Wildlife Department Unveils Award Winners to Commission
Rules Adopted on Using Arrow Rifles for Hunting
During their regular August meeting Monday in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commissioners recognized Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation employee award winners.
Chief of Law Enforcement Col. Nathan Erdman announced award winners in that division. They are Game Warden Blake Pearson, based in Kingfisher County, as Game Warden of the Year; Game Warden Riley Willman, based in Delaware County, Law Enforcement Medal of Valor; and Law Enforcement Colonel’s Life Saving Citations to Game Wardens Larry Green (Osage County), Austin Jackson (Craig County), Stephen Paul (Noble County), and Riley Willman (Delaware County).
Chief of Fisheries Ken Cunningham announced that Northwest Region Supervisor Chas Patterson was selected the 2021 Fisheries Professional of the Year.
Chief of Wildlife Bill Dinkines announced that Southeast Region Senior Biologist Jeff Ford was selected the 2021 Wildlife Biologist of the Year, and Oklahoma Land Access Program Technician Jason Rockwell was selected as 2021 Wildlife Technician of the Year.
Director J.D. Strong announced that Chief Procurement Officer Cheryl Luetkemeyer was selected as the Spirit of ODWC Award winner.
Also, Commissioners approved new rules allowing hunters to use air-powered arrow rifles during any open season in which rifles are now a legal means of take. Arrow rifles are not permitted during archery or muzzleloader seasons.
The rules, in response to a bill the state Legislature passed this year, are effective immediately. The new rules define various requirements the equipment must meet to be legal for hunting. The Legislature authorized a lifetime $20 Air Rifle Permit that must be carried by arrow rifle hunters in the field.
These rules were approved Monday but were too late to appear in the printed 2022-23 Fishing and Hunting Regulations. These new rules will be added to all digital versions of the hunting regulations online and in the Go Outdoors Oklahoma mobile app for Apple or Android.
In other business:
- Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation Director Rick Grundman recognized a major donation to the Foundation along with the major donors who supported the 2021 Conservation Hall of Fame Gala.
- Commissioners learned about National Shooting Sports Month during August, along with a report about a first-ever project completed this year using federal Wildlife Restoration Grant funds to promote sport shooting by helping to upgrade target throwing equipment at Silverleaf Shotgun Sports in Logan County.
- Commissioners met youth hunter Eli Yates and his father, Todd Yates. Eli was the first Outdoor Oklahoma Adventures youth deer hunt raffle winner, and he was given a mount of the buck he took on the hunt. That raffle raised about $8,000 for ODWC fish and wildlife conservation efforts. Tickets for this year's OO Adventures raffles are on sale now through Aug. 15, 2022.
- In his regular report, ODWC Director J.D. Strong cited activities in ODWC’s various divisions since the previous meeting, including the help of dozens of ODWC employees in hosting the annual summer meeting of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in Oklahoma City in mid-July.
- Commissioners recognized Wildlife Senior Biologist Mark Howery for 30 years of service, and Southwest Region Wildlife Supervisor Ron Smith for 25 years of service.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The 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 Oklahoma Senate. The next regular Commission meeting is set for Sept. 6, 2022, in Broken Bow.
To view a video recording of the Aug. 1 meeting, go online to https://youtu.be/4JsQ4P47IZU?t=111.