JANUARY 2002 NEWS RELEASES

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 30

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 24

WEEK OF JANUARY 10

WEEK OF JANUARY 3

Department proposes new quail season dates

Reflecting the desires of a growing number of quail hunters, Wildlife Department personnel are recommending shifting quail hunting season dates by two weeks. The proposed opener would be the second Saturday in November and the season would run through February 15.

The proposal, which will be discussed at public hearings in late January, is intended to provide maximum quail hunting opportunity without significantly impacting bobwhite quail broodstock. This year's quail season began Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 31.

"Hunters have told us they prefer a season that opens a little later and runs a little longer," said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "We have 10 years of quail data from our comprehensive population study at the Pack-saddle Wildlife Management Area, and that data tells us that the population peaks in mid October. By opening the season the second Saturday in November, we will provide hunters with some opportunity they'd otherwise be missing.

"The Packsaddle data also tells us that with few exceptions, hunting into mid February will not significantly reduce the next year's breeding stock."

Peoples said the Department could recommend the changes to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission at a meeting later this spring. He said the Wildlife Department wants to gauge public sentiment before presenting its recommendation to the Wildlife Com-mission.

"This seems to be the prevailing sentiment among quail hunters, but we want give hunters a more structured chance to let us know what they think," he said.

Public meetings will be held in nine communities from Idabel to Woodward. Specific meeting dates, times and locations include:

 

Date: January 28, 2002

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Places: ADA - Pontotoc Co. Technology Center, 601 W. 33rd;

CLINTON - Clinton City Hall, 415 Gary Blvd.;

IDABEL - Kiamichi Technology Center, 2 mi. north on Hwy 70;

LAWTON - Lawton Public Library, 110 S.W. 4th St.;

MUSKOGEE - Indian Capitol Technology Center, Muskogee Turnpike & Hwy 62;

TULSA - Tulsa Fair Grounds, 21st & Yale

WOODWARD - Northwest Electric Coop., 2925 Williams Ave.

Date: January 29, 2002

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Places: ENID - Fire Department, 301 W. Owen K. Garriot; and

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation Auditorium, 1801 N. Lincoln.

Oklahoma's quail harvest estimates are consistent with a decline observed throughout the southeastern United States. However, Oklahoma remains in the top three among the country's best quail hunting states with one to two million birds harvested annually.

Wildlife Department personnel recently unveiled a proposed recovery plan that focuses on private land habitat improvement. Funding for landowner incentive payments will be critical to the plan's success, and that will rely on working with the State Legislature to fund habitat assistance projects through annual appropriations or a permanent endowment.

For more information on the Department's quail recovery plan, log on to the agency's Web site at

BioBlitz new way of measuring biodiversity

Biologists, botanists, and other scientists often use the term biodiversity to describe the sum total of plant and animal species in a certain area. Recently biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, (ODWC) used a relatively new method of measuring biodiversity in an intensive 24-hour species inventory of a Norman area park.

The event, known as the "Bio-blitz" attracted not only wildlife and fisheries biologists, but also botanists, entomologists (those who study insects), ornithologists (those who study birds), mycologists (those who study fungi) and several other natural resource experts. In April, the group of nearly 35 scientists descended upon the Sutton Urban Wilderness Area on the northeast edge of Norman for the bio-blitz. Over the 24-hour sampling period the group survey found over 275 different species of animal life and over 220 species of plants and fungi.

BioBlitzing began five years ago in Washington, D.C., and has since been conducted in many states. The event in Norman was the first of its kind in Oklahoma. One of the more high-profile BioBlitzes took place in 1998 around the area of Walden Pond, of Henry David Thoreau fame.

According to Julian Hilliard, ODWC natural resources information specialist, the event not only yielded valuable information, but was also a challenging event for the participants.

"BioBlitzing isn't a competitive event, but it can get pretty crazy with biologists of several different disciplines with nets, jars, and mysterious-looking pieces of scientific equipment used to sample an area," said Hilliard. "The ability to discover so much about an area in such a short period of time makes the BioBlitz not only fun to participate in, but also a valuable research tool."

General BioBlitz information, as well as links to other sites can be found at www.im.nbs.gov/blitz.html. In addition, an upcoming episode of the Outdoor Oklahoma television program will feature a documentary on the bio-blitz held in Norman. The program will air on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sunday, January 13 at 8:00 a.m.

Outdoor Oklahoma features such topics as fishing, hunting; and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute program can be seen on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the following television stations: KSBI Network (greater OKC metro area), Mondays- 5:00 p.m., Thursdays-10: 30 p.m., Saturdays-1:30 p.m., KTEN (south-central and southeastern Oklahoma) Sundays -5 a.m., KWEM (Stillwater), Wednesdays -8:00 p.m., Fridays-7:00 p.m. and Sundays-8:00 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or your local TV guide.

Goose hunting is a popular activity

With deer seasons winding down, many Oklahoma hunters are looking for other reasons to go afield after the New Year's holiday. One of the most exciting forms of hunting, and one that is gaining in popularity, is Oklahoma's goose season. Recent cold fronts across the state should provide excellent conditions, setting the stage for some great goose hunting this month.

"We have seen some white-fronts, snow geese and sandhill cranes begin to come through," said Mike O'Meilia, migratory game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "With continued cold weather to our north, we should see even more birds entering the state. And, if the cold temperatures continue to freeze small ponds, then both geese and ducks will seek out open water on river systems and our large reservoirs."

Geese migrate across Oklahoma during the fall and spring and depending on weather conditions, may spend many days resting in Oklahoma. Typically, geese stop to feed on wide-open areas during mid-day hours, especially winter wheat fields. After feeding for several hours, flocks will then seek out nearby areas of open water to roost for the night.

According to O'Meilia, scouting for geese is critical for success.

"Hunters who are mobile and can scout a variety of locations will have better success than those who just hunt the same areas year after year," said O'Meilia. "The key is to find local concentrations of birds, which may move from day-to-day."

O'Meilia added that hunters should scout as much as possible, but particularly during late afternoon hours to look for geese on ponds, lakes and rivers that are not fully frozen. Once geese are located, look for adjacent food sources that are not covered by snow to setup for the following morning's hunt.

"Of course, once potential feeding areas are identified, hunters should always seek landowner permission before entering properties the next morning to set out their decoy spread," O'Meilia added.

The White-fronted goose season runs through February 1, 2002 with a daily bag limit of two. The Canada goose and light goose (snow, blue and Ross') season runs through February 10, 2002, with a daily bag limit of three Canada geese and 20 light geese. A special conservation order light goose season begins February 11 and runs through March 31, 2002. No daily bag limit, plus special hunting methods (see 2001-2002 Oklahoma Waterfowl Hunting Guide) are allowed for light geese during the conservation order light goose season.

To hunt geese in Oklahoma, hunters must have a resident or non-resident hunting license and a valid Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit (available free from license vendors). They must also possess a federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, and unless exempt, a state waterfowl hunting permit.

For more specific information on rules and regulations regarding waterfowl hunting in Oklahoma, hunter should obtain a copy of the 2001-2002 Oklahoma Waterfowl Hunting Guide, available at license vendors statewide. The guide lists all regulations for hunting on private lands as well as Department-owned lakes, wildlife management areas and waterfowl development units.

It also has other information to help make hunters' waterfowl seasons productive and enjoyable. Waterfowlers can also check out biologists' latest status reports on duck and goose numbers by logging onto the Department's official website at wildlifedepartment.com.

Department to pursue increases in lifetime licenses

At its regular monthly meeting, held Jan. 7 in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission discussed a slate of possible fish and wildlife legislation for the upcoming session, including a recommendation from Wildlife Department personnel that the agency seek a bill to raise the cost of lifetime licenses.

Wildlife Department Executive Director Greg Duffy told Commissioners that the Department hopes to pursue legislation that raises the cost of a lifetime combination license to $750, up from $525; while lifetime hunting licenses would increase to $625, up from $400; and lifetime fishing licenses from $150 to $175. As their names imply, lifetime licenses allow the holder to hunt, fish or do both, depending on the license type, for the remainder of their lifetime without purchasing most of the annual required permits.

Other legislative priorities for the Wildlife Department include:

• Legislative authorization to administer the Hunters Against Hunger Program. Through the program, hunters donate deer meat, called venison, which is then processed and distributed to needy Oklahomans

• Considering renewed efforts to establish a user permit for those who go to the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting but do not have a hunting or fishing license.

• Creating a non-resident combination deer license (the license would allow the hunter to harvest one buck and one doe) and lowering the price for non-resident antlerless deer licenses. Both measures are aimed at encouraging non-residents to harvest antlerless deer.

• Considering a price increase of non-resident land access permits for Honobia Creek and Three Rivers. Also to be considered is a special three-day permit for residents who want to use those areas for recreation, but will not be hunting or fishing.

In other matters, the Commission voted to approve a $133,000 budget increase for upland game bird habitat projects and equipment purchases.

Commissioners also voted to accept a program audit report from the State Auditor and Inspector's Office. Pamela Lindsey, director of the state agency audit division, commended the Commission and Department for soliciting the audit, saying the Wildlife Department was one of the first agencies to request a self-audit under a bill recently passed by the Legislature. Lindsey said that two specific areas brought recommendations to enhance agency policies and procedures, those being capital asset needs and allocation methods for program income.

Current vacancies, numbering about 30 full-time personnel, were also identified as an area of concern. In addition to the vacancies, the audit noted "understaffed" conditions in terms of miles of patrol area by game wardens and numbers of acres managed by wildlife biologists.

In other business, Fisheries Chief Kim Erickson told Commission members that last year's Water Works Wonders campaign to raise awareness regarding fishing, boating and aquatic stewardship in Oklahoma was markedly successful in the target communities of Norman and Muskogee. Although an increase in license sales was not directly attributed to the campaign, Erickson said the Department hopes to test-market sending license renewals to anglers who are likely candidates to "drop out" and not renew their license every year.

The supervisor of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's Ecological Services Office in Tulsa told the Commission that the state is home to a great diversity of plant and animal species - 634 vertebrate species breed in Oklahoma and there are more than 2,500 plant species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for several types of fish and wildlife conservation, including the protection and recovery of threatened and endangered species and management issues concerning migratory birds.

The Commission's next monthly meeting will be Monday, Feb. 4, at 9 a.m. at the Wildlife Department's headquarters in Oklahoma City.

Hunting feral hogs gaining popularity

Due to regulations passed by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission last June which authorized the hunting of feral hogs on wildlife management areas, many hunters are contacting the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) for information on open areas.

"Evidently, there are a lot of people who still want to go afield to hunt after the close of our deer seasons," said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the ODWC.

"On all but three wildlife management areas, those being Honobia Creek, Three Rivers & Broken Bow WMAs, hunters are allowed to harvest feral hogs during any regular hunting season by whatever methods are legal during that particular season. In other words, a hunter could shoot them with a shotgun during spring turkey season, or with a rifle during the rabbit season."

During all firearms deer seasons (primitive, modern gun and special antlerless deer seasons) on WMAs open during these seasons, hunters must possess either a filled or unfilled deer license, and they must comply with other deer hunting regulations such as wearing blaze orange clothing. The same rules apply on Honobia Creek, Three Rivers and Broken Bow WMAs, however, hog hunting is permitted only during the nine-day regular firearms season.

Feral hog hunting on private land remains at the landowner's discretion. However, during firearms big game seasons (primitive, modern gun, special antlerless deer, antelope and elk seasons) hunters must possess either a filled or unfilled big game license, and they must comply with other big game hunting regulations such as wearing blaze orange clothing.

Additional hog hunting information can be found on page 57 of the 2001-2002 Oklahoma Hunting Guide and Regulations. Hog hunting information will also be part of an upcoming episode of the "Outdoor Oklahoma" television program Sunday, January 20, at 8:00 a.m. on OETA-The Oklahoma Network. A "Destination Outdoors" segment about the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area and a feature entitled "Celebrating America's Hunting Heritage” are also planned.

Outdoor Oklahoma features such topics as fishing, hunting; and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute program can be seen on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the following television stations: KSBI Network (greater OKC metro area), Mondays- 5:00 p.m., Thursdays-10: 30 p.m., Saturdays-1:30 p.m., KTEN (south-central and southeastern Oklahoma) Sundays-5 a.m., KWEM (Stillwater), Wednesdays-8:00 p.m., Fridays-7:00 p.m. and Sundays-8:00 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or your local TV guide.

Camp Gruber public use plan to be unveiled

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold a public information meeting Tuesday, Feb. 12, to inform the public on the progress of a new public use plan for the 33,000-acre Camp Gruber Training Center.

The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., will be held at Camp Gruber, located just south of Muskogee on Hwy. 10. An overview of the area in question and a brief description of the proposed use plan will be presented. Representatives from the Oklahoma Army National Guard and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation also will be present to address public questions.

The Oklahoma Army National Guard and Wildlife Department have been working to create a new public use plan that not only allows the Army National Guard to better fulfill its mission, but also continues to provide considerable hunting and public recreation opportunities. The new use plan cover only the Camp Gruber Training Center in Muskogee County, and will not affect the adjoining 32,000-acre Cherokee Wildlife Management Area, which is owned by the Wildlife Department and is in Cherokee County.

Elk hunt to be auctioned

One the most highly prized of all North American game animals is the Rocky Mountain bull elk. For the fourth year in a row, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) is offering a permit for a fully guided bull elk hunt at Cookson Hills Wildlife Management Area (WMA). In all three previous years, the hunter with the highest bid, awarded through a sealed bid auction, has successfully harvested a trophy bull.

"Harvesting a trophy bull elk, particularly within Oklahoma, can be the pinnacle of achievement for a state sportsman," said Richard Hatcher, assistant director for the ODWC.

"Unlike many western states, Oklahoma has a small population of elk which only allows for a small level of harvest," said Hatcher. "When you consider that the odds of drawing an elk permit through our controlled hunts program is only one in several hundreds, it's easy to see why elk are valued as such a desirable game species."

Cookson Hills WMA is a rugged 13,650-acre area in northeast Oklahoma's Boston Mountains, and is home to a population of approximately 75 elk. The hunt, which generated $11,000 last year, is a guided three-day hunt anytime in September, October or November (subject to availability). The hunter can choose to use a bow and arrow, muzzleloader or modern rifle. Past hunters have harvested a 7X8 bull (1999), a 6X7 bull (2000) and a 5X6 bull (2001).

A sealed bid system is used to determine the highest bidder. Hunters who wish to submit a bid should fill out their name, address, day & evening phone numbers with their bid amount on a card or letter, which should then be sealed in an envelope. Bids can be dropped off at ODWC headquarters or mailed to Oklahoma Auction Elk Hunt, P.O. Box 53465 Oklahoma City, OK 73152. All bids must be received at ODWC headquarters in Oklahoma City by 4:30 p.m., Friday, March 8. The bids will be opened and the winner notified Monday, March 11.

Bidding is open to individuals and organizations. The permit may be transferred one time by the successful bidder. Payment must be received within 10 days of notification.

Proceeds from the elk hunt auction will assist the ODWC's Hunters Against Hunger program. Through a network of statewide food banks who distribute donated venison to local shelters, the program has served meals to thousands of needy Oklahomans.

"We feel that Hunters Against Hunger is a worthwhile program that allows hunters to donate venison to a very worthy cause," said Hatcher. "In order to keep the program going, however, we need funding to compensate participating meat processors. This year's elk hunt is going to allow the program to continue."

For additional information about the Hunters Against Hunger, consult the 2001-2002 Oklahoma Hunting Guide and Regulations, available wherever hunting licenses are sold.

Fur auctions slated

Hunters and trappers wanting to sell their furs will get the opportunity during two upcoming events. The First Oklahoma Trappers and Predator Callers Association is sponsoring fur sales on Saturday, February 2, and again on Saturday, March 2, at the Agri-Civic Center in Chandler.

"Last year beaver pelts averaged $8.50 and bobcats went for $25," said Bill Jackson, sale coordinator. "However, based on initial market reports, prices will be better than last year. We're encouraging people to consider bringing coyote furs, which are projected to bring $20 for pelts in good condition."

Jackson said furs can be sold in a stretched or green condition, and that all sellers must have a valid hunting or trapping license from Oklahoma or their respective state. All bobcats must have an export tag affixed to the pelt before it can be sold. Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation personnel will be on hand to tag bobcats. Bobcats from other states must have export tags on the pelts before entering Oklahoma.

Actual sales of furs begin at 9 a.m., with viewing allowed at 8 a.m. Reservations should be made in advance, but sellers will also be allowed to sign in the day of the auction. Sellers must be members of the First Oklahoma Trappers and Predator Callers Association to participate in the auctions. Memberships can be purchased at the auction or applied for in advance.

For reservations or more information on the auction, contact Bill or Dee Jackson at 918/336-8154.

Electrofishing important for bass management

Anglers and boaters may see strange looking boats on state lakes beginning February and March. Each spring, fisheries personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) use the odd-looking boats to conduct their annual largemouth bass electrofishing surveys.

Electrofishing boats use one or two long booms, which extend out several feet in front of the boat. Thick cables or a basketball-sized metal ball dangle from the booms into the water. A generator located on the boat sends a powerful electrical current through the cables or ball, which sends out a large field of electricity into the water surrounding the boat. Any bass near the boat become stunned which allow fisheries workers to use long dip nets to scoop the bass up and place them into a holding tank.

According to Barry Bolton, ODWC assistant chief of fisheries, electrofishing is an effective way of determining the condition of bass populations.

"First of all, electrofishing does not harm the bass. The current stuns the fish, but they are released unharmed once we weigh and measure the fish," said Bolton. "Among several parameters, our fisheries crews use electrofishing to determine the relative size, abundance and condition of bass. We then compare these findings to previous year's results to determine how our management strategies are working on a particular lake. The information we gain through electrofishing often leads to specific bass regulations such as changing a 14-inch minimum length limit to a 13-16-inch slot length limit on lakes that have a high abundance of small bass, but with slow growth rates."

Largemouth bass fishing and management will be the featured topic of an upcoming episode of "Outdoor Oklahoma" February 3 at 8:00 a.m. on OETA-The Oklahoma Network. ODWC fisheries biologist, Gene Gilliland joins well-known bass fisherman, Chuck Justice, on McGee Creek Lake in southeast Oklahoma. Among many topics the pair will discuss the concern surrounding the Largemouth Bass Virus which has been documented on several Oklahoma lakes.

Outdoor Oklahoma features such topics as fishing, hunting; and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute program can be seen on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the following television stations: KSBI Network (greater OKC metro area), Mondays- 5:00 p.m., Thursdays-10: 30 p.m., Saturdays-1:30 p.m., KTEN (south-central and southeastern Oklahoma) Sundays-5 a.m., KWEM (Stillwater), Wednesdays-8:00 p.m., Fridays-7:00 p.m. and Sundays-8:00 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or your local TV guide.

Sponsors sought for OKC trout

More than 650 kids and adults participated in a trout derby held January 12 at Dolese Youth Park Lake in northwest Oklahoma City. Organizers hope the event's success will lead to annual corporate sponsorships to fund next year's two-month long trout season.

According to Kim Erickson, chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), the popularity of the event showed how important fishing opportunities are within metro areas.

"It turned out to be a nice day, but when the event started the temperature was still in the 30s. Despite the chill, there were hundreds of kids eager to go fishing at 8 a.m.," said Erickson.

"Many families I spoke with said this was their first time to trout fish, even though there are numerous places to trout fish around the state. I think this proves that if you have a quality fishing opportunity close to home, it attracts new people who may not travel very far to experience the same opportunity. I also asked people if they would like to see the trout season continue next January and February. The response was a unanimous, yes!"

Beginning January 1, 2002, the ODWC along with the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department established the special trout season, which runs through February 28. Throughout the special season approximately 10,000 trout will be stocked into the lake. Trout require cold water temperatures and angler surveys indicate that the vast majority of trout will be caught before water temperatures become too warm for the fish to survive.

Both ODWC and the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department officials say that the program is already a huge success, but that funding assistance is needed to have a trout season in 2003.

"Of course kids under 16 can fish for free, but adults (ages 16-62) who fish at Dolese have to have a state fishing license and a Oklahoma City fishing permit," said Wendel Whisenhunt, Director of Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department. "We would love to offer free trout fishing again next year. I think this is going to be an important event for the families in the Oklahoma City area. Therefore, we are seeking sponsorships to keep the program going."

Erickson added that while Dolese Youth Park Lake already offers good fishing for sunfish and catfish, rainbow trout offer a unique opportunity for people to enjoy the park during the winter months.

"Rainbow trout are ideal for stocking into a small lake like Dolese. They are relatively easy to catch even when it's cold outside. Dolese Youth Park is a busy place during the spring and summer with sports and family picnics, but it's fairly quiet in the winter. The fun of catching a trout, however, has people coming to enjoy the area even in the dead of winter," said Erickson.

ODWC and OKC Parks and Recreation officials have a goal of raising $10,000 to purchase trout for the 2003 season. For additional information about the program, contact the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department (405/297-2338), or the ODWC Fisheries Division (405/521-3721).

Changes coming for controlled hunts

This spring, hunters applying for the Wildlife Department's controlled hunts will notice a number of significant changes, including provisions designed to spread out hunter opportunity and a $5 per person application fee.

One of the most significant changes for the 2002 Controlled Hunts Program is that each hunter who applies must pay a $5 Controlled Hunts Application Fee. The fee is required of all applicants, including lifetime hunting or lifetime combination license holders. According to Melinda Sturgess-Streich, chief of administration for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the fee was authorized during the past legislative session.

"Based upon current numbers of applicants, the new fee won't result in significant revenue to the Department, however it will greatly offset the rising costs for administering the program," Sturgess-Streich said. "Upon applying for their first hunt category, each hunter will be assessed the $5 Controlled Hunts Application Fee. The annual fee will enable a hunter to apply for one or multiple categories for different species."

Other significant changes for this year's drawing involve combining all archery, muzzleloader, deer gun and nonambulatory deer hunts into one general deer category. The Department also has implemented a progressive draw, whereby the elk hunts are drawn first, then antelope, and then deer. If an applicant is selected for an elk hunt, they earn preference points in the antelope and deer categories (if they applied for those categories) but are not eligible to draw either of those hunts.

"Over the years, we've heard lots of complaints from hunters who have never been drawn for a Controlled Hunt," said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Department. "Knowing that the odds for some of the popular elk and antelope hunts are 1 in 100 or even 1 in 200, it is to be expected that people might get upset when their neighbor gets drawn for not only an elk hunt, but also two deer hunts. The progressive draw won't allow that to happen anymore, which will spread out the most sought-after hunts among more people."

For a number of years, hunters who apply for certain categories but do not successfully draw a permit have been awarded preference points. Within Oklahoma's preference system, hunters with the most preference points have greater chances of being drawn, but the system does not guarantee that those with the most points get drawn - only that their odds improve. In fact, first-time applicants with no preference points can get drawn over those with many points.

According to Peoples, hunters who have previously applied for the various deer categories will carry over their highest preference point total to the new deer category. In other words, if a hunter had one point in the archery and five in muzzleloader category, they will have five points in the new combined deer category.

On-line applying will again be offered, but hunters will need to have their credit card available in order to pay the $5 fee over the Internet. To avoid problems, hunters should decide to apply for all their hunt categories either online or by mail, but not both. Controlled Hunts Application booklets, which will contain complete details on applying, should be available by mid March.

The on-line application system, available through the Department's official Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com, should be operational at the same time. The deadline for applications is tentatively set for May 3, 2002.

Sardis & McGee Creek top bass tourney lakes

Besides logging trucks, vehicles towing bass boats are the most popular things on wheels around the small southeastern town of Daisy. Located a short drive from Daisy are Sardis and McGee Creek lakes-top bass fishing destinations.

Sardis Lake has rebounded in popularity with bass anglers to levels approaching it's reputation of the mid 1980s. McGee Creek Lake has for many years been a mecca for trophy largemouth and also good numbers of bass. A recent report, compiled by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) showed Sardis and McGee Creek as the state's top bass tournament fishing lakes for 2001.

"Since 1994, our Fisheries Division has cooperated with bass fishing clubs and tournament organizations to collect data on bass fishing throughout the state," said Gene Gilliland, ODWC fisheries biologist. "Last year we received 703 tournament reports from 47 different Oklahoma lakes. Through tournament report cards, fisheries biologists collect such information as the percent of anglers who catch at least one fish during the tournament, the average number of bass anglers caught during an eight-hour day, the average weight of bass that were caught in each tournament, the number of bass caught that exceed five pounds and the average weights of winning stringers among all tournaments held on a specific lake.

"After analysis of several different parameters, Sardis ranked number one overall with McGee Creek placing second. These two lakes have a history of producing trophy fish due to the high percentage of Florida genes in their bass populations, but they are producing good numbers of bass as well."

Perennial bass producers, Hudson, Grand and Eucha round out the top five bass tournament destinations for 2001. Hudson and Grand lakes produced the highest average winning weights and Eucha ranked high in the number of bass caught per day."

Gilliland said overall bass fishing success declined slightly in 2001. The average tournament had a catch of 49 bass that weighed an average of 99.5 pounds compared to 51 bass that weighed 119.95 pounds in 2000.

"Our tournament results confirmed that bass fishing in 2001 was down, but it is definitely not out," said Gilliland. "Numbers of bass caught, the average sized of bass and the average winning weights were down less than 20 percent from long-term levels.

Gilliland said record cold winter weather, unusual water level fluctuations and the Largemouth Bass Virus (LMBV) might have all played roles in the decline of bass fishing success in 2001.

"What was apparent from the 2001 results were lower numbers of large bass. While our electrofishing surveys confirmed this, we found that numbers of "average" sized bass were as abundant as they've been in many years. We expect bass fishing to rebound to normal levels in just a year or two. The future looks positive for bass fishing in Oklahoma."

To get more information about the 2001 Annual Report of Oklahoma Bass Tournaments, log onto: http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/basstourn.htm

Ranked by "Fishing Quality Indicators" from lakes or more tournament reports.

Percent
Successful
Anglers
Average
Weight
Per Bass
Number of
Bass Caught
Per Day
Hours of
Fishing Per
Bass > 5 lbs.
Average
First Place
Weight
Overall
Quality
(Score)
Rank
McGee Creek 81 Oologah 2.58 Konawa 2.71 Sardis 1.9 Hudson 14.60 Sardis 1
Texoma 76 Keystone 2.48 McGee CK 2.11 Oologah 2.3 Grand 14.39 McGee CK 2
Grand 72 Hudson 2.46 Arbuckle 1.81 Arbuckle 2.8 Sardis 13.37 Hudson 3
Eucha 70 Greenleaf 2.40 Eucha 1.78 Eucha 3.4 Texoma 13.34 Grand 4
Kerr 67 Sardis 2.36 Guthrie 1.29 Greenleaf 4.1 Eufaula 12.44 Eucha 5
Murray 65 Webb Falls 2.31 Greenleaf 1.25 Murray 4.7 McGee Ck 11.87 Keystone 6
Eufaula 63 Grand 2.30 Oologah 1.23 Hudson 4.8 Keystone 11.63 Oologah 7
Hudson 63 Ft. Gibson 2.21 Kerr 1.17 McGee Ck 5.1 Kerr 11.62 Greenleaf 8
Keystone 62 Kerr 2.17 Tenkiller 1.10 Ft. Gibson 5.2 Webb Falls 10.82 Kerr 9
Konawa 61 Eufaula 2.09 Murray 1.09 Keystone 5.8 Chickasha 10.62 Texoma 10
Sardis 61 Texoma 2.08 Keystone 1.06 Chickasha 6.3 Greenleaf 10.27 Arbuckle 11
Webb Falls 59 Skiatook 2.05 Grand 1.03 Guthrie 6.6 Eucha 9.79 Eufaula 12
Arbuckle 56 Eucha 1.97 Texoma 1.01 Grand 6.8 Ft. Gibson 9.67 Murray 13
Oologah 56 Guthrie 1.95 Chickasha 0.94 Skiatook 7.9 Arbuckle 9.27 Webb Falls 14
Chickasha 54 Tenkiller 1.78 Sardis 0.93 Webb Falls 10.8 Tenkiller 8.64 Ft. Gibson 15
Tenkiller 51 Arbuckle 1.57 Eufaula 0.87 Kerr 12.6 Murray 8.63 Chickasha 16
Ft. Gibson 50 Murray 1.55 Webb Falls 0.80 Eufaula 15.8 Oologah 7.88 Guthrie 17
Greenleaf 46 McGee Ck 1.41 Hudson 0.74 Texoma 27.0 Skiatook 6.87 Konawa 18
Skiatook 38 Chickasha 1.39 Ft.Gibson 0.69 Tenkiller 35.4 Guthrie 4.23 Tenkiller 19
Guthrie 34 Konawa 0.89 Skiatook 0.55 Konawa 40.0 Konawa 4.20 Skiatook 20
Claremore 41 Murray 1.45 Webber Falls 0.71 Broken Bow 330 Ellsworth 7.31  Webber Falls 21
Guthrie 25 McGee Creek 1.26 Sardis 0.68 Webbers Falls 355 Guthrie 5.115 Skiatook 22

 

Drifting live bait catches big hybrids

Since they were introduced to Oklahoma reservoirs beginning in 1977, hybrid striped bass have become a favorite sportfish of a growing number of anglers, particularly those who know how to drift fish from boats. In many hybrid lakes, drifting live bait such as shad, minnows, gold fish or small sunfish has become the preferred method for catching the hard fighting brutes.

Hybrid striped bass are cultured in state fish hatcheries by crossbreeding male white bass with female striped bass. The resulting offspring are best known for their rapid growth and hard-fighting ability. They can attain weights of six to seven pounds by three years of age and 18 to 20 pounds by eight to nine years of age.

"Hybrids are a valuable put, grow and take sportfish in lakes with large shad populations but with marginal habitat for striped bass and white bass," said Kim Erickson, chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Lakes like Konawa, Altus-Lugert, Canton and Waurika are quietly gaining a reputation for outstanding hybrid angling at certain times of year."

Paul Hollister caught the current state record hybrid in 1997 from Altus-Lugert Lake. The big fish weighed 23 pounds, 4 ounces. Other lakes stocked with hybrids include Optima, Ft. Supply, Tom Steed, Overholser, Grand, Heyburn, Atoka, Ft. Cobb, Salt Plains, and Ellsworth.

Drift fishing with live bait is going to be covered in an upcoming episode of "Outdoor Oklahoma" on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sunday, February 10 at 8:00 a.m. Husband and wife team Terry and Sheila Crissman fished late last spring on Waurika Lake and caught several bragging sized hybrids. Anglers with Internet access can get a sneak preview of the Crissmans' biggest hybrid photos by logging onto: www.simplynet.net/tcrissman/default.htm.

Another topic for the upcoming Outdoor Oklahoma episode includes an update on the southeast Oklahoma black bear research project. Outdoor Oklahoma features such topics as fishing, hunting; and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute program can be seen on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the following television stations: KSBI Network (greater OKC metro area), Mondays-5:00 p.m., Thursdays-10: 30 p.m., Saturdays-1:30 p.m., KTEN (south-central and southeastern Oklahoma) Sundays-5 a.m., KWEM (Stillwater), Wednesdays-8:00 p.m., Fridays-7:00 p.m. and Sundays-8:00 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or your local TV guide.