion into the all-time records for non-typical whitetail deer. It will certainly meet the minimum for recognition in both the Wildlife Department’s Cy Curtis Awards Program (minimum for non-typical whitetails – 150 points) and the minimum for the Pope and Young Awards Program (minimum for non-typical whitetails taken with bow and arrow-155 pts.)  
            The “Ace of Spades” buck has 23 scoreable points, and the rack has an inside spread of 26 inches. He was aged at eight-and-a-half years old and tipped the scales at 186 lbs. whole weight. Hog-dressed, the buck went 139 lbs.
            Lambeth said he first spotted the buck at about 40 yards away and watched the deer for about 30 minutes before getting an awkward but successful eight-yard shot with his primitive archery equipment.
            “I think I probably shook all the leaves off the tree I was in,” Lambeth said about his wait for just the right shot opportunity.
            Lambeth’s success at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant and in other controlled hunts attests to the value of the Wildlife Department’s Controlled Hunts program in providing unique opportunities to hunters. He drew out for this year’s hunt at the “Ammunition Depot” with three friends who had never been on this type of hunt. Though they did not harvest deer, they had the chance through the Controlled Hunts program to get a rare glimpse of one of the military's most important installations (especially for wartime explosives production), as well as hunt in a deer hunter’s paradise.
            “It’s a privilege to get to hunt in that area,” Lambeth said.
            According to Lambeth, “there’s not a better place in the world” in terms of successfully managing deer for age structure, buck to doe ratio and quality of genetics, but he said it’s “not in any way an easy hunt.”
Although successfully drawn hunters are given some time to scout their hunting area and hang their treestands, it’s only a few hours after the mandatory pre-hunt briefing held on Thursdays. Hunters must interpret such deer sign as tracks, rubs, scrapes, and then consider other factors such as wind direction and topography to determine where they should set up for the best shot opportunity.
Although none have been quite like his latest buck, Lambeth has harvested three or four other quality bucks through the Department’s controlled hunts program.  Each year, an average of between 25 to 35 thousand hunters apply for at least one or often multiple controlled hunt categories. Controlled hunts are conducted on Department and/or other government owned lands where unrestricted hunting would pose safety concerns or where overharvest might occur.
            The Wildlife Department’s Controlled Hunts program is offered annually through online application. Hunts are offered across the state for deer, elk, antelope, turkey and even raccoons, and special hunts for youth and persons with disabilities are available as well. For more information on the Controlled Hunts program or to begin preparing for next year’s drawing, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
 
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Drummond Flats WMA expands through donation
            One of the Wildlife Department’s newest projects, Drummond Flats Wildlife Management Area, recently got a major boost.
            Ruby Hood, Stillwater, made a donation in memory of her son, Mark, who was an avid hunter. The funds contributed to the purchase of a key piece of property in the area that will be open to sportsmen, and funds will also go toward improvements on the property, including additional hunter access.
            “Ruby Hood’s gift is one that will keep on giving, because the area her donation has secured will undoubtedly play a role in drawing continued interest in the outdoors,” said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            The historic wetland is located directly to the west of the town Drummond and is a major stop-over point for migratory birds. The area forms a natural basin at the confluence of Turkey Creek, Elm Creek, and Salt Creek and provides ideal wetland habitat. The Wildlife Department began purchasing land from willing sellers in the fall of 2006. With Ruby Hood’s donation and other support the wildlife management area comprises nearly 4,000 acres.  Another 3,000 acres of upland habitat will be the final piece to the land puzzle which will act as a buffer to the wetlands.
Although still in the development stage, the area currently has eight water control structures, nearly two miles of dikes and five wetland units constructed to provide wetland habitat. Wildlife Department biologists are currently developing a long-term plan to restore the area as a fully-functioning wetland ecosystem. Management efforts will moist soil management of the wetland units, and manipulation of the surrounding habitat to provide native food plants such as smartweeds, pigweeds, native millets, sedges, sunflower and ragweed.
The Drummond Flats Wildlife Management Area is currently open to hunting. For more information and complete regulations log on wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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NWTF makes generous donation
            The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) recently donated $45,950 to fund habitat improvement projects spread throughout the state.
            “We are excited to work with the National Wild Turkey Federation on these projects, and it is because of groups like NWTF that we are able to accomplish so much for conservation in Oklahoma,” said Bill Dinkines, assistant chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Since inception in the early 1980's the NWTF has assisted in excess of 50 cooperative projects with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to improve wild turkey habitat.
            The diverse projects will help not only wild turkeys, but also a wide variety of other wildlife species. Efforts include prescribed burns to improve brood areas, removal of invasive Eastern red cedars, clearing ridge tops to create wildlife openings and more. The following is a list of projects that will be funded through the NWTF donation:

* US Forest Service Black Kettle National Grasslands - Remove eastern red cedars from around cottonwoods and prepare fireguards.  Funded at $5,000.
* Spavinaw Wildlife Management Area - Restore overgrown ponds and clear ridge tops to create wildlife openings.  Funded at $5,000.
* McCurtain County Wilderness Area - Fireguard construction to allow for prescribed burning.  Funded at $4,000.
* Pushmataha Wildlife Management Area - Aerial ignition supplies for prescribed fire.  Funded at $6,250.
* Wildlife Department Central Region. Provide prescribe burn equipment, including an ATV with ignition equipment for prescribed fires.  Funded at $2,800.
* US Forest Service Ouachita National Forest Well Hollow Walk-in Turkey Hunting Area - Work with NWTF biologists to set up Stewardship Agreement to use revenues from timber sales for habitat improvement projects.  This project was partially funded at $8,000.
* US Forest Service Ouachita National Forest Buffalo Creek - Supplies for ignition of prescribed fire.  Funded at $5,320.
* US Fish and Wildlife Service Tishomingo Wildlife Management Unit - Materials for construction of firebreak to allow for prescribed burning.  Funded at $5,900.
* Hickory Creek-Love Valley WMA - Equipment repair.  Funded at $2,500.
* Wildlife Heritage Museum - This project was submitted by Deer Capital Tourism Association, Antlers. Equipment and signs for video display to expand display at museum.  Funded at $1,180.
 
            In addition, $61,000 was budgeted to outreach and education to preserve our hunting heritage.  These projects include 4-H Shooting Sports, Jakes (juniors), Wheelin’ Sportsman (special needs) and Women in the Outdoors events. Also, over $32,000 was added to a land acquisition fund to expanded public hunting opportunities across Oklahoma.
            Since 1985, the NWTF chapters in Oklahoma have raised and spent more than $835,000 on wildlife habitat enhancements, land purchases, education, outreach and more within the state. Project funds are raised by volunteers who organize and attend local NWTF banquets.  For more information about these projects or to apply for funds, contact NWTF regional biologist Ross Huffman at (806) 367-5711 or visit the Oklahoma Chapter’s Web site at oknwtf.org.
 
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Nov. 1 marks opening day for most trout fisheries
            Reports of cool weather and the onset of hunting season draw many outdoor enthusiasts to the field, but Oklahomans still reluctant to leave the water still have plenty of fishing opportunities, such as the winter trout season.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation operates two year-round trout fisheries — at the Lower Mountain Fork River (LMFR) and the Lower Illinois River — but in the six other areas, including Lake Pawhuska, Robbers Cave, Blue River, Lake Watonga, Quartz Mountain and Lake Carl Etling, the season kicks off Nov. 1.
            Rainbow trout usually are stocked about every two weeks at most of the state’s trout areas during designated trout seasons, while the Lower Illinois River and LMFR below Broken Bow Dam also are occasionally stocked with brown trout.
            Trout are an introduced species to Oklahoma, and anglers can view the trout stocking schedules by visiting the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. Visitors to the Web site will also find a wealth of trout fishing tips and additional information for making the most of trout fishing in Oklahoma.
            Trout fishing can be made as challenging or as easy as anglers want it to be. Fly fisherman can catch fish on flies they’ve tied themselves, but young anglers can sit on the bank with a jar of salmon eggs and have just as much fun, and a lot of success.
            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 LMFR during summer 2006.  At the same time, a new trout stream dubbed “Lost Creek” was also created that is providing additional trout fishing opportunities. The team is now setting their sights on improving trout habitat within the Simp and Helen Watts Management Unit portion of the lower Illinois River.
            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.
             Trout angling tips as well as daily trout limits, season dates and other trout fishing regulations for each area are available on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com or in the current “Oklahoma Fishing Guide.”
 
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Oklahomans have opportunity to vote for the right to hunt and fish on Nov. 4
            Oklahomans will soon get the chance to voice their opinions in the ballot box on many important issues, among them State Question 742. If Oklahomans pass the measure, the State Constitution will be amended to give all people the right to hunt, trap, fish and take game and fish. It would also make hunting, fishing, and trapping the preferred means to manage certain fish and game animals.
            State Question 742 began as Senate Joint Resolution 38 by Sen. Glenn Coffee. The measure was passed by the State Legislature, signed by the Governor, and directed to the Secretary of the State to prepare and send to a vote of the people on Nov. 4.
            During the legislative session, Sen. Coffee spoke about the measure.
            “In recognizing the rich hunting and fishing heritage of our state, I authored SJR 38 to ensure the protection of hunters and fishers whose rights are under attack nationwide. This legislation ensures the protection of Oklahoma hunters and fishers and gives the people of Oklahoma a chance to decide if the right to hunt and fish will be added to the protections of our constitution,” Coffee said. “Unfortunately, the rights of hunters and fishers are coming under attack across the country, such as efforts to ban fishing by declaring that fish feel pain.”
            If this question passes, hunting and fishing activities would still be subject to reasonable laws, rules and regulations as passed by the State Legislature and the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission.
            “Passage of the measure could send a reinforcing message that the hunting and fishing traditions remain strong in Oklahoma,” said Nels Rodefeld, chief of information and education for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “As a state agency, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation cannot take a stance on this state question or any other pending legislative actions, but we certainly encourage all Oklahomans to stay informed, to get involved in the political process and to vote.”
            In 2006, 1.2 million residents and non-residents participated in some form of fish and wildlife-related recreation in Oklahoma. These anglers, hunters and wildlife viewers spent $1.3 billion in retail sales ($1.2 billion by residents and $125 million by nonresidents), creating $696 million in salaries and wages and supporting 28,142 jobs. The total economic effect (multiplier effect) from fish and wildlife-related recreation was estimated at $2.3 billion. 
            This measure adds a new section to the State Constitution. It adds Section 36 to Article 2. It gives all people of this state the right to hunt, trap, fish and take game and fish. Such activities would be subject to reasonable regulation. It allows the Wildlife Conservation Commission to approve methods and procedures for hunting, trapping, fishing and taking of game and fish. It allows for taking game and fish by traditional means. It makes hunting, fishing, and trapping the preferred means to manage certain game and fish. The new law will not affect existing laws relating to property rights.
 
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Quail survey results available now
            Results from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s October roadside quail counts are in, and although sportsmen and landowners have reported seeing more quail than they have in recent years, the survey still shows a decrease in quail numbers compared to last year and also compared to the long-term average. However, the survey does show an increase in late hatch young birds for the second year in a row.
            This summer’s weather has for the most part been favorable for quail reproduction, and reports from landowners and biologists in the field indicate that quail populations are improving across the state from a near record low population in 2007.
            “The quail population is still apparently in recovery mode from the drought experienced in 2006,” said Mike O’Meilia, wildlife research supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “In addition, above average summer rainfall in 2007 and 2008 has contributed to production of dense vegetation along roadsides, which may be negatively influencing quail observation rates on survey routes.”
            This is the 19th year of roadside surveys, and the statewide index decreased 61 percent from the previous 18-year average. The 2008 statewide index decreased 20 percent from the 2007 index.  Survey observations of quail in north-central, northeast, southwest and south-central regions had an average increase of 13 percent from last year’s survey. With last year’s near record low quail survey numbers, a rebound to near the long-term average was unlikely.  
            The northwest region survey was expected to show increased numbers of quail observed.  However, because panhandle survey routes were low due to extreme drought conditions for most of the summer, the overall northwest region average declined from last year’s survey results.
            “The best way to find out just how well the birds are doing in your particular area is to get out there and enjoy the quail season this year,” O’Meilia said.
            Quail season opens Nov. 8 and runs through Feb. 15. Though quail hunting offers a challenge to sportsmen of any skill level, even youngsters can enjoy a day in the field with a mentor, family member or friend and a good bird dog.
            To hunt quail in Oklahoma, sportsmen must possess a hunting license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit, or proof of exemption. The daily limit for quail is 10 birds a day, 20 in possession after the first day.
            The Wildlife Department has conducted annual roadside surveys in August and October since 1990 to index quail populations across Oklahoma. Department employees run 83 routes that are 20-mile each in all counties except Oklahoma and Tulsa. Some larger counties like Beaver, Ellis, Le Flore, McCurtain, Osage, Pittsburg, Pushmataha, and Roger Mills have two routes. Observers count the number of quail observed and classify the size of young birds in broods to provide an index of quail abundance (number seen/20 mile route) and reproductive success.  This report combines the August and October surveys to provide a composite index of quail abundance. The survey provides an index of annual population fluctuations.
            To see the full results of the October roadside quail count survey, or for more information about quail hunting in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Another outstanding buck taken in ’08 archery season
            Just one day before the hard-hunted “Ace of Spades” buck was harvested from the grounds of the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant Oct. 17, another hunter — this one in Pawnee Co. — arrowed a 175-lb. buck with a high-scoring set of antlers.
            Archery hunter David Nance, Owasso, had seen his giant buck Oct. 13 and was presented with the right shot just a few days later when he harvested the buck from 20 yards with his bow. The buck had impressive antlers, but the body of the animal also caught his attention.
            “I was just really shocked over his size,” Nance said.
            Although unofficial until scored by a certified Boone and Crockett Club (B&C) big game measurer after a mandatory 60-day drying period, Nance’s buck has been “green scored” at a gross measurement of 207 6/8, with a net score of 200 6/8 after deductions. The deer will likely meet the Boone and Crockett  Awards minimum of 185 points and may meet B&C’s minimum of 195 points for inclusion into the all-time records for non-typical whitetail deer. It will certainly meet the minimum for recognition in both the Wildlife Department’s Cy Curtis Awards Program (minimum for non-typical whitetails – 150 points) and the minimum for the Pope and Young Awards Program (minimum for non-typical whitetails taken with bow and arrow-155 points.).
            Nance’s buck and Ronny Lambeth’s “Ace of Spades” buck — one of the Ammunition Plants “10 Most Wanted” bucks — are proof that deer hunting is in full swing and providing sportsmen with some outstanding hunting this season. But Nance says hunters who come into JP Archery, the Sapulpa-based archery pro shop he co-owns with Jimmy Parker, also are having great success harvesting does so far this season.
            Archery season remains open through Jan. 15. Muzzleloader season also is currently open and runs through Nov. 2, followed by the 16-day deer gun season Nov. 22-Dec. 7.
            Nance is a hunter and archery shop owner, but he also plays an important role in passing his heritage on to youth. Both Nance and his wife are instructors for the Department’s Archery in the Schools program, which introduces youth to shooting sports and conservation by offering archery programs in over 100 schools across the state.
            For more information about deer hunting in Oklahoma, or for season dates, limits and other requirement’s consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
 
 
Nance’s buck
 
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Waterfowl seasons in full swing Nov. 1
            Duck season opened in the Panhandle and most of northwest Oklahoma in October and will kick off for the rest of the state Nov. 1, as will goose season.
            “The federal framework sets our guidelines for the season, and then we set our season according to our situation,” said Alan Peoples, chief of Wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “This year nothing really has changed. We’re going back to the same seasons we had last year, only adjusting the calendar dates.”
            In zone 1 (most of northwest Oklahoma), the first half of the duck season runs through Nov. 30, with the second half running Dec. 13 - Jan. 18, 2009. Pintail and canvasback season will be open through Nov. 30, and then re-opened Dec. 13 - Dec. 14. In zone 2, the duck season runs Nov. 1-30 and Dec. 13 - Jan. 25, 2009. Pintail and canvasback season will open Dec. 18 and run through Jan. 25, 2009. Panhandle counties offer the longest duck season, have been open since Oct. 11 and will remain open through Jan. 7, 2009. Pintail and canvasback season for the Panhandle counties will be open through Nov. 18.
            Hunters are 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. No more than two scaup, two wood ducks and two redheads may be included in the daily limit, and no more than one pintail and one canvasback may be included during the specified time period in each of the established duck seasons.
            The statewide Canada goose season will run Nov. 1-30 and Dec. 13 - Feb. 15, 2009. The daily limit is three birds. The season for white-fronted geese will run Nov. 1-30 and Dec. 13 - Feb. 6, 2009, with a daily bag limit of one bird. The regular season for light geese (snows, blues and Ross’) will run Nov. 1-30 and Dec. 13 - Feb. 15, 2009, with a daily bag limit of 20.
            Sandhill crane season will run through Jan. 25, 2009, west of I-35 only. The daily limit is three birds.
            With waterfowl season already underway in parts of Oklahoma, hunters looking for an edge need to look no further than the resources provided by the Wildlife Department. Bi-weekly e-mail reports from top waterfowling areas, a comprehensive “2008-09 Oklahoma Waterfowl Guide” and a frequently updated Web site help ensure hunters get the most accurate, timely and useful duck and geese hunting information available.
            “We work very hard to serve as a useful resource for our state’s sportsmen,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. “Our biologists work hard to provide information that is important to outdoorsmen, and we make sure it is easily accessible. We hope waterfowlers will find the information we provide this year to be an important part of their hunting season.”
            With waterfowling season comes the Department’s weekly waterfowl reports, available by e-mail or on the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. To begin receiving weekly waterfowl reports on top locations from the Wildlife Department, as well as weekly fishing reports and outdoor news, sign up at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
            Hunters who wish to participate in the waterfowl season must have a resident or non-resident hunting license, a 2008 Federal Duck Stamp, and unless exempt, a 2008 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 “2008-09 Waterfowl Hunting Guide” for complete hunting regulations and license requirements. Hunters also can obtain complete regulation information from the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com .
 
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Deadline approaches for youth waterfowl hunt drawing
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is offering youth who do not have an adult mentor who waterfowl hunts an opportunity to experience the traditions of waterfowling.
            This fall, youth ages 12-15 who apply by Nov. 15 can be part of one of several Department-guided hunts taking place across the state.
            “These hunts provide a way to take youth hunting who otherwise might not get much of a chance to do so, and in turn we are giving them a lifetime respect and appreciation for wildlife and the traditions of hunting,” said Mike O’Meilia, research program supervisor for the wildlife Department. “Instilling an interesting in conservation through hunting is one of the best ways to ensure the next generation does their part in conserving our outdoor resources.”
            Other than meeting the age requirements, applicants must 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.
            To be eligible for the drawing, each youth applicant and their guardian must submit the following information on a 3x5 postcard: 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.
            Hunt locations include Altus-Lugert Lake, Ft. Gibson Refuge, Ft. Cobb Lake Refuge, Hackberry Flat Refuge, Okmulgee Public Hunting Area, Vann’s Lake, Webbers Falls Refuge, Wagoner Co. and Wister Lake Refuge.
            Applications must be received by November 15, 2008, 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. Applicants may only apply once.
            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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Hunter certification opportunity available before gun season
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will hold hunter education courses at 11 different locations across the state Nov. 15, offering potential sportsmen a last minute opportunity to get certified before the opening of deer gun season.
            In recent years, the Wildlife Department has offered these last minute courses during the weekend prior to the opening day of deer gun season, and according to Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Department, up to 10 percent of last year’s total certifications can be attributed to the effort.
            “In 2007, there were 15,000 hunters certified, and about 1,500 of them were certified during the weekend before gun season,” Meek said.
            Those who do not attend a hunter education course before deer gun season may be eligible for the apprentice-designated hunting license, which allows hunters 10 years of age and older to hunt without hunter education certification under the supervision of a qualified adult hunter. For specific information about the apprentice-designated hunting license and the requirements that must be met by accompanying mentor hunters, consult page 8 of the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            The following is a listing of the locations of the Nov. 15 classes.
 
* Jenks – High School Bldg. 6, 201 East B St. – Must pre-register at (918) 299-2334; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
* Sallisaw – Sallisaw High School; 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
* Ada – East Central University Ballroom; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  
* Stillwater – Meridian Technology Center – Must pre-register at (405) 521-4636; 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
* Broken Bow – Middle School Cafeteria; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
* McAlester – Kiamichi Technology Center; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
* Oklahoma City – Zoo Education Center – Must pre-register at (405) 521-4636; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
* Miami – NEO A&M College – Pre-registration Recommended at (918) 540-6204; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
* Sulphur – The Safe Room, East of Junior High, 1021 W 9th; 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
* Burns Flat – Western Technology Center Seminar Room; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
* Woodward – Pioneer Room, 1219 9th St; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
 
            Every year, the Wildlife Department puts on roughly 300 hunter education classes taught by Department employees and volunteer instructors across the state.
            Hunter education covers a variety of topics including firearms safety, wildlife identification, wildlife conservation and management, survival, archery, muzzleloading and hunter responsibility. It is available as a standard eight-hour course, the Internet home study course and the workbook home study course. It is strongly recommended that anyone planning on hunting or shooting complete a hunter education class.
            For more information, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
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Whooping crane fall migration underway
            The final weeks of October and the first few days of November mark the annual fall migration of the whooping crane — one of Oklahoma's rarest birds.
            “Approximately 280 whooping cranes are en route from their nesting grounds in the bogs of northern Alberta to their wintering range along the central Texas coast,” said Mark Howery, Wildlife Diversity Biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            The whooping crane is a large wading bird and, at a height of nearly five feet, it is considered to be the tallest bird in North America.
            “The whooping crane is an endangered species, yet it is a developing conservation success story,” Howery said. “Although the whooping crane has not been common in recent times, approximately 5,000 pairs of whooping cranes once occupied the wetland complexes of the prairie pothole and boreal plains regions in North Dakota and central Canada. However, the loss of much of their wetland habitat, coupled with unregulated market hunting during the mid 1800s, reduced the whooping crane’s numbers dramatically.”
            Only a few dozen pairs were left by the early 1900s, and by 1941, only about 19 cranes remained. This remnant population nested in the remote wetlands near the Alberta/Yukon border and wintered nearly 2,000 miles south near Corpus Christie, Texas. Conservation measures such as the protection of the crane's breeding and wintering habitats have helped the small population to grow by nearly fifteen fold over the past 65 years. Monitoring conducted by the Canadian Fish and Wildlife Service during the summer of 2008 documented a record 66 pairs of whooping cranes that nested and produced 41 chicks that survived to fledge.
            In addition to the approximately 280 birds in the long-distance migratory flock that is passing through Oklahoma, there are over 150 whooping cranes living in three captive breeding facilities. Another 120 birds are living in two experimental populations in the eastern United States that represent efforts to reintroduce captive-born cranes into the wild to establish new populations.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation works in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other state wildlife agencies across the Central Flyway to monitor the progress of the migratory whooping crane population and to identify important habitats along its migration path.  As part of this effort, the Wildlife Department is seeking reports of whooping crane sightings from the public.
            “We are interested in hearing from anyone who observes a whooping crane this fall,” Howery said. “We would like for people to call (405) 424-2728 if they believe that they have seen a whooping crane and we would appreciate information such as the date, time and approximate location that the birds were seen, as well as the habitat they were using and the number of birds observed.”
            Whooping cranes typically migrate during the daytime in small groups of one to six birds.  They are frequently seen in shallow wetlands, marshes, river bottoms and in partially flooded pastures and grain fields in the western half of the state.  Whooping cranes can be identified by a combination of characteristics including their large size, bold white plumage, black tips on their wing feathers, red and black markings on their heads, and long necks and legs.
            While in flight, a whooping crane’s neck is extended straight in front of its body and its long legs are visible beyond the length of its tail feathers.  Despite their distinctive appearance, they are often confused with three other large white birds at this time of the year - the white pelican, snow goose and great egret.  However, white pelicans have short legs and an extensive band of black feathers along the trailing edge of each wing.  The snow goose is much smaller, has short legs and is usually seen in large flocks of 20 or more birds.  The great egret holds its neck in an “S” shape near its body when it flies (rather than stretched out), and it has no black feathers on its wings.
 
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A new way for landowners to help manage for wildlife
            A new Conservation Reserve Program project is giving farmers and ranchers in northwest Oklahoma a unique opportunity to help put habitat on the ground for threatened, endangered and other high-priority wildlife species by converting current cropland into native grasses. The program is called the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (CRP-SAFE) program, and it can help provide relief to farmers battling the costs of fertilizer, fuel and other investments in farming.
            The program, set up through the Farm Service Agency, was created to benefit wildlife in 16 states and covers up to 500,000 acres.
            Oklahoma has been approved to enroll over 15,000 acres of land in northwest portions of Oklahoma in the state’s mixed-grass prairie SAFE program, including parts of Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Woods and Woodward counties. Habitat improvements stand to benefit wildlife such as bobwhite quail and Cassin’s sparrow, and in addition will improve habitat suitability for other grassland birds like the Bell's vireo, lark sparrow and lesser prairie chicken.
            Incentives may be available for participating landowners, including annual rental payments for 14- and 15-year contracts, sign-on bonus payments of $100 per acre, up to 50 percent cost-share and a 40 percent practice incentive payment that would help with the costs of establishing permanent vegetative cover and an annual CRP maintenance payment.
            Management practices that may be implemented through the SAFE program include prescribed burning, mowing and strip disking.
            Besides improving wildlife habitat, SAFE will help address issues of fragmentation and will indirectly help improve water and air quality, reduce soil erosion and provide hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities.
            The Oklahoma mixed-grass prairie SAFE program will assign acres on a first come-first served basis. To find out if certain lands are eligible for enrollment in the SAFE program, interested landowners should visit their local Farm Service Agency office or call them at one of the following phone numbers:
Dewey: (580) 328-5331 x2
Ellis: (580) 885-7244 x2
Harper: (580) 735-2033 x2
Woods: (580) 327-3136 x2
Woodward: (580) 256-7882 x2
            For more information about the SAFE program, log on to www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/safe08.pdf

 
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Department to hold miscellaneous sale at Lake Burtschi
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s upcoming miscellaneous sale is sure to be something like a giant garage sale full of great finds, whether you are searching for outdoor gear like binoculars, cameras and boat seats or something more like power tools, generators, office supplies and more.
            “There’s hundreds of surplus items that will be for sale at the auction, and anybody who purchases something will be supporting the Wildlife Department at the same time,” said Johnny Hill, property manager for the Wildlife Department. “Each year, buyers walk away with some real bargains, so come join us and get in on a good deal.”
            The public auction will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 8 at Lake Burtschi, located 11 miles west of Chickasha on SH-92. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. In case of rain, the sale will be held Nov. 9 at the same time and place.
            A full list of auction items is available for viewing on the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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