APRIL 2008 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF APRIL 28, 2008  

WEEK OF APRIL 17, 2008

 

WEEK OF APRIL 10, 2008

 

WEEK OF APRIL 3, 2008

Private lands elk season sees increase in antlerless hunting opportunity
            Some southwest Oklahoma private landowners will now have more days — including all of the 16-day deer gun season and the entire month of January — available to harvest antlerless elk now that the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a proposal for a more generous season.
            At its regular monthly meeting held April 1, the Commission approved several private lands elk hunting regulation changes designed to benefit the health of the state’s elk herds while meeting the needs and interests of landowners.
            Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said meetings with landowners in the affected counties revealed a desire to harvest more elk and to limit depredation problems caused by elk in agricultural areas.  
            The Commission recognizes the free-ranging elk on lands east and west of SH 115 in Kiowa, Comanche and Caddo counties as two independent elk herds.
            According to Peoples, the land west of the highway is known as the “Granite” area and is very rocky, whereas the eastern side, known as the “Slick Hills” area, includes a transitioning point from rocky ground to soils more suited for agriculture.
            “The highway is like a dividing line between the herds, and research studies tell us there’s not much intermingling between the two,” Peoples said. “As a result, the Wildlife Department is confident that it’s best to manage the two herds separately for hunting.”
            The private lands elk hunting regulations approved by the Commission include a five-day bull or antlerless archery season spanning from the first Saturday in October through the following Wednesday (Oct. 4-8 for 2008) and from the second Saturday in December through the following Wednesday (Dec. 13-17 for 2008). The private lands elk gun season, however, will vary for areas east and west of SH 115.
            On both sides of the highway, the elk gun season will include Oct. 9-12 and Dec. 18-21 for 2008. However, on the west side of SH 115, the season will be open to bulls only Oct. 9-11 and Dec. 18-20 and to both bulls and antlerless elk Oct. 12 and Dec. 21. On the east side of SH 115, all season days are open to both antlered and antlerless elk hunting.
            Additionally, hunters east of SH 115, or the Slick Hills area, will be able to harvest antlerless elk during the entire 16-day deer gun season, which spans from Nov. 22 through Dec. 7, as well as from Jan. 1 through Jan. 31.
            “In recent years, the Slick Hills elk herd has about doubled, and suitable elk habitat in that area is limited, so this significant increase in hunting opportunity will benefit the elk herd while providing even more hunting opportunity on these private lands,” Peoples said.
            The Commission also approved antlerless deer hunting dates for 2008-09, which will fall on the same antlerless days as last year except for adjusted calendar dates. Zone 1 will be open Nov. 22 and Dec. 7, 2008, of the deer gun season. Zones 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 will be open to antlerless hunting Oct. 25 – Nov. 2, 2008 (muzzleloader) and Nov. 22 – Dec. 7, 2008 (gun). Zone 10 will be open Oct. 25-27 and Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 (muzzleloader) and Nov. 22, 29 and Dec. 7, 2008 (gun). Special antlerless deer hunting season in zones 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 will be Dec. 19-21 and Dec. 26-28, 2008.
            In other business, the Commission approved emergency rules to establish hunting seasons on the Wildlife Department’s newest wildlife management area, Cimarron Bluff — a 3,440-acre area in Harper Co. — so that the Department’s Controlled Hunts and hunting seasons can be conducted during the 2008-09 hunting seasons. The property was purchased with money earned through the sale of fishing and hunting legacy permits and State Wildlife Grants funds, and provides habitat for a number of wildlife species, including several considered to be of greatest conservation need. The area, located about 15 miles east of Buffalo, is comprised of prime mixed grass prairie habitat and adjoins the Cimarron River. Hunting will be offered, more than likely in the form of controlled hunts for deer this fall, and spring turkey season will be open starting in 2009 with a one-tom limit. Hunting for quail will be available until noon each day beginning with the 2008-09 quail season. Complete regulations will be outlined in the “2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide.” Several ponds dotting the area will offer fishing opportunities as well.
            Additionally, the Commission recognized Bruce Burton, wildlife biologist for the Department, for 20 years of service. Burton manages the Deep Fork, Heyburn and Okmulgee wildlife management areas.
            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 set for 9 a.m. May 5 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.  
 
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Wildlife Department Adds Newest WMA thanks to Legacy Permits and State Wildlife Grants
            Oklahoma’s sportsmen will soon have access to an all new wildlife management area (WMA) in western Oklahoma thanks to funds from fishing and hunting legacy permit sales and the State Wildlife Grants Program. The new tract, to be known as Cimarron Bluff WMA, is located about 15 miles east of Buffalo and comprises 3,402 acres of prime mixed grass prairie habitat adjoining the Cimarron River in eastern Harper County.
            The property was purchased with money earned through the sale of fishing and hunting legacy permits and State Wildlife Grants funds. The fishing and hunting legacy permit is a $5 permit required of most annual license holders who hunt, fish or trap, or attempt to take fish or wildlife in any manner. Funds derived from the sale of legacy permits are used by the Department to purchase or lease property for public fishing and hunting.
            The State Wildlife Grants program is a federal cost-share program that was initiated in Congress in 2000. It provides funding to state wildlife agencies like the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for distribution among universities, conservation groups and other state agencies in order to develop more effective conservation programs for rare and declining species.
            “Up to this point, most of the money allocated to Oklahoma through the State Wildlife Grants program has been used for wildlife surveys,” said Russ Horton, lands and wildlife diversity supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “And while these things are a necessary part of sound wildlife management, this purchase represents an on-the-ground approach to acquiring and restoring wildlife habitat. A number of wildlife species, including some identified in Oklahoma’s Wildlife Action Plan as a species of greatest conservation need will directly benefit from the habitat on Cimarron Bluff WMA.”
            Unique species for which the purchased land can provide habitat are, among others, the Texas horned lizard, lesser prairie chicken, western massasauga snake, long-nosed snake, Bell’s vireo, long-billed curlew, loggerhead shrike and western big-eared bat. In all, over 50 species of special management concern in Oklahoma will benefit from habitat management activities at Cimarron Bluff.
            The property adjoins the Cimarron river, providing potential habitat for an additional variety of species such as the Arkansas River shiner, Arkansas darter, interior least tern and whooping crane.
            “This purchase reflects the Wildlife Department’s commitment to broaden our scope of management and actively manage for all wildlife species,” Horton said.
            In addition, hunting will be offered, more than likely in the form of controlled hunts for deer this fall, and spring turkey season will be open starting in 2009 with a one-tom limit. The area will be open to small game hunting (including quail) during the fall of 2008. At it’s April meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved emergency rules to establish hunting seasons on the area, and complete regulations will be outlined in the “2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
            Cimarron Bluff consists mostly of gently rolling hills covered with native mixed grass prairie. Grasses like bluestem, Indian grass and sideoats grama along with sand plum, sand sagebrush and sumac cover the area, as well as a range of forbs. These upland sites provide habitat for a number of traditional game species such as deer, turkey, quail and furbearers. Deer and turkey hunting will be limited to controlled hunts and will have a one-tom limit during turkey season, and quail hunting will end at noon each day during quail season.
            “Harper County produces big deer,” said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Wildlife Department. “All hunters know that, and there is potential to harvest a quality deer on the area. I expect turkey and quail hunting opportunities as well. Regulations and more information will be included in the Wildlife Department’s ‘2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,’ which will be available this summer.”
            Several ponds, including one 12.5-acre pond that offers excellent fishing opportunity, dot the area for a near 30 acres of ponds. The habitat associated with the adjacent Cimarron River provides crucial habitat for numerous species.
            Regulations for using the area will be available in the future. Keep up to date by regularly logging on to the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. The Web site also offers a full listing and description of wildlife management areas across the state.
 
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Okmulgee students compete in Archery in the Schools event
            Students from three Okmulgee Co. schools showed up at the Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge recently to participate in the third annual Okmulgee Archery Day.
            Students at the event competed against each other in competitive archery shooting events and also tried 3-D archery target shooting and mock bowfishing. Participating schools included Morris, Wilson and Beggs. Six home-school students also participated in the day’s event. Morris took home the team championship trophy.
            Taking first in the boys category was Justin Unruh, Morris, followed by Dalton Monkes, Beggs, and Hunter DeArmon, Morris. In the girls category, Mykalia Frank, Morris, took first placed, followed by Krysten Winsett, Morris, and Taylor Lorenz, Beggs.
            Okmulgee Archery Day was part of the Oklahoma Archery in the Schools program coordinated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The national program is a partnership between state wildlife agencies, schools and the nation’s archery industry.
            Over 100 schools across the state have enrolled in the Oklahoma Archery in the Schools program (OAIS), which offers competitive archery to students, and coordinators of the program say available grant money could make it easy for other schools to join up as well.
            The program is coordinated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and is part of a national program that creates partnerships between state wildlife agencies, schools and the nation's archery industry to introduce students to the sport of archery. The program curriculum is designed for 4th-12th graders and covers archery history, safety, techniques, equipment, mental concentration and self-improvement.
            “The program is really taking off across the state, but there is still plenty of opportunity for more schools to get involved,” said Lance Meek, OAIS coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “Thanks to a Wildlife Department grant, schools can now get involved in the program for a fraction of the cost of the equipment.”
            The grant is available for schools to acquire all the equipment, including bows, arrows, targets, safety nets, curriculum and training necessary to begin an OAIS  program in their communities at little or no cost.
            “If any teacher is interested in bringing the program to their school, they should give me a call,” Meek said.
            In order to be eligible for a grant, the school must send a teacher to an eight-hour workshop where they will learn how to conduct the program at their school and instruct students in archery.
            For more information on the Archery in the Schools program, log on to wildlifedepartment.com. Results from the 2008 Oklahoma Archery in the Schools state tournament held April 3 will be available soon at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Apply now for Wildlife Department’s Controlled Hunts
            Hunters can now submit their applications for the “2008-09 Controlled Hunts” over the Internet by logging on to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            “Hunters do not want to miss out on this unique opportunity. From pronghorn hunts in the Panhandle to youth turkey hunts, there is something for everyone,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The online application process is fast, simple and safe.”
            After an individual submits an online application, they receive a message immediately confirming that their application was accepted.
            “Sportsmen get instant confirmation that their application was filed correctly,” Holmes said.
            Applicants have until May 15 to apply online.
            Administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Controlled Hunts Program offers a wide variety of highly desirable hunts through a random drawing. Some hunts are held to provide high-quality hunting experiences on high-profile areas where it is necessary to regulate hunting pressure. Others are held to achieve management goals for certain species, and others are held to provide hunting experiences in areas where access is otherwise limited.
            All applicants, including lifetime license holders, must pay a $5 application fee to enter the Controlled Hunts drawings. The fee is paid only once per person per year regardless of the number of categories entered.
             For complete application instructions, including tips on enhancing your chances of being selected, log on to http://www.wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Archery in the Schools state tourney draws record crowd
            Nearly 800 students — 775 to be exact — competed April 3 at the fourth annual Oklahoma Archery in the Schools (OAIS) state tournament held at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. That number dwarfs the 400 in attendance at last year’s tournament.
            Students at the state tournament competed in archery shooting after a season of practice and competition in their respective schools.
            Coordinated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Oklahoma Archery in the Schools is part of a national program that partners state wildlife agencies, schools and the nation’s archery industry to introduce students to the sport of archery. The Archery in the Schools curriculum is designed for 4th-12th graders and covers archery history, safety, techniques, equipment, mental concentration and self-improvement. About 10,000 students participated in the program this school year.
            The top three shooters in each category at the state tournament received medals and prizes. First place winners received a new bow, second place winners received a dozen new arrows and third place winners took home a new bow carrying case. In addition, the top five shooters in each category qualified for the national tournament to be held May 10 in Louisville, Ky. The top three shooters in each age category include:
 
High school boys
Dillon Addington, Clayton
Blake Blakely, Keys
Kris McMillen, Beggs
 
High school girls
Kayla Replogle, Coweta
Bailee Cartwright, Moss
Madison Arnold, Beggs
 
Middle school boys
Chase Biel, Cimarron
Houston Gaither, Coweta
Chaz Morgan, Shawnee
 
Middle school girls
Brianna George, Morris
Taylor Gee, Coweta
Hannah Stevens, Greenville
 
Elementary school boys
Stanley Burkett, Coweta
Dalton Markes, Beggs
Grayson Shockley, Cherokee
 
Elementary school girls
Rebekah Marks, Coweta
Hadlie Barnes, Greenville
Hannah Lawhorn, Keystone
 
            In addition, several schools scored high enough to compete as teams at the national tournament. Qualifying teams include Coweta High School, Beggs High Schools, Coweta Middle School, Shawnee Middle School, Cimarron Middle School, South Rock Creek Middle School, Morris Middle School, Coweta Elementary, Shawnee Elementary, Morris Elementary, South Rock Creek Elementary and Zaneis Elementary.
            According to Lance Meek, OAIS coordinator, the state tournament’s success each year is made possible by the Department’s partnership with UCO.
            “The staff at UCO have been an important partner and have really had a positive impact on the youth involved with the Oklahoma Archery in the Schools program,” Meek said. “The facilities and staff at UCO helped make this event a huge success.”
            Over 100 schools across the state have enrolled in the Oklahoma Archery in the Schools program (OAIS), which offers competitive archery to students, and grant money can make it easy for other schools to join up as well.
            “Thanks to a Wildlife Department grant, schools can now get involved in the program for a fraction of the cost of the equipment,” Meek said.
            The grant is available for schools to acquire all the equipment, including bows, arrows, targets, safety nets, curriculum and training necessary to begin an OAIS program in their communities at little cost.
            In order to be eligible for a grant, the school must send a teacher to an eight-hour workshop where they will learn how to conduct the program at their school and instruct students in archery.
            Teachers interested in learning more about the OAIS program or in starting an OAIS program at their school should contact Meek at (405) 522-4572 or lmeek@odwc.state.ok.us.
            For more information on the Archery in the Schools program, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Conservation groups work to restore forests along the Canadian River
            Landowners in the Canadian River watershed in portions of Dewey, Ellis and Roger Mills counties are eligible to participate in a cost-share program designed to improve water quality and wildlife habitat and to reduce erosion. State forestry officials say eliminating invasive species and restoring native trees and shrubs will be the keys to the project.
            "The riparian forests of the Canadian River and its tributaries provide critical environmental benefits to a large portion of the state's population," said John Burwell, Oklahoma's State Forester and Forestry Services director. "These benefits are threatened because of invasive species and lack of young trees to replace older, mature trees. It is our responsibility to help landowners enhance and conserve these resources."
            With funding from the USDA Forest Service, the Canadian River Riparian Forest Restoration Project is a partnership of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry (ODAFF), the National Wild Turkey Federation and The Nature Conservancy.
            ODAFF foresters and wildlife biologists with the National Wild Turkey Federation will provide free assistance to landowners and communities in the planning and implementation of their management efforts.
            “Historically, wild turkeys used mature cottonwood trees in the southern great plains for roosting,” Burwell said. “The disappearance of mature bottomland forests in this region reduces the quality of turkey habitat. We also expect to see other species like quail and songbirds benefit from the improved habitat. I think people will be surprised at how much this watershed can be improved.”
            Most eligible projects such as tree planting, prescribed burning and other activities to control unwanted species are eligible for 75-25 cost share through the program. Other activities such as fencing will be eligible for 50-50 cost share funding.
            “The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recognizes the importance of landowner involvement in successful habitat and wildlife management – we simply couldn’t do it without enthusiastic support,” said Mike Sams, private lands biologist for the Wildlife Department. “This restoration project is a great compliment to all the other landowner partnership programs offered through the Wildlife Department and other organizations.”
            The project is scheduled for the next two years, and approximately $100,000 in cost-sharing is available through Oklahoma Forestry Services. A project demonstration area is being created on the Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area in Ellis County as an educational tool for landowners.
            For additional information about the Canadian River Riparian Forest Restoration Project call Ross Huffman, NWTF regional biologist for west Texas and Oklahoma, at (806) 683-2708 or send an e-mail to rhuffman-nwtf@suddenlink.net. Landowners can also contact Scott Parry, wildlife biologist for the Wildlife Department, at (580) 515-2030 or sparry@vicihorizon.com.
            For the project overview, log on to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry website at forestry.ok.gov/crrfp.
 

Deadline to apply for Wildlife Department Youth Camp extended
            Youth who did not sign up for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s annual Youth Camp by the April 18 deadline can still sign up, as the deadline has been extended through May 1, 2008
            The 10th annual Youth Camp is scheduled for June 2-6, 2008. The camp is free, and youth get a chance to learn about careers in wildlife conservation.
            Held at OU Biological Station near Lake Texoma, the camp is open to Oklahoma youths ages 14 to 16 and is designed to give an increased awareness of protecting and managing Oklahoma's wildlife resources. Participants will attend courses in rifle and shotgun training, hunting and wildlife identification, wildlife law enforcement, wildlife and fisheries biology and management, self-defense, and ropes and rappelling.
            The camp is limited to 35 youth. Applicants should be interested in fish and wildlife management or law enforcement and must submit a 75-word essay explaining why they want to attend the camp, why they believe they should be selected and what they expect to learn while attending. They must also submit a letter of recommendation from a person of their choice other than a family member and a photograph of a recent outdoor-related event or activity.
            Applicants must turn 14 prior to June 2, 2008. Obtain applications by logging on to the Wildlife Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. Simply print off the application, fill it out and mail it in with the essay, letter of recommendation and photograph to: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Law Enforcement Division Youth Camp, P.O. Box 53465 Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
 
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Oklahoma’s hunting and fishing license sales impact conservation funding
            Hunters and anglers are a critical part of the success of conservation, and recently their activity has helped secure an increase in the amount of conservation effort that can be implemented statewide.
            The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced fiscal year 2008 Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs funding. Oklahoma’s share of the funding is at an all time high. The state’s share of the 2008 Wildlife Restoration funds are $6,549,087 while the Sport Fish Restoration funds are $7,502,897. This is a combined increase of $1,451,684 over last year’s funds.
            The total pool of available funds is determined by how much is raised from a special federal excise tax that is levied on hunting and fishing equipment and motorboat fuel. The money is distributed to all 50 state fish and wildlife agencies based on a formula that includes land mass of the state and the number of hunting and fishing licenses sold in that state.
            “Since the equipment and gas tax is collected nationwide and the land and water area isn’t likely to change, funding for Oklahoma’s wildlife conservation really comes down to the number of hunting and fishing licenses sold,” said John Stafford, federal aid coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “It is very important that hunters and anglers introduce their friends and family to the sport to ensure the future of our outdoor heritage.”
            The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds are used by the Wildlife Department for a wide range of important activities, including the purchase and maintenance of wildlife management areas; construction of fish hatcheries, research laboratories and user facilities; surveying and managing fish and wildlife populations; training volunteer instructors; and educating young hunters and anglers in safe firearms handling, fish and wildlife resources and ethics afield.
            The Wildlife Department receives no general state tax revenues and is funded by sportsmen through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and special federal excise taxes on sporting goods.
 
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Consider habitat improvements when rebuilding farm ponds
            Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation say reports of collapsed or damaged pond dams are on the rise currently after bouts of heavy rains this spring.
            Oklahoma anglers know fishing the state’s many farm ponds can be one of the most rewarding ways to enjoy the sport of angling, but many ponds are waiting to be repaired or restored and transformed into a dream fishery.
            “We recognize pond fishing as an extremely important part of Oklahoma’s fishing heritage,” said Jeff Boxrucker, Assistant Chief of Fisheries for the Wildlife Department. “When a dam collapses on a nice farm pond fishery, whether a result of heavy rains, poor initial construction or even beaver-inflicted damage, it can be a huge loss for landowners and anglers. But the positive side is that a new door is opened to create an even better fishery than before.”
            Boxrucker said owners of damaged ponds who wish to rebuild their fisheries have the opportunity to re-evaluate their angling interests and improve their ponds, in terms of both habitat availability and fish and water management.
            “Although the Wildlife Department does not build ponds on private property, we recognize the value of pond fishing in Oklahoma, and we encourage pond owners to realize the potential their ponds have as fisheries and to manage them for angling,” Boxrucker said. “Some landowners have pond beds that have been empty for years, but just a little effort could go a long way in creating some lifelong memories, especially if those landowners have kids or grandkids that might enjoy the sport of fishing if only given the chance to be around the sport.”
            According to Boxrucker, landowners who have lost a pond due to a collapsed dam, or those who would like to restore a dry bed that was once a flourishing pond, should consider installing a draw down structure consisting of a pipe extending through the dam with a valve on the downstream side that allows water levels in ponds to be manipulated. Other management techniques and pond improvements to consider while a pond is being reconstructed include sinking brush and other fish attracting structure, planning harvest guidelines to manipulate size structure, constructing docks and deepening pond beds.
            “Being able to draw the water levels of your pond down at the turn of a valve can literally save a pond when rains are extremely heavy in an area,” Boxrucker said. “That way your pond is not simply at the mercy of mother nature. Winter drawdown structures are effective means of vegetation control and manipulating predator and prey ratios. If you’ve got a pond that is currently dry or being rebuilt, now is the time to get a few things right that will benefit your pond and the quality of fishing it provides in the long run.”
            The Wildlife Department also has a available a 44-page booklet titled Managing Pond Fisheries in Oklahoma that includes full-color photos and covers pond construction, placement of structure, controlling vegetation, proper levels of fish harvest and more. The booklet costs $3 and can be purchased by logging on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            Boxrucker recommends contacting the county Natural Resources Conservation Service for technical assistance for restoring damaged or dry farm ponds.
            Ponds that are newly constructed or restored that meet certain criteria may be eligible to receive free fish from the Wildlife Department. Interested anglers must go through an application process, and forms can be found at wildlifedepartment.com or by contacting a local game warden. More information is available on page 15 of the “2008 Oklahoma Fishing Guide.”
 
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Huge striped bass hybrid takes lake record spot at Canton
            Lifelong Oklahoma angler James Wesley Jones, Jr. of Canton said he loves fishing because it is a relaxing activity, but there was likely no relaxing going on April 19 when he landed a 23.2-lb. (23 lbs., 3 oz.) striped bass hybrid from Canton Lake. The huge fish qualifies as a lake record for Canton and falls only about an ounce shy of taking the state record spot as well, which is held by Paul Hollister and his 23-lb., 4 oz. fish caught April 1, 1997, from Altus-Lugert Lake.
            Jones caught his fish in the evening using a 1-oz. rattletrap. Though the hybrid fell short of the state record, it reminds anglers that if they catch a potential state record fish, they should contact an employee of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for procedures on certifying state records. Lake record fish are weighed on scales through lake record keepers registered with the Wildlife Department, but the weighing of state records must be done on certified scales with a witness from the Wildlife Department present.
            Jones said the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s new Lake Record Fish Program does more than just recognize fish, but that it also encourages the sport of fishing. Before the program was in place, his near state record fish could have gone overlooked by anglers across the state, but the recognition his fish received through the Lake Record Fish Program reminds anglers of the potential that Oklahoma’s lakes hold for producing monster-sized fish.
            “It gets people motivated to fish knowing that there are larger fish in the lake,” Jones said.
            He said it is common in discussions among anglers to wonder about the sizes of the largest fish caught in lakes across the state.
            “You don’t have to wonder anymore,” he said. “You can just go on and find out.”
            Jones is referring to the Wildlife Department’s Web site, wildlifedepartment.com, which includes an easily-operated search feature that allows those interested to view a wealth of lake record fish information, ranging from the size of record fish caught to what kind of bait or rod and reel was used to catch them. And right now, lake records are being set and broken on a regular basis, which means the wealth of information on the Web site is updating and growing regularly as well.
            Other recent lake records include a 4.8-lb. smallmouth bass caught by Derek Thurman of Collinsville. His fish went down as a record smallmouth for Skiatook Lake, but that record was broken just days later, on April 5, when angler Jim Horn of Cleveland landed a 6.6-lb. smallmouth bass from Skiatook using a bait casting rod and reel set up with a jig.
            Lakes included in the program include Arbuckle, Broken Bow, Canton, Eufaula, Ft. Cobb, Grand, Kaw, Keystone, Sardis, Skiatook, Tenkiller, Texoma and Thunderbird.
            Species eligible for spots in the lake records book include blue, channel and flathead catfish and largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass in addition to crappie, paddlefish, striped bass, striped bass hybrids, sunfish (combined) walleye/saugeye and white bass. Minimum weights are set for each species are detailed on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
         Anglers who catch a potential record from a participating lake should contact designated business locations around the lake that are enrolled as lake record keepers. A listing of official lake record keepers is available on wildlifedepartment.com.
            Once it has been determined that an angler has landed a record fish, the media is notified and the public will be able to view information about the catch on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            All past and current state record fish are registered in the Lake Record Fish Program as records for their respective lakes.
            To see the complete database of all lake record fish caught, or to learn more about the Lake Record Fish program, log on to the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
LAKE RECORDS CAUGHT AND CERTIFIED MARCH 31 TO APRIL 24
 
Canton Lake
Striped Bass Hybrid
Weight: 23.2
Angler: James Wesley Jones, Jr.
Date: April 19
Bait: Hard baits/Plugs
Photo link: http://lake-record.ou.edu/fishsite/public/fishView.php?id=458
 
Grand Lake
Blue Catfish
Weight: 43 lbs.
Angler: Jerry Kropff
Date: April 3
Bait: Natural bait
Photo link: http://lake-record.ou.edu/fishsite/public/fishView.php?id=433
 
Grand Lake
Largemouth bass
Weight: 6.7 lbs.
Angler: Heath Konkler
Date: April 5
Bait: Hard baits/plugs
Photo link: http://lake-record.ou.edu/fishsite/public/fishView.php?id=437
 
Skiatook
Smallmouth bass
Weight:  6.6 lbs.
Angler: Jim Horn
Date: April 5
Bait: Jig
Photo link: http://lake-record.ou.edu/fishsite/public/fishView.php?id=456
 
Skiatook
Smallmouth bass
Weight: 4.8
Angler: Derek Thurman
Date: April 1
Bait: Hard baits/plugs
Photo link: http://lake-record.ou.edu/fishsite/public/fishView.php?id=449
 
Skiatook
Walleye/Saugeye
Weight: 8 lbs.
Angler: John Eller
Date: March 31
Bait: Soft plastic bait
Photo link: http://lake-record.ou.edu/fishsite/public/fishView.php?id=448
 
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Arbuckle Lake produces new state record spotted gar
            After yielding a lake record largemouth bass in late February, Arbuckle Lake in Murray Co. now adds a new state record spotted gar to its resume.
            Jimmy Nelson of Oklahoma City took the 9-lb., 12.8 oz. fish while bowfishing Arbuckle Lake’s Rock Creek Arm April 19. The fish measured 37 inches with a 13 - inch girth.
            This time of year, popular fish pursued by bowfisherman, such as gar, move into shallow waters, and bowfishing begins to heat up. Anglers who fish with bow and arrow know this time of year offers great opportunities for successful bowfishing.
            The record was weighed on certified scales, and the weighing was witnessed by David Steele, game warden stationed in Garvin Co.
            For a complete list of record fish and the procedures regarding state record fish, consult the current "Oklahoma Fishing Guide." 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.
            For more information about fishing in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Hunters still applying for Wildlife Department’s Controlled Hunts
            Hunters have until May 15 to submit their applications for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s 2008-09 Controlled Hunts. Applications must be submitted over the Internet by logging on to the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            “Hunters do not want to miss out on this unique opportunity. From pronghorn hunts in the Panhandle to youth turkey hunts, there is something for everyone,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The online application process is fast, simple and safe.”
            After an individual submits an online application, they receive a message immediately confirming that their application was accepted, meaning sportsmen get instant confirmation that their application was filed correctly.
            Administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Controlled Hunts Program offers a wide variety of highly desirable hunts through a random drawing. Some hunts are held to provide high-quality hunting experiences on high-profile areas where it is necessary to regulate hunting pressure. Others are held to achieve management goals for certain species, and others are held to provide hunting experiences in areas where access is otherwise limited.
            All applicants, including lifetime license holders, must pay a $5 application fee to enter the Controlled Hunts drawings. The fee is paid only once per person per year regardless of the number of categories entered.
             For complete application instructions, including tips on enhancing your chances of being selected, log on to http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
 
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