FEBRUARY 2010 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 25, 2010

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 18, 2010

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 11, 2010

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 4, 2010

 

National Wild Turkey Federation exceeds $1 million in expenditures in Oklahoma

            It is only with the support of hunters, anglers and sportsmen’s organizations that the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is able to make wildlife conservation happen in Oklahoma. This year, one such group — the National Wild Turkey Federation — will exceed $1 million in expenditures in Oklahoma since 1985.

            At its February meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission recognized $169,985 in recent grants from the NWTF.

            “The NWTF has been an invaluable partner to the Wildlife Department for many, many years,” said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Wildlife Department, adding that the grants cover about two year’s worth of conservation projects.

            Accepting the recognition on behalf of the NWTF was Gary Purdy, senior regional director for the NWTF, and Mike Evans, Oklahoma state president of the NWTF.

            According to Purdy, 2010 is going to be “a year of celebration” for the National Wild Turkey Federation.

            “In 2010, we will exceed $1 million in expenditures in Oklahoma,” Purdy said.

            Evans credited the NTWF membership across Oklahoma for the ability to provide the grants and said one of the reasons the organization chooses to support the Wildlife Department is because of the positive conservation results that come from the partnership.

            “We’re just honored to be able to help with the Wildlife Department,” Evans said.

            The $1,010,000 that the National Wild Turkey Federation chapters in Oklahoma have raised since 1985 has been spent on wildlife habitat enhancements, land purchases, education, outreach and more within the state. NWTF chapters and cooperating partners across North America have raised and spent more than $306 million nationwide upholding hunting traditions and conserving nearly 14 million acres of wildlife habitat since 1985.

            Funds donated by conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation are often matched three to one by the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program, which is funded by sportsmen when they purchase certain hunting and fishing gear.

            The NWTF grants during 2009 and 2010 fund a range of projects including, among others, $80,000 toward land acquisition in Oklahoma.

 

Projects supported and completed in 2009

 

Along with those projects completed in 2009, the grants also include several projects approved for 2010 that have not yet been completed, including the following:

 

            In other business, the Commission approved funds for the fisheries division to convert to a system of automated data collection at the Department’s Paddlefish Research and Processing Center in northeast Oklahoma. According to Barry Bolton, fisheries chief for the Wildlife Department, an automated system will shorten check-in time for anglers and streamline efficiency in gathering important biological data at the center.

            The Commission also addressed Wildlife Department retirement issues, including increasing the budget to fund the required employer contribution to the retirement plan based on a fiscal year 2009 valuation report, reaffirming the appointment of the Commission Retirement Committee and authorizing the Department to retain an independent third party selected by the Retirement/Finance Committee to review and evaluate the Department’s retirement plan.

            Additionally, the Commission recognized Jim Burroughs, east-central region fisheries supervisor, for 20 years of service to the Wildlife Department.

            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. March 1, 2010, 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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Woodward to host northwest Oklahoma outdoor expo event

            Oklahoma is known for it’s variety of outdoor activities, and this spring Oklahomans can get a close up glimpse of several outdoor pursuits right at home.

            March 19-21 marks the dates for the Northwest Oklahoma Outdoor Expo in Woodward, a production of Sally’s Antler Art & Imports and the citizens of northwest Oklahoma designed to showcase the state’s outdoors.

            The event offers visitors a chance to enjoy several hands-on exhibits, ranging from archery and skeet shooting to fishing tanks, horseback trail riding, antler scoring and more. Activities even include a tagged fishing tournament and turkey calling contest. Speakers and demonstrations on a range of outdoor topics will be available as well.

            The Northwest Oklahoma Outdoor Expo will be held at the Woodward Fairgrounds. Hours of operation are 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. March 19, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. March 20 and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. March 21. Tickets to the event are $10, and admission for youth 12 and under is free. A weekend pass can be purchased for $20. Tickets are available online at nwokoutdoorsexpo.com.

            For more information, contact Sally Irvin at (580) 216-3481 or log on to nwokoutdoorsexpo.com.

 

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Outdoor Oklahoma readers’ photos wanted for “Readers Photography Showcase” issue

            Outdoor Oklahoma magazine is currently accepting submission for its annual “Readers’ Photography Showcase” issue, which features the digital images of outdoor enthusiasts all over the state.

            Submissions will accepted through March 31, and selected photographers will have their work featured in the July/August 2010 issue of Outdoor Oklahoma.

            The special summer issue gives both professional and amateur photographers the chance to have their digital photos displayed in a magazine nationally recognized for its photography.

            "My wife, Kitty and I look forward all year to your “Photography Showcase magazine,” said Mark Cromwell of Enid. “We save our favorite Oklahoma pictures for your magazine hoping to get one published.”

            Cromwell and his wife have both seen their images appear in the “Readers Photography Showcase.” According to Cromwell, it’s an exciting time each year when the July/August issue of Outdoor Oklahoma arrives in the mail at their home.

            “We thumb through the pages to see if we made it,” Cromwell said, adding that part of the excitement of the issue is having the chance to see what other photographers submitted.

            “I always enjoy seeing the other photographers work from all over Oklahoma,” he said. “We live in a beautiful state, full of wildlife and rich scenery."

            Each participant may submit up to five digital images. Each submission must include a description of the photo, including the location taken, name and hometown of photographer, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. All submissions must be digital and slides and print images will not be accepted. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation reserves one-time publication rights for images selected for the “Readers’ Photography Showcase,” and images remain the property of the photographer. CDs and other file storage devices mailed to the Wildlife Department as part of submissions to the contest are not returned.

            “Photography is a great way to enjoy the outdoors,” said Michael Bergin, associate editor of Outdoor Oklahoma. “We look forward to the many submissions we get each year, and it’s always challenging for the judges to make their final selections.”

Hopeful photographers can mail their submission on disk to: Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

            Individuals can subscribe to Outdoor Oklahoma by calling 1-800-777-0019. Outdoor Oklahoma is known for providing decades of outdoor entertainment to both youth and adults. Subscriptions are just $10 for one year, $18 for two years, or $25 for three years. You can also subscribe over the Internet by logging on to the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.

 

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Free Oklahoma City trout fishing clinic scheduled for Feb. 18
            A free trout fishing clinic held in conjunction with Oklahoma City’s annual rainbow trout fishing season at Dolese Youth Park Pond has been rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 after having been previously canceled due to inclement weather.
            The clinic will take place 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Putnam City High School gymnasium, 5300 N.W. 50th St., across from Dolese Youth Park Pond.
            Local fishing experts and educators from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and Oklahoma City Parks & Recreation Department will be on hand to teach anglers the latest in trout fishing tips and techniques, as well as fish identification and sportsmanship. Participants will have the chance to try out a variety of hands-on activities, including casting, knot tying and trout cleaning.
           No equipment is necessary to participate in the clinic, but pre-registration is required by calling (405) 755-4014.
            The clinic is hosted by the City of Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation as part of the City’s “Close to Home” fishing program. The “Close to Home” fishing program provides fishing areas that are often just a short drive away from even the most urban locations, saving families time and gas money. In addition, it allows parents and children to fish together after school or on a busy weekend. The Dolese trout season also offers anglers a chance to catch a unique fish that they may not catch at other times of the year when water temperatures are warmer.
           Trout season at Dolese Youth Park Pond opened Jan.1 and will run through Feb. 28. Over 8,000 trout will be stocked into the pond during the two-month season, which is being sponsored by BancFirst.
           There is a daily limit of six trout per person during the Dolese Park Pond trout season. In addition, angling is permitted from the bank only, and each angler may only use one rod and reel while fishing for trout. Trout caught and placed on a stringer or otherwise held in possession cannot be released. Catch-and-release angling is allowed all day long during the Dolese trout season, but once a fish is kept, such as put on a stringer or in a basket or bucket, it cannot be released and counts toward the angler’s daily limit of six trout. Regulations for other species that may be caught at Dolese are available in the current “Oklahoma Fishing Guide” or online at wildlifedepartment.com.
            Those fishing for trout at Dolese must purchase an annual state fishing license, unless exempt. In addition, an Oklahoma City Fishing Permit is required for anglers ages 16-61 unless exempt. No state trout license is required. For more information about trout fishing at Dolese and other Close to Home fishing opportunities, contact the city’s H.B. Parsons Fish Hatchery at (405) 755-4014, or visit the Lakes and Fishing page of the city’s Web site at okc.gov. For more information on the “Close to Home” fishing program, log on to wildlifedepartment.com. Dolese Youth Park and the H.B. Parsons Fish Hatchery are operated by the City of Oklahoma City’s Parks and Recreation Department.
 
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Fur auction offers glimpse of long held outdoor tradition and wildlife management method
            When you think of the early days of the pioneers and settlers and their quest to conquer and settle the New World, visions of fur trapping and trading may come to mind. But the centuries-old American tradition of trapping and hunting furbearing wildlife is more than a mere piece of America’s past. It’s also an exciting and very precision-oriented approach to managing wildlife today.
            Not only is furbearer trapping and hunting a sport for the true woodsman, but it also helps the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation achieve management goals that benefit the state’s environment.
            Furbearing animals in Oklahoma that can be hunted include bobcat, raccoon, mink, badger, muskrat, opossum, weasel, gray and red fox, beavers, skunks and river otters. Coyotes also may be taken year-round. Carcasses or parts of legally acquired furbearing animals and coyotes may be purchased, bartered, traded, sold or offered for sale. The skins and/or tails of squirrels may also be sold.
            Those interested in learning more about trapping and furbearer hunting will want to attend one of the upcoming fur auctions that will be held at 8 a.m. Feb. 27 in El Reno at the Canadian County Fairgrounds. The event is being hosted by the Oklahoma Fur Bearer Alliance. Sellers must be members of the Alliance. For more information, contact John Weygandt at (918) 645-5667.
            To hunt furbearers, residents are required to purchase a hunting license, unless exempt. In addition to a hunting license, a trapping license is required to trap any furbearer, unless otherwise exempt. The trapping license expires Jan. 31 of each year. A fur license (bobcat-raccoon-river otter-gray/red fox) is required for taking these species by any means, unless exempt, and is valid through Feb. 28. Lifetime hunting or combination license holders or senior citizen hunting or senior citizen combination license holders must purchase a trapping license to trap, but are exempt from the fur license.
            Bobcat and river otter pelts must have a permanent tag affixed by an authorized employee of the Wildlife Department or designated private tagging agent and can be obtained from any game warden, wildlife biologists, state fish hatcheries, Department field offices or designated private tagging stations. Bobcat and river otter pelts must have the permanent tag affixed within 10 working days of the close of furbearer season in order to be held in possession of a hunter, trapper or buyer.
            For specific tagging details, furbearer season dates and other furbearer regulations, see the current "Oklahoma Hunting Guide" or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International slates sportsmen’s auction and banquet
            Safari Club International is known for supporting conservation and sportsmen, and their active Oklahoma Station Chapter provides a chance for sportsmen to contribute through its annual banquet and fundraiser, scheduled this year for March 6.
            The chapter’s 25th Annual Awards Banquet and Charity Fundraiser will be held March 6 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The event will feature a live auction where bidders will have a chance to buy guided hunts around the globe, ranging from feral hog hunts at Oklahoma’s Chain Ranch and a variety of whitetail deer hunts in several states to big game hunts in Africa and fishing trips in Alaska. Other auction items include selections of firearms, outdoor art, pickup bed-liners, hunting gear and much more. A continually updated list of auction items can be viewed on the Oklahoma Station Chapter’s Web site at oklahomastationsci.org.
            “This is a special celebration of our hunting heritage,” said Mike Mistelske, current president of the Oklahoma Station Chapter. “The auction will feature more North American big-game hunts than ever before, banquet ticket prices have been reduced, there will be many other activities, and there will be great value and fun for everyone — all for the benefit of Oklahoma hunters and non-hunters.”
            The banquet begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 6, but registration and opportunity to visit with outfitters and vendors begins at 4:30 p.m. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is located at 1700 N.E. 63rd St. in Oklahoma City 73111.
            SCI membership is not required to participate in the banquet and raffles, or to be eligible for door prizes. Tickets purchased before Jan. 31 are $45. Tickets may be purchased after Jan. 31 for $70 or at the door for $95. A limited number of sponsor tables will be available as well. To purchase tickets or for further information, contact Judy Rork at 405-703-3381 or oscsci@yahoo.com. Ticket forms also may be printed and either mailed, faxed or e-mailed through the Chapter’s Web site at oklahomastationsci.org. Bid cards for the auction are available to members at no cost. For non-members, bid cards ($50) or memberships ($85) may be purchased at the door if desired. For questions relating to the banquet and auction, contact Mike Mistelske, current Oklahoma Station Chapter of SCI president, at mjmistelske@yahoo.com.
            The Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International offers support and funding to local conservation efforts that benefit the sportsmen and wildlife of Oklahoma. The chapter is a supporter of projects conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, such as the Hunters Against Hunger program that coordinates the annual distribution of over 30,000 of pounds of venison to needy families. The Chapter is also a sponsor of the Wildlife Department’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, which educates tens of thousands of Oklahomans each year on the value of wildlife and the outdoors to quality of life in Oklahoma.
            The organization also has helped fund the purchase of an airboat used by the Wildlife Department on waterfowl surveys and other wetland management tasks, and several trailers for use in the Department's Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP). The STEP program introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms. The Oklahoma Station Chapter also partners with the Wildlife Department each year to hold an annual youth essay contest that provides youth a chance to share their feelings about Oklahoma’s outdoors and to win great prizes, including a guided pronghorn antelope hunt in New Mexico. Additionally, the chapter purchased eight elk for introduction into an existing herd in southeast Oklahoma.
            For more information on the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International, log on to oklahomastationsci.org.
 
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Report reveals record success for bass tournament anglers
            The average winning weight at Oklahoma bass fishing tournaments in 2009 was 14.19 lbs., the highest on record according to the most recent Oklahoma Bass Tournaments Report from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The report is now available at wildlifedepartment.com.
            The Wildlife Department has been collecting standardized statewide data on competitive bass fishing for 16 years, and biologists with the Wildlife Department say the success of tournament anglers offers important information about the quality of angling in Oklahoma.
            “With over a half million acres of public water to manage, ODWC fisheries personnel cannot sample every lake every year,” said Gene Gilliland, central region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “Tournament data allows us to monitor fishing success on an annual basis.”
            Reports were received from 439 tournaments in 2009, which is up from the 405 submitted in 2008 but still down from the average of over 700 prior to 2005. Reports came in from 46 lakes compared to as many as 61 lakes in previous years.
            The all-time high average winning weight of 14.19 lbs. for tournaments in 2009 surpasses last year’s record by more than a pound.
            According to the 2009 report, the heaviest one-day five-bass limit weighed 31.78 lbs. from Arbuckle Lake, up from last year’s heaviest haul of 28.73 lbs., also from Arbuckle. The largest bass reported from tournaments was 12.18 lbs. from McGee Creek. Arbuckle, however, reported the most bass over eight pounds. This south-central lake produced 15 bass over eight pounds in tournaments that sent in reports.
            The trophy-producing Arbuckle Lake also claimed the top spot on the Wildlife Department’s list of Top 20 lakes, a compilation of rankings based on tournament report data that considers five indicators — percent success, average weight, average first-place weight, average number caught per hour and average hours per five-pound bass. A minimum of eight reports were required from lakes to be considered for the Top 20 List.
            Second place on the Top 20 List by only one point went to Hugo, followed by Ft. Gibson, Oologah and Okemah. The full list can be found in the report.
            According to biologists with the Wildlife Department, results in the report are only as good as the data received from tournament organizations, and response rates from organizations were down from previous years.
            “If we receive results from a low percentage of the tournaments on a given lake, a few really good or really bad days can skew the averages and leave us with a poor representation of the quality of the bass fishing on that body of water,” Gilliland said.
            The Department collects the data on “tournament report cards” that are submitted by tournament directors or through the Internet.
            To read the full report, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com
 
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Ted Nugent slated as special guest for Woodward’s Northwest Oklahoma Outdoor Expo
            American music and hunting icon Ted Nugent is making his way to Oklahoma for an outdoor outreach event in Woodward March 19-21.
            The Northwest Oklahoma Outdoor Expo in Woodward will give Oklahomans a close-up glimpse of several outdoor pursuits while also providing entertainment and hosting guest speakers such as “The Nuge” and others. Nugent is slated to be at the event Saturday, March 20.
            Visitors to the event can enjoy several hands-on exhibits, ranging from archery and skeet shooting to fishing tanks, horseback trail riding, antler scoring and more. Activities even include a tagged fishing tournament and turkey calling contest. Speakers and demonstrations on a range of outdoor topics will be available as well.
            The Northwest Oklahoma Outdoor Expo will be held at the Woodward Fairgrounds. Hours of operation are 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. March 19, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. March 20 and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. March 21. Tickets to the event are $10, and admission for youth 12 and under is free. A weekend pass can be purchased for $20. Tickets are available online at nwokoutdoorsexpo.com.
            The Northwest Oklahoma Outdoor Expo in Woodward is a production of Sally’s Antler Art & Imports and the citizens of northwest Oklahoma designed to showcase the state’s outdoors.
            For more information, contact Sally Irvin at (580) 216-3481 or log on to nwokoutdoorsexpo.com.
 
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Youth discover wildlife-related careers at summer camp
            A lifetime of hunting and fishing is full of memories and lessons about life, nature and ethics — and youth who enjoy the outdoors can take that one step further by pursuing a career in wildlife conservation. Teenagers can apply now to attend the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s annual Wildlife Youth Camp slated for July 11-16 and learn about rewarding careers that focus on managing wildlife for the future.
            The youth camp, which is held at Oklahoma University Biological Station at Lake Texoma, introduces youth age 14-16 to careers in wildlife-related fields and increases their awareness of conserving and managing Oklahoma’s wildlife resources. The free camp allows youth to gain first-hand knowledge of careers in wildlife and fisheries management as well as law enforcement. Some participants even move on to rewarding careers as employees of the Wildlife Department.
            Courses planned for the week include rifle and shotgun training, muzzleloading, wildlife identification, wildlife law enforcement, fishing, fisheries management, ropes and rappelling, swimming, and turkey and waterfowl hunting, management and enforcement.
            To attend youth camp, applicants must turn 14 prior to June 11, 2010, and be no older than 16. Applicants must write a 75-word essay describing why they want to attend the camp, why they should be selected and what they expect to learn. Additionally, they must provide a letter of recommendation by someone outside their family and a photograph from a recent outdoor-related event or activity.
            The camp will be open to a maximum of 35 youth, and applications will be accepted through April 16, 2010. More information and applications, as well as photographs from previous youth camps are available by logging on to http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
 
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Kiamichi Mountains to host students at Youth Forestry and Wildlife Camp
            Oklahoma’s beautiful Beavers Bend State Park is the setting for one of the longest running summer camps in Oklahoma—the Oklahoma Youth Forestry and Wildlife Camp hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
            This year the camp is slated for June 7-12 for boys and girls aged 13 to 15 years old that want to learn more about forestry, wildlife and conservation while in an outdoor setting. As one of Oklahoma’s premier summer camps, students attend from across the state — many following the tradition of their parents and grandparents who are camp alumni. Field trips, Native American crafts, educational sessions and recreational programs are the heart of the weeklong camp. Campgrounds feature air-conditioned bunkhouses, a dining hall, hot showers, basketball and volleyball courts and an amphitheater.
            Along with exploring natural resources through a series of programs on wildlife management, forest management, stream ecology, fire management, urban forestry and multiple resource management, campers will also have time for swimming, hiking, fishing, canoeing and other outdoor recreation in the Kiamichi Mountains while making new friends from across the state.
            “Kids today don’t necessarily see how things in the environment are all connected,” said Christina Stallings Roberson, education coordinator for Oklahoma Forestry Services. “One main theme of this camp is to show those relationships.”
            Older youth, ages 18 to 22, can also participate in the weeklong learning experience as camp counselors. Applicants should be mature, responsible young adults with an interest in outdoor careers such as forestry, wildlife or education and have the ability to guide younger youth throughout the camp. Volunteer adult leaders also are needed.
            Camper, counselor and adult applications will be accepted until April 30, 2010, and can be obtained by logging on to http://www.forestry.ok.gov  or by calling (405) 522-6158. The fee for campers is $175, which covers all costs including meals, transportation at camp, field trips, and workshops. A limited number of partial scholarships are available.
            Camper applications must be accompanied by a letter of reference from a teacher, counselor, principal, or club leader that has personal knowledge of the camper’s interest and conduct.
 
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Wister Lake anglers’ comments sought for five-year management plan
            Wister Lake anglers have an opportunity to share their thoughts with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Feb. 25 on a range of topics affecting the lake.
            The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 25, at the Kiamichi Technology Center (1509 S. McKenna) in Poteau, and discussion is open to a range of topics including fishery and management goals, objectives and strategies for the lake.
            Wister 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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Youth create fish habitat and contribute to better angling

            Youth involved in FFA and agricultural classes at Valiant Schools recently teamed up with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Pushmataha County Sportsmen’s Club to give a southeast Oklahoma fishery a boost.

            The students constructed artificial fish attractors called spider blocks that can provide areas of concentrated fish for anglers to catch. The blocks consist of plastic tubing attached to concrete blocks that serve as cover for fish that, unlike trees and some natural habitat, will not break down over time. The bush-like spider blocks sink to the lake floor and provide cover for predatory fish as well as smaller fish.

            The students assembled 200 spider blocks, which were placed in Pine Creek Lake with the help of members from the Pushmataha County Sportsman Club.

            Projects like the one at Pine Creek have been conducted all over the state with the help of students, resulting in the construction and placement of thousands of spider blocks in lakes.

            Some of the schools that have helped with spider block projects include Eufaula, Canadian, Crowder, Indianola, Porum, Moss, Holdenville, Byng, Stonewall, Latta, Roff, Allen, Calera, Kingston, Madill and others.

            “This effort has really been popular with the schools and has given them a chance to help enhance fishing,” said Danny Bowen, central region fisheries biologist for the Wildlife Department.

            Participating students can directly benefit from the projects. South-central region Fisheries Supervisor Matt Mauck said many of the spider blocks are placed in lakes nearby where the students live so they can fish in those locations and see the results of their work. Mauck added that local angler groups, like the Pushmataha County Sportsmen’s Club, often help in the placement of spider blocks, making each project a true group effort.

            Bowen said the Wildlife Department received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation that has helped fund materials for spider blocks in lakes all over the state.

            Habitat enhancement projects conducted at lakes also can work on private farm ponds. Spider blocks can be made affordably and placed in strategic locations, and other approaches work as well, such as sinking downed cedar trees. Invasive red cedar trees spread fast and, for the amount of nutrients and space they take up, they offer very little in the way of benefits to wildlife. They compete with native grasses and do not offer any more habitat benefits than what can be found in non-invasive native trees. So one of the best places for cedar trees, if not treated with prescribed fire, is in the bottom of a farm pond or lake where fish will use them as cover. There, they will not only provide habitat, but will give anglers an idea of where to fish while wildlife benefits from their removal.

            For more about fishing in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

 

 

Caption: Students from Valliant Schools recently teamed up with the Wildlife Department to construct 200 fish attractors called spider blocks, and members of the Pushmataha County Sportsmen’s Club helped place the bush-like structures into Pine Creek Lake.

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Lost Creek repairs underway for Lower Mountain Fork River trout fishery

            Recent flooding of the Lower Mountain Fork River’s Lost Creek trout fishing area did damage to the fishery, but anglers came to the rescue by funding a renovation that should wrap up in March.

            Lost Creek is a stretch of pristine stream in Beavers Bend State Park that makes up part of the Lower Mountain Fork River year-round trout fishery. The quarter-mile stretch was completed in 2006 when, with support from anglers groups, fisheries personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation revived a relic floodplain stretching across a bend in the Lower Mountain Fork River.

            Lost Creek has since been managed as a trophy trout fishery with unique regulations conducive to trophy fishing opportunities.

            When the largest flood releases since the construction of Broken Bow dam occurred in 2009, the fishery once again was in need of renovation.

            According to Jared Vanderpool, streams management technician for the Wildlife Department, the flooding was destructive and brought significant damages to the area, including the loss of a highway bridge.

            “Sediments stemming from the highway failure and upstream bank erosion deposited in Lost Creek and filled the new channel,” Vanderpool said.

            In all, about 1,000 feet of Lost Creek was drained and became unusable for angling.

            Outdoor groups and angler organizations including the Lower Mountain Fork River Foundation and 89ers Chapter of Trout Unlimited rallied their membership and donated over $10,000 to the Wildlife Department for the renovation of Lost Creek. Donations were then matched with Sport Fish Restoration funds, derived from excise taxes on sporting goods. These donations are used exclusively to cover the direct cost of the project such as heavy equipment rental and the purchase of construction materials such as boulders and logs.

            Renovation efforts began on Feb. 8. According to Vanderpool, the project should conclude in March when the Wildlife Department will resume stocking the reach with rainbow and brown trout.

            “Year around trout water is a limited and precious commodity in Oklahoma,” said Jay Barfield, also a streams management technician alongside Vanderpool. “While unfortunate, the flood damages provide us an opportunity to improve the original project. The newly designed Lost Creek will be about 200 feet longer, provide deeper pool habitat and feature cutting-edge trout habitat.”

 

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Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International slates sportsmen’s auction and banquet

            Safari Club International is known for supporting conservation and sportsmen, and their active Oklahoma Station Chapter provides a chance for sportsmen to contribute through its annual banquet and fundraiser, scheduled this year for March 6.

            The chapter’s 25th Annual Awards Banquet and Charity Fundraiser will be held March 6 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The event will feature a live auction where bidders will have a chance to buy guided hunts around the globe, ranging from feral hog hunts at Oklahoma’s Chain Ranch and a variety of whitetail deer hunts in several states to big game hunts in Africa and fishing trips in Alaska. Other auction items include selections of firearms, outdoor art, pickup bed-liners, hunting gear and much more. A continually updated list of auction items can be viewed on the Oklahoma Station Chapter’s Web site at oklahomastationsci.org.

            “This is a special celebration of our hunting heritage,” said Mike Mistelske, current president of the Oklahoma Station Chapter. “The auction will feature more North American big-game hunts than ever before, banquet ticket prices have been reduced, there will be many other activities, and there will be great value and fun for everyone — all for the benefit of Oklahoma hunters and non-hunters.”

            The banquet begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 6, but registration and opportunity to visit with outfitters and vendors begins at 4:30 p.m. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is located at 1700 N.E. 63rd St. in Oklahoma City 73111.

            SCI membership is not required to participate in the banquet and raffles, or to be eligible for door prizes. Tickets purchased before Jan. 31 are $45. Tickets may be purchased after Jan. 31 for $70 or at the door for $95. A limited number of sponsor tables will be available as well. To purchase tickets or for further information, contact Judy Rork at 405-703-3381 or oscsci@yahoo.com. Ticket forms also may be printed and either mailed, faxed or e-mailed through the Chapter’s Web site at www.oklahomastationsci.org. Bid cards for the auction are available to members at no cost. For non-members, bid cards ($50) or memberships ($85) may be purchased at the door if desired. For questions relating to the banquet and auction, contact Mike Mistelske, current Oklahoma Station Chapter of SCI president, at mjmistelske@yahoo.com.

            The Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International offers support and funding to local conservation efforts that benefit the sportsmen and wildlife of Oklahoma. The chapter is a supporter of projects conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, such as the Hunters Against Hunger program that coordinates the annual distribution of over 30,000 of pounds of venison to needy families. The Chapter is also a sponsor of the Wildlife Department’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, which educates tens of thousands of Oklahomans each year on the value of wildlife and the outdoors to quality of life in Oklahoma.

            The organization also has helped fund the purchase of an airboat used by the Wildlife Department on waterfowl surveys and other wetland management tasks, and several trailers for use in the Department's Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP). The STEP program introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms. The Oklahoma Station Chapter also partners with the Wildlife Department each year to hold an annual youth essay contest that provides youth a chance to share their feelings about Oklahoma’s outdoors and to win great prizes, including a guided pronghorn antelope hunt in New Mexico. Additionally, the chapter purchased eight elk for introduction into an existing herd in southeast Oklahoma.

            For more information on the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International, log on to www.oklahomastationsci.org

 

 

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