Wishing you an enjoyable and successful 2024!
Turning the calendar to another January, I wonder what this year is going to bring. Exciting fishing trips, heart-racing hunts, and making memories with my family come to mind. Well, we here at the Wildlife Department also have some things on the Outdoor Oklahoma radar that we want to share with you.
We’re working with legislators to modernize, consolidate, and update hunting and fishing licenses. Currently, there are more than 100 offerings, and we want to consolidate . As an example, we’re proposing a “youth super license” for anyone younger than 18 that would cost $25 for residents and $100 for nonresidents. This license would replace all other hunting licenses for them; they could hunt any species or season that’s open.
We will look closely at nonresident deer hunting and management, especially as it relates to our public hunting areas. Our wild turkey research will continue, and we’ve implemented another tool to track local turkey populations.
We will also be assessing the economic value of our two year-round trout fisheries on the Lower Mountain Fork and Lower Illinois rivers in an effort to better manage these important fisheries.
Several years ago, we began an aggressive effort that aims to renovate a dozen existing public shooting ranges and build additional ones. The next new build will likely start this spring at Atoka Wildlife Management Area (just down the road from the campgrounds).
As part of our continued effort to expand and improve boating and fishing access for our constituents, we have 12 boating and fishing access projects that will be completed, started, or awarded in 2024.
We continue to monitor and manage the fisheries at our amazing lakes, rivers, and streams, and will again stock about 15 million fish statewide.
Oklahoma again will host the Bassmaster Classic on March 22-24 at Grand Lake, with weigh-ins at the BOK Center in Tulsa.
Our Game Wardens are often a first point of contact with the public. Here’s a handy link to their phone numbers: wildlifedepartment.com/law/game-warden-directory. Please help them help all of us by letting them know if you see anything that doesn’t look right out there in the woods or on the water.
And lastly, please check out our Wildlife Conservation Foundation (okwildlifefoundation.org). Its sole purpose is to provide financial support for the Wildlife Department, and you can see a list of projects it has funded online: okwildlifefoundation.org/projects.
I look forward to working with our amazing staff to provide the very best fish and wildlife resources our state can offer, and I wish you a great 2024!
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation