At their regular monthly meeting Nov. 6, members of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission accepted the generous donation of a Patriot airboat from the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation. The donation was made possible thanks to a generous donation from John and Deborah Hale and their Red Rock Ranch.
The 700-hp airboat will be an invaluable tool for the Law Enforcement Division of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said OWCF Executive Director Rick Grundman. Commissioners were able to inspect the airboat afterward.
Commissioners also recognized several Game Wardens for outstanding accomplishments. Game Warden Riley Willman, based in Delaware County, was recently selected as the Game Warden of the Year by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA). And several Game Wardens were commended for their contributions during a recent successful manhunt in Garvin County for a shooting suspect. They are Game Wardens Ty Runyan, Jaylen Flynn, Lt. Casey Young, Royce Gillham, and Zachary Paulk.
Also, Commissioners celebrated the accomplishments of the Altus Intermediate Elementary and Junior High archery teams for winning championships at the 2023 Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools and the National Archery in the Schools competitions. These two Altus teams have both won back-to-back-to-back state titles, and the Intermediate Elementary team has won national titles in 2021, 2022 and 2023.
Several students were also honored for winning top individual honors: Turner Holder, NASP national elementary male champion with a record score of 292; and Grayson Wilmes, NASP open world elementary division individual champion. State Sen. Brent Howard of Altus congratulated the 40-plus students at the meeting, and state Rep. Gerrid Kendrix of Altus sent a video message.
In other business, Commissioners:
- Viewed a presentation by Federal Aid Coordinator Andrea Crews on the federal aid process that accounts for about one-third of ODWC’s annual funding.
- Received a report from Upland Game Biologist Tell Judkins about pheasant and quail field survey results and hunting season outlooks.
- Accepted a $28,000 donation for various ODWC projects from National Wild Turkey Foundation representatives Lynn Hagerman and Oscar Juanes.
- Recognized several recent national award winners from ODWC: Communication and Education Specialist Blake Podhajsky in TV production from the Outdoor Writers Association of America; Human Dimensions Specialist Betsy York, Special Recognition Award from SEAFWA; Communication and Education Technician Jennifer Benge, Gold Award for diversity and inclusion efforts from SEAFWA.
- Learned from Wildlife Chief Bill Dinkines that this year’s black bear harvest totaled 86, a record high number for the state.
- Approved the Commission meeting schedule for 2024: Jan. 8, Feb. 5, March 4, April 1, May 6, June 3, July 1, Aug. 5, Sept. 3, Oct. 7, Nov. 4, Dec. 2.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The 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 Oklahoma Senate.
The next scheduled Wildlife Commission meeting is set for Dec. 4, 2023, at the John D. Groendyke Wildlife Conservation Building, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City.
A video of the Nov. 4 meeting is available on the Outdoor Oklahoma Youtube Channel at youtube.com/live/TrbEKhbS4Hs?si=VmfXWYs7ix5hOyvJ&t=541.