SEPTEMBER 2009 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 30, 2009

 

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 24, 2009

 

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 17, 2009

 

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 10, 2009

 

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 3, 2009

 

Archery hunters to make history Sept. 14 with first open antelope hunt
            Oklahoma archery hunters will make history Sept. 14 when they take part in the state’s first antelope archery season.
            Until now, antelope hunting in Oklahoma has been limited to hunts offered through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s controlled hunts program, in which hunters must be drawn for an antelope hunt, or through a limited number of landowner permits. But now archery hunters can purchase antelope licenses over-the-counter for a 14-day archery season, without having to be drawn for a hunt.
            “The open archery season provides additional hunting opportunity while managing the herd within tolerable numbers,” said Wade Free, northwest region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
            The 2009 antelope archery season will run Sept. 14-27 and will be open in Cimarron Co. and that portion of Texas Co. west of Hwy 136. Written landowner permission is required and must be carried while hunting antelope. Drawing-only antelope hunts will continue to be available through the controlled hunts and landowner permit drawing programs. The combined season limit is two antelope, which may include no more than one buck, regardless of season or method of take.
            According to biologists with the Wildlife Department, information gathered from biological data, aerial surveys and requests from landowners show that the Panhandle’s antelope population can sustain the new archery season. Additionally, biologists say archery hunters can do a few things to make the most of their antelope season Sept. 14-27.
            “The archery hunt is a very unique opportunity for hunters,” Free said. “However, archery pronghorn hunting will be very challenging and require determination and patience.”
            According to Free, antelope can sometimes be patterned coming to and from feeding and watering areas, just like deer. The difference, though, is that there are not as many antelope per acre as there are deer in most parts of the state, and the terrain is wide open.
            “I stress the wide open part,” said Free. “These factors require extra patience.”
            Free suggests several approaches to harvesting an antelope during the archery season.
            “Typically the best chance of success will be setting up portable blinds at water holes or areas that antelope use as a travel corridor,” Free said.
            Free also said the spot-and-stalk approach can be effective as well. He also suggested some hunters may consider using decoys to attract curious antelope.
            “Decoys can work in some situations and can bring animals in from long distances,” Free said. “If the animals are fixated on the decoy, it can give you a little wiggle room to make the shot.”
            Antelope are typically sociable and spend time in groups, making the challenge of a successful archery shot more difficult. According to Free, one exciting part of a pronghorn hunt is that, once you find them, “you can easily have upwards of a dozen or more making eye contact with you over the tip of your arrow.”
            Free also stresses that, since the antelope archery season is new to both hunters and landowners, sportsmen should be diligent in building positive relationships with landowners.
            “Be sure and know exactly what is expected from the landowner you are hunting on,” Free said. “Things like what roads you can drive on, where and when landowners are working cattle or are farming, areas off limits to hunting, keeping gates closed, other hunters in the area, off-road travel, and littering are always important issues to address.”
            Free also reminds hunters to obtain the required written landowner permission before hunting.
            The state’s pronghorn population has seen a gradual increase over the past several years, and that might give archery hunters an edge Sept. 14-27.
            “Whether you connect or not, the real opportunity is that you get to hunt one of the most unique big game animals in North America,” Free said. “Yes, right here in Oklahoma! Is this a great state or what?”
            To hunt antelope during the first antelope archery season, resident hunters must have an appropriate hunting license or proof of exemption and, if their hunting license was purchased prior to July 1, a fishing and hunting legacy permit. Additionally, all antelope hunters must have an antelope license for each antelope hunted, or proof of exemption. All antelope hunters must carry written permission from the landowner while hunting antelope, unless exempt. For full season details, consult the “2009-10 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Electrofishing demonstrations to educate visitors at Wildlife Expo
            Each spring, fisheries biologists use electrofishing techniques to survey bass populations at lakes across the state, and sportsmen can see how it is done on a unique field trip during the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, slated for Sept. 25-27.
            As the name suggests, electrofishing surveys use electric current to “stun” fish in a specific area of a lake, causing them to surface long enough for biologists to collect biological data. A short time later, the fish recover from the shock and swim on their way.
            This spring, electrofishing survey results from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation showed that even small lakes under 1,000 acres produced high numbers of bass during the survey. In fact, American Horse Lake in northwest Oklahoma produced the highest numbers of bass at 168 surveyed per hour.
            Other data provided in the spring electrofishing survey is the number of bass over 14 inches that are surveyed per hour and the heaviest bass recorded from each lake. Though factors like inclement weather or prolonged high water levels can prevent biologists from surveying some lakes from year to year, the data collected provides useful information for biologists and for anglers planning their next getaway. The full 2009 report can be viewed online at wildlifedepartment.com.
            Sportsmen can watch electrofishing firsthand by signing up to attend one of several fisheries field trips during this year’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo. The field trips take place at Guthrie City Lake, located near the Expo grounds at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Field trip participants will board a boat for a one-of-a-kind seminar that shows them how fisheries biologists manage lakes for angling.
            Fisheries biologists with the Wildlife Department will perform management demonstrations such as electrofishing and trap netting.
            According to Bill Wentroth, northcentral region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department, participants can learn how these and other practices are used to help develop management plans for fisheries.
            “It helps them get some perspective on how we manage the lakes in Oklahoma as well as the different gear we use,” Wentroth said about the field trips.
            Biologists employ different methods of data collection depending on the species they are studying as well as the time of year. For example, springtime electrofishing is especially effective for surveying black bass, as bass spend more time in shallow water during the spring than at other times of the year and are therefore more susceptible to electric shock. During the summer, bass may be too deep in the water for electrofishing to effectively survey large numbers of fish. Saugeye are more vulnerable to electrofishing in the fall, and other species, such as crappie, can be captured and surveyed through methods such as trap netting. Crappie tend to perceive the nets as underwater structure and are likely to concentrate in such areas, making them easier to catch and survey.
            According to Wentroth, field trip participants will not only learn what methods are used to collect data in the field, but also will gain an understanding of how the information is used to manage the state’s fisheries for better angling. They also will learn why biologists study the ages of fish and will get a chance to try their own hand at aging fish.
            Those interested in taking the field trip must pre-register by Sept. 24 or before available slots are filled. Space is limited, and sign-up is on a first-come, first-served basis. Field trip times include 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27.
 
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Wildlife Expo School Day to attract more than 8,000 kids
            Children go hand in hand with fishing, dogs, bikes, and other outdoor fun, and this year more than 8,000 kids are expected at the annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo’s Schools Day Sept. 25.
            “This is the second year that we’ve incorporated School Day into the Wildlife Expo,” said Colin, Berg, School Day coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and one of hundreds of Wildlife Department employees working to make the Expo happen.
            According to Berg, the Expo’s School Day will be an outstanding outdoor experience for everyone involved, which already includes 121 schools from across the state, many of which participated in School Day last year.
            One school group, Moss Public Schools near Holdenville, is planning to participate in the Expo’s School Day for the second year in a row, claiming the event is “organized,” “well-ran,” and a “wonderful experience” for both students and teachers.
            “The students love the hands on activities, and the teachers appreciate the knowledge the students acquire and bring back to the classroom,” said Tina Cartright, principal of Moss Elementary School. “The Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is our students’ favorite field trip of the year.”
            The fifth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, slated for Sept. 25-27, will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. The event draws tens of thousands of visitors from all over the state for three days of outdoor recreation and education. Opportunities such as shotgun shooting, archery, ATV rides, mountain biking, fishing, wildlife watching, music, seminars and booths related to hunting, wildlife management, sporting dog training, camping, and just about anything related to enjoying the outdoors in Oklahoma will be available for all visitors. And it’s all absolutely free.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is hosting the Wildlife Expo in partnership with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies. The Expo is designed to promote and perpetuate appreciation of Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts. The Expo isn’t just for kids, though. Adults will find plenty of interesting hands-on learning opportunities to expand their own appreciation of the outdoors, whether experienced in the outdoors or not. Some individuals will even go home with a prize, such as a John Deere Gator utility vehicle, courtesy of Expo sponsor P&K Equipment.
            Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Sept. 25-27. Admission and parking are free. To learn more about School Day or for more information on the Wildlife Expo, log on to the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Free outdoor “make-n-takes” at the Wildlife Expo
            Outdoorsmen find satisfaction in do-it-yourself-projects, and this year at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, visitors can try their hand at making their own birdhouses or fishing lures as well as learn how to cook a meal in a Dutch oven, tie their own fly fishing lure, or gain an understanding of how to attract wildlife to their property.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is partnering with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the Wildlife Expo. Held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, the event is designed to promote and instill appreciation for Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts. The event is free and open to the public.
            Activities range from shotgun and archery shooting to fishing, kayaking, ATV riding, mountain biking and much more. Additionally, numerous learning opportunities are available at booths and exhibits at the Expo. Visitors can speak with wildlife biologists and outdoorsmen experienced in fishing, hunting, game calling, wildlife and fisheries management, reptiles and amphibians and more, as well as attend seminars on hunting dog training, wild game cooking and mule packing, among other topics. And for Expo visitors who like to shop, a large area called the Outdoor Marketplace is set aside at the Expo for vendors who will be on hand showcasing and offering for sale their outdoor merchandise and services.
            “In short, the Expo is a celebration of everything outdoors in the state of Oklahoma,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “We want you to leave the Expo with a new appreciation for wildlife and the hobbies of hunting, fishing and wildlife watching that fund conservation through participation from sportsmen and women.”
            The Expo is Oklahoma’s largest outdoor recreation event, drawing tens of thousands of people each year, including celebrities.
            “If you want to try over a hundred outdoor activities, then be at this year's Wildlife Expo Sept. 25-27,” said native Oklahoma country music star Blake Shelton, who has made appearances at the Expo in the past. “If you love to hunt and fish like I do, then take someone to this year’s Wildlife Expo.
            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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Broken Bow anglers’ comments sought for five-year management plan
            Broken Bow Lake anglers have an opportunity to share their thoughts about fisheries management at the lake with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Sept. 14.
            Anglers have the opportunity to speak their mind on a range of topics affecting the lake such as fishery and management goals, objectives and strategies for the lake.
            The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Lakeview Lodge at Beavers Bend State Park.
            Broken Bow Lake is located in southeast Oklahoma and is part of Oklahoma’s 1,120 square miles of lakes and ponds. There are an estimated 611,000 anglers in the state who spend about $502 million annually. Fishing creates an estimated 10,300 jobs in the state. The Wildlife Department receives no general state tax appropriations and is supported by hunting and fishing license fees and federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment.
            For more information about the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Wildlife Department receives $40,000 for Wildlife Expo
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation received a huge boost to be used for introducing youth to the outdoors at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo thanks to a recent $40,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service.
            The grant, accepted by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission at its September meeting, was acquired by the U.S. Forest Service’s Black Kettle National Grasslands.
            The Black Kettle National Grasslands is owned by the U.S. Forest Service and covers nearly 31,000 acres in the mixed grass prairie of northwest Oklahoma near Cheyenne. The land provides sportsmen with hunting and other recreational opportunities such as wildlife watching and camping. Forest Service Ranger Tom Smeltzer said the Black Kettle National Grasslands is glad to partner with the Wildlife Department in offering the Wildlife Expo to sportsmen.
            The Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is a three-day recreational and educational event dedicated to providing outdoor learning opportunities and exposure to Oklahoma’s outdoors. Visitors can try archery, shotgun shooting, kayaking, fishing, mountain biking and more as well as participate in a number of seminars that teach outdoor skills and provide information about Oklahoma’s outdoor opportunities. The event is free and open to the public. This year’s Wildlife Expo is slated for Sept. 25-27 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. all three days.
            In other business, the Commission recognized Virgil Wallgren for his continued support of and dedication to the sportsmen of Oklahoma. Wallgren was a longtime advocate for hunters, particularly houndsmen, and worked with the state Legislature to help ensure the future of hunting in Oklahoma. Wallgren has served as a representative for the Oklahoma Fox and Wolf Hunters Association and the Oklahoma Federation of Coonhunters, but colleagues say Wallgren’s work benefited all sportsmen. Wallgren was recently inducted into the Fox Hunters Hall of Fame.
            “Under his guidance and leadership, we worked to preserve the rights of people who hunt here in Oklahoma,” said District 5 Wildlife Commissioner Ed Abel. Abel added that although Wallgren represented the Oklahoma Fox and Wolf Hunters Association and the Oklahoma Federation of Coonhunters, he remained sensitive to the rights of other hunters, trappers and other sportsmen and worked to preserve the rights of outdoorsmen all over the state.
            Abel expressed his gratitude to Wallgren for his work on behalf of sportsmen over the last 34 years.
            “I personally want to thank Virgil for all of the years that he has spent on behalf of houndsmen,” Abel said.
            Harland Stonecipher, District 4 Wildlife Commissioner, said Wallgren’s work with the State Legislature is benefiting sportsmen even today.
            “Sometimes you don’t really appreciate people until they’re not there,” Stonecipher said regarding Wallgren’s retirement from working with the Legislature.
            John Groendyke, Commission chairman, said Wallgren’s service to the sportsmen of Oklahoma has helped make the state better for hunters, too.
            “Today we can say we have a better Department, and we have better opportunities for the sportsmen than we had 20 or 30 years ago, and Virgil was a part of that,” Groendyke said.
            The Commission also heard a presentation from Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department, and Colin Berg, information and education supervisor for the Wildlife Department, about several educational programs used by the Wildlife Department to introduce Oklahomans to the outdoors. The presentation included information about Project WILD, hunter education, aquatic resource education, the Department’s Arcadia Conservation Education Area and the Oklahoma Archery in the Schools program, all of which are designed to introduce youth and newcomers to the outdoors.
            The Commission also approved a revised purchasing policy for Wildlife Department employees and recognized several Department employees with tenure awards. The Commission recognized Carlos Gomez, game warden, for 30 years of service and Karlin Bailey, game warden, 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. Oct. 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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Longtime Oklahoma houndsman recognized for efforts on behalf of sportsmen
            Oklahoma’s rich tradition of hunting has been passed down for generations by grandparents, parents and family friends, and some individuals go above and beyond to ensure that the hunting heritage is preserved and a future for conservation and the outdoors is secured.
            At its September meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission recognized Virgil Wallgren for his continued support of and dedication to the sportsmen of Oklahoma. Wallgren is known for being a longtime advocate for hunters, particularly houndsmen, and has worked with the state Legislature on a number of wildlife and hunting related bills to help ensure the future of hunting in Oklahoma. He was active in organizing and uniting hunters and supporting causes that would conserve wildlife and preserve the traditions of hunting in Oklahoma. Wallgren has served as a representative for the Oklahoma Fox and Wolf Hunters Association and the Oklahoma Federation of Coonhunters, but colleagues say Wallgren’s work benefited all sportsmen. Recently, Wallgren’s work was recognized when he was inducted into the Fox Hunters Hall of Fame.
            Richard Hatcher, director of the Wildlife Department, said Wallgren’s efforts on behalf of sportsmen were fueled by his personal passion for the outdoors and that it was time he be recognized for his career in advocating for hunters and outdoorsmen.
            “Under his guidance and leadership, we worked to preserve the rights of people who hunt here in Oklahoma,” said District 5 Wildlife Commissioner Ed Abel. Abel added that although Wallgren represented the Oklahoma Fox and Wolf Hunters Association and the Oklahoma Federation of Coonhunters, he remained sensitive to the rights of other hunters, trappers and other sportsmen and worked to preserve the rights of outdoorsmen all over the state.
            Abel expressed his gratitude to Wallgren for his work on behalf of sportsmen over the last 34 years.
            “I personally want to thank Virgil for all of the years that he has spent on behalf of houndsmen,” Abel said.
            Harland Stonecipher, District 4 Wildlife Commissioner, said Wallgren’s work with the State Legislature is benefiting sportsmen even today.
            “Sometimes you don’t really appreciate people until they’re not there,” Stonecipher said regarding Wallgren’s retirement from working with the Legislature.
            John Groendyke, Commission chairman, said Wallgren’s service to the sportsmen of Oklahoma has helped make the state better for hunters, too.
            “Today we can say we have a better Department, and we have better opportunities for the sportsmen than we had 20 or 30 years ago, and Virgil was a part of that,” Groendyke said.
            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. Oct. 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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New report provides full details on Oklahoma Big Game Hunting
            Oklahoma deer hunters set two records last year during the 2008-09 season, and hunters can read all about them in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s “Big Game Report,” available now in the September/October issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
            The report details how last year’s doe harvest reached an all-time high of 48,358 does, showing that deer hunters understand something about conservation.
            "Oklahoma hunters should be commended for their dedication to doe harvest efforts,” said Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Wildlife Department. “Each time a hunter bags a deer, he or she has made a management decision that can affect population growth, herd health, buck:doe ratios, and habitat quality and quantity. Persistent effort to ensure adequate doe harvest is a positive step in the continuation and even improvement of the quality deer hunting we have come to expect in our state."
             The report also reveals that archery hunters set a season harvest record of 17,784 deer last year, helping to reach a total harvest of 111,427 deer for the 2008-09 deer season.
            At 18 pages, the “Big Game Report” provides detailed information about the counties and wildlife management areas where deer were harvested and shows a range of figures and tables that break down the dynamics of last year’s big game seasons. Additionally, readers can learn about one Oklahoma woman who discovered the joy of hunting with her husband and now avidly pursues deer every year.
            Along with the “Big Game Report,” the September/October issue includes an article by “Outdoor Oklahoma” TV show host Todd Craighead explaining how to gain outdoor skills by hunting coyotes, information on the 2009 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, and more.
            Outdoor Oklahoma magazine is an award-winning bi-monthly publication of the Wildlife Department covering hunting, fishing, wildlife conservation, natural history, camping and more. Recognized as having some of the nation’s best outdoor photography, each issue is filled from cover to cover with informative articles geared toward wildlife enthusiasts.
            Subscriptions to Outdoor Oklahoma magazine are just $10 for one year, $18 for two years, or $25 for three years. Subscriptions can be obtained instantly by logging on to
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com  . Single copies are available for $3 at most Wildlife Department field offices and at its headquarters in Oklahoma City. Copies also are available by mail for $4.
 
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Wildlife Expo hunter ed course to give away free lifetime license
            For someone who has just completed a hunter education course, few rewards could honor their accomplishment like a free lifetime hunting license, but that is exactly what one student will win at a unique hunter ed class held Sept. 26 at the Wildlife Expo.
            Along with hands-on activities like archery, shotgun shooting and fishing, visitors to the Expo can participate in a unique hunter education class in which one student will be drawn to win a free lifetime hunting license from the Wildlife Department. The course will be taught as a home study course, in which students who attend must first complete a portion of the course online through wildlifedepartment.com.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is hosting the Wildlife Expo in partnership with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies. Held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, the event is designed to promote and instill appreciation for Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts. The event is free and open to the public.
            The Department’s Hunter Education course 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, or as a 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.
            The Wildlife Expo’s hunter education course will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Expo. Pre-registration for the course is required and can be done by calling (405) 521-3855.
            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.
 
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Wild game and camp cooking feed thousands at Expo
            How much wild game can 38,600 sportsmen consume in three days? The answer is at least 2,000 pounds of venison and catfish and well over 200 gallons of buffalo chili. That is how much food was sampled at the Taste of the Wild exhibit at last year’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, and that does not even include the near 7,000 samples of camp-style Dutch oven snacks served to Expo visitors. Sportsmen can sample wild game and camp food this year, too, at the fifth annual Wildlife Expo slated for Sept. 25-27.
            Held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, the Wildlife Expo is Oklahoma’s largest outdoor recreation event, offering guests the chance to shoot shotguns and archery equipment, ride mountain bikes and ATVs, catch fish in a fully-stocked pond, experience kayaking, attend seminars and more for free.
      At this year’s Expo, wild game meat will be served at the popular Taste of the Wildlife booth, where last year more than 1,000 pounds of fried catfish, more than 1,000 pounds of venison and about 220 gallons of buffalo chili were served to Expo visitors. Dutch oven demonstrators also served samples of deserts, stews and other delicious camp foods cooked right on site and provided seminars on the basics of Dutch oven cooking. Visitors were able to learn secrets of the trade, including what tools are needed to make camp cooking easier and how many coals to use when cooking with a Dutch oven.
      “Visitors to the 2009 Wildlife Expo should make it a point to try each of the foods they can sample at the Taste of the Wild booth,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “They should also be sure to attend a Dutch oven seminar to learn a new recipe or even learn about this style of camp cooking for the first time.”
      In addition to sampling game meat and camp food, visitors also can attend a cooking seminar with renowned chef, restaurant owner and wild game cook Michael Fusco. Owner of Michael Fusco’s Riverside Grill in Tulsa, Fusco shows the ins and outs of handling and preparing wild game with culinary expertise every year at the Expo.
            “Michael Fusco has partnered with the Wildlife Expo from its beginning and has always been a favorite among Expo visitors,” Hurst said.
            The Wildlife Expo is hosted by the Wildlife Department in partnership with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host Expo. The huge event 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, designing a personal fishing lure, 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. “If you love to hunt and fish like I do, then take someone to this year’s Wildlife Expo.”
            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. For more information about School Day or the Wildlife Expo, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
Editor's note: Below is a link for an accompanying photo that is 300 DPI and intended for newspaper publication. The ending link is .jpg. The photo will open in your browser. If you have a PC, you should be able to right click, then select “Save picture as,” then choose the file type you prefer and click “Save.” Another option is to select “File” your toolbar, choose “Save picture as,” then select the file type of your choice and click “Save.” Images can be viewed with the article at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com

Photo Caption: Volunteers at the 2008 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo prepare and serve food samples at a Dutch oven cooking demonstration. This year the Wildlife Expo will be Sept. 25-27 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City.
 
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Wildlife Department employment exam is first step to rewarding wildlife career
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is known for its long-tenured employees, and people who work there can explain why.
            “It’s the best department in the state,” said Johnny Herd, central region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
            “You work with hunters and fisherman, and they are the best people in the state. And our people—they are the best in the state,” Herd said.
            Herd has worked for the Wildlife Department for 47 years and said he cannot imagine working anywhere else.
            “Hunting is dear to me,” Herd said. “I love talking to people about hunting and the wildlife resources in the state.”
            Other employees with the Department have been on board for more than 20 and 30 years. Others are just beginning their careers at the Wildlife Department.
            One of the longest-tenured state agencies in Oklahoma, the Wildlife Department will be holding an open employment exam Friday, Sept. 25, at Rose State College. Taking the test is the first step in the hiring process for individuals seeking positions as game wardens, biologists, fish hatchery assistant managers or technicians with the Department.
            The standardized employment exam is set for 10 a.m. in the auditorium of the Tom Steed building at Rose State College. The exam is free, and participants must have photo identification upon check-in. Late arrivals will not be permitted to enter the examination room after 10 a.m.
            “The Department looks for the best wildlife conservation employees available, and we want those who are interested to begin getting involved,” said Mikki Gutierrez, human resource administrator for the Wildlife Department. “This test is the first step for most positions at the Wildlife Department.”
            Specific job and education requirements for Department positions as well as suggested study material for the exams are listed on the Department's official Web site at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
            Individuals may take the exam once in a 12-month period. Test scores are valid for 12 months from the test date, and top scorers will be invited to submit an employment application. When a job opening becomes available, selected applicants from the test register will be scheduled for an interview. For more information, contact the Wildlife Department's Human Resource office at (405) 521-4640.
 
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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 Priscilla Crawford, Oklahoma Biological Survey, at (405) 325-7658. For accommodations for persons with disabilities, contact Crawford. 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.
 
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Wetland status reports now available online
            Waterfowl seasons are quickly approaching and wetland status reports are now available on the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            Wetland development units are managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and are funded through sales of Oklahoma waterfowl licenses. Wetland status reports include the size of the area, the percent of the unit that is flooded, as well as forage conditions.
            In addition, maps of the wetland development units, waterfowl hunting zone maps, waterfowl reports during the season and more are available on the Department’s Web site. To view the reports, log on to
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com

 

Deer season fast approaching with Oct. 1 archery opener
            Thousands of Oklahoma deer hunters have the Oct. 1 deer archery season opener in their sights when they will kick off another season of deer hunting.
            Last year, Oklahoma bowhunters set a new archery season harvest record by taking 17,784 deer, helping to push the annual combined season deer harvest to the second highest level in state history. Sportsmen checked in a total of 111,427 deer overall, a 16 percent increase over the previous year and only 7,922 deer shy of the state's all-time annual harvest record of 119,349 deer in 2006.
            According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's recently published “Big Game Report” — available now in the Sept/Oct issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine — an estimated 83,335 hunters participated in archery season last year. Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Wildlife Department, says that high number could be the result of the added challenge and extra time in the woods that the archery season offers.
            “Combined with the added challenge, many archery hunters take up the sport to enjoy greater opportunity to be in the woods, as archery season is the longest of our deer seasons,” Shaw said.
            Shaw also said archery hunting can offer a chance to harvest more meat and more close-to-home hunting opportunities that might otherwise be missed.
            “Deer numbers remain at high levels, and hunters should take advantage of the very liberal season dates and bag limits afforded to archers,” Shaw said. “Additionally, some areas close to our urban centers can be safely and effectively hunted by those using archery equipment. While the majority of our deer hunting still takes place in the more rural areas of our state, bowhunters should not overlook opportunities that might be found closer to home. Of course hunters looking at suburban opportunities should always check local laws to make sure that they are in compliance.”
            Bowhunting not only gives hunters more time in the woods, but it also builds a skill that can be learned from home.
            “It is never too early to begin to prepare for archery season,” Shaw said. “While a gun hunter can sight in a rifle in the course of an afternoon, it may take a bow hunter several weeks of practice to dial in his equipment and to build and train muscles not used for many other activities. Besides, part of the fun in archery hunting is getting to practice in your own backyard.”
            According to Shaw, archers can expect good hunting, but some hunters in parts of the state might have to watch closely for game during the earliest part of the archery season.
            “Our wet summer has helped the vegetation to reach great height and density,” Shaw said. “The deer will still be out there; it will just be tougher to see them. However, it appears that the acorn crop will be plentiful, which should help draw deer out of the thicker cover and perhaps under a hunter waiting in a tree stand.”
            To hunt deer during archery season, resident hunters must have an appropriate hunting license and, if their hunting license was purchased prior to July 1, a fishing and hunting legacy permit. Additionally, all deer hunters must possess a deer archery license for each deer hunted or proof of exemption. Nonresident deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license while hunting deer, but they must possess a nonresident deer archery license for each deer hunted, or proof of exemption. Holders of nonresident lifetime hunting and lifetime combination licenses are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses. All hunters who harvest a deer must check in their animal at the nearest open hunter check station, with an authorized Wildlife Department employee or online at wildlifedepartment.com. A county-by-county listing of hunter check stations is available in the “2009-10 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or at wildlifedepartment.com.
            To learn more about deer hunting in Oklahoma or to purchase a hunting license, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Black bears provide sportsmen new hunting opportunity, challenge
            Oct. 1 marks the opening of Oklahoma's first black bear archery season in Latimer, LeFlore, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties in southeast Oklahoma.
            “Any sportsman or sportswoman that has ever wanted to hunt an Oklahoma bruin should be very excited about the upcoming first ever black bear season in Oklahoma,” said Jeff Ford, southeast region wildlife biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            Black bears once ranged across North America, including the entire area of what is now Oklahoma, but by the early 1900s, sightings had become rare. Factors like urban development, unregulated hunting and habitat fragmentation caused black bear numbers to eventually decline drastically.
            In the late 1900s, however, black bears began making a comeback in Oklahoma after the successful reintroduction of black bears in the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. That initial relocation of about 250 bears from northern Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada, turned into thousands of bears in the mountains of Arkansas, which then expanded into southwest Missouri and eastern Oklahoma. Viewed as one of the most successful reintroductions of large carnivores in the world, this successful reestablishment of black bears led to a renewed black bear hunting season in Arkansas in 1980.
            Today bears have a growing population in southeast Oklahoma and are an important part of the state's wildlife diversity. Biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have collected more than 15 years of biological data and information from responding to nuisance bear calls. Additional research projects were conducted by the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit with Oklahoma State University, and results show Oklahoma can sustain a bear season to address nuisance bear issues while creating new opportunities for sportsmen.
            The bear archery season will run from Oct. 1 through Oct. 23 or until the season quota of 20 bears has been met. If the season quota is not met during bear archery season, black bear muzzleloader season will open Oct. 24 and run through Nov. 1 or until the season quota is met. Hunters must check by phone or online at wildlifedepartment.com before hunting each day to see if the quota has been reached. Once the quota of 20 bears is reached, the season will close. The use of dogs is prohibited, and baiting is prohibited on wildlife management areas.
            Ford said weather conditions are right for the start of bear season, and sportsmen looking for an approach to hunting bears should look what bears are looking for — food.
            “The above average rainfall and below average temperatures during August has helped to ensure there will be an abundance of acorns and soft mast, such as poke berries, wild grapes and persimmons — food's on which black bears rely to put on a thick layer fat for winter,” Ford said. “With white oak acorns falling first, concentrating on areas along ridge tops would be a good place to do some early scouting.”
            Ford also said hunters should scout areas near where timber harvest has occurred, since plants and trees that produce soft mast thrive in such locations. Additionally, Ford said finding a watering hole near a food source can increase a hunter's chance for success.
            To hunt black bears in Oklahoma, resident hunters must possess a hunting license and, if their hunting license was purchased prior to July 1, a fishing and hunting legacy permit. Additionally, resident bear hunters must possess a bear license. Nonresident bear hunters are exempt from a hunting license while hunting bear but must possess a nonresident bear license.
            Lifetime license holders are not exempt from the purchase of a bear license. Bear licenses for the archery season must be purchased prior to Oct. 1 and bear licenses for the muzzleloader season must be purchased by 11:59 p.m. Oct. 23. An unfilled bear archery license will be valid for the bear muzzleloader season if the season quota of 20 bears has not been reached. Once the quota has been reached, the season has closed.
            Extra Wildlife Department personnel will be available in the four-county hunt area during the first five days of the bear season to help check in bear harvests, visit with sportsmen, and to help ensure compliance of bear hunting regulations. Wildlife Department personnel will collect biological data from each bear harvested, including a tooth for age determination and specific size measurements. Additionally, bears harvested may be subject to forensic analysis to ensure legal means of harvest were observed. The Wildlife Department also will work in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service to establish several hunter check points throughout the hunt area for checking bear hunters.
 
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Free Wildlife Expo offers chance to share the sport of fishing
            More than 25,000 worms are expected to fly through the air and into the pond at the Lazy E Arena Sept. 25-27 by Oklahomans hoping to catch a fish at the fifth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.
            The Wildlife Expo is Oklahoma's largest outdoor recreation event, drawing thousands of people to the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, for three days of hands-on outdoor recreation and learning. The Expo is hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in partnership with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies.
            Among the many activities available will be those that promote the sport of fishing and even give visitors the chance to catch their own fish from a fully stocked pond. Prior to the event, about 2,500 pounds of live channel catfish and several hundred hybrid sunfish are stocked in the pond to be caught by thousands of visitors during the event.
            According to Damon Springer, aquatic resource education coordinator for the Wildlife Department, the event can be the springboard for a lifetime of fishing excitement.
            “Oklahoma has thousands of ponds, lakes and streams that are teeming with fish, and several are open to public access,” Springer said. “Even with the abundance of open fishing waters, there are so many folks who still have not had the opportunity to fish. The Expo offers those folks with little to no previous exposure to fishing the opportunity to learn basic fishing and safety at the pond.”
            Other angling-related opportunities at the Expo include seminars, bowfishing simulations, kids casting games, fly fishing and fly-tying lessons, fish filleting demonstrations and exhibits hosted by Wildlife Department fisheries personnel. Visitors can speak with experts on a range of fishing topics such as the Wildlife Department's paddlefish and streams programs, black bass tactics, fishing tackle and more.
            “If you know of someone who wants to learn about fishing, you should bring them with you to the Expo,” Springer said. “They will enjoy the whole atmosphere and go home with so much information.”
            Designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts, the Expo offers something for everyone to try while promoting and instilling an appreciation for Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources. Visitors can shoot shotguns, ride mountain bikes, try rock climbing and even build a birdhouse to take home with them — all for 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. To learn more about the Expo or to learn more about the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
 
 

Photo Caption: Visitors to this year's Oklahoma Wildlife Expo can try their hand at angling at a pond stocked with fish. This year the Wildlife Expo will be Sept. 25-27 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City.
 
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Enjoy outdoor fun; sign up to win free off-road utility vehicle
            At this year's Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, slated for Sept. 25-27, visitors can test ride an off-road utility vehicle and then sign up to win one thanks to generous Expo sponsor P&K Equipment.
            For the fifth year in a row, P&K Equipment will provide one lucky Expo visitor with a free John Deere Gator utility vehicle, the event's grand prize giveaway. All visitors have to do in order to get a chance to win is sign up for the drawing. Other great prizes at the Expo include a lifetime combination hunting and fishing license, outdoor getaways and more. Registration stations will be set up across the Expo grounds at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, where visitors can enter to win one of many prizes.
            The John Deere Gator and lifetime combination license only scratch the surface of the many prizes that visitors can win.
            “Many of the sponsors will be giving away some great prizes this year, including a paddlefish snagging trip, a kayak, kayak lessons, and several annual fishing and hunting licenses,” said Mikki Gutierrez, human resource administrator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and one of hundreds of volunteers working to make the fifth annual Wildlife Expo happen. “All you have to do is look for the prize registration boxes at many of the exhibits, fill out a registration slip and drop it in the box. It's as easy as 1,2,3!”
            The Wildlife Expo is Oklahoma's largest outdoor recreation event, drawing thousands of people for three days of hands-on outdoor recreation and learning. The Expo is hosted by the Wildlife Department in partnership with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies. Designed to promote and perpetuate appreciation of Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources, the Expo offers visitors a chance to shoot shotguns, try archery, catch fish from a stocked pond, ride mountain bikes, try rock climbing and even build a birdhouse to take home with them — all for free. Guests also can attend seminars and booths related to hunting, wildlife management, sporting dog training, camping, wild game meat handling and sampling, and just about anything related to enjoying the outdoors in Oklahoma.
            Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily Sept. 25-27. Admission and parking are free. For more information about the Wildlife Expo or the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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2009 Wildlife Expo to feature Oklahoma's outdoors this weekend
            Fall has arrived in Oklahoma, which often means family gatherings, making memories and time spent outdoors — all of which can be done this weekend at the fifth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.
            The Wildlife Expo, sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and coordinated by hundreds of volunteer organizations and individuals, is slated for September 25-27 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. The event offers three days of nonstop outdoor action for all ages and levels of experience with the outdoors. And it's free.
            The Expo takes a hands-on approach to educating visitors about the outdoors.  Guests can try their own hand at shooting a shotgun or bow and arrow, riding a mountain bike or ATV, floating in a kayak, building a birdhouse, painting their own fishing lure, catching a fish and more.
            Booths and other activities inside the arena offer information and resources about more outdoor opportunities than visitors may even know are available to them in Oklahoma. Visitors can learn about fly fishing or deer hunting or even go inside a “butterfly tent” to get an up-close glimpse of a variety of winged-wildlife.
            Snacking at the popular “Taste of the Wild” booth gives visitors a sample of wild game meat, and attending a seminar can enhance their knowledge on a number of outdoor topics ranging from aging deer on the hoof to training hunting dogs or caring for wild game meat in the field.
            Additionally, shoppers have a chance to glance through and buy some of the best outdoor gear available at the Expo's Outdoor Marketplace, a huge area at the Expo where vendors are set up to display and sell outdoor-related products and services.
            “The Expo is a fun way to learn all about the outdoors, and it's all completely free,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. “It draws tens of thousands of people who come for a day of fun and learning, and people leave with a little better understanding of the value of conserving the outdoors.
            The Wildlife Department will be working with a range of organizations, individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the Expo — an event intended to promote and develop appreciation for Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources.
            Expo hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 25-27. Admission is free. This year's Expo will again feature School Day on Friday, Sept. 25, when almost 10,000 students from schools across the state will convene onto the Expo grounds for a field trip they won't soon forget. For more information about the Expo, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Enjoy outdoor fun; sign up to win free prizes
            At this year's Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, slated for Sept. 25-27, visitors can test ride an off-road utility vehicle and then sign up to win one — along with many other prizes — thanks to generous Expo sponsor P&K Equipment.
            For the fifth year in a row, P&K Equipment will provide one lucky Expo visitor with a free John Deere Gator utility vehicle, the event's grand prize giveaway. All visitors have to do in order to get a chance to win is sign up for the drawing. Other great prizes at the Expo include a lifetime combination hunting and fishing license, outdoor getaways and more. Registration stations will be set up across the Expo grounds at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, where visitors can enter to win one of many prizes.
            The John Deere Gator and lifetime combination license only scratch the surface of the many prizes that visitors can win.
            “Many of the sponsors will be giving away some great prizes this year, including a paddlefish snagging trip, a kayak, kayak lessons, and even fishing and hunting licenses,” said Mikki Gutierrez, human resource administrator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and one of hundreds of volunteers working to make the fifth annual Wildlife Expo happen. “All you have to do is look for the prize registration boxes at many of the exhibits, fill out a registration slip and drop it in the box. It's as easy as 1,2,3!”
            The Wildlife Expo is Oklahoma's largest outdoor recreation event, drawing thousands of people for three days of hands-on outdoor recreation and learning. The Expo is hosted by the Wildlife Department in partnership with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies. Designed to promote and perpetuate appreciation of Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources, the Expo offers visitors a chance to shoot shotguns, try archery, catch fish from a stocked pond, ride mountain bikes, try rock climbing and even build a birdhouse to take home with them — all for free. Guests also can attend seminars and booths related to hunting, wildlife management, sporting dog training, camping, wild game meat handling and sampling, and just about anything related to enjoying the outdoors in Oklahoma.
            Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily Sept. 25-27. Admission and parking are free. For more information about the Wildlife Expo or the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Lake Keystone anglers' comments sought for five-year management plan
            Keystone Lake anglers have an opportunity to share their thoughts with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Oct. 6 on a range of topics affecting the lake.
            The meeting will be held at 7 p.m., Oct. 6, at the Keystone State Park Meeting Hall and Community Center, and discussion is open to a range of topics, such as fishery and management goals, objectives and strategies for the lake.
            Keystone Lake is located in northeast Oklahoma and is part of Oklahoma's 1,120 square miles of lakes and ponds. There are an estimated 611,000 anglers in the state who spend about $502 million annually. Fishing creates an estimated 10,300 jobs in the state. The Wildlife Department receives no general state tax appropriations and is supported by hunting and fishing license fees and federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment.
            For more information about the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Young outdoor writers to share their heritage and win trip of a lifetime
            This fall Oklahoma youth have a unique opportunity to share their outdoor heritage through creative writing while competing for the chance to win an all-expense-paid outdoor getaway.
            According to Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the essay contest is an ideal way for youth to show their love for the outdoors and, in the process, possibly win a vacation in the great outdoors.
            “Each year we receive a number of great essays, and that shows just how much Oklahoma's youth enjoy archery and sharing their hunting tradition,” Berg said. “Teachers often comment about how some students jump at the chance to write about their hunting experiences. I myself always found it more enjoyable to write about topics I'm interested in, and this subject matter connects with lots of students who enjoy hunting.”
            To participate, students must be 11-17 years of age and currently enrolled in any Oklahoma school or home school. Students also must use the theme of “Hunting: Sharing the Heritage” or “Archery: What I like about Archery in the Schools and Bowhunting” or the concept of the theme to develop a descriptive essay or short story. Winners of the 2008 contest are not eligible. Applicants must have successfully completed an Oklahoma Hunter Education course by the entry deadline, which is Nov. 20, 2009. There are two age categories — 11-14 and 15-17.
            Winners in the 15-17 age category (one boy and one girl) will receive a guided antelope hunt in New Mexico, and winners in the 11-14 age category are competing for a scholarship within the Apprentice Hunter Program at the YO Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas. Safari Club International's Apprentice Hunter Program is a unique, hands-on course designed for girls and boys aged 11-14. The program covers topics such as the history of hunting, the ethical basis of modern sport hunting, wildlife management, field identification, tracking and interpreting sign, game cooking and the SCI Sportsmen Against Hunger Program. There are three sessions — each one week long — during the summer of 2009.
            The four statewide winners and their legal guardians will be invited to Oklahoma City to attend an awards ceremony in March. In addition, the top 25 essay entrants will receive a one-year youth membership to Safari Club International. The winning student essays will be published in the OSCSCI newsletter, “Safari Trails.” Publication qualifies the winning entries for the Norm Strung National Youth Writing Contest sponsored by the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Several past national winners have come from Oklahoma, including two from last year's contest.
            Steven Maichak of Edmond took third place in the senior prose division (grades 9-12) of the national contest, and Raini Stiles of Collinsville took first place in the junior prose division (grades 6-8). Both received national recognition and cash rewards.
            Essays may also be printed in Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
             One educator also will be awarded an all-expenses-paid scholarship for an eight-day conservation education school at Safari Club International's American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS) at Granite Ranch near Jackson, Wyoming, according to Berg.
            The AWLS program is conducted during the summer and presents an outdoor program for educators that concentrates on natural resource management. Participants learn about stream ecology, map and compass, language arts and creative writing in an outdoor setting, fly tying, shooting sports, wildlife management, the Yellowstone ecosystem, camping, white-water rafting, educational resources and how to implement outdoor education ideas. Six sessions will be offered June through August of 2010.
            Both the essay contest rules and teacher scholarship applications are available from the Department's Web site at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com.
            Essays and applications must be postmarked no later than Nov. 20, or delivered by Nov. 20 in person to the Department of Wildlife's Jenks Office at 201 Aquarium Drive, Jenks. Address entries to: Essay Contest, Attn: Education Section Supervisor, ODWC Jenks Office, P.O. Box 1201, Jenks, OK 74037.
 
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Free hunter education courses available throughout the fall season
            Oklahomans hoping to go hunting this year can prepare by enrolling in one of many hunter education courses to be held this fall by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            The Department's Hunter Education course 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, or as a home study course.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation offers a full listing of available upcoming hunter education courses online at wildlifedepartment.com. Visitors to the site can learn when and where classes will be held and, if pre-registration is required, a phone number is provided.
            To hunt big game or small game alone, hunters ages 10-35 must be hunter education certified. Hunters age nine and under can hunt big game or small game alone except during youth deer gun and turkey seasons and on public lands, where additional regulations may apply. Hunters exempt from hunter education include those 36 years of age or older, those honorably discharged from or currently on duty the U.S. Armed Forces, and members of the National Guard.
            Oklahomans who are not exempt from hunter education but who are not hunter ed certified may be eligible to hunt with an apprentice-designated hunting license. For full details and license requirements, log on to wildlifedepartment.com or consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
            Even those hunters who can hunt with an apprentice-designated hunting license are encouraged to enroll in a hunter education 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.
            Oklahomans interested in becoming volunteer hunter education instructors for the Wildlife Department can reserve a spot and attend an upcoming workshop Dec. 12 at H&H Gun Range, located at the I-40 and Meridian area in Oklahoma City (400 S. Vermont, Suite 110).
            Volunteer instructors teach and assist in numerous classes throughout the state each year, making hunter education more readily available for more Oklahomans. Volunteers help set up and teach classes, assist other instructors and represent the Wildlife Department and sportsmen of the state.
            To become a volunteer instructor or to reserve a spot at the upcoming workshop, contact Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Wildlife Department, call (405) 522-4572.
            For more information about hunter education in Oklahoma, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com

 
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Stop by Cole and see the monarchs  
            Dubbed the monarch capital of Oklahoma, the town of Cole which is just southwest of Norman will be holding its Monarch Migration and Butterfly Festival on Saturday, October 3rd from 10 am to 4 pm. The park will be in full bloom with nectar plants that have been planted especially for butterflies.
            Monarchs stop by Cole in October so they can nourish themselves on their long journey to Mexico in the fall. The route of these monarchs is very specific, ranging from Canada to forests of Mexico, and usually even to the same tree.  Monarchs begin their fall migration before nighttime temperatures drop below 55 degrees.  Since they are cold-blooded and need heat to keep their bodies warm, they cannot function in cold conditions.
            The festival will include activities like learning about monarch migration, butterflies and butterfly gardening. Visitors can enjoy art, music, face painting, educational displays, good food and the great outdoors. Visitors are encouraged to bring their families and binoculars.  A butterfly release is scheduled for 2 p.m.
            Adults and children who come dressed as a butterfly or caterpillar can join a Parade of Butterflies at noon.
            For information about attracting butterflies to your own backyard, check out Landscaping for Wildlife, a book available through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Outdoor Store at wildlifedepartment.com.
            For more information about the Festival, contact Annie Hart 405-485-2962.
 
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