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The Quest For All Birds On Permit

Sunday, March 1, 2020
Hunting friends Anthony Mackey, 46, of Noble, and Aaron Milligan, 58, of Norman

Hunting friends Anthony Mackey, 46, of Noble, and Aaron Milligan, 58, of Norman, they've got "uncoventional" in the bag.  The game bag, that is.

Setting a goal and finally making it happen is a satisfying experience. Especially when the goal is something unconventional. But for hunting friends Anthony Mackey, 46, of Noble, and Aaron Milligan, 58, of Norman, they’ve got “unconventional” in the bag.

The game bag, that is.

These two set out on a quest in 2014. Their hunting goal was to harvest a bird from every category listed on the federal Harvest Information Program permit, an annual federal survey required to be filled out by most migratory bird hunters across the nation.

That means they would need to take duck, goose, dove, woodcock, rail/gallinule, and snipe/coot. And they wanted all of it to occur in Oklahoma.

“Not everyone will understand, think this is a big deal or even care,” Mackey wrote on Facebook. “But to us, this is. Well it started in 2014, with two snipe. I’d only seen snipe in a book. I’d been ‘snipe hunting’ as a kid in Boy Scouts. Then I’d always thought to myself, ‘I’m going to get one of those snipes I’ve seen in a book’ — I actually know it exists.”

So, on a duck hunt that fall, on a small public lake, the two men happened to get within range of a pair of snipes. Each of them fired and bagged a bird.

Since they first met at their workplace in 2009, the two have been on some interesting hunts, Milligan said. “One thing I’ve found about hunting: It’s not always easy to find somebody who likes to hunt the way you do and hunt the things that you do. And this little adventure we went on is kind of a case in point. A lot of people would not want to participate in something like that. We are always up for something different, some kind of adventure. I’ve always been interested in variety. I like to catch fish I haven’t caught. I like to hunt things and go places I haven’t been.”

So, Milligan decided after getting the snipe, he would pursue a rail. “You’re not going to find much if you Google ‘rail hunting in Oklahoma.’ But you can talk to the folks at the Wildlife Department, and you can get some real information.”

State biologists suggested a successful rail hunt could be had at Hackberry Flats Wildlife Management Area. So the two men headed to southwestern Oklahoma in September 2015. They took seven sora rails that day...

Enjoy this story?  Check out the rest in the 2020 January/February issue of the Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.

- Don P. Brown is an information specialist for the Wildlife Department and the associate editor of the Department's official magazine, "Outdoor Oklahoma."


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