NOVEMBER 2003 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 27, 2003

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 20, 2003

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 13, 2003

 

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 6, 2003

 

$2.2 million to be spent on fish and wildlife habitat at Grand Lake in NE Oklahoma

Grand Lake in northeast Oklahoma is arguably one of the most productive and scenic lakes in the state, and fish and wildlife conservation efforts at the 60-year old lake will be getting an additional boost thanks to a newly created fund.

The Grand River Dam Authority will be investing $2.2 million into habitat projects as part of a new Pensacola project (Grand Lake) fish and waterfowl habitat management plan. Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation announced the new plan to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission at the Commission’s November meeting in Oklahoma City.

The money will come from the recently established Pensacola project fish and wildlife mitigation fund. The monies will be allocated for conservation projects over the next 20 years. In the initial year of the funding, $260,000 will be allocated, with $100,000 being added for the next 19 years. Conservation efforts in the future may include projects such as millet seeding, shoreline stabilization, installation of fish habitat structures or wetland development.

A technical committee will meet twice a year to discuss habitat projects. The committee has already met and approved an aquatic vegetation enhancement project at Grand Lake, which will be funded for the next three years.

In other business, Commissioners heard a report on a three-year trout stocking study in northeast Oklahoma. The goal of the study was to examine what impact the stocking of rainbow trout would have on the native smallmouth bass and the overall ecology of Brush Creek near Tahlequah. Department fisheries officials are planning on meeting with northeast Oklahoma landowners and fisherman to discuss the study.

Commissioners also took action on several personnel items. Commissioners approved a career incentive program which will be retroactive to July 1, 2003. To cover the salary and benefits costs of the program, the Commission voted to increase the 2004 fiscal year budget in the amount of $888,138. Additionally, the Commission voted to reduce the 2004 fiscal year budget by 20 full-time employees.

In other business, the Commission approved the creation of a new grants specialist position. The new employee will assist the federal aid and research coordinator in writing and reporting of federal sportfish and wildlife restoration grants as well as other grant funds. Since 1986 the Department’s grant revenue has jumped from less than $2 million a year to more than $10 million in 2003.

Also at their November meeting, Commissioners recognized a pair of Department employees for their service to the sportsmen of the state. Dekota Cagle, state game warden stationed in Dewey County was recognized for 25 years of service and Linda Fergason, license cashier, was recognized for 20 years of service.

In housekeeping business, the Commission heard a report on the actuarial valuation report for the retirement plan from Diane Hunt from Mellon Consultants. The report showed that the retirement plan is 90.7 percent funded. No action was taken on this item.

The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife 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 Senate.

The Commission approved dates for the 2004 Wildlife Conservation Commission meetings. Meetings are scheduled for: Jan. 5, Feb. 2, March 1, April 5, May 3, June 7, July 12, Aug. 2, Sept 13, Oct. 4, Nov. 8 and Dec. 6.

The next scheduled Commission meeting is December 1 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 9:00 a.m.

-30-

Cutline: More than 161,000 deer gun hunters took to the Oklahoma woods and fields last year, making the deer season one of the most popular sporting events in the state.

NWTF donations go towards Oklahoma habitat

The National Wild Turkey Federation is continuing to build upon its strong partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in restoring and enhancing wild turkey habitat across the state.

At a recent meeting of the Oklahoma Chapter of the NWTF the Wild Turkey Super Fund budget committee approved a slate of habitat projects aimed at improving the land both for turkeys and for turkey hunters.

“We try to do things that will help the average hunter,” said Chuck Townsend, NWTF Oklahoma State Chapter President. “We spread the money all across the state, and always in places where everybody can hunt. Our habitat programs are always done on public land.”

Several different projects will be implemented on wildlife management areas (WMA) across the state. Roost trees will be planted on Sandy Sanders WMA (southwest OK), prescribed burns will be conducted at Spavinaw (northeast OK) and Cherokee (northeast OK) WMAs, and the Hugo WMA (southeast OK) shooting range will be improved.

Along with habitat restoration, the NWTF Oklahoma State Chapter funds multiple JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship), Women in the Outdoors and Wheelin’ Sportsmen events. These events offer outdoor learning opportunities to children, women and people with disabilities. Hunting, fishing, canoeing, woodcraft, conservation and many other skills are offered to people wanting to learn about the wild turkey and North America’s hunting heritage.

For more information about turkeys or turkey hunting in Oklahoma log on to wildlifedepartment.com. For more information about the NWTF, visit their Web site at www.nwtf.org.

-30-

Web site offers free temporary hunter education cards

Don’t be surprised if the hunter in your family has a slightly panicked look on their face sometime in the next few weeks. The month of November typically has many hunters emptying out junk drawers and pulling off sofa cushions in search of their misplaced hunter education cards.

Those worried about lost hunter education cards have a quick and easy solution available, according to Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. They can obtain a temporary card which can be used to purchase a deer license by logging onto the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

"Hopefully this service will provide an efficient way for hunters to replace their card, plus you can do it 24-hours a day," said Meek.

To print off a temporary card, go to the Department’s home page (wildlifedepartment.com) and click on Hunter Education. On that page click on “lost your hunter ed card.” Once on the Hunter Education page, individuals can click on, “print off replacement hunter ed card.” Follow the directions by filling in the requested information; entering the date as shown in the example provided, then click 'submit' and the card should appear on the screen.

"Hunters can print the card out and use it temporarily to get their licenses. It will be accepted by license vendors across the state and in other states as well. The information can also be useful if you want to request a permanent replacement card," Meek said.

If a card does not come up, the hunter can contact the Department's Information and Education Division at (405) 521-4636, Monday-Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and Department personnel will check the hunter education database to find a hunter’s certification record. Those wanting a permanent plastic replacement card can receive one for $5 (check, cash, money orders or cashiers checks accepted) by visiting the Department's Oklahoma City headquarters or submitting a letter to: Attn: Replacement Hunter Education Card, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

Letters must contain the hunter's name as it appeared on the original card, current address, birth date and student number if known. Those who do not know their student number should provide the date and location for the course they attended. They should also include a daytime phone number so additional information can be obtained if needed.

-30-

Hunters sharing their harvest

One of the main reasons hunters head to the woods each fall is to provide good, nutritious food for their families and many hunters are taking that a step further.

Each year Oklahoma hunters donate thousands of pounds of venison to the Hunters Against Hunger program. The program, co-sponsored by Nature Works Inc. in cooperation with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, facilitates the distribution of deer meat to hungry families in the state.

"Fresh meat is one of the least donated food items that we receive and it is one of the most requested," said Sally White, programs director for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. "The organizations we work with are always thrilled to get venison. I recently spoke with the director of one soup kitchen who said the venison was really important this year in supplying meals for the hungry. The donations of hunters and the generosity of meat processors is greatly appreciated by needy families across the state."

Hunters who legally harvest a deer during this year's deer seasons can simply deliver the deer to the nearest participating meat processor after checking the deer in. To help with processing charges, each donor is requested to contribute a tax-deductible $10 to assist with the program. The ground venison will then be distributed to the needy through a network of qualified, charitable organizations.

To find out more about the Hunters Against Hunger Program, or for a list of cooperating meat processors, check out page 24 of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide."

-30-

2004 wildlife calendar now available

It’s hard to believe, but the New Year is almost here once again. The November/December 2003 calendar issue of “Outdoor Oklahoma,” the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s official bi-monthly magazine, is hot off the press and available to help outdoor enthusiasts begin to plan and record all their favorite outdoor events for 2004.

The calendar not only showcases award-winning color photography of the state’s most scenic landscapes and wildlife, but it also provides tips for landowners and sportsmen on how to improve fishing and hunting on their property. Each month includes suggested habitat management practices, along with interesting fish and wildlife notes for that month. Among others, a tom turkey in its spring splendor, a sunrise on an Oklahoma lake, an outstanding white-tailed buck are photographic reflections of the best Oklahoma has to offer.

“Of course, anyone with an interest in the outdoors will enjoy the stunning imagery,” said David Warren, chief of information and education for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Hopefully, these calendars will also be a tool to provide timely management information to those landowners who want to improve fish and wildlife habitat on their property.”

Warren added that the current issue is more than just a calendar. The magazine features information on how to get involved in the state’s 2004 Winter Bird Survey. It also contains an article on bobwhite quail that examines some of the problems and solutions in managing this popular game bird.

“The calendar issue would be a great gift for family and friends who enjoy the outdoors. Individual issues are $4 by mail and subscriptions for a full year are just $10,” Warren added.

To obtain the calendar issue mail a $4 (check, cash, money orders or cashiers check accepted) addressed to “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Subscriptions for one-year ($10), two-years ($18) or three-years ($25) are available by calling 1-800-777-0019. Additionally, you can subscribe over the Internet by logging on to the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com

-30-

Fishing lure sets record price

Most fishermen have a few old lures laying around somewhere - maybe in the garage, a junk drawer or stowed away in a seldom-used tackle box. A recent sporting goods auction in Massachusetts may have anglers digging out those old lures.

A South Carolina man recently paid $101,200 for a very special lure. His winning bid set a world record for the highest price paid for a fishing collectible at a public auction. The coveted lure was a rare 10-inch copper Haskell Minnow, made in the 1850s by Riley Haskell, an Ohio gunsmith.

“It’s a very unusual lure. The estimated price before the auction was only around $35,000. The fact that it went for nearly triple that just shows the market that is out there for antique fishing equipment,” said Karl White.

White ought to know. He is one of the world’s preeminent experts on collectable fishing tackle. In fact, just a portion of his collection fills up an entire museum.

The Karl and Beverly White National Fishing Tackle Museum houses an historic collection of over 20,000 antique lures and tackle pieces. The $4 million dollar collection is one of the most complete and comprehensive collections of vintage fishing gear in existence.

The museum is located at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. The facility features 200 exhibits, including a 400,000-gallon shark tank. The facility also showcases many of Oklahoma's native fish species, including the current state record channel and blue catfish.

Not only can visitors see both the museum and the aquarium on the same visit, they can also bring in their old lures in for appraisal by Karl White himself on the last Saturday of each month.

“I really look forward to visiting with people and seeing the things they bring in, White said. “You never know one of your old lures might really be worth something.”

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has a working relationship with the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Department’s Tulsa-area offices are located at the Aquarium complex.

“We encourage everyone who comes by the Aquarium to stop in and see us,” said Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Visitors can stop in and pick up a Fishing Guide, buy a fishing license or find out about other Department services.”

For more information about the Oklahoma Aquarium call (918) 296-FISH (3474), or go to their Web site at okaquarium.org or check out the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com

-30-

Pheasant numbers on the rise

A good pair of boots, a shotgun and a few friends is all you need to have a great upland bird hunting adventure in northwestern Oklahoma.

Pheasant season opens December 1 from northcentral Oklahoma all the way to the panhandle. For many, there is no better way to spend a day than to roam the rolling hills of northwest Oklahoma hunting the gaudy birds.

According to Mike Sams, upland bird biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, populations of the colorful game birds appear to be in good shape going into the season.

“The numbers and reports that I'm hearing this year lead me to believe this season will be improved over last year,” Sams reported. “It looks to be a good year.”

According to Sams, good weather can be attributed to the increase in pheasant populations.

“We got some good rains at the right time across much of northwest Oklahoma and into the panhandle,” said Sams.

Good habitat and good weather combined to make it an outstanding year for pheasant reproduction. In fact, nearly twice as many pheasant broods were encountered on traditional survey routes this spring and summer.

“Our field biologist are also reporting good production this year,” Sams said. “ Production survey results are slightly higher than 2001 which was generally thought of as a good season. Production surveys are the highest they have been since 1997.”

Pheasant habitat consists primarily of row crops, such as milo and corn. Most of those crops have been harvested, but there's still plenty of milo stubble and cornstalks that provide good pheasant habitat. Some of the best areas are fields dedicated to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which are adjacent to the crop fields. Additionally, brushy edge areas adjacent to roads or the corners of crop fields that are irrigated via center-pivot sprinklers are likely places to find pheasants.

The season runs December 1 through January 31, 2004, and hunters should consult the “2003-2004 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” for open zones. The daily bag limit for pheasants is two cocks, with a possession limit of four after the first day and six after the second day. Pheasant hunters should note that legal shooting hours are sunrise to sunset. Evidence of sex (head or one foot) must remain on the bird until it reaches its final destination. When the deer gun and the special antlerless deer seasons (in open zones) overlap with pheasant season, all pheasant hunters must wear a blaze orange cap or vest.

Before going afield, be sure to pick up a copy of the “2003-2004 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available at all hunting and fishing license dealers or log onto wildlifedepartment.com.

-30-

 

Deer hunters spend big bucks to bag big bucks

Did you realize that the opening of deer gun season is one of the state’s largest single-day recreational events? In fact, it attracts more Oklahomans than the number of football fans attending sold-out home games at Boone Pickens Stadium and Owen Field, - combined. More than 160,000 deer gun hunters took to the woods last fall, making it one of the most popular outdoor events in the state.

Deer hunting in Oklahoma is also big business. On their way to the woods, hunters pump over $300 million each year to the state’s economy. And that’s just deer hunters, when you add all the other hunters in the state the numbers are truly impressive. When hunters stop to eat in rural Oklahoma after a long hunt or when they purchase the latest must have hunting gadget, their spending creates a $573 million ripple effect on the state’s economy. In fact, hunting in Oklahoma supports nearly 7,000 jobs.

Hunters from outside of Oklahoma have also discovered that our state is a first-rate destination. Nonresidents spend over $6 million in the state on hunting excursions.

The gun deer opener, Saturday, Nov. 22 , will draw an estimated 160,000 hunters plus their non-hunting companions. The 16-day season, which runs through Sunday, December 7, will see these thousands of orange-clad hunters heading into Oklahoma's forests and prairies in search of the state's number one game animal, the white-tailed deer.

Each time a hunter buys a new gun or an extra set of arrows, they are helping to fund fish and wildlife conservation efforts right here in Oklahoma through the Wildlife Restoration Program. The federal government collects these taxes from manufacturers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service distributes the funds to the state fish and wildlife agencies. Hunters, anglers, shooters and boaters ultimately pay special taxes through the purchase of products.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation uses the funds for a wide range of important activities, including the purchase and maintenance of wildlife management areas, research laboratories and user facilities, surveying and managing wildlife populations, training volunteer instructors and educating young hunters in safe firearms handling and ethics afield. Since Oklahoma receives no general appropriations from the State Legislature, these funds accounted for a significant part of the Wildlife Department's annual operating budget.

For more information about Oklahoma's deer season, consult the “2003-2004 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” or log onto www.wildlifedepartment.com.

-30-

Deer hunters have successful opening weekend

Pardon the pun, but the 2003 Oklahoma deer gun season has started off with a bang.

“I have been hearing quite a few good reports,” said Russ Horton, central region wildlife biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “In fact I even heard of one check station that had run out of tags.”

According to Horton, the recent cold weather snap came at just the right time for deer hunters.

“Most hunters would prefer a little less wind, but overall the weather has been really nice, it sure beats rain or hot, humid weather,” Horton said

For the first time in over 30 years hunters have the opportunity to hunt a full 16 days during the deer gun season. Running Nov. 22 through Dec. 7, the deer gun season is undoubtedly Oklahoma’s most popular hunting event and hunters have reason to be excited about the remainder of the season.

“I have been a little surprised by the number of big bucks that I have seen checked in,” Horton said. “Perhaps some hunters are taking the extra time to pass on some of the younger bucks and take a trophy deer. We may have also hit the tail end of the rut during this year’s season which is always good news for hunters.”

While every hunter enjoys being outdoors and the thrill of the chase, venison also provides nutritious and delicious meals for hunters and their families. This year, just like in years past, many hunters are taking that a step further.

Each year Oklahoma hunters donate thousands of pounds of venison to the Hunters Against Hunger program. The program, co-sponsored by Nature Works Inc. in cooperation with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, facilitates the distribution of deer meat to hungry families in the state.

Hunters who legally harvest a deer during this year's deer seasons can simply deliver the deer to the nearest participating meat processor after checking the deer in. To help with processing charges, each donor is requested to contribute a tax-deductible $10 to assist with the program. The ground venison will then be distributed to the needy through a network of qualified, charitable organizations.

To find out more about the Hunters Against Hunger Program, or for a list of cooperating meat processors, check out page 24 of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide."

For additional information about deer hunting including regulations, antlerless zones, and check station locations, be sure to pick up a copy of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" available at all license dealer locations or log on to the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.

-30-

Covered fishing docks offer respite from bitter winter winds

Just because it is cold outside, doesn’t mean you have to shiver your way through your next fishing trip. Heated docks are perfect for those who prefer to keep the feeling in their fingers and toes while fishing.

“Fishing in an enclosed dock, out of the wind and the elements, is a great way to spend an afternoon with friends and family,” said Robert Reece, aquatic habitat coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Enclosed docks can be found on many lakes and reservoirs around the state and are excellent locations to catch a stringer full of crappie.

“As the weather gets colder, the fishing usually just gets better around these docks,” Reece said.

According to Reece, crappie are the main quarry at the docks, most of which include brushpiles to provide cover and to attract the fish. Crappie are a favorite winter fish all across Oklahoma. They form loose schools and when you catch a fish, others are often close by. Crappie can be caught year-round and they are the favorite choice for many fish frying aficionados.

“Any rod and reel rigged with light line can be effective,” Reece said. “I like to use small feather jigs, but minnows are a great choice too.”

A list of enclosed fishing docks can be found on page 32 of the “2003 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” or by logging on to the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com. Anglers may want to call ahead to find out more information about specific docks such as cost, hours of operation or directions.

 

-30-

Bald eagles soar through Oklahoma

Each winter, as northern lakes freeze over, thousands of bald eagles migrate to warmer, southern waters. Visited by 750-1500 eagles annually, Oklahoma is one of the top ten states in the nation for winter eagle viewing. Watch bald eagles soar at an Eagle Viewing Event near you.

Events are hosted by state parks, lake management offices and local Audubon Societies, said Jenny Thom, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation information specialist. Working with event locations, Thom compiled a list of the statewide Eagle Viewing Events.

“With over 50 viewing events this winter, there are many opportunities for anyone who wants to see a bald eagle in the wild,” Thom said.

Most events are free or have a minimal charge and occur on weekends during January. Many begin with informative bald eagle programs led by naturalists and biologists. A few events will present a live, captive-reared bald eagle. At all events, people will be on hand to assist visitors with viewing wild eagles.

“Not only is the bald eagle an American symbol, it’s also an endangered species success story,” Thom said.

When adopted as the nation’s symbol in 1782, eagles inhabited every large river and major concentration of lakes in North America. They nested in 45 of the lower 48 United States, but by the 1950s had reduced to fewer than 500 nesting pairs.

Due to nationwide concern and action, eagle numbers have increased 7-fold since the early 70s. Americans are making sure the bald eagle isn’t only seen on coins; it’s also seen soaring through the sky.

“These events are your opportunity to see a bald eagle this winter,” Thom said. “Don’t miss your chance to see the nation’s proudest living symbol, or to share it with your children.”

View event descriptions, locations, dates and times by logging onto www.wildlifedepartment.com or call (405) 521-4616 for a free brochure of event dates, times and places.

-30-

Hearty home-style venison recipes can satisfy any appetite

Nothing can warm up a cold winter day quite like a home-cooked venison dinner.

Venison offers hunters and their families many meals of lean, high-protein meat that is 100-percent natural, with no additives or preservatives. Preparing and eating wild game with friends and family is an essential part of the hunting experience. Many hunters say that consuming harvested game gives them a deeper respect and reverence for that animal.

Upon harvesting a deer, the first thing you must do is attach a proper tag to the carcass as required by law. The next step is to field dress your deer as soon as possible. Keeping the meat clean and cool will payoff when it comes time to serve venison for dinner.

There are literally hundreds of recipes for venison that can be found in cookbooks or on the Internet. The following are a few recipes you can try this winter or just let your culinary imagination run wild.

Venison Hobo Dinner

Take a 12" square piece of foil. Put venison patties (about the size of a hamburger patties) on middle of foil. Pull up sides of foil to form a bag. Add 1/4 inch slices of potatoes to top of meat, then add onion slices, put about a teaspoon of butter and 1/8 cup of water in foil. Close foil and put in hot charcoaler for about 20-30 minutes. Or you can cook at 350 degrees in an oven for about the same time. Add other vegetables if desired.

Hearty Venison Stew

2 1/2-3 lbs. venison stew meat cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup flour
3 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. butter
2 med. onions, chopped
2 cubed potatoes
2 cloves garlic
1-11 oz. can stewed tomatoes or 1 can tomato sauce
1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature
1/2 cup water

Shake meat cubes in plastic bag with the flour, paprika, salt and pepper. In Dutch oven, melt butter and sauté coated venison cubes until browned. Remove cubes to warm dish and in the same Dutch oven, sauté onions and garlic with 2 tbs paprika until soft. Then add tomatoes and water. Add browned venison cubes and simmer over low heat until meat is tender (45 min-1.5 hours). Just before serving, stir in 1/2 c sour cream. Serve with egg noodles or rice.

Sunday Deer Roast

Venison roast (1-3 lbs.)
3-4 potatoes - cut into chunks
3 sliced carrots
1 sliced bell pepper
black pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
1 tbs. flour
1/2 cup of water

Arrange ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours on high for four to six hours or until meat is tender.

-30-