WEEK OF JULY 31
WEEK OF JULY 24
WEEK OF JULY 17
Dove opener coming soon
Although we are entering the dreaded "Dog Days" of summer, the cool weather we've enjoyed over the last few weeks has a lot of people thinking about hunting.
That's not surprising, considering the Sept. 1 dove season opener is less than a month away.
Smart hunters highlighted that square on their calendars long ago, and they've already begun preparing. First and foremost is securing permission to hunt traditional dove hotspots.
"Responsible hunters always get permission to hunt on private land, and right now is a good time to contact landowners and make arrangements for dove hunting," said Alan Peoples, chief of Wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Dove hunters also should be sure to pick up a new Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program Permit before the season begins."
The free HIP permits are required of all migratory bird hunters in the United States and have been required in Oklahoma for five years. Data collected from the surveys helps federal migratory bird biologists better gauge bird harvests and hunter numbers, which will translate to improved migratory bird management.
Besides the HIP permit, dove hunters must possess a resident or non-resident Oklahoma hunting license. They're available at all authorized license dealers. Only landowners hunting on their own property and hunters under 16 years of age, or those 64 and older, are exempt from having to carry the HIP permit while hunting.
Basic equipment for dove hunting
Although dove hunting is one of the simplest forms of recreation available to Oklahoma sportsmen, getting started can seem complicated for beginners.
It shouldn't be. Besides your hunting license and HIP permit, all you really need to enjoy this great sport is a shotgun, some shotgun shells and a place to hunt.
When selecting a shotgun for dove hunting, you can go as plain or as fancy as your budget allows. You can purchase a brand new, 12- or 20-gauge slide-action (pump) shotgun for less than $250, or you can get one used for considerably less. Perhaps you can even get a friend to loan you a gun. If you don't want to pay for a top name shotgun, you can often shop around for good deals on off-brand autoloading shotguns.
When hunting migratory birds like dove, shotgun magazines must be plugged so that they can't hold more than three shells (one in the chamber, two in the magazine). Most new shotguns are already plugged, but older guns might not be. Check before you go afield.
Selecting a good dove load is simple, too. If you use a 20-gauge shotgun, you can get by with 7/8-ounce loads, but one-ounce loads deliver a heavier payload and more energy. A good 12-gauge dove load should have at least 1 1/8 ounces of shot. The payload, powder load and shell size are always clearly marked on the box. Some brands will clearly say in bold letters if certain loads are intended for dove.
By all means, make sure you select the right gauge and shell size for your gun. There are three different sizes of 12-gauge shells (2 3/4-inch, 3-inch and 3 1/2-inch) and two different sizes for 20-gauge (2 3/4-inch and 3-inch). Don't ever try to fire a three-inch 12- or 20-gauge shell from a gun that's chambered for only 2 3/4-inch shells. And, whatever you do, don't try to load a 20- or 16-gauge shell into a 12-gauge chamber.
If you need a place to hunt, now is the time to start scouting for areas that are holding birds and visiting with landowners for permission to hunt. The sooner you start the better because if you wait until the last minute, you may find it more difficult to get permission.
Many of the wildlife management areas owned by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation also offer excellent dove hunting. To help you find the best areas near you, the Department's Wildlife Management Areas atlas has maps of all these areas, complete with descriptions of their habitat and what types of hunting are available at each. It costs $10 and is available at the Department's main office in Oklahoma City, or by calling 405/521-3852.
Pay close attention to regulations for public areas. Some, like Hackberry Flat WMA, allow only the use of federally approved, non-toxic shot for dove hunting. You can find out by picking up a copy of the 2000-2001 Oklahoma Hunting Guide & Regulations, available at all sporting goods retailers statewide.
Hunters, start your engines!
To help Oklahoma sportsmen prepare for the upcoming hunting seasons, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has released its 2000-2001 Hunting Guide & Regulations, available soon at retail outlets and sporting goods stores throughout the state.
With dove season less than a month away and deer seasons following right behind, the new regulations are just in time to help Oklahoma's sportsmen and sportswomen begin planning their fall outings. Now is the time to pencil in some hunting dates, put in for some time off from work and get things squared away around the house so you can get the most enjoyment from Oklahoma's autumn hunting opportunities.
Packaged in a handy, colorful booklet, the 2000-2001 Oklahoma Hunting Guide & Regulations is the most complete and comprehensive set of regulations ever produced by the Wildlife Department. It has complete information on both resident and non-resident licenses and permits, season dates and general hunting regulations. It also has more specific information for hunting deer and turkey, small game, such as rabbits and squirrels; upland game, such as pheasant and quail and migratory birds, such as dove. There's also a section that details new hunting regulations for this fall.
Also, this year's regulations have a sunrise and sunset table, as well as individual sections for each of the Department's wildlife management areas. Each topic and sub-topic is color coded, making it easier to find the information you need at a glance.
"The Oklahoma Hunting Guide & Regulations is the most complete hunting guide available for Oklahoma sportsmen," said Nels Rodefeld, assistant chief of the Department's Information and Education Division, "and best of all, it's free. It has virtually everything you need to know about hunting safely and legally in Oklahoma."
"We view the hunting regulations as one of the most important products we offer to the public, and we will continue to not only improve the information in the regulations, but also the way that information is presented," he added.
Like last year, the 2000-2001 Hunting Guide & Regulations features paid advertising to help offset the cost of printing and designing the bigger and better booklets. This allows the Department to improve and refine the regulations without additional cost to the Oklahoma's license-buying sportsmen and women.
Key Hunting Season Dates
Sept. 1 Oct. 30
Oct. 1 Nov. 17
Nov. 27 Dec. 31
Oct. 28 Nov. 5
Nov. 18 26
Nov. 1 Jan. 31
Fall Firearms Turkey:
Nov. 4 - 17
Check the Internet for Controlled Hunts
For the second straight year, the results of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Controlled Hunts drawings are available over the Internet.
Developed in 1999, this service allows Controlled Hunts applicants with access to the Internet to see instantly whether they were drawn for a hunt. In the past, applicants would spend hours poring through the Controlled Hunts books on display at the Department's headquarters and regional offices, often after driving several hours from remote locations. Those who weren't drawn for a hunt then faced an even longer drive back home.
The success of electronic notification is evident in the lack of crowds at the Department's main office lobby in Oklahoma City. The results became available on July 24, and by the end of the day, more than 10,000 people had checked their applications electronically.
"As the personal computer becomes more useful in our daily lives, the Department has been looking for ways make its services more readily available over the Internet," said Melinda Sturgess, chief of administration for the Department. "We are greatly encouraged by the success of the electronic notification system for the Controlled Hunts, and we are pleased that our state's sportsmen have found it so useful and convenient."
If you have access to a personal computer, checking the Controlled Hunts results is easy. Simply direct your web browser to the Department's home page at www.wildlifedepartment.com. Once there, scroll down to the banner that says, "Check The Results of the 2000-2001 Oklahoma Controlled Hunts." Enter your social security number or driver's license number (if different than your social security number), and you'll learn instantly which hunts, if any, you'll be able to participate in this fall.
Outdoor Oklahoma nationally recognized
At this year's Association for Conservation Information's (ACI) Annual Conference at Reno, Nev., Outdoor Oklahoma was recognized for consistently producing some of the nation's best conservation information.
Outdoor Oklahoma, the official magazine of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, took third place in the best four-color magazine category. Adding to its tradition of outstanding color photography, Outdoor Oklahoma also took third place nationally in color photography.
Also, the Department's Information and Education Division took second place nationally in the media campaigns category for its promotional efforts surrounding the dedication of Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in 1999.
Subscriptions to the bi-monthly magazine are available for only $10 per year and can be ordered by calling 1-800-777-0019. Interested subscribers can ask to be billed later, or you can pay by credit card.
"It's an honor to our Department and to our staff to have received this type of national recognition for the work we do," said Nels Rodefeld, assistant chief of Information and Education and editor of Outdoor Oklahoma. "We have a very conscientious staff and strive to effectively communicate vital outdoor information to our constituents. It helps that we are fortunate enough to work in a state where so many people are interested in hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation in general."
CARA passes out of Senate committee
Oklahoma moved a step closer to securing important federal wildlife resources funding Tuesday as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA, H.R. 701) to the full Senate.
The committee voted 13-7 in favor of CARA. If signed into law, CARA would provide the largest infusion of federal conservation funds in history, $40 billion over the next 15 years, most of which will go to state and local conservation programs. The bill dedicates revenue from offshore oil and gas leases to a broad range of conservation activities, including wildlife, land and water restoration, historic preservation, outdoor recreation, and conservation education. The House of Representative passed similar legislation in May by a strong bipartisan vote of 315-102.
For Oklahoma, CARA would provide about $17 million a year for at least 15 years, said Ron Suttles, head of the Natural Resources section for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. About $6 million per year will directly benefit wildlife resources conservation, while nearly $7 million per year will benefit tourism. The remainder of the balance will be used for other purposes, such as landowner assistance.
"With CARA, Congress has a chance to send a strong and lasting message about the importance of wildlife and natural resources conservation in America," Suttles said. "As the agency constitutionally responsible for the management of Oklahoma's wildlife resources, we are very excited about the opportunities this bill will provide to ensure the long-term health of those resources."
The Senate's bipartisan compromise version of CARA, crafted by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Frank Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Democrat, Jeff Bingaman (NM), represents a strong and balanced approach that will protect wildlife, coastal areas, recreation and historic sites at the national, state, and local levels.
More than 52 senators are now co-sponsoring CARA or related legislation that would reinvest federal outer continental shelf oil and gas revenue into conservation, indicating the growing support for CARA. In addition, all 50 governors support these bills or their concepts and have worked to move this legislation through Congress.
Emphasizing proactive species management, CARA will provide funds for conserving important wildlife habitat, conducting field research to design wildlife management plans, and working cooperatively with private landowners in a non-regulatory, incentive based manner, said David Waller, president of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
"Expanded funding is necessary for states to conserve the full spectrum of wildlife," Waller said. "It will allow states to employ a much needed prevention approach to wildlife conservation to avoid the listing of endangered species, along with wildlife-associated education and recreation. The $350 million that CARA will provide annually for wildlife conservation will address some of the most serious wildlife problems facing our nation.
"Conserving wildlife and wildlife habitat goes hand in hand with meeting the rising demands for nature tourism, wildlife viewing, and more places close to home to enjoy nature," he added. "CARA will help us assure that our children stay connected to the outdoors and the nation maintains its strong conservation commitment. This is increasingly important as more and more people move to urban areas and have less connection with the outdoors."
Allocation of CARA Funds
The Senate's version of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act would reinvest almost $3 billion annually in federal Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas revenue back into natural resources conservation through the following programs:
$805 million - State Coastal Impact Assistance and Stewardship (Title I)
$900 million - Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) (state and federal formula) (Title II)
$350 million - State-Level Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Fund (Title III)
$75 million - Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Fund (Title IV)
$50 million - Urban and Community Forestry Fund
$150 million - Historic Preservation Fund (state and local grants) and Battlefield Protection Program (Title V)
$125 million - National Park Service and Indian Land Restoration Programs (Title VI)
$100 million - Conservation Easements to Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program and Forest Legacy Program (Title VII)
$50 million - Rural Development Program and Rural Community Assistance Program
$60 million - Youth Conservation Corps
$325 million - Payment In-Lieu of Taxes (PILT)
Konawa best big lake for bass numbers
For bass fishing prospects on lakes larger than 1,000 acres, Lake Konawa in south-central Oklahoma appears to be a promising destination, according to spring electrofishing data released by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Covering 1,300 acres near Konawa, Lake Konawa produced 188 bass per hour of electrofishing during this year's surveys. That's a slight drop from last year, when it produced 207 bass per hour.
Ranking second was Dripping Springs Lake, which produced more than 172 bass per hour during this year's electrofishing bass surveys. The Department did not sample it last year. Grand Lake in northeast Oklahoma ranked third with 145 bass per hour. That's a considerable jump from 1999, when it produced 107 bass per hour.
Ranking fourth was Lake Broken Bow (107 bass per hour), followed by McGee Creek Lake (103 bass per hour), Lake Hudson (90 bass per hour), Lake Skiatook (83 bass per hour) and Lake Texoma (82 bass per hour).
If you're interested in big bass, Lake Konawa topped that category, too. For each hour of electrofishing, it produced about 84 bass per hour longer than 14 inches. That's a slight jump from last year, when 81 bass per hour were longer than 14 inches.
Grand Lake ranked second in that category with about 56 bass per hour that were longer than 14 inches. Ranking third was Lake Hudson (47 bass per hour over 14 inches), followed by McGee Creek (34 bass per hour over 14 inches), Lake Texoma (29 bass per hour over 14 inches) and Lake Fuqua (28 bass per hour over 14 inches).
"Lake Konawa has a good forage base, good production and good recruitment, all of which indicate a healthy bass fishery," said Kim Erickson, chief of fisheries for the Department. "From what we've seen over the last few years, it's been a very consistent producer during spring sampling."
This year, no lake larger than 1,000 acres produced a bass that exceeded 10 pounds. Lake Ellsworth produced the largest bass during spring electrofishing, and it weighed 8.8 pounds. Two other lakes produced bass larger than eight pounds, including Dripping Springs (8.7 pounds) and Webbers Falls (8.1 pounds).
Data from the springtime bass survey is divided between that collected from lakes larger than 1,000 acres, and lakes smaller than 1,000 acres. The data is used to determine the health and trends of individual bass fisheries. Regional fisheries management personnel capture bass using electrofishing equipment, and then they weigh and measure each fish before releasing them back into the water unharmed. The information helps biologists determine which lakes might benefit from specialized management techniques such as length and slot limits.
The Department rates a lake as high quality when it produces more than 15 bass over 14 inches per hour of electrofishing. Quality lakes yield more than 10 bass over 14 inches per hour of electrofishing, and those which produce fewer than 10 per hour are considered below average.
In terms of total numbers of bass per hour, lakes that yield more than 60 bass of any size per hour are rated as high quality. Those producing 40 bass or more per hour are considered "quality" lakes, and less than 40 per hour are considered below average.
Adair tops bass list for small lakes
Among lakes smaller than 1,000 acres, Adair Recreation Lake in Adair County produced the most bass per hour during spring electrofishing surveys conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
In terms of overall numbers, Adair Lake produced 198 bass per hour of electrofishing, a big jump from last year when it yielded 124 bass per hour. Ranking second was Mountain Lake in Garvin Co., with nearly 183 bass per hour, followed by Lake Raymond Gary in Choctaw Co. (128 bass per hour) , Taylor Lake in Grady Co. (124 bass per hour) and American Horse Lake in Blaine Co. (122 bass per hour).
Rounding out the top 10 small lakes were Chimney Rock Lake in Mayes Co. (120 bass per hour), Okemah Lake in Okfuskee Co. (101 bass per hour), Onapa Lake in McIntosh Co. (96 bass per hour), Boomer Lake in Osage Co. (90 bass per hour), and Sportsman Lake in Seminole County (90 bass per hour).
For numbers of bass larger than 14 inches per hour of electrofishing, Mountain Lake was the top producer with 137. Durant Lake was a distant second with more than 67 bass per hour over 14 inches, followed by Okemah Lake (61 bass per hour over 14 inches) Lake Raymond Gary in Choctaw Co. (36 bass per hour over 14 inches), and Lake Fairfax in Osage Co. (nearly 35 bass per hour over 14 inches)
No lake smaller than 1,000 acres produced a largemouth weighing 10 pounds or more, but three - Sportsman Lake, Lake Raymond Gary and Lake Holdenville - each produced a bass weighing more than eight pounds. Sportsman Lake produced one that weighed 8.9 pounds, Raymond Gary yielded one that weighed 8.8 pounds, and Lake Holdenville produced one that weighed 8.5 pounds.
Lake Watonga in Blaine Co., yielded a 7.5-pound bass, and Lake Vincent in Ellis Co., produced a 7.2-pounder.
Since only a few of Oklahoma's small lakes were surveyed, Kim Erickson, chief of fisheries for the Department, said that anglers shouldn't use the data as a comprehensive guide to quality fishing in Oklahoma. Many other lakes that weren't surveyed this year also have outstanding bass populations.
"Although the results of the survey can help anglers find good places to fish, they're not the only information anglers should use when making their decisions on where to go," Erickson said. "There are hundreds of small lakes across the state, and we can't survey all of them every year. Based on the numbers, these are the best lakes we surveyed this year, but they're not necessarily the best in the state."
Electrofishing surveys are conducted by regional fisheries management personnel to measure the health and trends of individual bass fisheries. Bass captured during the surveys are weighed, measured and released back into the water unharmed. The information collected helps biologists determine which lakes might benefit from specialized management techniques, such as length or slot limits.
In evaluating electrofishing data, the Department rates a lake as high quality when it produces more than 15 bass over 14 inches per hour of electrofishing. Quality lakes yield more than 10 bass over 14 inches per hour, while those producing fewer than 10 are considered below average.
For total numbers of bass per hour, lakes that yield more than 60 bass of any size per hour are rated as high quality. Those producing 40 or more bass per hour are considered "quality" lakes, and less than 40 per hour is considered below average.
Quail symposium at Kingfisher
Anyone interested in quail research and management should attend the first Bollenbach Quail Symposium Aug. 4 at the Chisholm Trail Vo-Tech near Kingfisher.
Hosted by Dr. Fred Guthery, professor and Bollenbach Chair of Wildlife Ecology at Oklahoma State, the one-day symposium will focus on the major issues concerning bobwhite quail management. It will also provide an opportunity for landowners, hunters and other individuals to work more closely to address these issues. Guthery is considered one of the nation's leading authorities on bobwhite quail management and research.
"I would like to get as many people as possible involved in quail conservation and management issues and encourage them to communicate with each other more effectively," Guthery said. "We all have common outlooks, and we're all concerned about quail populations. I also hope to increase understanding about some of the new ideas that have evolved about quail management."
Among the topics that will be discussed are landowner and hunter issues, management techniques and strategies relating to quail, deer and turkey; farm and ranch planning for wildlife, landowner assistance programs, liability, the pros and cons of quail feeding and management misconceptions, just to name a few.
"Bobwhite quail are the traditional symbol of Oklahoma's sporting culture, and we believe the Bollenbach Quail Symposium will be an excellent forum to advocate better quail management among private landowners," said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "It will also be a valuable forum to increase and improve dialog between hunters and landowners for the benefit of quail."
Among a blue-ribbon panel of speakers will be Alan Peoples, Russ Horton, John Hendrix and Steve Burge from the Wildlife Department, as well as Dale Rollins from the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, who is best known as the founder of the Bobwhite Brigade youth program. Also on the program will be Roger Wells, national habitat coordinator for Quail Unlimited.
Registration for the event will begin Aug. 4 at 8:30 a.m. The registration fee is $20 before July 28, and $25 after July 28. The fee includes the price of meals and materials.