I made it to Broken Bow Wednesday night for the opening of Thursday’s black bear season.
Plan to have a story in Friday’s newspaper on the first person who legally kills a bear in Oklahoma.
(I will be blogging from Girls Gone Wine in Hochatown. Who wouldn’t want to blog at Girls Gone Wine.)
The state Wildlife Department is only allowing 20 black bears to be killed in the entire season, which is open in McCurtain, Latimer, Le Flore and Pushmataha counties.
After talking to some of the local residents in Broken Bow, it sounds like the bear season could open and close the same day.
Apparently, a lot of people think they know where they can get a bear. Baiting is allowed on private land.
I don’t know how many will be killed Thursday, but I bet the majority of bears for the season will be taken in the first two days.
Those suckers will find a hole quickly.
On another note, I noticed when driving through Antlers that the town’s annual Deer Festival is scheduled Friday and Saturday.
A big buck contest, deer chili cook-off, chainsaw carving contest and wildlife photo contest are just some of the events scheduled.
Deer archery season also opens statewide Thursday, so there is a lot going on in southeastern Oklahoma this weekend.
Come on down!
Chad Love, who blogs for Field & Stream and has been a past contributor to The Oklahoman, went fishing for tuna off the New Jersey coast and caught a 600-pound blue marlin.
You can see the video at this link: http: www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/where-fish/2009/09/new-hook-shot-giant-blue-marlin
Oklahoma’s first bear season opens Thursday and is getting a lot of publicity, but an overwhelming majority of hunters in the field Thursday will be looking to put an arrow in a big buck, not a big bear.
The state’s long archery season for deer also opens Thursday and continues through Jan. 15 statewide.
The deer should enter this season well fed and well hidden. More rainfall than usual in much of the state has produced plenty of food for the state’s deer herd, so hunters should be seeing some big deer this season.
But the wet summer also has caused vegetation to reach great height and density, which could make bowhunting difficult in the beginning of the season,” said Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
“The deer will still be out there,” Shaw said. “It will just be tougher to see them.”
In eastern Oklahoma, the white oak acorns are falling which should help draw deer out of the thick cover that exists.
In western Oklahoma, I received a report a week ago from hunters who had been watching a dozen or more bucks on their alfalfa fields. The bucks were out of velvet and moving over to some milo that was maturing in other places.
“Sounds like they are starting to change food sources so next I would say you will start seeing them more on the wheat as it starts to green up,” sad Melvin Hart, taxidermist and deer hunter in Yukon.
Bowhunters across the state are finding more success during dear season. Last year, bowhunters set a new archery season harvest record of 17,784 deer, helping to push the last year’s combined season deer harvest to the second highest in state history, a total of 111,427.
Last year, more than 83,000 hunters participated in Oklahoma’s archery deer season.
Combining all deer seasons in Oklahoma (archery, muzzleloader and gun), the top 10 counties with the highest deer harvest last year are all east of I-35: Osage (4,409 deer), Pittsburg (3,834), Cherokee (3,402), Atoka (3,062), Pushmataha (2,731), Sequoyah (2,713), Creek (2,504), Delaware (2,354), Haskell (2,046) and Mayes (1,996).
Last Sunday’s “Collected Wisdom” in the Oklahoman was with the new state wildlife director, Richard Hatcher.
Here’s more “wisdom” from Hatcher on a variety of issues facing Oklahoma sportsmen.
On Oklahoma’s diversity:
“Outside of the marine states, Oklahoma is the most diverse state in the nation and it’s our diversity that keeps us interesting. We got places in the Panhandle with only 10 percent annual rainfall and places in southeast Oklahoma with 50 to 60 percent.
“We got pronghorn antelope and we’ve got alligators. We have mesquite country in the southwest and the Ozarks in the northeast. We’ve got the Tallgrass Prairie and cave communities. It’s important for us to maintain that diversity. That’s our unique stamp in the world.”
On whether the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation needs tax revenue. (The agency is funded almost entirely on the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, although other states fund their wildlife departments with state appropriations and tax revenue.)
“I would not seek a general appropriation at this time. Some day we may have to. I wouldn’t be interested in pursuing a state sales tax at this time. There is never a good time to seek a new sales tax but right now is a horrible time. So that’s not something we are looking at in the short run. We look at Arkansas getting $20 million a year off of state sales tax. Missouri’s being doing it for decades. They are more up in the $50 or $60 million range. Could we use that money? You bet. Could we put it to good use? You bet. But it’s not something that we are going to have to have right now to maintain the level of management we’ve got.”
On the legislative task force that is currently studying ways to consolidate the state’s hunting and fishing licenses:
‘It’s a good idea to simplify what it takes to be legal in the field. I think it’s hard to recruit new hunters when they don’t understand the laws or they don’t understand what permits are required. I think some good ideas have come out of that task force. We don’t want a person, when a game warden comes up them, to think ’Oh, I hope I’m legal.’”
On the state’s Wildlife Department’s plans to buy more land with Legacy Permit funds:
“Right now we’ve got more offers to purchase land than we have money to purchase them. So we are trying to prioritize. The Legacy program is a great program but it is still only a finite amount of money. We need to put it to use where it will do the most good to protect sensitive wildlife habitat and provide opportunities for our hunters and fishermen.”
On the fact that anglers outnumber hunters but most Legacy Permit money is being used to benefit hunters:
“There’s more land than there is water available for sale. Cimarron Bluff has a beautiful fishing lake on it with nice bass in it. We are looking for more river access areas. That’s a priority. We are very conscious of it. We are doing what we can to take care or our anglers, too.”
On Oklahoma’s first bear season, which opens Oct. 1 in four southeastern Oklahoma counties:
“It’s going to be a limited opportunity. I don’t expect a whole lot of people will take advantage of it, but once again it highlights the diversity we’ve got in the state. I don’t think there will be a whole lot of bears killed the first day, but I think there will be several. Less than five.”
On the possibility of establishing a license for hunting guides. (Oklahoma fishing guides are now required to buy a license and receive training.)
“I am not going to push for it, but if the opportunity is there I would like to see it. We got to work out a lot more details. We’ve got to work with hunters and outfitters more to determine how would we define that. How would you define it? What constitutes a guide? I take you quail hunting on my property and you buy my lunch, did I just do that for commercial reasons? Am I now a guide? If I let you hunt on my property for a lease price and I tell you where the best place to hunt are, am I now a guide?”
On the state’s water issues.
“As there are more and more demands made on water, we have to make sure that wildlife and fishery needs are kept in that discussion.”
On invasive species in the state that are threatening fisheries:
“Invasive species are going to be a huge problem in the future. Zebra mussels are on us right now. There is a water transfer system out of Lake Texoma right now going into Texas, Lake Levon, a pipeline that they have had to shut off because of zebra mussels are going through that transfer system into a new lake. There is a municipal source that has been shut off because of an invasive species.
“There is a new alga we’ve discovered in the Mountain Fork called Diddymo. We’ve been fighting golden alga. We’ve seen fish kills as the result of it but not large enough to effect the industry.
“We have to learn more about what causes it and how to contain it. The best thing we’ve got going for us is education. We have to convince our boaters and anglers the importance of not moving this from one lake to the next. Washing down their boat before they leave one body of water and going to the next.”
On the biggest threat facing Oklahoma sportsmen:
“In Oklahoma, it’s not the anti’s. The biggest threat to Oklahoma sportsmen is becoming irrelevant. We’ve got to maintain presence of mind among all Oklahomans the importance of sport hunting and fishing to our economy and our quality of life.”
Colorado is a popular destination during the elk seasons for many Oklahoma big game hunters.
Archery season is currently open in Colorado and Melvin Hart, a taxidermist in Yukon and experienced bow hunter, makes an annual hunting trek to Colorado. He recently returned to Oklahoma after taking another outstanding Colorado bull elk.
“I was hunting lower central Colorado back in some really rough country,” Hart said. “Sitting on one side of a canyon in the late afternoon I saw a cow and bull come down out of the timber above the other side of the canyon. The bull dropped down in the canyon and came back up with mud on his legs so I figured he went into water.
“He stood over there and bugled non-stop at all the other bulls sounding off in the area. I had never seen or heard so much elk activity. I dropped down into the canyon and went around and came up on the edge in some brush and waited on him to move.
“I kept talking to him like a cow and small spike bull. Sometimes these big bulls think there is cows with a spike so they will tolerate the small ones around since there is no threat from them. The bull kept moving around and looking for me and bugling until he finally went around some brush and walked out and stood broadside for the perfect shot at 21 yards (which I later stepped off to make sure I was guessing the yardage right.)
“He ran about 75 yards and stopped just past his cow and stood there for a little bit. He started to lay down but started to move again and turned uphill but died on his feet and piled up in a forward lunge. I am glad he went down in sight cause it was getting late and its no fun tracking in the dark with no moon to help.”
Hart was hunting alone so he skinned, caped and deboned the animal by himself.
“It was many pack trips to get him out to camp,” Hart said. “This was a tough one since I had to drop into the canyon and come back up the other side. And with a heavy pack on it is a rough one coming back up out of there.”
The bull was a 6×7 and Hart rough scored him in camp at 363 Pope and Young.
“The main beams have a lot of mass and the 5th points are 13- and 14-inches,” he said. “He is a really old bull with his bugle teeth worn down to nubs. I do not have a good guess on his weight but it was in the 800 to 1,000-pound range.”
After the first week of Oklahoma’s new archery season for antelope, a handful of hunters have found success.
But as you would expect, trying to get close enough to an antelope with a bow is proving difficult for most.
Much patience is required.
‘It’s a waiting game,” said Wade Free, biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in northwest Oklahoma.
Most hunters are using pop-blinds around watering holes or hunting crossings where the antelope go to and from food and water, Free said.
The two-week season began last week and as of Sunday, four antelope had been checked in at the Boise City check station, said Joel Peer of Edmond, who took a trip to the Panhandle for the inaugural season.
Peer was lucky enough to get one of the four.
“My friend, Justin, and I were watching two antelope from a distance of about 500 yards in the northeast part of Cimarron County on Thursday,” Peer said. “They were feeding on wheat near a milo field. I started my stalk from the south as the wind was from the north.
“I went through the milo field on my hands and knees. After crawling within 150 yards of the antelope, I saw that one of the antelope was a buck. So, I moved to the edge of the milo and propped up my antelope buck decoy.
“The antelope paid no attention to me and continued feeding. I walked the decoy towards the pair for about ten steps and set the decoy back down into the ground. I looked around the decoy and the buck was running right at me. My heart started racing and I got myself ready.
“I pulled my range finder out when he stopped and ranged him at 60 yards. He challenged me with a ‘snort chuckle’ (a sound made by bucks challenging another buck). His ears were laid back and he continued to walk to within 41 yards.
“I drew my bow and leaned out from the decoy and released the arrow. He turned just as I released and the arrow cut across his back and went into his neck.
“He dropped instantly. Justin tried several other stalks during the next four days, but never got any closer than 70 yards.”
Archery season for antelope is open in Cimarron County and a portion of west Texas County. Check stations are in Boise City and Guymon. The season remains open through Sept. 27.
Man, goose hunting has gotten expensive.
I just received a news release from the Washita National Wildlife Refuge about their upcoming goose hunts this year. The following was included:
“A $20,000 blind fee for the two-day weekend hunt is required to be paid by successful applicants by October 26, 2009.”
Wow. Don’t think I will be goose hunting there.
“Our blind fees really have went up, haven’t they?” said refuge manager Daniel Moss, when I called to point out what I assumed and really hoped was a misprint.
It was. The weekend fee is really $20.
And the blind fee for the Wednesday hunts is $10, not $10,000.
I shouldn’t poke fun, because I’ve made my share of mistakes, too.
Years ago, I reported the wrong final score at a football game. I woke up from a sound sleep at 3 a.m. realizing that I had made the mistake.
Funny how the brain works. At least mine.
Anyway, if you want to know more about the goose and sandhill crane hunting opportunities on the refuge, call (580) 664-2205, visit www.washita.fws.gov or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was interviewing, Richard Hatcher, the new state Wildlife Director on Thursday, when I noticed a beautiful mount of a whitetailed deer in his office.
It turns out it was Michael Crossland’s state non-typical record buck shot in Tillman County in 2004.
“What’s it doing here?” I asked
If you remember the saga of the Crossland buck, it was the subject of controversy and a court battle.
The landowner where Crossland shot the 31-point buck later claimed Crossland didn’t have permission to hunt.
He filed a misdemeanor complaint of hunting without permission against Crossland and the case went to court.
The judge dismissed the case but didn’t say why. I’m assuming it was because one of the landowner’s hired hands testified he invited Crossland to go hunting and that Crossland had no reason to believe he didn’t have permission, according to the trial transcripts.
The landowner claimed everyone in Tillman County knew the family didn’t allow hunting on the land without permission.
Anyway, the case didn’t end with the judge dismissing the misdemeanor charge.
The landowner, miffed by the judge’s decision, filed a civil lawsuit against Crossland, state wildlife officials said.
Crossland didn’t have the money to keep fighting it in court so it was eventually settled out of court.
Neither side wanted the other to have the rack, so to settle the lawsuit it was agreed the state Wildlife Department would keep it.
And now it hangs in the state Wildlife Director’s office. So I guess the buck stops here.
The documentation on the much heralded largemouth bass caught in Japan this past July has arrived at the International Game Fish Association headquarters in Dania Beach, Fla., for pending world record recognition.
It could tie the current 77-year old world record set by Georgia’s George Perry in 1932, long considered the “Holy Grail” of bass fishing.
Late Monday, the IGFA, the 70-year old non-profit fisheries conservation, education and record-keeping body, received the application for the largemouth bass caught July 2 by Manabu Kurita, 32, of Aichi, Japan.
IGFA rules for fish caught outside the U.S. allows anglers 90 days to submit their applications from the date of their catch.
IGFA conservation director Jason Schratwieser said the World All-Tackle application is currently under review after it was received through the Japan Game Fish Association (JGFA).
Schratwieser said the application stated the bass weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces and was pulled from Lake Biwa, an ancient reservoir northeast of Kyoto.
Photos and video were also submitted with the written documentation.
Kurita’s fish would tie the current record held for more than 77 years by George Perry, caught on Georgia’s Montgomery Lake on June 2, 1932, near Jacksonville, Georgia.
IGFA World Records Coordinator Becky Wright reported Kurita’s fish measured 27.20 inches in length and an almost equal girth of 26.77 inches.
She said Kurita was using a blue gill as live bait trolling through a canal.
A decision by the IGFA of whether Kurita’s fish will tie Perry’s record may take up to a month.
The Japan Game Fish Association collects and reviews record applications for fish caught in Japan before submitting it to the IGFA, Schratwieser said.
“It works out well because they not only translate applications but can also contact the angler if more documentation is needed,” he said.
“We still have a number of questions to ask them and Kurita regarding local laws and the area he caught it in while he was trolling through a canal on the lake.”
The IGFA has been recognized as the official keeper of world saltwater fishing records since its founding in 1939.
In 1978 it added the field of freshwater record-keeping when Field & Stream magazine transferred its 68 years of records to the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum.
It’s been said Tommy Biffle of Wagoner is the greatest angler in BASS history to never win a Bassmaster Classic crown or the Angler of the Year title.
Biffle is generally regarded as one of the best pitchers and flippers in bass fishing history. He has finished in the top 10 of the Angler of the Year race four times, including back-to-back ninth place finishes in 2006 and 2007.
He’ll be fishing his 16th Bassmaster Classic in 2010 and has two runner-up finishes in the Classic (1990 and 1994).
After his third place finish last weekend on Lake Jordan, Ala., in the first of two post-season BASS tournaments, Biffle is currently fourth in the Angler of the Year points standings behind Skeet Reese, Kevin Van Dam, and Mike Iaconelli. Only the top 12 anglers in the point standings qualified for the two post-season events to determine the Angler of the Year title. Biffle is the lone Oklahoma pro in the field.
He has a slim chance – but a chance – to overtake the leaders and win the Angler of the Year title and its prize of 200,000 in the final post-season tournament, scheduled Thursday and Friday on the Alabama River out of Montgomery, Ala.
“I am not done,” Biffle said Sunday. “I just need those guys (ahead of him) to stumble. I don’t want to wish any bad luck on ‘em, but I hope they stumble.”
Asked if winning Angler of the Year crown would make up for coming close twice but never winning the Bassmaster Classic, Biffle replied, “I don’t know if it would make up for the Classic. I want to win both of them before I’m done.”
At age 51, Biffle would be the oldest angler in BASS history to win Angler of the Year if he can pull it off.
Roland Martin was 45 when he won it in 1985.