January 3, 2013
2012 is in the bag. It’s been a wild ride for hunters and anglers. We’ve seen some pretty low points, including the death of the Sportsmen’s Act, lack of passage of Forest Jobs and Recreation, Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, increased polarization of hunting and angling issues (especially funding these programs), conflicts over bison, wolves, trapping, bull trout, lake trout and land management. Relations between sportsmen and landowners/outfitters are at all time lows. This upcoming legislative session looks to be as contentious as the last one.
It’s easy to look around and see the negative. It’s human nature to focus on what went wrong in the hopes of fixing it later. But all of that pales compared to the highs of 2012.
This year I was able to watch the sun rise over the continental divide as I chased elk and wolves. I saw the sun set over river breaks that Lewis and Clark traveled. I helped a friend take a fine buck, the largest he’s ever harvested. I was with a friend when he shot his first deer. I’ve fished clear mountain streams, brawling tailwaters, and hiked in some of the most magnificent country in the world.
These things all might seem small in the bigger picture of wildlife conservation but this is what we work towards–our time in the woods.
In the bigger picture: We’ve blazed new trails. The Bully Pulpit nation has grown to almost 4,000 folks who care about conservation. We’ve had some fantastic discussions about the issues and for the most part, we’ve been able to find common ground. The influence and power of conservation organizations grow and become a force to be reckoned with both nationally and in Montana. New lands are open to hunters and anglers through programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Habitat Montana.
The vision is growing: the Montana model of wildlife conservation is taking off around the nation. How we ensure the future of hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation will surely change over the next few years, but we’re ready for the conversation, and we’re ready to continue to defend the legacy.
With the upcoming legislature, your time and money is needed more than ever.
Hellgate Hunters and Anglers will be at the legislature defending the Legacy. Will you?
Visit the Bully Pulpit here.
Read and join the discussion on Another Year Bites the Dust: Looking Back on the Outdoors in Montana at OutdoorHub.com.
December 10, 2012
The first clue that my space had been invaded was when I found the items once on a shelf now scattered all over the floor. I thought that was strange, picked up the items and checked the shelf for problems. When I walked into my office, I realized there was more to this story. Apparently I didn’t shut the door securely the night before, and a critter had leisurely pilfered my office.
When I looked at the top of my laptop, I realized what had transpired. Raccoon paw prints were all over the top of the laptop.
Now, I don’t know exactly what was going on, but I had just recently written a piece for Outdoor Alabama magazine on coon hunting. Maybe the masked bandit was just trying to check his Facebook page for any reaction to the story.
A couple of years before, I had a close encounter with another animal that gave me a great deal more pause. As you can guess, I have trouble shutting doors. My wife will tell you that also goes for dresser drawers and kitchen cabinets. Maybe I’ve got a phobia that I won’t get them open again. Who knows?
Anyway, I left the overhead door to my lawn mower shed open and a scary critter had taken up residence without my knowledge. I hopped on my lawn mower and reached for the ignition switch when none other than Pepe Le Pew strutted right in front of the lawn mower in all his black and white-striped glory.
Panic-stricken, I froze, not even daring a blink of the eye. Fortunately, Pepe kept moving and went to a hole he called home under a stack of pecan wood.
After getting my heart back into the 150 bpm range, I cranked the mower and threw it into reverse as quickly as possible. That night, I set my alarm clock for 2 a.m., when the skunk would be out foraging, and closed the overhead door. He decided to move on when he couldn’t easily get back into the shed, saving me from banishment from the house had I been sprayed.
Although my encounters with wild critters may be a bit humorous, these encounters are no laughing matter for most people, including the staff of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, who most residents think of first when they encounter nuisance animals.
“In recent years, nuisance animal complaints have been our No. 1 call to our district offices,” said Ray Metzler, WFF Assistant Chief. “Here in Montgomery, at our main offices, we’ve had an otter in downtown Montgomery between Riverwalk Stadium and the Civic Center. It just wandered up from the river, looking for food.
“We get coyote calls. We get bat calls. We had one bat roosted on a wall in downtown Montgomery, and the caller said it had been there for hours and hours. Well, that’s what bats do. The problem was that the public didn’t think that was a suitable place to roost. They wanted us to do something about it. But it’s a bat. It’ll roost there until nightfall and then fly off in search of insects.”
While deer can at times be nuisance animals – just ask the folks trying to grow shrubs at homes that surround Oak Mountain State Park – the majority of the calls concern smaller animals like raccoons, opossums and squirrels, Metzler said.
“We get calls about coons and possums coming up and eating dog food or getting in the garbage or squirrels in the attic,” he said. “In the rural areas, the nuisance animals are going to be more like deer and wild hogs. Coons and possums in the country don’t cause as many issues. People in the country generally know how to handle those situations.”
A landowner or tenant can remove one squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, beaver or skunk that is causing damage any time of the year without a permit. A farmer or landowner experiencing damage to crops or other plants can obtain a permit to remove the animals. Of course, large animals like alligators and black bears require professional removal.
“In urban areas, people are reluctant to address the issues on their own,” Metzler said. “But they are allowed to remove one nuisance animal per incident. A lot of people are not aware of that ability, that they can actually take care of that situation themselves.”
Although WFF will direct people with nuisance animals to an animal control specialist, the Division does not have the manpower to cover nuisance animal calls.
“There are specific animal control companies that have the proper permits and can take care of the problem,” Metzler said. “Our agency is not tasked with removing nuisance animals.”
One of those animal control companies is Alabama Wildlife Removal, where Phillip Padgett has been taking care of problem critters for 15 years. Some of his stories would give mostpeople the heebie-jeebies.
“We’ve had a whole nest of snakes inside a couch that people had been sleeping on,” Padgett said. “I’ve been in houses with hundreds of wood rats. I’ve gone into people’s houses, opened up the cabinets and there’d be a raccoon sitting there.
“The biggest thing we’ve got right now in Alabama is coyotes. We get calls from people telling us they have a wolf in their backyard. We tell them, ‘No, ma’am, you don’t have a wolf. That’s probably a coyote.’ Coyotes have become a huge problem that’s getting worse every day.”
Calls concerning honeybees building hives in occupied homes were almost a daily occurrence last spring, and Padgett expects that to continue. Many of the calls from north Alabama deal with skunks.
“If you don’t startle a skunk, most of the time they’ll go on off,” he said. “If you chase one, you may get sprayed, and that’s bad. You’ll smell that way for a while.
“We’ve had a lot of calls about bats, too. We went to a house not long ago to take care of the bats. They didn’t know how long they had had them. When we got there, we removed a couple of hundred bats and I could still hear them. I put my ear up to the wall, and the wall was full of bats. I’m on the way to Gulf Shores right now to get the bats out of the walls of a house.”
Padgett said homeowners need to be aware that the removal of certain animals, some of which may be endangered, requires a licensed control agent.
“A lot of people try to do what we do, but some of them don’t have the licenses and permits to do it,” he said. “There are federal and state regulations that deal with certain animals, especially bats. We carry all the licenses and permits required to take care of these animals.
“And the main thing is that once these animals are removed, you’ve got to make sure they can’t get back in or we’ll be right back out there.”
Padgett predicts the nuisance animal that soon will become the most prominent, not to mention damaging to wildlife habitat and agricultural property, is the feral hog.
“The biggest problem we’re getting ready to have is wild hogs,” he said. “Hunters can’t kill them fast enough. They’re going to have to hire somebody to do it the right way. We’re going to have to start looking at that problem right away. If not, we’re going to be completely overrun with them.”
Read and join the discussion on Space Invaders: Close Encounters with Nuisance Animals at OutdoorHub.com.
December 5, 2012
Duck season is currently open for Panhandle Counties. Zone 1 and Zone 2 opens December 8. For zone maps and complete waterfowl hunting regulations log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
- Canton – Zone 1: Water level is 9 feet below normal. Native vegetation is in poor condition, no flooded vegetation around the lake. Winter wheat around the area is mostly planted and in poor to fair condition. Duck numbers are low, with a small increase in mallard numbers. Goose numbers are low. A few sandhill cranes are roosting on the area. The northwest portion of the lake is dry, and the only usable boat ramp is at the Canadian Campground day use area.
- Ft. Supply – Zone 1: Water level is 2.57 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are fair, very little native food available around the lake. Most of the sloughs are dry. Local wheat is in fair condition. Duck numbers are fair, mostly mallards. Goose numbers are fair. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 1. Bird movement has been slow over the last week. The WMA portion of the lake is currently surrounded by approximately 50 yards or more of open shoreline, most boat ramps are closed, but small boats are still able to access the lake.
- Ft. Cobb – Zone 2: Water level is 5.97 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor due to water levels. Duck numbers are fair. Goose numbers are fair to high. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2.
- Hackberry – Zone 2: Lake elevation is extremely low, all of the wetland units are dry. Habitat conditions are poor. Duck and goose numbers are low.
- Mtn. Park – Zone 2: Water level is 10.50 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor. Duck numbers are low. Goose numbers are low to fair. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2. Lot of sandhill cranes utilize the area.
- Waurika – Zone 2: Water level is 10.5 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor, with some winter wheat present on private land. Duck numbers are low. Goose numbers are low. Wetland units are dry and expected to remain dry throughout season.
- Copan – Zone 2: Water level is 3.5 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are good, just need water. Duck numbers are low. Goose numbers are fair. Every frontal passage increases the number of waterfowl.
- Eufaula – Zone 2: Water level is 4.61 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor at current lake elevation. Native vegetation and Japanese millet form the millet program are plentiful, but not inundated at current lake level. At present, lake level continues to slowly drop. Farming activity in the area is light. Duck numbers are low overall but probably fair in a few spots. Goose numbers are low, with local resident birds present. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2. No new bird movement observed.
- Ft. Gibson – Zone 2: Water level is .66 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are good with smartweed, barnyard grass, and some agricultural crops available. Duck and goose numbers are low. Bird movement has been slow.
- Hulah – Zone 2: Water level is 4.5 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are fair, just need water. Harvested soybeans are good and wheat is fair. Duck numbers are low. Goose numbers are low. A few ducks have moved into the area during recent fronts.
- Kaw – Zone 2: Water level is 2.67 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are good, with Japanese millet, smartweed and good quantities of native food present. Duck numbers are fair. Goose numbers are fair. Lower temperatures and higher water levels should result in increased waterfowl numbers.
- Keystone – Zone 2: Water level is 4 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor, with almost all sloughs and potholes dry due to extreme drought conditions. Cottonwood WDU at 100% with excellent food conditions in the majority of the units. Duck numbers are good. Goose numbers are fair. No reports on current hunting activity or success with season currently closed for Zone 2. Due to weather and decreased hunting pressure birds have been moving in the past week.
- Oologah – Zone 2: Water level is 3.61 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are fair to good at current lake level. 300 acres seeded with Japanese millet, but not flooded at this time. Duck numbers are poor-fair, with mostly mallards, gadwalls, American widgeon, buffleheads, ring-necks, common goldeneye’s and hooded mergansers. Goose numbers are fair, with resident Canadians present and a few migrants. Good waterfowl migration is expected over the next several weeks with each northern frontal passage.
- Sooner – Zone 2: Water level is 2.5 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor. Winter wheat around the area is also in poor condition. Duck numbers are fair. Goose numbers are fair. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2.
- Webbers Falls – Zone 2: Water level is 2.69 ft above normal. Habitat conditions are good with smartweed, barnyardgrass, bidens, cut soybeans, corn, milo and wheat in the area. Duck and goose numbers are low.
- Hugo – Zone 2: Water level is very low. Habitat conditions are good around lake, with MS1 and Sawyer unit in fair condition. Duck and goose numbers are low.
- Red Slough – Zone 2: Wetlands on the area are mostly dry. Habitat conditions are poor due to low water levels, but plenty of forage is available. Duck numbers are low. Goose numbers are low. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2. No major bird movements on the area recently.
- Texoma – Zone 2: Lake level is 5.85 ft. below normal. Habitat conditions are poor, wetland plants and Japanese millet are good at 614.5 and above so nee a rise in water level to flood it. Duck and goose numbers are low.
- Wister – Zone 2: Water level is 1.5 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are good, with smartweed, sedges and acorns present. However; lake level must rise to make habitat available to waterfowl. Duck numbers are very low and no geese are present. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2. No recent bird movement.
Read and join the discussion on Oklahoma Waterfowl Report for December 5 at OutdoorHub.com.
December 2, 2012
Wildlife Department to open online public comment period for regulation changes Dec. 3
Starting Dec. 3, sportsmen have the opportunity to voice their thoughts online on a list of hunting and fishing related rule change proposals.
Most notable is a proposal to change the structure of the combined season deer harvest limit to include no more than two antlered deer, with only one antlered deer allowed during deer muzzleloader and gun seasons combined. Another proposal would prohibit transporting live bait from one body of water to another in the state.
“This public comment period is an important opportunity to comment on items that could lead to changes in our hunting and fishing regulations,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. ”We feel strongly that our constituents should have every chance to provide their comments, which is why we are providing an online comment form for those wanting to be heard on these specific subjects. We encourage you to provide your comments through wildlifedepartment.com anytime during the open comment period.”
To view a complete listing of proposed rule changes or to complete an online comment form, log on to wildlifedepartment.com beginning Dec. 3. The online comment period will remain open until 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2013.
If comments cannot be made online, written comments will be accepted by mail until Jan. 11, 2013, at the Wildlife Department’s main office in Oklahoma City (P.O. Box 53465, OKC, OK 73152).
The Wildlife Department also will be hosting a public hearing on proposed rule changes at 7 p.m., Jan. 8 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters auditorium in Oklahoma City (1801 N. Lincoln Blvd).
Read and join the discussion on Wildlife Department to Open Online Public Comment period for Regulation Changes in Oklahoma at OutdoorHub.com.
November 15, 2012
Deer rifle season kicks off Saturday, Nov. 17, and promises as usual to be the biggest day of the year for hunting in Oklahoma.
Last year, rifle hunters accounted for 61 percent of the total deer harvest. Surveys indicate that last year, almost 153,000 hunters took part in the 16-day regular deer gun season alone. When taking into account the youth deer gun and holiday antlerless deer seasons, that number jumps to nearly 196,000.
According to Erik Bartholomew, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the overall deer harvest this year is down slightly from last year, but antlerless deer harvest is up from where it was this time last year.
That’s good news, according to Bartholomew, and hunters also have reason to look forward to the deer gun season opener this weekend.
“Field reports say the rut is ramping up in parts of the state,” Bartholomew said.
“There’s no time like the present. The weather is supposed to be great, so get out there and enjoy the deer woods this weekend.”
As Oklahoma moves into what is hopefully another great year for deer gun hunters, personnel with the Wildlife Department are offering information just in time on the most current rutting activity in regions across the state. The rut, or deer breeding season, is a biological process that typically occurs around mid November.
Deer activity during the rut picks up, but the amount of activity can be influenced by a host of factors such as day length, temperatures, moon phase and herd condition.
The northwest region of Oklahoma is known for big deer and good hunting, and so far Department personnel stationed in the region seem to agree that the rut could be well-timed with gun season.
“The rut should be going good by the opening of gun season,” said Thad Potts, wildlife biologist stationed at Canton, Dewey County, Drummond Flats and Major County Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). Potts as well as others have said that deer rutting behavior in northwest Oklahoma has been slow thus far, with some increased activity in the last few days.
Eddie Wilson, wildlife biologist stationed at Cooper and Ft. Supply WMAs, reports an increase in fresh scrapes, but still little movement during daylight hours.
“Hunter activity will be heavy opening weekend and throughout the week on the WMAs,”
Wilson said. “If the cool weather holds, bucks will most likely be very active during the entire nine day season, as rut is usually going on strong by the 20th of Nov.in the Woodward area. Hunters can focus on food plots areas and hope a hot doe will bring in a buck.”
Wilson’s reference to a “nine-day” season is a reminder to hunters that seasons on public lands may vary from the statewide 16-day gun season. For full details and dates for seasons on public lands, including a information on antlerless deer hunting days on both public and private lands, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available free online at wildlifedepartment.com.
Weston Storer, wildlife biologist stationed at Beaver River, Optima, Rita Blanca and Schultz WMAs reports that minimal rutting activity has been noted so far in the Panhandle counties, with a few exceptions of younger bucks “testing the waters.”
Storer said the majority of corn crops in his part of the region have been harvested and that deer “have been relocating to wheat fields.”
“A good direction to start your hunt is to locate well utilized food and water sources to glass,” Storer said, adding that if the rut is still not active the bucks may be hitting the wheat fields. “If a cold front starts the rut, the does will be going in the direction of the food sources. And the bucks will be hot after the does.”
Larry Wiemers, biologist stationed at Cimarron Bluff and Cimarron Hills WMAs, also has noted a few bucks following does in the past week to two weeks, but heavy rutting activity has not yet been observed.
Northwestern Oklahoma hunters may be in for a treat of heavy deer activity on opening weekend.
In the northeast region of Oklahoma, the beginning stages of the rut have been underway, according to Craig Endicott, northeast region wildlife supervisor for the Department.
“Bucks were running hard in early muzzleloader season, but activity appeared to lessen toward the end of muzzleloader season,” Endicott said, adding that the rut should peak between muzzleloader and gun season.
Endicott said deer movement has been reported as slow in the mornings and better in the afternoons, with lots of nocturnal activity.
“The weather patterns and moon phase are effecting deer movements but in general, they seem to be feeding on acorns on timbered ridges and benches during the morning and mid day, then moving onto fields/food plots in the late evening,” he said. “Deer activity will no doubt pick up with some fronts, rain and cooler temperatures.”
Biologists say acorn production was sporadic in the region, but better than anticipated.
Some persimmon production occurred as well.
“Hunters need to scout the areas they hunt for deer sign,” Endicott said. “Scout for food sources and locate travel lanes, creek crossings or pinch points where bucks may be patrolling to locate a hot doe. Once a good area has been located, hunters must be patient and stay in the woods as long as they can.”
On northeast Oklahoma WMAs, successful hunters will need to spend time scouting, but they can find good deer hunting.
“There is good hunting on the WMAs, but with the high usage associated with these areas, hunters need to scout for some less used corners and back areas,” Endicott said. “Remember to read up on the specific regulations for any WMA you may be hunting, and be respectful of other hunters.”
Endicott also suggests carrying a grunt call to use as a tool for stopping a buck on the move, allowing for a clean shot. Also, be alert for does that are being trailed by bucks.
“Chased does will always act differently, especially looking behind them on several occasions,” Endicott said.
Deer gun season hunters may be entering the woods toward the end of the rut in southeast Oklahoma.
“The rut that I’m seeing is in full swing,” said Joe Hemphill, southeast region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “By the time next week gets here, we probably will be on the backside of the rut.”
Still, deer should be on the move.
“They’re going to be very active,” Hemphill said. “They still have to eat. They’re still going to be on the acorns.”
Hemphill said lots of bucks are being observed fighting and sparring, and that “there’s lots of scraping activity going on.”
Hemphill reminds hunters to read the “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” before heading afield, noting any changes that may affect their hunting season. He also notes that that the fall colors in the region are as vibrant as they have been in years.
Forage and water levels are below normal levels in the southwest, and unseasonably warm, dry weather has been dominating the region, according to Rod Smith, southwest region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department. But according to Smith, hunters could see some active rutting on opening weekend.
“Pre-rut activity to date seems to indicate heavy rut activity will likely be in full swing for the opening of rifle season,” Smith said. “Younger bucks have made themselves more visible, and hunters in the field report seeing an increased number of scrapes. Bucks have been observed tracking but not yet in full chase mode. Bucks observed mingling with does are showing increased interest, while does remain unreceptive.”
Hunters in southwest Oklahoma may want to place greater emphasis on available water and fresh, succulent forage. Food plots on regional WMAs are reportedly in fair condition due to the drought. Wheat is in good enough condition to provide a usable food source. Hunter activity on WMAs has been average or slightly below average, while a number of hunters report they are waiting on cooler weather. Still, Smith said regional businesses such as motels and restaurants have reported normal activity through the muzzleloader season.
With the rut building in intensity, it could be a good time to be a southwest Oklahoma deer hunter.
“So far, 2012 has been a mixed bag when it comes to rutting activity in the central region,” said Jeff Pennington, central region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “Most hunters saw higher than normal rutting activity early in the muzzleloader season with the excellent weather conditions. Daytime rutting activity decreased later in the season with warmer weather conditions.”
Pennington said the rut picked up again during the first full week of November, with some bucks observed chasing does during the middle of the day. Increased observations of road-killed dear have been observed as well, often a sign of rutting activity.
“The rut will almost always peak in the central region between the tenth and twentieth of November, and this looks like it will be the case in 2012,” Pennington said.
Prolonged drought conditions continue in the region. Pennington said the overall deer activity has been higher than normal due to the nutritional stress caused by the drought.
“Despite the dry conditions, patchy portions of the region produced a surprising number of acorns, especially the black oaks along creek drainages (most people will call these red oaks),” Pennington said.
Locations that still have good acorns will be prime hunting spots during gun season as drought stressed deer try to replenish energy reserves. Growth of wheat and other typical cool season foods have been limited by the drought.
“The height of grass and other vegetation is very low again this year, which should make deer highly visible to hunters,” Pennington said. “The drought conditions will be tough for the deer, but should make for very good hunting conditions.”
Read and join the discussion on Oklahoma’s Current Deer Rut Activity at a Glance at OutdoorHub.com.
November 2, 2012
On November 1, a new law went into effect granting hunters in the state of Oklahoma the right to use legally owned suppressors while hunting all game animals. With the help of ASA lobbyists, Senate Bill 1743 was signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin on May 25. The passage of the new law made Oklahoma the third state in 2012 to legalize suppressor use while hunting. Earlier in 2012, similar measures were also passed in Texas and Arizona.
Contrary to popular belief, suppressors, also referred to as silencers, do not render gunshots inaudible. However, often times they do reduce the report of a firearm to hearing safe levels, helping to protect the shooter and those nearby from permanent hearing damage.
In order for a civilian to purchase a suppressor, they must live in one of the 39 states that allow civilian ownership. All applicants must submit an ATF Form 4, in duplicate, to the National Firearms Act Branch of the ATF for each suppressor purchased. A Form 4, or Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm, includes a stringent background check that is conducted by the FBI. In addition, applicants must submit a $200 payment for the transfer tax, duplicate copies of passport photos and fingerprints, and receive a signoff from a chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) in their jurisdiction. From start to finish, this transfer process takes anywhere from 30 days to one year to complete.
The American Silencer Association would like to congratulate Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona for enacting their new laws and regulations. The ASA will continue to work off of their momentum to push for additional suppressor regulatory reform in those states which do not allow civilian ownership or suppressor use while hunting.
Read and join the discussion on Hunting With Suppressors Legal Nov. 1 in Oklahoma at OutdoorHub.com.
November 1, 2012
Duck season is currently open for Panhandle Counties and Zone 1. Zone 2 opens November 3. For zone maps and complete waterfowl hunting regulations log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
- Canton – Zone 1: Water level is 8.68 feet below normal. Native vegetation is in good condition, but currently not flooded. Winter wheat around the area is mostly planted and in fair condition. Duck numbers are moderate, with mostly divers. Goose numbers are low, with mostly residents. Hunting activity was moderate on opening weekend. Hunting success was fair on ducks and low on geese. The northwest portion of the lake is dry, and the only usable boat ramp is at the Canadian Campground day use area.
- Ft. Supply – Zone 1: Water level is 2.54 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are fair. Duck numbers are good. Goose numbers are low. Hunting activity has been high, especially on weekends. Hunting success has been fair on ducks and low on geese. Good amounts of bird movement on and around the area over the past five days. The WMA portion of the lake is currently surrounded by approximately 50 yards or more of open shoreline, most boat ramps are closed, but small boats are still able to access the lake.
- Ft. Cobb – Zone 2: Water level is 5.43 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor due to water levels. Duck numbers are low. Goose numbers are low. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2.
- Hackberry – Zone 2: Water level is extremely low. Habitat conditions are poor, with some winter wheat present. Duck and goose numbers are low. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2.
- Mtn. Park – Zone 2: Water level is 10.50 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor. Duck numbers are low. Goose numbers are low. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2.
- Waurika – Zone 2: Water level is 10 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor, with some winter wheat present on private land. Duck numbers are low. Goose numbers are low. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2. Wetland units are dry and expected to remain dry throughout season.
- Copan – Zone 2: Water level is 3 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are excellent, just need water. Duck numbers are low, with mostly teal. Goose numbers are low, with mostly resident birds. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2. Youth hunting days were slow, with low success. Bird movement in the area has been light, but increasing with each northern frontal passage.
- Eufaula – Zone 2: Water level is 4.21 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor at current lake elevation. Farming activity in the area is light. Duck numbers are low. Goose numbers are low, with local resident birds present. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2. A few migrant flocks were observed moving over the area in the past week
- Hulah – Zone 2: Water level is 4 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are excellent, just need water. Duck numbers are low. Goose numbers are low, with resident birds present. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2. Bird movement in the area has been light, but increasing with each northern frontal passage.
- Kaw – Zone 2: Water level is 0.97 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are good, with Japanese millet, smartweed and good quantities of native food present. Duck numbers are fair. Goose numbers are low. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2.
- Keystone – Zone 2: Water level is 3.5 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor to fair. Almost all sloughs and potholes are dry due to extreme drought conditions. Cottonwood WDU over 50% full and filling with excellent food conditions in the majority of the units. Duck numbers are fair. Goose numbers are low. Hunting activity was low for the youth season, but youth hunters had good success. No reports on current hunting activity or success with season currently closed for Zone 2. Recent cold front showed a small increase in bird numbers last weekend.
- Oologah – Zone 2: Water level is 3.11 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are fair to good at current lake level. 300 acres seeded with Japanese millet, but not flooded at this time. Duck numbers are poor, with mostly blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, gadwalls, American widgeon, northern shoveler and a few mallards. Goose numbers are poor, with resident Canadians present and a few migrants. Hunting acivity and success was fair for the recent youth season, but no other reports with Zone 2 currently closed. An increase in waterfowl migration is expected over the next several weeks with each northern frontal passage.
- Sooner – Zone 2: Water level is 2.5 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor. Winter wheat around the area is also in poor condition. Duck numbers are low. Goose numbers are low. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2.
- Hugo – Zone 2: Water level is 7.25 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are good around lake, with MS1 and Sawyer unit in fair condition. Duck numbers are low. No geese observed on the area. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2.
- Red Slough – Zone 2: Wetlands dry except for Unit 21 is 30%, Teal Lake 60% and large reservoirs in refuge 50-70%. Habitat conditions are poor, with plenty of forage but no water. Duck numbers are low, with around 1,600 birds. Goose numbers are low. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2. Significant increase in bird movement with last cold front on the area.
- Sequoyah NWR – Zone 2: In general, duck numbers at Sequoyah NWR are low. Green-winged teal and wood duck numbers are moderate. Very few gadwalls, mallards, and pintails are at the refuge. Snow geese have been spotted, but have not yet started using the refuge. Wetland management areas are about a 1/4 flooded.
- Texoma – Zone 2: Water level is 5.24 feet below normal. Habitat conditions are poor, but a rise in water level would flood current Japanese millet and native vegetation present. No birds seen in the area over the past week. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2.
- Wister – Zone 2: Water level is 1 foot below normal. Habitat conditions are fair, with smartweed, sedges and acorns present. Duck and goose numbers are low. No reports on hunting activity or success with season currently closed in Zone 2.
Read and join the discussion on Oklahoma Waterfowl Report for Nov. 1 at OutdoorHub.com.
October 26, 2012
Oklahoma is rich with big game hunting opportunity ranging from black bear and antelope to elk and mule deer. But the whitetail deer still represents the most popular and widely available big game hunting opportunity in Oklahoma, with archery season already underway and muzzleloader season to open Oct. 27.
Muzzleloader season runs Oct. 27 – Nov. 4, and the season accounts for about 18 percent of the total annual deer harvest in Oklahoma.
During muzzleloader season, hunters can harvest a buck and two antlerless deer (at least one antlerless deer must be harvested from Antlerless Deer Zones 2, 7 or 8), and most of the state is open to antlerless hunting every day during the season. Resident muzzleloader hunters must possess an appropriate hunting license and a deer muzzleloader license for each deer harvested. Nonresident muzzleloader hunters are exempt from a hunting license while hunting deer, but they must possess a nonresident deer muzzleloader license. For a map of Oklahoma’s antlerless deer zones, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” available online at wildlifedepartment.com.
Muzzleloader hunters must conspicuously wear both a head covering and an outer garment above the waistline, both totaling at least 400 square inches of hunt orange.
Upon harvesting a deer, all hunters must immediately attach their name, license number, and date and time of harvest securely to the animal. This “field tag,” which can be constructed of anything (such as a business card), must remain attached to the carcass until it is checked either at the nearest hunter check station, with an authorized Wildlife Department employee or online at wildlifedepartment.com.
In many counties, hunters can harvest a turkey with their muzzleloaders Nov. 3-4. A fall turkey license is required, unless exempt. Turkey fall gun season runs Nov. 3-16, and details for the season are available in the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
Hunters that are 10 years old and older who have not completed their hunter education course can do so completely online at wildlifedepartment. Upon successfully completing the course, hunters can print their hunter education card and purchase any license.
Hunters age 8-30 who have not completed a hunter education course can buy an apprentice-designated hunting license and hunt while accompanied by an adult hunter 18 years old or older who is licensed and hunter-education-certified or exempt. Exemptions from hunter ed requirements include those 31 years old or older, those honorably discharged or currently active in the Armed Forces or members of the National Guard). All hunters under 10 years old must be accompanied when hunting big game, including those who have completed a hunter education course.
The modern gun season opens Nov. 17 and runs for 16 days. Archery season remains open through Jan. 15, 2013.
For specific information regarding which wildlife management areas are open to muzzleloader season, licenses, season limits, legal firearms or other details, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” available free online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print anywhere hunting licenses are sold.
Read and join the discussion on Oklahoma Muzzleloader Season Kicks Off Tomorrow at OutdoorHub.com.
September 21, 2012
Archery hunters are looking to Oct. 1 as the opener to what will hopefully be another memorable deer hunting season. Last year, archery hunters made history when they harvested a season record of 24,908 of the 112,863 deer checked by hunters – about
22 percent higher than the previous record set in 2010.
The state has been in a drought, and while biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation agree that it would have been better to have more rain spread throughout the summer, the rainfall that the state did receive was well timed for deer.
“A lot of the rainfall we received arrived during the spring when young fawns could benefit from the nutritious, lush browse that resulted,” said Erik Bartholomew, big game biologist for the Wildlife Department. “And does got a good start on regaining their weight after carrying fawns and giving birth.”
According to Bartholomew, archery hunters this season should focus on patterning deer and scouting out areas that have been productive in the past. Recent rains will likely “kick start” cool season plants and provide additional food for deer, giving early season hunters places to focus their efforts.
To hunt deer during archery season, resident hunters must have an appropriate hunting license and a deer archery license for each deer hunted or proof of exemption. Resident youth hunters 16 or 17 years old must purchase a hunting license, and all youth hunters under 18 years of age may purchase a youth deer archery license. Nonresident deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license while hunting deer, but they must possess a nonresident deer archery license. Holders of nonresident lifetime hunting and lifetime combination licenses are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses.
Deer archery season runs Oct. 1 through Jan. 15, and archers who hunt from Jan.
1-15 must possess a deer archery license for the current calendar year and either a fiscal-year license or current annual license.
The archery season harvest limit is six deer, which may include no more than two antlered deer. Deer taken by hunters participating in archery season are included in the hunter’s combined season limit of six deer. Deer taken from Jan. 1-15, 2012, count toward the 2011 season limit.
All hunters who harvest a deer must immediately attach their name, license number and date and time of harvest securely to the carcass. Annual license holders who harvest deer must also complete the “Record of Game” section on the license form.
Hunters must check their harvested deer within 24 hours of leaving the hunt area either online at wildlifedepartment.com, at the nearest open hunter check station or with an authorized Wildlife Department employee. Once checked, the animal will be issued a carcass tag or an online confirmation number that must remain with the carcass to its final destination or through processing and/or storage at commercial facilities.
Archery hunters can also hunt turkeys during the turkey fall archery season, which runs concurrent with deer archery season. Hunters must possess an appropriate resident or nonresident hunting license and a turkey license for each bird hunted, unless exempt. Nonresident lifetime license holders are required to purchase a nonresident annual hunting license and turkey license. The nonresident five-day hunting license is not valid for hunting turkey.
The turkey fall archery season limit is one turkey of either sex, statewide, and all hunters who harvest a turkey must immediately attach their name and license number securely to the carcass. Annual license holders must also include the date and time of harvest with their field tag and complete the “Record of Game” section on the license form. Additionally, turkeys harvested east of I-35 must be checked within 24 hours of leaving the hunt area. Turkeys harvested west of I-35 will not be checked.
Seasons on public lands for both deer and turkey may vary from statewide season dates. For full details and regulations, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available free online at wildlifedepartment.com or anywhere hunting licenses area sold.
To learn more about deer hunting in Oklahoma or to purchase a hunting license, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
This figure shows last year’s Oklahoma archery harvest by week. The 2012-13 deer archery season starts Oct. 1.
Read and join the discussion on Oklahoma’s Deer and Turkey Archery Seasons to Heat Up Oct. 1 at OutdoorHub.com.
August 6, 2012
After a bunch of years of some frustrating hunts and a bunch of vanilla tags, it looks like this year might be different! I learned in the early draw results that I drew a Unit 21 General Antelope tag. With 8 bonus points, this tag was a shocker. Odds to draw this tag ran at about 2%, as near as I could figure. My old friend Terry Herndon has been the point man on this hunt, from draw recommendation to guide to cheerleader. He seems pretty confident – what better way for me to obliterate “the curse”?
After drawing such an awesome and exciting tag, imagine my astonishment when the fall draw results were announced! A late December Unit 33 Coues tag! Looked at the stats and it seems the draw odds on this tag are just under 3%! I know his unit a bit, and have had several friends offer to help on this hunt. I am wayyy excited to do this hunt as well.