The photo above was sent to me by Doe Clinton, a State Farm Insurance agent in Broken Bow of a sow and her two cubs.
The photo was taken Thursday by Clinton’s office manager, Vonna Jewell of Broken Bow, who was on her way to Poteau with her husband when they spotted the bear near the intersection of SH 259 and the Talimena Drive in Le Flore County.
The bear was only about 35 feet off the road and she was able to take a few photographs.
“I’ve never been fortunate to see one and I am out there with them,” said Clinton, an avid deer and turkey hunter. “I am in the woods all the time.”
Clinton said he hunts in Pushmataha County and frequently catches bears on his game cameras.
“We know on the place where we hunt we have five different bears,” he said.
State wildlife officials have been reseaching the bears in southeastern Oklahoma for years. Through DNA testing of hairs taken from traps, state wildlife officials have identified 500 different bears in Le Flore County alone.
Oklahoma first bear hunting season opens Oct. 1 in four southeatern Oklahoma counties. Hunting is restricted to archery then muzzleloaders at the same time as the deer muzzleloader season. Only a total of 20 bears may be killed by hunters.
Just received the June-July issue of “Outdoor Life” in the mail at work and the cover story is a list of the 200 best towns for sportsmen in the United States.
Four Oklahoma towns made the top 200, but it wouldn’t have been the four I would have chosen.
The magazine listed Bartlesville at No. 54, Poteau at No. 145, Enid at No. 168 and Elk City at No. 182.
The magazine based its ratings on socio-economic subcategories such as median household income, median home value, cost of living, unemployment rate, mean commute time and amenities such as schools and hospitals.
Outdoors-related subcategories used in the rankings included the gun friendliness of each town’s state, huntable and fishable species nearby, the town’s proximity to public hunting land and fishable waters and the potential for taking a big game trophy-caliber game animal or fish nearby.
I guess the socio-economic subcategories justifies the inclusion of those cities, but just based on hunting, fishing and the outdoors, here are four towns I would choose before Outdoor Life’s selections:
Eufaula instead of Bartlesville: I probably would prefer my daughter marry a man from Bartlesville than Eufaula, but for stuff to do outdoors, there is no comparison. Admittedly, I am biased because I grew up near Lake Eufaula, but it is the best crappie lake in the state not to mention the excellent smallmouth bass and catfishing.
Deer, turkey and duck hunting are plentiful in the area. And look at all of the good lakes just an hour or two north and south of there.
Broken Bow instead of Poteau: Hey, the state largemouth bass record came from Broken Bow Lake, the Lower Mountain Fork River is the best trout stream in the state and Three Rivers and Honobia Creek WMAs are right there. Not to mention nearby Pushmataha County has more Cy Curtis bucks than any other county in the state, including the state typical record.
Woodward instead of Enid: The towns are not that far apart but Woodward is closer to more public hunting areas and next door to Woods County which has produced some monster bucks. Woodward also is closer to better bird hunting at the Black Kettle National Grasslands and to antelope and pheasant hunting in the Panhandle.
Frederick instead of Elk City: Hackberry Flat is nearby for waterfowl hunting and the best public dove hunt in the state. The state non-typical record buck was taken near Frederick. The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is nearby and Lake Texoma is not too far away.
Those are my four. Agree or disagree?
Gov. Brad Henry has signed SB 277, which will require fishing guides to obtain a license through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission meets Monday and is expected to adopt the fee and establish requirements for the guide license.
The state fishing license guide bill was hurriedly passed last week and is an attempt to stop the Coast Guard from enforcing its licensing requirements on fishing guides at Lake Texoma.
The U.S. Coast Guard posted flyers around Lake Texoma recently that it was going to start enforcing licensing requirements for operators of uninspected passenger vessels like fishing guides.
Regulations required by the Coast Guard are “way too stringent on a striper guide,” said Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon, the House sponsor of SB 277.
Lake Texoma is considered “navigable waters” by federal statute and is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard because it is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake.
The Coast Guard hasn’t enforced licensing requirements for 15 years on Lake Texoma, but it conducted a risk assessment on the lake after a fatality last month when a guide boat capsized.
Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation – Tom Cole, Dan Boren and Jim Inhofe – are trying to intervene to prevent the Coast Guard from exercising its regulatory authority.
In a joint news release issued Friday, Boren said that subjecting the average fishing guide to the level of licensing requirements that the U.S. Coast Guard designed for major ports and waterways was like swatting a fly with a hammer.
Boren is urging the Coast Guard to allow the state to regulate the fishing guides.
Armes thinks if there is state license already in place, the Coast Guard “probably doesn’t mess with it.”
But whether the Coast Guard will back off now that the state has its own fishing guide licensing law remains to be seen.
Fishing guides in the state will have to be licensed through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation if Gov. Brad Henry signs SB 277, which lawmakers passed this week.
If the governor signs the bill into law, state wildlife commissioners are expected to set the license fee and establish requirements for the guide license at its June meeting.
To be licensed, fishing guides likely would have to buy liability insurance and complete CPR and first aid training. Vessel inspections also might be required.
Both Arkansas and Texas license fishing guides. SB 277 applies only to fishing guides, not hunting guides.
SB 277 started out as a bill about commercial hunting operations, but was changed last week to the fishing guide licensing bill.
The Oklahoma BASS Federation Nation held the Junior Bassmaster State Championship May 9 on Konawa Lake.
Twenty-two kids from BASS-affiliated junior bass clubs in Oklahoma City and Antlers competed.
Eleven volunteer boat captains from the OBFN State Team and both clubs took the kids out for the day.
First place in the ages 11 to 14 division were Preston Moore, 12, from Antlers, who caught five fish weighing 7.85 pounds.
In the ages 15 to 18 group, Jake Little, 15, of Shawnee was the champion with five weighing 9.21 pounds.
They each received a trophy provided by Dow Aerospace and a sonar fish finder provided by Lowrance Electronics. In addition, these two anglers will fish as part of the Oklahoma State Team that will compete in the Divisional tournament in June on Greers Ferry Lake in Arkansas.
Their one-day weight will be added to the adult team’s total to determine the overall team title.
They also will be competing within their age group for an opportunity to fish in the Junior Bassmaster World Championship in Florida in October.
Runners-up at the state championship were Chelsi Thomas, 13, Antlers, with five weighing 7.41 pounds, and Tyler Carpenter, 17, of Midwest City with five fish weighing 8.87 pounds.
Placing third were Jacob Keenom, 11, of Meeker with five weighing 7.37 pounds and Jessie Shrader, 14, of Antlers with five weighing 8.45 pounds.
These kids received reels from Quantum, rods from Falcon and plaques provided by Dow Aerospace.
All the kids received soft plastic lures from A&M Baits and Zoom Bait Company. A burger and hotdog cookout was provided for all the kids, families, volunteers and workers.
Most of Beaver’s Bend State Park in McCurtain County is expected to re-open for Memorial Day weekend, but the state will not be putting more trout in the river this week as scheduled.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is skipping its Thursday’s scheduled trout stocking due to all of the water that has been released – and still being released – from Broken Bow Lake, said Paul Balkenbush, fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Trout are normally added to the river every two weeks. The state will return to its normal stocking schedule in two weeks, Balkenbush said.
Many campgrounds and boat ramps are under water at state lakes and Beaver’s Bend State Park in McCurtain County remains closed until further notice.
Water being released from Broken Bow Lake is causing flooding downstream and people are being advised to stay away.
Donny Carter of Stratford, who has been fishing on the Lower Mountain Fork River for 20 years, said this is the first time he has ever seen all eight flood gates open on Broken Bow Dam.
He took the photo above which shows all of the gates and the one at the bottom of page showing water rushing down the river.
“Hope to make it down there to see how much damage was done,” he said. “I’ve heard the walk bridges were gone at the Cold Hole Bridge.”
One good thing might come from the flooding. It might wash the rock snot that was discovered last month out of the stream.
But many places are under water. The photo below is one Gary Giudice of Norman took last week at Arbuckle Lake.
Lake Texoma is high and several boat ramps are closed but if you can get on the water the striper fishing has supposedly been fantastic.
If anyone has info about campground closings or lake conditions in the state, let me know and I will pass them on my blog.
Growing up in eastern Oklahoma, I had no clue about walleye.
Kerr Lake, which is just a few miles east of my hometown of Stigler, is supposed to be good walleye waters.
If it was 30 years ago, I never knew it.
Catfish, bass, crappie – that’s what this hillbilly kid would catch with his Zebco 33. That and a few turtles and cottonmouths.
My first experience with walleye came on Lake Eufaula. Some of my high school buddies and I had pitched tents at Porum Landing with the intent of catching sand bass and crappie.
One evening before a dinner of hot dogs and pork and beans, I walked down to the lake and decided to bass fish around a rocky point with a soft plastic worm.
I was just killing time. I didn’t expect to catch anything when I got a bite. I reeled the fish in and gazed upon something that I had never seen before.
I thumbed it like a bass and it felt like that it had fangs like a rattlesnake. I wanted no part of that fish and cut the line.
I thought someone must have tossed an exotic South American piranha-like beast into Lake Eufaula.
Come to find out it was a walleye. Since then I have wised up some. I know now that walleye is a fish I want to keep.
Walleye eat really well, even rivaling crappie, in my opinion, as the best tasting fish in Oklahoma waters.
Beginning Thursday morning, the annual Walleye Rodeo begins at Canton Lake, about 90 minutes northwest of Oklahoma City.
The four-day event is one of the most popular fishing tournaments in Oklahoma. It usually attracts between 600 and 700 anglers.
Top prize for the biggest walleye caught in the tournament is $1,000. Terry’s Taxidermy in Oklahoma City also is providing a free mount of the fish.
Second biggest walleye pays $750 and third is $500. The angler catching the most pounds of walleye also wins $500.
Canton Lake is high, like every other lake in Oklahoma, but the walleye fishing has been good lately, said Donnie Jinkens, a fishing guide on Canton Lake whose speciality is crappie.
Anglers are catching walleye by trolling and drifting and “just about every which way there is to catch ‘em” in the flats and at the mouth of the North Canadian River, he said.
Anglers can register for the tournament Thursday through Sunday at the weigh station on the Canadian area of the lake.
The fee is $10.
The Walleye Rodeo is a real festival for Canton. There is a parade Saturday morning, a street dance Saturday night, and community fish fry beginning at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
A kid’s fishing derby is scheduled Sunday morning.
The tournament ends at noon Sunday. And if anyone has any fish they want to give away, I know of one hungry journalist who no longer will throw back any walleye.
Hunters have until Friday at midnight to apply for the 2009-10 controlled hunts through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
For those not familiar with the program, the state Wildlife Department offers some outstanding hunts through this lottery-like system.
Hunters have to apply online and pay a one-time annual fee of $5. But they can apply for as many hunts as they want for their $5.
That’s a better gamble than any you will make on a blackjack table at an Oklahoma Indian casino.
Most of the hunts are on government-owned or managed lands. Deer, elk, quail, turkey, antelope are just some of the more than 140 hunts offered around the state.
Deer hunts are the most popular, with more than 75,000 applications last year for the dozens of deer hunts offered around the state.
The odds of getting drawn for any deer hunt, based on last year’s numbers, is 1 in 15. The single most popular deer hunt is the gun buck hunts in the Wichita Mountains, followed closely by the archery buck hunts on the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.
But the most single most sought after hunt of all is the bull elk hunts on the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
Elk hunts are also offered on the Cookson and Pushmataha Wildlfie Management Areas and the odds of getting drawn for any elk hunt are 1 in 171.
Some hunts, like the elk hunts, are truly once in a lifetime. Once a person has been lucky enough to get drawn for an elk hunt they are not eligible for another.
Other hunts offered through the program are designed just for youth and persons with disabilities.
To apply, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com.
Looking for a weekend getaway?
You might consider Lake Carl Blackwell in Stillwater. The lake has opened a new campground and recently converted five cabins from annual leases to nightly rentals.
The Scissortail Lane Campground is the lake’s newest camping destination. It provides 18 additional campsites which include picnic tables and fire ring with grill as well as 50-amp electrical service and water.
Five pull-through sites will help individuals avoid backing their vehicles as they settle in to their campsite, said Sam McFee, assistant director, Oklahoma State University Risk Management, who oversees administrative functions at the lake.
“The number of sites in the new campground will complement the seven we added just last summer in the Pine Grove Campground area, which is the busiest RV campground on the lake,” said McFee. “That means we’re going to be able to say ‘yes’ to an additional 25 campers nightly.”
The Pine Grove sites also feature additional pull-through sites, with picnic tables and fire rings at each site.
The cabins feature a deck with a built-in table and a propane grill, a kitchenette with utensils and dinnerware for basic cooking, queen size bed, satellite HDTV and a fireplace.
Each single room cabin has a sleeping loft with padding provided, and the two-room cabin has a futon sofa to add capacity for family getaways.
Sunset Bay, a new 50-site campground for annual lease customers should be available June 1. The Sunset Bay sites will have electrical and water service, as well as an on-site dump station.
“Sunset Bay adds to one of our most popular offerings, which is unique for this area, allowing campers to lease a spot for year round use,” McFee said.
Lake Carl Blackwell has several recreational options to choose from including boating, fishing, camping, and hiking or riding trails.
The equestrian trails serve both local riders and national competition riders with more than 50 miles of trails and a separate campground.
There is a full service store at the lake, which sells bait, tackle, food and drink as well as gasoline. The lake also has an on-the-water fueling dock.
Fishing boat, paddle boat and canoe rentals are available through the store. Four public boat ramps have been provided to allow boaters to spend more time on the water and get in and out quickly.
For information on either nightly camping or nightly cabin rental, please call the Lake Store at (405) 372-5157 or go to www.lcb.okstate.edu. For annual RV sites, please call (405) 744-3855.