As your ODWC, we are here to support you along your journey in 2021 as a hunter and angler. Join us in conserving our great wild places and species by getting your hunting and fishing license today.
As many activities and opportunities were canceled, postponed, closed down or otherwise changed in 2020 to help limit the spread of Covid-19, one phenomena that did occur was a flocking of Oklahomans to the great outdoors. Resident annual fishing license sales increased 49 percent over 2019 (110 percent for the month of May); resident hunting licenses, 15 percent. Annual combination hunting and fishing licenses were up 50 percent among residents over 2019. And overall, lifetime licenses increased 36 percent over 2019.
That’s a great thing for Oklahoma’s outdoors, as conservation in our state is funded primarily by hunters and anglers when they purchase a hunting or fishing license. There’s no general state tax appropriation for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. If you are a hunter or angler, you are a big part of the reason the Wildlife Department can accomplish what it does. For that, we thank you!
The increase in hunting and fishing license sales amid the Covid-19 pandemic is likely no coincidence. Many students and adults were at home. Many of the "usual" choices weren't available. And people realized that hunting and fishing and other outdoor pursuits were wide open for enjoyment. In any event, they seized the opportunity. The Wildlife Department launched a campaign with the help of the Oklahoma Department of Health to remind Oklahomans that “the outdoors are always open,” notably because activities like hunting and fishing lend themselves to natural social distancing and outdoor interactions.
You might have been part of this astounding influx of hunters and anglers into the outdoors. Perhaps you were already an avid hunter, or maybe you found your way to the outdoors because there was literally nothing else to do. Maybe you came back to hunting and fishing after years of absense, looking for connection and fresh air. Regardless, if you hunted and fished in 2020, we like to think the great outdoors gave enriched your year with adventure, fresh air or even simple relaxation. And maybe, if you were in the right place at the right time, you put some meat in the freezer.
As we progress into a new year, 2020's hunters and anglers have a decision to make — a decision to continue to hunt or fish, or not. It’s a critical point in the journey of a hunter or angler.
What's your decision? If you continue, you’ll need support; from your family, from like-minded friends, and from your ODWC. As life potentially begins to fill back up with activities, what you do with your decision to continue hunting or fishing in 2021 is important. Your decision will impact the priorities you set for your new year. Your decision will matter to those around you who might get the chance to hunt or fish in 2021 because of your influence. And it will have a direct impact on conservation and and the preservation of Oklahoma's rich wildlife heritage. We urge you to think about what the great outdoors gave you in 2020 when so many other activities were removed, changed or canceled. We urge you to make that decision to continue hunting and fishing, and help carry our traditions into the future. Start by getting your hunting or fishing license, or buy one for someone else. Think of someone in your family or close circle of contacts who you would enjoy spending time with outdoors, and engage them. Invite them along. Make it happen.
Make 2021 a year of hunting and fishing. Get your 2021 hunting and fishing today, and be ready! Remember, the outdoors are always open!
-Michael Bergin is a senior information specialist for the Wildlife Department