AUGUST 2009
NEWS RELEASES
 

 

WEEK OF AUGUST 27, 2009

 

WEEK OF AUGUST 20, 2009

WEEK OF AUGUST 13, 2009

WEEK OF AUGUST 6, 2009

 

 

Waterfowlers enjoy the good life with new opportunities this season
            Oklahoma waterfowlers will be able to hunt pintails and canvasbacks throughout the entire waterfowl season this year as well as take an additional wood duck as part of their daily limit of six ducks.
            The dates and limits for the 2009-10 waterfowl and sandhill crane hunting season were set by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission at its August meeting.
            Since 2003, pintails and canvasbacks have had a shorter season within the overall regular duck season was open, though dates for the two did overlap for some. This year, hunters will be able to take pintails and canvasbacks throughout the entire waterfowl season.
            Additionally, last year a hunter’s daily limit of six ducks could not include more than two wood ducks, whereas this year a hunter can harvest up to three per day as part of their six-duck limit.
            Aside from these two expanded hunting opportunities, the waterfowl seasons will be same as last year, with adjustments made to calendar dates.
            “We’re living the good life,” said Mike O’Meilia, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, in reference to the opportunities that waterfowl hunters enjoy in the state. “This will be the 14th year in a row we’ve had a liberal Adaptive Harvest Management regulations package, so somebody’s doing something right.”
            In zone 1 (most of northwest Oklahoma), the first half of the duck season will run Oct. 24 through Nov. 29, with the second half beginning Dec. 12 and running through Jan. 17, 2010. Youth waterfowl hunting days in zone 1 will be Oct. 10 and 11.
            In zone 2, the duck season will run Nov. 7-29 and Dec. 12 - Jan. 31, 2010. Youth waterfowl hunting days in zone 2 will be Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
            Panhandle counties will offer the longest duck season, running Oct. 10 through Jan. 6, 2010. Youth waterfowl dates for the panhandle will be Oct. 3-4.
            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 three wood ducks, two scaup, two redheads, one pintail and one canvasback may be included in the daily limit. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five, of which no more than two may be hooded mergansers. The daily bag limit for coots is 15.
            The statewide Canada goose season will run Oct. 31 through Nov. 29 and Dec. 12 - Feb. 14, 2010. The daily limit is three birds.
            The season for white-fronted geese will run Oct. 31 through Nov. 29 and Dec. 12 - Feb. 5, 2010. The daily bag limit is one.
            The regular season for light geese (snows, blues and Ross’) will run Oct. 31 through Nov. 29 and Dec. 12 - Feb. 14, 2010. The daily bag limit is 20.
            Sandhill crane season will be from Oct. 24 – Jan. 24, 2010, west of I-35 only. The daily limit is three birds.
            Hunters who wish to participate in the waterfowl season must have a resident or non-resident hunting license, a 2009-10 Federal Duck Stamp, and unless exempt, a 2009-10 Oklahoma Waterfowl License and a Harvest Information Program Permit. The federal duck stamp is available at U.S. Post Offices. Hunters pursuing sandhill cranes must also purchase a separate sandhill crane hunting permit.
            Hunters should consult the “2009-10 Waterfowl Hunting Guide,” available in late September at hunting and fishing license dealers statewide, for complete hunting regulations and license requirements.
            The Commission also heard a presentation from Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries, and Jeff Boxrucker, assistant chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department, on the repair of American Horse Lake dam and spillway, which was heavily damaged by rainfall from Tropical Storm Erin in 2006 along with access roads to the lake. Rain came so fast that it flowed over the top of the dam an estimated two feet or more. Damages were estimated at more than $250,000, based upon contracting out the repair work. All renovations were performed by Wildlife Department employees, which ultimately saved sportsmen thousands of dollars for other conservation efforts.
            “We decided to rely on our lake maintenance crew to do the work, partially as a cost saving method, but I think more importantly for the skill level that these folks possess. We feel like we’ve got a crew that can operate equipment and fix and construct the types of things we need to have constructed better than we can hire it out to be,” said Boxrucker.
            Repairs were extensive, including spillway and seepage repair, the addition of an emergency spillway, drainage repair, adding benches on the dam, and other major renovations.
            American Horse Lake is one of 15 Wildlife Department-owned and managed lakes across the state, ranging from as small 30 acres to more than 260 acres. Several of these lakes were constructed nearly a half-century ago.
            “Unfortunately, as these lakes age, the fishing can decline and even fishing access can decline,” Bolton said. “So, this last year I challenged our fisheries supervisors to make our Department lakes showplaces.”
            Bolton said that would involve habitat work and other projects to that would classify the lakes as “true fishing destinations.” Along with American Horse Lake, the Wildlife Department has completed work at Lake Vincent in western Oklahoma. Improvements to Lake Vincent included completely re-establishing the fishery by draining the lake, adding and enhancing existing fish habitat, rebuilding a boat ramp, adding riprap, repairing water control structures, improving access, and deepening shorelines for better angling. As with repairs to American Horse Lake, the Wildlife Department relied heavily upon the skill of its own lake maintenance crew for renovations at Lake Vincent.
            The Wildlife Department’s Fisheries division will turn its attention to Evans Chambers Lake in Beaver County in the near future.
            In other business, Commission Chairman John D. Groendyke announced his appointment of four committees that will be involved in several key areas of Department focus to help ensure effective wildlife management. The Legislative subcommittee is chaired by District 6 Commissioner Bill Phelps and members will include District 5 Commissioner Ed Abel, District 1 Commissioner David Riggs and District 4 Commissioner Harland Stonecipher. The Lands, Policy and Programs subcommittee is chaired by District 3 Commissioner Mike Bloodworth, and members will include Commissioners Abel and Phelps as well as District 2 Commissioner Bruce Mabrey. The Finance subcommittee is chaired by Commissioner Mabrey, and members include District 7 Commissioner Mart Tisdal and Chairman Groendyke. Finally, the Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee is chaired by Commissioner Tisdal, and members include Commissioners Bloodworth and Riggs.
            The Commission also recognized Joe Adair, District II chief of law enforcement, for 35 years of service to the Wildlife Department; Greg Summers, fisheries research supervisor, for 35 years of service; Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries, for 30 years of service; and Melinda Sturgess-Streich, assistant director of Administration, for 20 years.
            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. Tues., Sept. 8 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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Free “2009-10 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” available now
            This fall Oklahoma hunters can enjoy expanded opportunities for antlerless deer, elk, antelope, black bear, pheasant and dove, and it can all be explored now in the new “2009-10 Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
            The hunting guide, produced and published by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, is available now and hitting shelves at fishing and hunting license dealers across the state.
            The 60-page full-color guide provides regulations for hunting in Oklahoma as well as a wide range of hunting-related articles and other helpful information. Hunters can sharpen their wildlife identification skills, view biological data on some of the most popular wild game species and learn about different programs and projects of the Wildlife Department.
            Sportsmen also can find the “2009-10 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” online by logging on to wildlifedepartment.com, which also provides the most recent “Oklahoma Fishing Guide,” online brochures and publications, interactive topography maps and a wealth of other information relating to hunting, angling, wildlife viewing and other wildlife conservation. Sportsmen can even purchase hunting and fishing licenses online. Additionally, sportsmen can sign up online for a free weekly news release from the Wildlife Department that is sent straight to their email inbox. The news release contains late-breaking outdoor-related information important to Oklahoma hunters and covers everything from upcoming hunting and fishing seasons and events to news about state records, wildlife management, public lands and more. The free news release also contains a weekly fishing report from lakes and other fisheries as well as seasonal reports on waterfowl activity across the state.
            “We’re always striving to give sportsmen more and better information,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. When you combine the new ‘Oklahoma Hunting Guide’ with wildlifedepartment.com and the Department’s weekly email news release, you’re going to get a lot of great information that is important for Oklahoma sportsmen to know. Plus, it’s all absolutely free.”
            More information about the Wildlife Department is available by logging on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Visitors to learn primitive outdoor skills at the Wildlife Expo
            Oklahomans can get a taste of some primitive outdoor skills by shooting a bow or pitching a genuine tomahawk at this year’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo slated for Sept. 25-27 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City.
            Though centuries old, the tradition of archery is still popular among hunters today. In fact, Oklahoma deer archery hunters harvested a record 17,784 deer with bow and arrow last season, helping to push the 2008 total deer harvest to the second highest level in state history. Additionally, more than 1,000 students participated in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Oklahoma Archery in the Schools state shoot this year at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. Visitors to this year’s Wildlife Expo can try their own hand at archery at one of several ranges set up on the grounds. Not  only can they try the equipment, but they will also get hands-on instruction from one of hundreds of volunteers who work to make the Expo happen.
            The tomahawk is a multi-purpose tool dating back to the Colonial days. English, Dutch, French and Native American traders placed value on the tomahawk as a tool and weapon. The popularity of the tomahawk continued thru the Rocky Mountain fur trade era and remains a popular event at modern day rendezvous. Expo visitors will have the chance to see and pitch a tomahawk, giving them yet another glimpse into the history of their outdoor heritage. Those who are too young to throw a tomahawk can try their hand at the goose knocking booth, where a long, dull-pointed rod is thrown at a goose-shaped target.
            Archery and the art of pitching a tomahawk are just a few of many outdoor attractions at the annual Wildlife Expo. Other highlights include shotgun shooting, fishing, kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, ATV test driving, birdhouse make-and-take exhibits, and seminars that focus on a range of outdoor topics. Additionally, visitors can learn about Wildlife Department programs and projects as well as learn about groups across the state that enjoy the outdoors, such as Dutch oven cooking clubs, furbearer hunting enthusiasts and more. Visitor also can shop at the Outdoor Marketplace, a huge tent where the state’s outdoor-related businesses will be selling outdoor gear and services. This year’s Expo will also feature popular attractions like wild game calling, hunting dog training and performances, wildlife art, wild game meat tasting and more.
            The Wildlife Department partners with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the free event, which is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts while promoting and instilling an appreciation for Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources.
            Whether catching a fish for the first time or building a birdhouse to take home with them for free, visitors to the Expo get the chance to soak up a full weekend of free outdoor knowledge, skills and experiences as hundreds of volunteers and Wildlife Department employees work to keep the event exciting, educational and entertaining.
            “If you want to try over a hundred outdoor activities, then be at this year's wildlife Expo Sept. 25-27,” said country music star and outdoorsman Blake Shelton of Ada, who has made an appearance at the Expo in the past.
            The Wildlife Expo will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily Sept. 25-27. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on this year’s Expo activities.
            This year’s Expo will again feature “School Day” Sept. 25, when busloads of school students from across the state will arrive and enjoy a day at the event. Educators interested in planning a trip to the Wildlife Expo with their students this year should call (918) 299-2334 for more information.
 
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August 28 deadline for bonus youth deer hunts
            Beginning deer hunters have a unique opportunity to participate in two youth controlled antlerless deer hunts that will take place on private land in Alfalfa and Osage Counties and are scheduled for October and January.  
            This year 25 bonus antlerless deer gun licenses will be drawn for youth who are 12 to 16 years of age (at the time of the scheduled hunt) who have completed their hunter education requirements prior to applying.
            "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 with the following information:
 
* 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: Osage County (October 2-4) & Alfalfa County (January 8-10)
* lifetime license number if applicable
* A non-hunting adult (licensed or unlicensed) who is at least 21 years old must accompany the youth, and must also be listed on the index card
 
            Youth who will be 16 years of age at the time of the hunt, who are required to have a hunting license, may possess an apprentice-designated license; however, the non-hunting adult accompanying an apprentice-designated hunter must possess a valid Oklahoma resident or nonresident hunting license, lifetime hunting license, or lifetime combination license and be hunter education certified, unless otherwise exempt.
            The envelope/card 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. Applications must be received at the Department by 4 p.m. Friday, August 28, 2009.
            The drawing will be held Aug. 31, 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 $206 nonresident deer gun license.
            Any antlerless deer harvested during the controlled hunt will be considered a bonus deer and will not count against the youths’ combined season limit.
            For additional information concerning the hunts, contact the Wildlife Department at (405) 521-2739.
 
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Get off the beaten path at this year’s Wildlife Expo
            Visitors to the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo can try their hand at riding a mountain bike on a dirt trail or even handling an ATV on an off-road course.
            Held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Wildlife Expo offers hundreds of hands-on outdoor learning opportunities as well as booths and seminars that cover all things outdoors in Oklahoma. The Wildlife Department partners with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the free event, which is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts while promoting and instilling an appreciation for Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources.
            Wheeler Dealer Bicycle store in Oklahoma City operates the free mountain biking course, fully equipped with bicycles and safety helmets. Additionally, P&K Equipment is providing ATVs for guests to test drive on an off-road course right on the grounds of the Lazy E Arena. For the fifth year in a row, P&K Equipment also is providing a John Deere Gator utility vehicle to be given away to a lucky Expo visitor.
            Mountain bikes and ATVs offer some off-road excitement at the Expo, but they only scratch the surface of what is available at the event. Guests can try their hand at fishing, kayaking, rock climbing, archery, marksmanship, shotgun shooting and more. Additionally, they can speak with experts and attend seminars on topics ranging from stream fishing to hunting dog training and wild game cooking.
            Visitor also can shop at the Outdoor Marketplace, a huge tent where the state’s outdoor-related businesses will be selling outdoor gear and services. This year’s Expo will also feature popular attractions like wild game calling, birdhouse make-and-takes, wildlife art, wild game meat tasting and more.
            Whether catching a fish for the first time, enjoying a dessert cooked outside in a Dutch oven, or hitting a moving clay target with a blast from a shotgun, visitors to the Expo get the chance to soak up a full weekend of free outdoor knowledge, skills and experiences as hundreds of volunteers and Wildlife Department employees work to keep the event exciting, educational and entertaining.
            The Expo draws tens of thousands of people from across the state to Lazy E Arena each year, including some celebrities such as country music star and Oklahoma native Blake Shelton, who knows how great the Expo can be for families looking to spend time together.
            “I have been to the wildlife expo, and take it from me, it's a lot of fun!” said Shelton. “So grab the kids and come on out Sept. 25th through the 27th! It's all absolutely free!”
            The Wildlife Expo will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily Sept. 25-27. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on this year’s Expo activities.
            This year’s Expo will again feature “School Day” Sept. 25, when busloads of school students from across the state will arrive and enjoy a day at the event. Educators interested in planning a trip to the Wildlife Expo with their students this year should call (918) 299-2334 for more information.
 
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Artists wanted for Oklahoma waterfowl stamp design contest
            The Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp design contest hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will feature the ringneck in 2010-11, and entries will be accepted from July 1 through Aug. 31, 2009.
            Every year artists from across the country enter their renditions of a pre-selected waterfowl species in the contest, and the winning art is printed on the next year’s Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp, which can also serve as an Oklahoma waterfowl hunting license. Oklahoma waterfowl hunting licenses are required of Oklahoma waterfowl hunters, unless exempt.
            “When waterfowl hunters purchase a stamp or a waterfowl license, they are funding on-the-ground habitat work,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “The stamp is a popular item for collectors as well.”
            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 ringneck, and any habitat appearing in the design must be typical of Oklahoma. Artists also can include a retriever dog in their entry, as long as the ringneck is the featured element of the artwork. 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 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. Aug. 20.
            The winning artist will receive a purchase award of $1,200, and 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. For a complete list of contest rules, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Wildlife Department vehicle sale slated for Aug. 20
            Nearly 30 used 4x4 vehicles will be auctioned off at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s vehicle sale Aug. 20.
            The lineup of vehicles available includes mostly Chevrolet extended cab pickup trucks, in addition to a 2003 Ford Explorer and others.
            “The vehicles may be just what sportsmen are looking for in a daily driver, hunting or fishing truck, or even a teenager’s first vehicle,” said Johnny Hill, property manager for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            The sale will start promptly at 6 p.m. in the Wildlife Department headquarters parking lot, located at 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City. Registration begins at 5 p.m., but items may be inspected before the sale from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Vehicles will be sold individually and “as is.” The high bidder will be required to pay the balance in full at the time of sale.
            For a list and photographs of vehicles to be auctioned or for more information, log on to the Wildlife Department’s Web site at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
 
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Free landowner newsletter available now
            With about 95 percent of the land in Oklahoma under private ownership, landowners are key to conserving wildlife in Oklahoma. One free publication from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is designed to help landowners manage their property for wildlife.
            “Your Side of the Fence” is a free publication produced three times a year by the Wildlife Department for Oklahoma landowners. The newsletter addresses issues that affect landowners while providing helpful information from biologists, law enforcement officers and information specialists who work in all corners of the state.
            “This is a great publication that brings landowners a wealth of information about managing wildlife on their property,” said Lesley McNeff, Wildlife Diversity information specialist for the Wildlife Department. “The information covers the entire state, and best of all, it’s free.”
            Each issue of “Your Side of the Fence” includes both fisheries and wildlife management articles, landowner highlights, news and more. For more information, log on to wildlifedepartment.com

 

 

Dove season to kick off fall hunting
            The popular Oklahoma dove season opens Sept. 1, and sportsmen will not only have lots of birds to hunt, but they also will be able to harvest unlimited numbers of the non-native Eurasian collared dove.
            Oklahoma’s dove season is generous in length and harvest limits; plus it is often one of the most exciting, action-packed hunting experiences in the state. According to Josh Richardson, migratory game bird biologist for the Wildlife Department, Oklahoma generally sees enough migrating and resident doves to provide quality hunting throughout the entire season, which runs Sept. 1 through Nov. 9 statewide, except in the Southwest Zone. The Southwest Zone will be open for hunting Sept. 1 through Oct. 31 and Dec. 26 through Jan. 3. 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 daily limit for doves is 15, which can include any combination of mourning, white-winged and Eurasian collared doves. However, a new rule change approved for this season eliminates the bag limit on Eurasian collared doves provided that the head or one fully feathered wing remain naturally attached to such doves.
            “Basically hunters can shoot as many collared doves as they want, as long as they keep at least a feathered wing or head attached to it for identification purposes,” Richardson said. “If they fully dress them in the field, it will be counted against their 15 bird limit.”
            Richardson said reports and activity observed from recent dove banding projects show very good bird numbers and successful reproduction in eastern Oklahoma, while unusually cool and wet weather has made it more difficult to consistently band doves in the central and western portions of the state. In these parts of the state, Richardson said, doves appear to be “here today and gone tomorrow and then back a few days later.”
            The key to a successful hunting season in such areas, according to Richardson, is to do some pre-season scouting.
            “Hunters who have an old standby hot-spot may want to check it out some before season to see if it is actually holding birds this year,” Richardson said.
            Wheat fields in portions of the state suffered from a late freeze in the spring, and much of the available wheat was cut for hay. Fields that were harvested may have been less productive, and still some fields were sown with other crops.
            Not to worry, according to Richardson, who said it can be hard to say what to expect when it comes to Oklahoma weather and hunting. But he knows one thing for sure.
            “There's definitely going to be birds out there. Hunters need to just not get discouraged if they don't see birds the first time out.”
            With the exception of the opening day of deer rifle season, Oklahoma’s opening day of dove season could very well be the most popular day of the year for hunters.
            Dove hunting is a favorite for several reasons. Along with plenty of action and generous harvest limits, youngsters and adults alike can have an enjoyable yet challenging hunt in Oklahoma no matter where they choose to hunt. Doves can be found from one corner of the state to the next, and hunters do not have to travel far to find them. Excellent hunting can be found on wildlife management areas managed by the Wildlife Department, some of which have been managed specifically for doves. Additionally, persistent dove hunters can often obtain permission from landowners to hunt private land, such as those where grain fields have been recently harvested.
            Dove season also offers two days of free hunting, which takes place Sept. 5-6 as part of Oklahoma’s Free Hunting Days. During these dates, Oklahoma residents do not need a hunting license or HIP permit to go afield.
            To hunt doves during the rest of the open season, sportsmen need a hunting license and, if their hunting license was purchased prior to July 1, a fishing and hunting legacy permit. Additionally, all hunters must carry a Harvest Information Permit (HIP) while afield, unless otherwise exempt.
            “The HIP is the primary way the states and the federal government estimate harvest of migratory birds by obtaining the names and addresses of migratory bird hunters so they can be sent a survey to report their harvest,” said Mike O’Meilia, wildlife research supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “Without HIP, and the good estimates of harvest that it provides, migratory game bird hunting regulations would have to be much more conservative. Hunters have always been our most important source of information for managing game species.”
            For complete hunting license information and dove hunting regulations, be sure to pick up a copy of the “2009-10 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” at a sporting goods retailer or at wildlifedepartment.com.
            Richardson reminds dove hunters to check their harvested birds for federal leg bands and report them by logging on to www.reportband.gov or by calling 1-800-327-2263. To date, over 4,500 doves have been banded in Oklahoma, helping to conserve doves and provide good hunting in the future.
 
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Free Hunting Days pave way for sharing the heritage
            Rita Estes of Mustang will try the sport of hunting this fall as part of Oklahoma’s Free Hunting Days Sept. 5-6, when Oklahoma residents do not need a hunting license or HIP permit to go afield.
            “I usually shoot sporting clays and skeet, but I decided to try something different this year,” Estes said.
            Estes plans to go dove hunting with her cousin, Lesley McNeff, and she won’t have to spend money to do it. However, officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are confident that, after trying the sport for free, new hunters will gain an appreciation for conservation and hunting, and will be more likely to participate in the sport of hunting in the future.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is the state agency charged with conserving the state’s wildlife. The agency receives no general state tax revenues and is funded by sportsmen through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and federal excise taxes on sporting goods.
            While Estes plans to be dove hunting during Free Hunting Days, non-licensed hunters also can try their hand at squirrel hunting Sept. 5-6, as well as several species that are open for hunting year-round in Oklahoma.
            Additionally, Oklahomans who hunt for free during the state’s Free Hunting Days can then purchase a hunting license and plan hunts throughout the fall as more seasons open. Opportunities to hunt deer, turkey, black bear, antelope, elk, rabbit, quail, pheasant waterfowl, and more through a variety of methods are available to fall hunters in Oklahoma, including some seasons designated just for youth. To find out more about hunting season dates and regulations in Oklahoma, consult the “2009-10 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available free at sporting goods stores and anywhere that sells hunting and fishing licenses, or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            Free Hunting Days participants also can follow up their outdoor experience by attending one of many hunter education courses held statewide by the Wildlife Department. The class teaches a range of topics including firearms safety, wildlife identification, wildlife conservation and management, survival, archery, muzzleloading and hunter responsibility. The course is available as a standard eight-hour course, through an Internet home study course or through a workbook home study course. Officials with the Wildlife Department say hunter education courses have not only reduced accidents within Oklahoma, but also in every state and Canadian province with similar programs. Over the past 30 years, hunting related accidents and fatalities have declined by more than 70 percent in Oklahoma.
            To learn more about hunting in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Duck blind drawings scheduled across Oklahoma for 2009-10
            Waterfowl season is fast approaching, and with expanded opportunities for pintail, canvasback and wood ducks in 2009, this may be a good year to draw out for a permit to construct a seasonal blind at one of several lakes across the state.
            Registration and drawings for duck blinds at Fort Gibson, Eufaula and Webbers Falls will take place Sept. 19 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s field office in Porter, located between Wagoner and Muskogee on Hwy. 69. Registration for Fort Gibson will take place at 7 a.m., with drawings to follow at 8 a.m. For blinds at Eufaula, registration will begin at 9:30 a.m., with drawings at 10:30 a.m. Registration will begin at noon for Webbers Falls, with drawings at 1 p.m.
            Sept. 19 also marks the date when duck blind drawings will be held for Waurika and W.D. Mayo lakes, and permits will be issued for Canton Lake on a first-come, first-served basis. For Waurika, drawings will be held at 9 a.m. at the Corps of Engineers office, located at the Waurika Lake dam. Drawings for W.D. Mayo will be held at 10 a.m. at the Spiro City Council chambers in Spiro. Duck blind permits for Canton Lake will be issued from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Overlook Café on the south end of Canton Lake dam.
            Hunters also may be drawn for duck blinds at Ft. Supply. Drawings will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 18 at the Wildlife Department’s northwest region field office in Woodward.
            Applicants must be 16 years of age and must have a current Oklahoma hunting or combination license, a valid state waterfowl license and a federal duck stamp, unless they are exempt. Additionally, they need a valid Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit. Applicants must be present at the drawings to be eligible.
            Oklahoma waterfowlers will be able to hunt pintails and canvasbacks throughout the entire waterfowl season this year as well as take an additional wood duck as part of their daily limit of six ducks.
            The dates and limits for the 2009-10 waterfowl and sandhill crane hunting season were recently set by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission and can be viewed on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            Waterfowl hunting blinds constructed on Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs are classified in two categories: temporary blinds (constructed for only one hunt and removed at the end of the hunt) and permanent blinds (constructed for seasonal use).
            Reservoirs allowing temporary blinds only include: Altus-Lugert, Arbuckle, Birch, Broken Bow, Chouteau (L&D 17), Copan, Fort Cobb, Heyburn, Hugo, Hulah, Kaw, Keystone, Mountain Park, Newt Graham (L&D 18), Oologah, Optima, Pine Creek, Robert S. Kerr (L&D 15), Skiatook, Tenkiller, Texoma and Wister. No permit is required for temporary blinds.
 
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Robbers Cave to host BioBlitz! 2009 in September
            Oklahoma outdoor enthusiasts can attend a 24-hour, fast-paced wildlife watching event next month when Robbers Cave State Park hosts BioBlitz! 2009 in conjunction with the Oklahoma Biological Survey.
            Slated for Sept. 18-19, BioBlitz! is a fun and educational event that invites volunteers to participate in a rapid inventory of biological diversity in Oklahoma’s unusual areas. Volunteers will count as many species as possible in 24 hours at the state park and adjoining Robbers Cave Wildlife Management Area near Wilburton in east-central Oklahoma. Robbers Cave WMA covers, 6,180 acres of Latimer Co. and consists mostly of hills covered with pine timber and scattered Oaks and Hickory. The WMA is managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            “The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is excited to be a partner in the annual Oklahoma BioBlitz!” said Mark Howery, wildlife diversity biologist for the Wildlife Department. “We have been a partner with the Oklahoma Biological Survey for every BioBlitz!, even since the project began in April of 2001.”
            The Oklahoma Biological Survey is a research unit of the University of Oklahoma, but anyone can be a researcher at BioBlitz! 2009. BioBlitz! volunteers range from professional scientists, families and college students to high school groups and amateurs. Participation is free for several educational activities led by experts in conjunction with BioBlitz! These include night-time insect trapping, a bird walk, seining for amphibians, learning about the fish of Oklahoma, exploring the ferns of Robbers Cave, identifying venomous and common snakes and more. For a small fee, anyone interested also can take advantage of tent camping, an event T-shirt, a ticket for the Friday-evening picnic and 24 hours of biological diversity. Registration is available online or by calling (405) 325-7658. Volunteers also can register at the event. Pre-registration is suggested.
            The BioBlitz! goal is to encourage Oklahomans to appreciate the biological diversity found right in Oklahoma’s borders. BioBlitz! offers a hands-on scientific experience and a chance to learn more about the natural diversity that exists close to home.
            “People often think of biological diversity as something that exists in the tropical rain forests, but 1,100 to 1,500 species of plants, invertebrates and vertebrates can be found in just about any natural area in Oklahoma,” Howery said.
            Robbers Cave State Park is located in the scenic, hilly woodlands of the San Bois Mountains of southeast Oklahoma near Wilburton. The park enjoys the notoriety as a former hideout for outlaws. Robbers Cave and the adjoining wildlife management area offer thousands of acres of biological diversity. For more information or for accommodations for persons with disabilities, contact Priscilla Crawford at (405) 325-7658.
 
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August 28 deadline for bonus youth deer hunts
            Beginning deer hunters have a unique opportunity to participate in two youth controlled antlerless deer hunts that will take place on private land in Alfalfa and Osage Counties and are scheduled for October and January.  
            This year 25 bonus antlerless deer gun licenses will be drawn for youth who are 12 to 16 years of age (at the time of the scheduled hunt) who have completed their hunter education requirements prior to applying.
            "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 with the following information:
 
* 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: Osage County (October 2-4) & Alfalfa County (January 8-10)
* Lifetime license number if applicable
* A non-hunting adult (licensed or unlicensed) who is at least 21 years old must accompany the youth, and must also be listed on the index card
 
            Youth who will be 16 years of age at the time of the hunt, who are required to have a hunting license, may possess an apprentice-designated license; however, the non-hunting adult accompanying an apprentice-designated hunter must possess a valid Oklahoma resident or nonresident hunting license, lifetime hunting license, or lifetime combination license and be hunter education certified, unless otherwise exempt.
            The envelope/card 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. Applications must be received at the Department by 4 p.m. Friday, August 28, 2009.
            The drawing will be held Aug. 31, 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 $206 nonresident deer gun license.
            Any antlerless deer harvested during the controlled hunt will be considered a bonus deer and will not count against the youths’ combined season limit.
            For additional information concerning the hunts, contact the Wildlife Department at (405) 521-2739.
 
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Free Hunting Days pave way for sharing the heritage
            Rita Estes of Mustang will try the sport of hunting this fall as part of Oklahoma’s Free Hunting Days Sept. 5-6, when Oklahoma residents do not need a hunting license or HIP permit to go afield.
            “I usually shoot sporting clays and skeet, but I decided to try something different this year,” Estes said.
            Estes plans to go dove hunting with her cousin, Lesley McNeff, and she won’t have to spend money to do it. However, officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are confident that, after trying the sport for free, new hunters will gain an appreciation for conservation and hunting and will be more likely to participate in hunting in the future.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is the state agency charged with conserving the state’s wildlife. The agency receives no general state tax revenues and is funded by sportsmen through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and federal excise taxes on sporting goods.
            While Estes plans to be dove hunting during free hunting days, non-licensed hunters also can try their hand at hunting squirrels Sept. 5-6, as well as several species that are open for hunting year-round in Oklahoma.
            Additionally, Oklahomans who hunt for free during the state’s Free Hunting Days can then purchase a hunting license and plan hunting trips throughout the fall as more seasons open. Opportunities to hunt deer, turkey, black bear, antelope, elk, rabbit, quail, pheasant waterfowl, and more are available this fall to hunters through a variety of methods in Oklahoma, as well as seasons on some species designated just for youth. To find out more about hunting season dates and regulations in Oklahoma, consult the “2009-10 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available free at sporting goods stores and anywhere that sells hunting and fishing licenses, or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            Free Hunting Days participants also can follow up their outdoor experience by attending one of many hunter education courses held statewide by the Wildlife Department. The class teaches a range of topics including firearms safety, wildlife identification, wildlife conservation and management, survival, archery, muzzleloading and hunter responsibility. The course is available as a standard eight-hour course, through an Internet home study course or through a workbook home study course. Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation say hunter education courses have not only reduced accidents within Oklahoma, but also in every state and Canadian province with similar programs. Over the past 30 years, hunting related accidents and fatalities have declined by more than 70 percent in Oklahoma.
            To learn more about hunting in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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See woodchips fly at the Expo as chainsaw artist creates wildlife art
            A chainsaw is good for cutting limbs, clearing brush, and even creating masterful works of wildlife art. At this year’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo Sept. 25-27, one artist will offer for sale his unique chainsaw wood carvings while performing live demonstrations that show how he uses a chainsaw to turn block of wood into eagles, lizards, frogs and more.
            Glenn Doughty of Locust Grove says he started carving wood with a chainsaw about 15 years ago when he saw a story on another Oklahoma chainsaw carving artist, Clayton Coss of Inola.
            Doughty said he thought the story was so interesting that he felt he had to give chainsaw woodcarving a try.
            “So I got a chunk of firewood and started cutting on it,” Doughty said, and the rest is history.
            Doughty uses red cedar to create his woodcarvings, and guests at the Expo can purchase his works of art or even have a chance to take home a woodcarving giveaway.
            Doughty might be described as a jack of many trades, as he also is a blacksmith and will be offering hand-forged knives for sale.
            Doughty will join almost 50 other vendors of outdoor goods and services at the Wildlife Expo’s Outdoor Marketplace, an area set aside specifically for Expo visitors to shop for outdoor gear.
            “From guide services to duck calls, hunting blinds, archery equipment, ATVs and more, we have just about every aspect of the outdoors covered,” said Ben Davis, Outdoor Marketplace coordinator for the Wildlife Department.
            To see the full list of vendors, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s fifth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is slated for September 25-27 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. The Wildlife Department will be working with a range of organizations, individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the event — intended to promote and develop appreciation for Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources. Last year’s Expo drew nearly 40,000 visitors to the Lazy E Arena over the course of three days.
            Along with shopping at the Outdoor Marketplace and watching wood chips fly as Glenn Doughty displays his unique medium of art, Expo visitors will be able to fish, shoot shotguns, kayak, ride mountain bikes, learn to identify wildlife, attend dog training seminars and learn about all kinds of recreation available in the great outdoors. They will also be able to win a variety of free prizes thanks to the Expo’s generous sponsors. One lucky guest will even win a John Deere Gator utility vehicle provided by Expo sponsor P&K Equipment.
            The Expo draws tens of thousands of people from across the state to Lazy E Arena each year, including some celebrities such as country music star and Oklahoma native Blake Shelton, who knows how great the Expo can be for families looking to spend time together.
            “I have been to the wildlife expo, and take it from me, it's a lot of fun!” said Shelton. “So grab the kids and come on out Sept. 25th through the 27th! It's all absolutely free!”
            The Wildlife Expo will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily Sept. 25-27. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on this year’s Expo activities.
            This year’s Expo will again feature “School Day” Sept. 25, when busloads of school students from across the state will arrive and enjoy a day at the event. Educators interested in planning a trip to the Wildlife Expo with their students this year should call (918) 299-2334 for more information.
 
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Duck blind drawings scheduled across Oklahoma for 2009-10
            Waterfowl season is fast approaching, and with expanded opportunities for pintail, canvasback and wood ducks in 2009, this may be a good year to draw out for a permit to construct a seasonal blind at one of several lakes across the state.
            Registration and drawings for duck blinds at Fort Gibson, Eufaula and Webbers Falls will take place Sept. 19 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s field office in Porter, located between Wagoner and Muskogee on Hwy. 69. Registration for Fort Gibson will take place at 7 a.m., with drawings to follow at 8 a.m. For blinds at Eufaula, registration will begin at 9:30 a.m., with drawings at 10:30 a.m. Registration will begin at noon for Webbers Falls, with drawings at 1 p.m.
            Sept. 19 also marks the date when duck blind drawings will be held for Waurika and W.D. Mayo lakes, and permits will be issued for Canton Lake on a first-come, first-served basis. For Waurika, drawings will be held at 9 a.m. at the Corps of Engineers office, located at the Waurika Lake dam. Drawings for W.D. Mayo will be held at 10 a.m. at the Spiro City Council chambers in Spiro. Duck blind permits for Canton Lake will be issued from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Overlook Café on the south end of Canton Lake dam.
            Hunters also may be drawn for duck blinds at Ft. Supply. Drawings will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 18 at the Wildlife Department’s northwest region field office in Woodward.
            Applicants must be 16 years of age and must have a current Oklahoma hunting or combination license, a valid state waterfowl license and a federal duck stamp, unless they are exempt. Additionally, they need a valid Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit. Applicants must be present at the drawings to be eligible.
            Oklahoma waterfowlers will be able to hunt pintails and canvasbacks throughout the entire waterfowl season this year as well as take an additional wood duck as part of their daily limit of six ducks.
            The dates and limits for the 2009-10 waterfowl and sandhill crane hunting season were recently set by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission and can be viewed on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            Waterfowl hunting blinds constructed on Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs are classified in two categories: temporary blinds (constructed for only one hunt and removed at the end of the hunt) and permanent blinds (constructed for seasonal use).
            Reservoirs allowing temporary blinds only include: Altus-Lugert, Arbuckle, Birch, Broken Bow, Chouteau (L&D 17), Copan, Fort Cobb, Heyburn, Hugo, Hulah, Kaw, Keystone, Mountain Park, Newt Graham (L&D 18), Oologah, Optima, Pine Creek, Robert S. Kerr (L&D 15), Skiatook, Tenkiller, Texoma and Wister. No permit is required for temporary blinds.
 
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Multitude of wildlife-related topics to be covered at joint meeting
            If you have ever wondered how to manage bobwhite quail, conduct a prescribed burn or manage a wetland area on your property, an upcoming event could be helpful.  The joint meeting of the Oklahoma Chapter of The Wildlife Society and Bollenbach Wildlife Symposium will be held September 9-11 in Ardmore.
            Steven Smith, president of the Oklahoma Chapter of The Wildlife Society, said a wide range of topics will be presented.
            “Both professionals and private land managers can benefit from this meeting,” Smith said. “There will be many presentations such as quail, deer, waterfowl and brush management.”
            The meeting will include both field tours and a business meeting. The tours will be held at the Lake Murray Field Trial Grounds Bobwhite Habitat Restoration Project, The Noble Foundation Coffey Ranch and a private landowner’s waterfowl management area. Each site will include a project overview as well as presentations on prescribed burning, cedar control, wetland design, native rangeland management and timber thinning.
            Friday’s schedule will include the general session as well as student presentations. Professionals in the wildlife management field will speak on a range of subjects from implications for spraying to privatization of wildlife management to antler development in whitetail deer. Poster presentations will include using GPS collars for deer, quail browsing in mixed-grass prairies and winter bird communities.
            “With such a wide range of wildlife and habitat management topics, this is the meeting to attend,” Smith said. “It will benefit not only the wildlife professional, but the private landowner as well.”
            Pre-registration is due by Sept. 1.  For more information, call (580) 223-5810.
 
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