AUGUST 2007
NEWS RELEASES
 

WEEK OF AUGUST 30, 2007

WEEK OF AUGUST 23, 2007

 

WEEK OF AUGUST 9, 2007

WEEK OF AUGUST 2, 2007

August 31 deadline to apply for bonus youth deer hunts
            Beginning deer hunters have a unique opportunity to participate in four youth controlled antlerless deer hunts that will take place on private lands in several Oklahoma counties. Applications must be received at the Wildlife Department by 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, 2007.
            The hunts are scheduled for either October or January. This year, 52 bonus antlerless deer gun licenses will be drawn for youth 12 to 16 years of age who have completed their hunter education requirements.
            "These hunts are on private property and should provide young hunters a great opportunity to see some deer as well as a chance to harvest a doe," said Bill Dinkines, assistant chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission has endorsed the youth hunt program and we are thankful for the landowners' willingness to allow these kids the opportunity to hunt on their property.”
            To apply for a hunt, applicants must send the Department a 4” by 6” index card titled "Private Lands Youth Deer Hunts." The card should provide the hunter's name, date of birth, mailing address, telephone number, hunter education certification number, social security or driver’s license number, their order of hunt preferences (may list all 4 hunts) and lifetime license number if applicable. A non-hunting adult who is at least 21 years old must accompany the youth, and must also be listed on the index card. The envelope should be labeled “Private Lands Youth Deer Hunt” and should be mailed to: Department of Wildlife, Attn: Wildlife Division-Youth Deer Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
            Hunts will be offered in Ellis County (Oct. 12-13), Osage County (Oct. 12-14), Craig County (Oct. 14), Alfalfa County (Jan. 11-13).
            The drawing will be held Sept. 7, and successful applicants will receive a notification letter in the mail about their hunt the following week. The letter will inform them of their selection and provide details about the hunt and license requirements. Selected resident youth will need to purchase a $10 resident youth deer gun license unless they possess an Oklahoma resident lifetime hunting or resident lifetime combination license. Selected nonresidents will need to purchase a $201 nonresident deer gun license. The youth's non-hunting adult does not need a license. Any antlerless deer harvested during the controlled hunt will be considered a bonus deer and will not count against the youth’s combined season limit.
            For additional information concerning the hunts, contact the Wildlife Department at (405) 521-2739.
 
-30-
 
 
Pre-register for Expo and win prizes
            Individuals who pre-register for and attend the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s third annual Wildlife Expo have a chance to win one of several prizes thanks to the Expo’s generous sponsors.
            “They’re giving away a John Deere Gator, lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, guided trips and a lot of other cool stuff,” said Blake Shelton, Oklahoma-based country music star and avid sportsman who will be at the Expo Sept. 30. “I was just sorry to hear I’m not eligible to win anything.”
            The Expo is slated for Sept. 28-30 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, and is designed to celebrate the state’s diverse outdoor recreation opportunities. Other prizes also will be given away during the Expo, which will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
            “Even though the Expo is scheduled for Sept. 28-30, you have to pre-register for the event now in order to win the John Deere Gator utility vehicle,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Wildlife Department and one of hundreds of employees working on the event. “All you need to do is log on to wildlifedepartment.com and pre-register. When you do that, your name is automatically entered into the drawing.”
             Starting Sept. 4, participants also can register for the hunter education clinic featured at this year’s Expo.
            “Sept. 4 also marks the first day people can register for the unique Wildlife Department Fisheries Management Field Trip,” Holmes said.
            The fisheries field trip includes a pontoon boat ride on Guthrie City Lake to see firsthand how fisheries biologists collect population data to help them create and sustain fisheries all over Oklahoma.
            “This Expo will be the biggest and best we’ve had yet, and with chances to win a utility vehicle, hunting licenses, Buster boats and other great prizes, there’s no reason not to be a part of it,” Holmes said. “Log on to wildlifedepartment.com to keep updated and to pre-register. Someone is going to win, and you can’t win if you don’t sign up.”
            More than 200 booths and different activities have already been confirmed for this year’s Expo. From shotgun and archery shooting to canoeing, kayaking, wild game tasting, mountain biking, seminars and more, there will be plenty to see and experience during the free three-day event.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is partnering with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host this huge event. The Expo is designed to promote and perpetuate the appreciation of Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts, including both avid and beginner outdoorsmen.
            To learn more about the Expo and the Wildlife Department, or to pre-register, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-
 
 
Duck blind drawings slated  
            Drawings for permanent duck blinds at Fort Gibson, Eufaula, Webbers Falls, Waurika and W.D. Mayo will take place Saturday, Sept. 22.
            Anyone wanting a permanent blind permit must be 16 years of age and they must be present at the drawings.
            Registration and drawings for duck blinds at Fort Gibson, Eufaula and Webbers Falls will take place at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation field office in Porter, located between Wagoner and Muskogee on Hwy. 69. Registration and drawings for Fort Gibson will be at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., respectively; for Eufaula, 9:30 and 10:30, respectively; and for Webbers Falls, noon and 1 p.m., respectively.
            Drawings for Waurika will be at 9 a.m. at the Corps of Engineers office at the Waurika Lake dam.
            The drawing for duck blinds at W.D. Mayo will be at 10 a.m. at the Spiro City Council Chamber, 510 South Main St. (located at the south end of Main).
            Applicants must have a current Oklahoma hunting or combination license and a valid state waterfowl license and a federal duck stamp, unless they are exempt. Additionally, they need a valid Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit. Consult the “2007-08 Oklahoma Waterfowl Guide,” available in September, for regulations and hunting information.
 
-30-
 
 

 

August 31 deadline to apply for bonus youth deer hunts
            Beginning deer hunters have a unique opportunity to participate in four youth controlled antlerless deer hunts that will take place on private lands in several Oklahoma counties. Applications must be received at the Wildlife Department by 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, 2007.
            The hunts are scheduled for either October or January. This year, 52 bonus antlerless deer gun licenses will be drawn for youth 12 to 16 years of age who have completed their hunter education requirements.
            "These hunts are on private property and should provide young hunters a great opportunity to see some deer as well as a chance to harvest a doe," said Bill Dinkines, assistant chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission has endorsed the youth hunt program and we are thankful for the landowners' willingness to allow these kids the opportunity to hunt on their property.”
            To apply for a hunt, applicants must send the Department a 4” by 6” index card titled "Private Lands Youth Deer Hunts." The card should provide the hunter's name, date of birth, mailing address, telephone number, hunter education certification number, social security or driver’s license number, their order of hunt preferences (may list all 4 hunts) and lifetime license number if applicable. A non-hunting adult who is at least 21 years old must accompany the youth, and must also be listed on the index card. The envelope should be labeled “Private Lands Youth Deer Hunt” and should be mailed to: Department of Wildlife, Attn: Wildlife Division-Youth Deer Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
            Hunts will be offered in Ellis County (Oct. 12-13), Osage County (Oct. 12-14), Craig County (Oct. 14), Alfalfa County (Jan. 11-13).
            The drawing will be held Sept. 7, and successful applicants will receive a notification letter in the mail about their hunt the following week. The letter will inform them of their selection and provide details about the hunt and license requirements. Selected resident youth will need to purchase a $10 resident youth deer gun license unless they possess an Oklahoma resident lifetime hunting or resident lifetime combination license. Selected nonresidents will need to purchase a $201 nonresident deer gun license. The youth's non-hunting adult does not need a license. Any antlerless deer harvested during the controlled hunt will be considered a bonus deer and will not count against the youth’s combined season limit.
            For additional information concerning the hunts, contact the Wildlife Department at (405) 521-2739.
 
-30-
 
 
Pre-register for Expo and win prizes
            Individuals who pre-register for and attend the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s third annual Wildlife Expo have a chance to win one of several prizes thanks to the Expo’s generous sponsors.
            “They’re giving away a John Deere Gator, lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, guided trips and a lot of other cool stuff,” said Blake Shelton, Oklahoma-based country music star and avid sportsman who will be at the Expo Sept. 30. “I was just sorry to hear I’m not eligible to win anything.”
            The Expo is slated for Sept. 28-30 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, and is designed to celebrate the state’s diverse outdoor recreation opportunities. Other prizes also will be given away during the Expo, which will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
            “Even though the Expo is scheduled for Sept. 28-30, you have to pre-register for the event now in order to win the John Deere Gator utility vehicle,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Wildlife Department and one of hundreds of employees working on the event. “All you need to do is log on to wildlifedepartment.com and pre-register. When you do that, your name is automatically entered into the drawing.”
             Starting Sept. 4, participants also can register for the hunter education clinic featured at this year’s Expo.
            “Sept. 4 also marks the first day people can register for the unique Wildlife Department Fisheries Management Field Trip,” Holmes said.
            The fisheries field trip includes a pontoon boat ride on Guthrie City Lake to see firsthand how fisheries biologists collect population data to help them create and sustain fisheries all over Oklahoma.
            “This Expo will be the biggest and best we’ve had yet, and with chances to win a utility vehicle, hunting licenses, Buster boats and other great prizes, there’s no reason not to be a part of it,” Holmes said. “Log on to wildlifedepartment.com to keep updated and to pre-register. Someone is going to win, and you can’t win if you don’t sign up.”
            More than 200 booths and different activities have already been confirmed for this year’s Expo. From shotgun and archery shooting to canoeing, kayaking, wild game tasting, mountain biking, seminars and more, there will be plenty to see and experience during the free three-day event.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is partnering with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host this huge event. The Expo is designed to promote and perpetuate the appreciation of Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts, including both avid and beginner outdoorsmen.
            To learn more about the Expo and the Wildlife Department, or to pre-register, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-
 
 
Duck blind drawings slated  
            Drawings for permanent duck blinds at Fort Gibson, Eufaula, Webbers Falls, Waurika and W.D. Mayo will take place Saturday, Sept. 22.
            Anyone wanting a permanent blind permit must be 16 years of age and they must be present at the drawings.
            Registration and drawings for duck blinds at Fort Gibson, Eufaula and Webbers Falls will take place at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation field office in Porter, located between Wagoner and Muskogee on Hwy. 69. Registration and drawings for Fort Gibson will be at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., respectively; for Eufaula, 9:30 and 10:30, respectively; and for Webbers Falls, noon and 1 p.m., respectively.
            Drawings for Waurika will be at 9 a.m. at the Corps of Engineers office at the Waurika Lake dam.
            The drawing for duck blinds at W.D. Mayo will be at 10 a.m. at the Spiro City Council Chamber, 510 South Main St. (located at the south end of Main).
            Applicants must have a current Oklahoma hunting or combination license and a valid state waterfowl license and a federal duck stamp, unless they are exempt. Additionally, they need a valid Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit. Consult the “2007-08 Oklahoma Waterfowl Guide,” available in September, for regulations and hunting information.
 
-30-
 
 

 
 

Wildlife Commission sets waterfowl season; marketing effort underway
            Members of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission have set the dates and bag limits for Oklahoma's upcoming waterfowl seasons, and waterfowl hunters across the state can look forward to another productive year.
            Duck season dates and daily limits will be similar to last year, with most of the state enjoying a six-bird daily limit and 74-day season with a 12-day mid-season closure.
            “There have basically been no changes in the waterfowl season,” said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “We had good reproduction, and this will be the twelfth consecutive year of the 74-day season.”
            To see the complete season dates and bag limits, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            Also at its August meeting, the Commission heard a presentation from Wildlife Department employees Greg Summers and Andrea Crews regarding a marketing effort designed by the Department to improve product offerings and learn more about how to better serve the agency’s customers.
            “We’ve been looking at ways to better understand our state’s sportsmen and offer them more of what they want, while at the same time recruiting new sportsmen,” Crews said. “For example, the new apprentice-designated hunting license is going to allow more people to try hunting this year who otherwise might not go, and the state’s Close to Home Fishing Program improves angling opportunities closer to people living in metropolitan areas.”
            Efforts already underway include an upcoming radio campaign to encourage people to take advantage of the new apprentice-designated hunting license, as well as a campaign to promote the new Lake Records Program to be implemented during the fall.
    “We developed the Lake Records Program in response to requests from anglers,” Crews said. “It will recognize anglers who catch big fish and raise interest in fishing.”
            In other business, the Commission accepted $2,000 from the Oklahoma City Junior Bassmasters to be used for habitat projects in the Department’s Close to Home Fishing Program, and $10,000 from an anonymous donor to be used to purchase equipment for the Oklahoma Fisheries Lab in Norman.
            The donations will be matched three-to-one by Federal Sport Fish Restoration dollars. The Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration programs are partnerships between private industries, state governments, the federal government and hunters, anglers and boaters. Firearms, bows and arrows, fishing tackle, boat fuel and other outdoor related equipment are subject to special federal excise taxes that help fund conservation efforts around the country. The federal government collects these taxes from manufacturers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides the funds to state fish and wildlife agencies like the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            The Commission also recognized Gene Gilliland, senior fisheries biologist, for 25 years of service to the Wildlife Department.
            Gilliland has played a significant role in many important management projects. He started the first winter trout fishery at Lake Watonga and helped implement the Close to Home Fishing Program and spider blocks projects. He also played an important role in obtaining a habitat barge for the Department and is responsible for major advances in keeping bass alive during tournament fishing. Additionally, Gilliland instigated the Department’s Florida largemouth bass genetics program, and he has received several awards and recognition from various conservation groups.
            The Commission also accepted a donation of 10 acres in Cherokee County and accepted a bid to lease the Department’s mineral interest on 240 net mineral acres in Lexington Wildlife Management Area in Cleveland County.
            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 next scheduled Commission meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 4 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.
 
-30-
 
 
Waterfowl season dates slated
            Waterfowl hunters making plans for this year’s hunting season can mark their calendars now that the dates and regulations have been set by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission.
            “We are looking at an unprecedented run of 12 years of good duck breeding habitat conditions and liberal hunting regulations for ducks,” said Mike O’Meilia, migratory game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            According to O’Meilia, more than 41 million breeding ducks of the ten principle species surveyed were counted in the traditional survey area of the prairie pothole states and Canada. This represents a 14 percent increase from 2006 and is 24 percent above the 1955-2006 average. However, waterfowl managers remain concerned that pintails and scaup are still well below their long-term averages. O’Meilia said improved and increased wetlands have resulted in projections of good duck production and brood survival and that hunters can expect another large fall flight of ducks this year.
            “With a long season of 74 days and liberal bag limits, from a duck hunting regulations standpoint, it just doesn’t get any better than this,” O’Meilia said. “What we need to hope for now is a wet fall that will make for good habitat conditions so that we can hold the birds that traditionally travel through and winter in Oklahoma.”
            In zone 1 (most of northwest Oklahoma), the first half of the duck season will open Oct. 27 and run through Nov. 25, with the second half beginning Dec. 8 and running through Jan. 20, 2008. Pintail and canvasback season will be open Oct. 27 - Nov. 25, and then re-open on Dec. 8 and run through Dec. 16. Youth waterfowl hunting days in zone 1 will be Oct. 20 and 21.
            In zone 2, the duck season will run from Nov. 3-25 and Dec. 8 through Jan. 27, 2008. Pintail and canvasback season will open Dec. 20 and run through Jan. 27. Youth waterfowl hunting days in zone 2 will be Oct. 27 and 28.
            Panhandle counties will offer the longest duck season, opening Oct. 6 and running continuously through Jan. 4, 2008. Pintail and canvasback season for the Panhandle counties will be open Oct. 6 through Nov. 13. Youth waterfowl dates for the panhandle will be Sept. 29 and 30.
            Hunters will be allowed a daily limit of six ducks combined, no more than five of which can be mallards. Of those, only two mallards may be hens. No more than two scaup, two wood ducks and two redheads may be included in the daily limit, and no more than one pintail and one canvasback may be included during the specified time period in each of the established duck seasons.
            The statewide Canada goose season will run from Nov. 3-25 and Dec. 8 through Feb. 17, 2008. The daily limit will be three birds. The season for white-fronted geese will run Nov. 3-25 and Dec. 8 through Feb. 8, 2008. The daily bag limit is one. The regular season for light geese (snows, blues and Ross’) will run Nov. 3-25 and Dec. 8 through Feb. 17, 2008. The daily bag limit is 20.
            Sandhill crane season will be from Oct. 27 – Jan. 27, west of I-35 only. The daily limit will be three birds.
            Once waterfowl season begins, waterfowl reports will be available by email through the Wildlife Department’s weekly news release. Log on to http://www.wildlifedepartment.com to sign up.
            Hunters who wish to participate in the waterfowl season must have a resident or non-resident hunting license, a 2007 Federal Duck Stamp, and unless exempt, a 2007 Oklahoma Waterfowl License, a Fishing and Hunting Legacy Permit and a Harvest Information Program Permit. The federal duck stamp costs $15 and is available at U.S. Post Offices. Hunters pursuing sandhill cranes must also purchase a separate sandhill crane hunting permit.
            Up until the 2006-07 waterfowl season, 39-day seasons within the seasons had been used to limit the harvest of pintails and canvasbacks, but in the Hunter’s Choice trial currently underway in the 10 states of the Central Flyway, a separate category of ducks (pintails, canvasbacks and hen mallards) is set up in which hunters may take only one of the species that is listed in this aggregate, or combined category in the daily bag limit. Half of the Central Flyway states, including Oklahoma, maintain similar seasons as previous years while the other five use the Hunter’s Choice bag limit. The trial is being used to evaluate the effectiveness of a new bag limit system designed to maintain maximum duck hunting opportunities. At the end of the trial, biologists will evaluate the effectiveness of the two bag limits and ask hunters which they prefer. For more information about Hunter’s Choice, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            Hunters should consult the “2007-08 Waterfowl Hunting Guide,” available soon at hunting and fishing license dealers statewide, for complete hunting regulations and license requirements. Hunters also can obtain complete regulation information from the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-
 
 
Take a ride at the Expo
            Those who enjoy a thrilling ride on a mountain bike or ATV or perhaps a relaxing float in a canoe or kayak can do them all at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's third annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo slated for September 28-30 at the Lazy E Arena.
            The Wildlife Department will be working with a range of organizations, individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the Expo - an event intended to promote and develop appreciation for Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources.
            “One great thing about the Expo is that people can get so involved in all the activities, whether they shoot a bow for the first time or catch a fish or sit in on a hunting seminar,” said Rich Fuller, information supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “There’s just a lot of fun things to do at the Expo.”
            Besides taking rides on ATVs and boats, Expo visitors will be able to fish, shoot shotguns and archery, see and touch wildlife, attend dog training seminars, throw a tomahawk, develop outdoor skills and learn about recreation in the great outdoors. Individuals who pre-register for the Expo also have a chance to win one of several prizes thanks to the Expo’s generous sponsors, including a John Deere Gator utility vehicle from P&K Equipment.
            New this year, the Expo will feature the Outdoor Marketplace, a large tent where commercial vendors will be selling their hunting and fishing-related merchandise, services and memberships to outdoor organizations.
            Log on to wildlifedepartment.com to pre-register for the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.
 
-30-


 

August 31 deadline to apply for bonus youth deer hunts
            Beginning deer hunters have a unique opportunity to participate in four youth controlled antlerless deer hunts that will take place on private lands in several Oklahoma counties. Applications must be received at the Wildlife Department by 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, 2007.
            The hunts are scheduled for either October or January. This year, 52 bonus antlerless deer gun licenses will be drawn for youth 12 to 16 years of age who have completed their hunter education requirements.
            "These hunts are on private property and should provide young hunters a great opportunity to see some deer as well as a chance to harvest a doe," said Bill Dinkines, assistant chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission has endorsed the youth hunt program and we are thankful for the landowners' willingness to allow these kids the opportunity to hunt on their property.”
            To apply for a hunt, applicants must send the Department a 4” by 6” index card titled "Private Lands Youth Deer Hunts." The card should provide the hunter's name, date of birth, mailing address, telephone number, hunter education certification number, social security or driver’s license number, their order of hunt preferences (may list all 4 hunts) and lifetime license number if applicable. A non-hunting adult who is at least 21 years old must accompany the youth, and must also be listed on the index card. The envelope should be labeled “Private Lands Youth Deer Hunt” and should be mailed to: Department of Wildlife, Attn: Wildlife Division-Youth Deer Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
            Hunts will be offered in Ellis County (Oct. 12-13), Osage County (Oct. 12-14), Craig County (Oct. 14), Alfalfa County (Jan. 11-13).
            The drawing will be held Sept. 7, and successful applicants will receive a notification letter in the mail about their hunt the following week. The letter will inform them of their selection and provide details about the hunt and license requirements. Selected resident youth will need to purchase a $10 resident youth deer gun license unless they possess an Oklahoma resident lifetime hunting or resident lifetime combination license. Selected nonresidents will need to purchase a $201 nonresident deer gun license. The youth's non-hunting adult does not need a license. Any antlerless deer harvested during the controlled hunt will be considered a bonus deer and will not count against the youth’s combined season limit.
            For additional information concerning the hunts, contact the Wildlife Department at (405) 521-2739.
 
-30-
 
 
Dove season forecast indicates scouting is key
            Dove season is just days away, and the verdict from biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is in: scouting is as important this year as always.
            “The best thing hunters can do right now is scout,” said Johnny Herd, central region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department. He added that scouting for dove season can be just as fun as hunting.
            Craig Endicott, northeast region wildlife supervisor, said the same thing, adding that hunters should start with the areas that have been productive in the past.
            Recently harvested grain fields, such as milo, can be hot spots for dove hunters because of the concentrated numbers of doves using the fields, but with recent heavy rains making it too wet to use farm implements in some grain fields, hunters’ biggest challenge may be finding areas where large numbers of doves are gathering.
            “There’s always some good dove hunting to be found, but hunters need to scout out areas with recently harvested grain fields or otherwise high concentrations of doves, and ask for permission from landowners to hunt those areas,” Endicott said.
            According to Mike O’Meilia, migratory game bird biologist for the Wildlife Department, the key is to scout “right up to the season and on through the season.” O’Meilia said the dynamics of dove season can shift easily as the summer turns to fall and as food sources change. Sportsmen may have access to hunting locations that seem less productive during the early part of the season, but may be prime locations for finding high concentrations of doves as the season progresses. That is why O’Meilia said a diligent hunter willing to scout can enjoy great success this year.
            Dove season is one of the most highly anticipated hunting seasons in the state – and it is no wonder why. Dove hunting not only offers first class wingshooting and fine tablefare, but it is an easy sport to learn. A shotgun, an ample supply of shells and a place to go is all you really need to have a great day of dove hunting.
            September 1-2 marks Oklahoma’s Free Hunting Days, and Oklahoma residents do not need a hunting license, fishing and hunting legacy permit or HIP permit to go afield.
            Dove can be found from one corner of the state to the next, but hunters do not have to travel far to find them. Excellent hunting can be found on some of the wildlife management areas managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Some areas of those properties have been managed specifically for doves.
            To find out more about where wildlife management areas are in the state, log onto wildlifedepartment.com and check out the free digital wildlife management area atlas. In addition to detailed maps, sportsmen can find additional information such as camping locations and contact information for local biologists.
            New to dove hunting this year is the state’s Southwest Zone in southwest Oklahoma. The Southwest Zone starts on U.S. 62 from the Texas border west of Hollis, east to Interstate 44, Interstate 44 south to OK 7, OK 7 east to U.S. 81 and U.S. 81 south to the Texas border at the Red River. The zone will be open during the statewide dove season Sept. 1 - Oct. 30, but also Dec. 26 - Jan. 4.
            The daily limit on doves is 15, except in the Southwest Zone, where the daily limit is 12 doves. The limit may consist of any combination of mourning doves, white-winged doves and Eurasian collared doves.
            To hunt doves, sportsmen need a hunting license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit, unless exempt. Additionally, all hunters, unless otherwise exempt, must carry a Harvest Information Permit (HIP) while afield. For complete hunting license information and dove hunting regulations, be sure to pick up a copy of the “2007-08 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” at a sporting goods retailer or at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-
 
 
Expo to feature unique fisheries field trip
            Ever wonder exactly what goes into maintaining Oklahoma’s great fishing opportunities? Participants at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo can find out Sept. 28-30 by taking the Fisheries Management Field Trip at Guthrie City Lake.
            “Here is a way for everyday anglers to get an inside look at the daily activities of a Wildlife Department fisheries biologist,” said Jeff Boxrucker, assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            The unique trip will include a barge ride where attendees can observe biologists electrofishing (shocking) to collect largemouth bass and trap netting to collect crappie and other game fish. The field trip also will include an opportunity to learn how biologists age fish and see how these are used to maintain quality fisheries around the state.
            “The work that Wildlife Department biologists conduct plays an important role in making Oklahoma such a great place to fish,” Boxrucker said.
            Those interested in taking the field trip must pre-register between Sept. 4-27 to reserve a time. Space is limited on the trips, and sign-up is on a first-come, first-served basis. Five trips will be taken during Expo Sept. 28-30, including 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28 and 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
            Registration will close on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 4:30 p.m. In the event of cancellations, interested individuals can check at the Information Booth during the EXPO to see if space is available and what sessions are open.
            Participants are encouraged to bring sunscreen, bug spray and appropriate clothing for outdoor conditions. Life jackets are required and will be provided, but participants are encouraged to bring their own life jacket if possible. Cancellation of trips is possible due to weather and safety conditions immediately prior to the session.
            The Fisheries Field Trip is only one of hundreds of activities and events featured at this year’s Expo, held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City.
            The Wildlife Department is partnering with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host this huge event. The Expo is designed to promote and perpetuate the appreciation of Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.
            Expo hours will be from noon to 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28 and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29 and Sunday, Sept. 30.
            For more information about activities available at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, or to see how you can win one of several prizes thanks to the generosity of Expo sponsors, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-
 
 
Smallmouth buffalo record shattered by white bass angler
            The last two state record smallmouth buffalo had been reeled out of the waters of Canton Lake near Watonga, but the lake’s streak was broken Aug. 15 when Marvin Williams of Noble shattered that record with his 44 lb., two ounce catch out of Konawa.
            Williams caught the giant smallmouth buffalo on a Tiny Fluke while using eight-pound test line. The previous record smallmouth buffalo weighed 38 pounds, 3.8 ounces and was caught by Rodney Meyer of Balko on just 12-pound test line.
            What makes Williams’ catch so unique is that he was actually fishing for white bass, and though he knew about smallmouth buffalo, he had never caught one previous to his state record catch.
            “I had seen them before, but I’d never caught one,” Williams said.
            The record fish was weighed on certified scales at the Oklahoma Fisheries Research Lab operated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            “Normally, state records are broken by mere ounces,” said Barry Bolton, fisheries chief for the Wildlife Department. “This one blew the previous record out of the water!”
            For a complete list of record fish and the procedures regarding state record fish, consult the "Oklahoma Fishing Guide"  or log on to wildlifedepartment.com. If you think you may have hooked a record fish, it is important that you weigh the fish on an Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale and the weight is verified by a Wildlife Department employee.
 
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Wildlife Department seeks artists for waterfowl stamp design
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is accepting entries for the Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp design competition. The deadline to submit art is 4:30 p.m., Sept. 7.
            The mallard will be featured on the 2008-09 stamp, and the winning art will be printed on the 2008-09 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp.
            “There are going to be two big changes to this year’s waterfowl stamp design competition,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “First, artists will have the option of including a retriever in their artwork. The mallard should be the featured element of the painting, but I am hoping some artists find a way to work their favorite sporting dog into the background or foreground of the image. After all, the only thing waterfowlers love as much as ducks and geese is their dogs.”
            According to Holmes, the second change in this year’s competition will be the manner in which the artwork is judged.
            “In all the previous years of the competition, a small panel of judges has voted on the winning artwork,” Holmes said. “This year, we’re going to let the public give their opinion. Selected entries will be on display at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo Sept. 28-30 and visitors can come by and vote for their favorite image.”
            Duck stamp sales help finance many projects that benefit ducks and geese. Since the duck stamp program began in 1980, thousands of acres of waterfowl habitat have been created through duck stamp revenues.
            Artwork may be of acrylic, oil, watercolor, scratchboard, pencil, pen and ink, tempera or any other two-dimensional media. The illustration must be horizontal, six and a half inches high and nine inches wide. It must be matted with white mat board nine inches high by 12 inches wide with the opening cut precisely 6.5 x 9. Artwork may not be framed or under glass, but acetate covering should be used to protect the art. All artists must depict the mallard, and any habitat appearing in the design must be typical of Oklahoma. For complete entry guidelines, call (405) 521-3856.
            Entries should be sent to the Duck Stamp Competition Coordinator, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Fed Ex, UPS and other ground deliveries should be sent to 1801 N. Lincoln, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
            Entries will be judged on anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for printing. The winner and three honorable mentions will appear in a future issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
            A non-refundable entry fee of $20 (cash, money order or cashier’s check) must accompany each entry. No entries will be accepted after 4:30 p.m. Sept. 7.
            The winning artist will receive a purchase award of $1,200. The winning entry will become the sole and exclusive property of the Wildlife Department.
            A selection of waterfowl stamp art from previous years is currently on display in the lobby of the Wildlife Department headquarters located at 1801 N. Lincoln, in Oklahoma City.
            Prints of previous winning waterfowl artwork can be purchased at wildlifedepartment.com
            For more information about the contest call (405) 521-3856.
 
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Study suggests Konawa is still a hotspot
            Konawa Lake needs little introduction as a bass fishing hotspot, and recent spring electrofishing data from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation suggests the lake’s reputation is well deserved.
            Every spring, Wildlife Department fisheries personnel collect bass using electrofishing equipment and then weigh and measure each fish before releasing them back into the water unharmed. The information collected is then used to help biologists decide which lakes would benefit from specialized management techniques, such as length restrictions and slot limits.
            For the ninth year in a row, Seminole County’s 1,300-acre Konawa Lake beat out other state lakes over 1,000 acres in the number of bass sampled per hour, with 185 fish.
            “It doesn’t surprise me that Konawa produced the most bass in this survey,” said Kurt Kuklinski, fisheries research biologist for the Wildlife Department. “The lake is a great place for anglers to catch bass, and this survey seems to confirm that every year during these surveys.”
            Lake Arbuckle took the number two position with 130 bass sampled per hour, followed by Hudson Lake with 106 bass.
            American Horse lead the way in lakes under 1,000 acres with 223 bass per hour, followed by Vian with 181 bass per hour and Wetumka with 167. Anglers should be aware that flood damage has temporarily closed access to American Horse Lake.
            Variations in electrofishing catch rates can result from lake conditions at the time of sampling or from changes in reproduction, recruitment, growth and mortality caused by habitat alteration, environmental impacts, food fish production, disease or angling pressure. Not all lakes are surveyed each year.
            “Some of our major lakes, such as Grand Lake and Eufaula Lake, didn’t get sampled because such high water levels and unusual environmental conditions created by the intense rains this spring would have resulted in inaccurate data,” Kuklinski said. “We knew the information would be skewed compared to normal years and wouldn’t be useful for long term management of those fisheries.”
            Kuklinski added that conditions associated with Oklahoma’s high lake levels, such as submerged vegetation that had been growing on exposed shorelines before flooding, often prove beneficial to newly-hatched fish.
            “Even though we didn’t sample some of our bigger lakes, we are confident that anglers can enjoy good populations of fish and great angling over the next year,” Kuklinski said.  
            The electrofishing data shows that many smaller lakes are home to healthy bass populations. But, anglers should remember that high numbers of bass reported in the electrofishing results doesn’t always guarantee quality size bass are present.
            Data also is collected during they surveys on the number of bass sampled per hour that measure more than 14 inches, and the heaviest fish from each lake are recorded as well.
            Lakes are classified as "Quality" if they can produce good numbers of catchable bass (indicated by at least 40 bass per hour of electrofishing, with at least 10 of those bass 14 inches or longer). "High Quality" lakes produce excellent numbers of catchable bass (at least 60 bass per hour, with 15 or more of those fish 14 inches or longer). Lakes that have trophy potential (capable of producing two fish over 21 inches in length per hour of electrofishing) are rated as "Trophy Quality."
            Families can learn more about fisheries management techniques such as electrofishing and trap netting by attending a field trip at Guthrie Lake during the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo Sept. 28-30. Space is limited on the trips, and sign-up is on a first-come, first-served basis. Five trips will be taken during Expo Sept. 28-30, including 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28 and 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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American Horse Lake access temporarily closed
            Anglers looking to fish at American Horse Lake near Geary will not be able to access the lake over the next several days.
            “Because of recent flooding, road conditions are too poor to access American Horse Lake,” said Barry Bolton, fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “People in vehicles towing boats aren’t able to get to the lake because of the road damage, and those who do get part-way down the road have to find some way to turn their rigs around, which can be difficult on damaged roads. That’s why it’s better to keep off the roads until repairs are completed.”
            Bolton said the lake will reopen once county roads are repaired. Signs have been placed on Hwy 281 to alert motorists of the access closures.
            American Horse Lake is one of 15 small lakes owned and managed by the Wildlife Department. Information and maps for these lakes and their locations can be obtained in a booklet called “Department Lakes,” available for $2 from the Department’s fisheries division office. Special fishing regulations for these lakes can be found in the current “Oklahoma Fishing Guide.”
 
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Duck blind drawings slated  
            Drawings for permanent duck blinds at Fort Gibson, Eufaula, Webbers Falls, Waurika and W.D. Mayo will take place Saturday, Sept. 22.
            Anyone wanting a permanent blind permit must be 16 years of age and they must be present at the drawings.
            Registration and drawings for duck blinds at Fort Gibson, Eufaula and Webbers Falls will take place at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation field office in Porter, located between Wagoner and Muskogee on Hwy. 69. Registration and drawings for Fort Gibson will be at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., respectively; for Eufaula, 9:30 and 10:30, respectively; and for Webbers Falls, noon and 1 p.m., respectively.
            Drawings for Waurika will be at 9 a.m. at the Corps of Engineers office at the Waurika Lake dam.
            The drawing for duck blinds at W.D. Mayo will be at 10 a.m. at the Spiro City Council Chamber, 510 South Main St. (located at the south end of Main).
            Applicants must have a current Oklahoma hunting or combination license and a valid state waterfowl license and a federal duck stamp, unless they are exempt. Additionally, they need a fishing and hunting legacy permit and valid Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit. Consult the “2007-08 Oklahoma Waterfowl Guide,” available in September, for regulations and hunting information.
 
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