Oklahoma’s most prolific crappie lake has a new lake record for crappie.
Todd Huckabee, a popular fishing guide on Lake Eufaula, landed a 2.8-pound crappie from Gaines Creek on Oct. 22.
The big slab measured 17¼-inches.
“I had been catching keeper-size crappie on the south end of the reservoir when the switch turned on and bigger fish showed up,” Huckabee said.
“Once the wind really picked up, there was about a 45-minute period where the bigger fish really became active. This is usually how it is in the fall. You can be catching keeper-size fish, then you will get about a 45-minute to one hour period where the big fish eat, then it’s over.
“I was using a ¼-ounce chartreuse green/fluorescent orange Lindy jig off of the end of an 11- foot flippin’ stick with 10 pound test line. The bigger fish hang right on the transition where the rock ends, and they wait to ambush baitfish.
“Crappie are looking for a big meal, and one of the main forage fish that I find when I am cleaning crappie is drum over 4 inches long.
“It is also standard thinking that crappie always feed up, but I discovered that often times they are feeding on bottom-dwelling bait fish such as the baby black drum. If you are sitting in 10 feet of water, you need to be fishing 12 feet deep.”
The big duck season opener will be Nov. 6 when Oklahoma’s zone two opens for waterfowl hunting.
Zone two covers all of eastern, central and southwestern Oklahoma. Duck season already is under way in the Panhandle and zone one (northwest Oklahoma).
The forecast for duck season, according to Josh Richardson, migratory game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, is both good and bad.
“On the bad side, warm weather has so far kept birds farther north of us, and an unusual dry stretch has wetland habitat in many areas in poor condition,” Richardson said.
“On the good side, this was another banner production year in the prairie pothole region and the birds will have to come through at some point. They may not stay for long, but they will definitely come through.
“Hunters wanting the best chance of success this year will really need to pay attention to the weather and do their scouting to know when the birds are coming through and where to catch them when they’re here.”
If it stays dry, Richardson suggests hunters try the public wetland areas.
“While many lakes, private ponds, sloughs and wetlands are dependent on natural rainfall, many of our wetland units are set up with alternative means of flooding, such as wells, pumps or irrigation lakes, alternatives that are often unfeasible for private landowners and hunters.”
A list of the wetland units managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and maps can be found on the agency’s website at www.wildlifedepartment.com
Hunters in the woods for the final weekend of deer muzzleloader season on Saturday and Sunday can bag a wild turkey for the Thanksgiving table as a bonus.
Oklahoma’s fall gun season for turkeys opens Saturday and runs through Nov. 19.
The spring turkey season is by far the most popular with turkey hunters since the gobblers will answer to calls.
Not many Oklahoma hunters specifically go after turkeys in the fall, but what better time to harvest a bird with Thanksgiving less than a month away.
“There are some bona fide fall turkey hunters,” said Rod Smith, southwest wildlife chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “There are people that it is traditional that they go for a Thanksgiving turkey.”
Deer hunters should make sure they have a turkey license before harvesting a gobbler.
Fall gun turkey hunting is closed in 24 counties.
Hunters can use a rifle or shotgun in most of the counties, but 10 counties are open to shotgun only: Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Haskell, McIntosh, Muskogee, Nowata, Sequoyah, Wagoner and Washington.
Conventional rifles and hanguns can not be used for turkey hunting on Saturday and Sunday as it overlaps with the deer muzzleloader season.
The bag limit is one turkey. Some counties allow only a tom to be taken, so hunters should check the Oklahoma Hunting Guide for regulations.
Bow season for wild turkeys has been open statewide since Oct. 1 and will run through Jan. 15, the same dates as the deer archery season.
In August, 14-year-old DeKota Green of Binger had to have his left leg amputated below the knee after the 4-wheeler he was a passenger on was broad-sided by a pick-up truck at the intersection of a Caddo County road.
DeKota was life-flighted to the University of Oklahoma Medical Center in Oklahoma City where he spent 25 days in the hospital and endured eight surgeries.
“He had a long recovery due to infection,” said his mother, Jennifer Green.
After countless hours of physical therapy and being equipped with a prosthetic leg, DeKota was determined this fall to pursue his passion: bow hunting.
“He’s not into gun hunting, but he loves to bow hunt,” Jennifer said. “The people at Scott Sabolich (prosthetics) helped put DeKota back on his feet.”
Upon release from the Bethany Childrens Center after rehabilitation, the first thing DeKota did was buy a new Mathews bow. He began rebuilding his strength so he could bow hunt this fall.
Since DeKota couldn’t climb into a tree stand, he acquired a ground blind to hunt in.
The effort paid off. While hunting near his home in rural Caddo County on Oct. 20, DeKota was rewarded with the biggest buck of his life: a 12-point buck that rough-scored 153 5/8.
The buck field-dressed at 159 pounds. DeKota bagged his trophy buck less than three months after the accident that cost him a leg and almost his life.
“(It) didn’t look like he possibly could be ready for this season, but a lot of prayers and determination on his part turned into a successful deer season,” Jennifer said.
Oklahoma has three hunting seasons that open Saturday.
Duck season opens in zone one, which comprises most of northwest Oklahoma with the exception of the Panhandle, where duck hunting already has started.
Hunting sandhill cranes, the ribeyes of the sky, also begins on Saturday, but west of I-35 only.
And the most popular of the trio of openers , the statewide nine-day deer muzzleloader season, also kicks off on Saturday.
Bag a gobbler for Thanksgiving
Oklahoma’s fall archery turkey is now open and the gun season will open Oct. 30.
Not all counties in Oklahoma are open for fall turkey gun hunting. Twenty-four counties are closed for the fall gun season.
Most of the 53 counties where gun hunting is legal allow hunting with either shotgun or rifle, but 10 counties are open to shotgun only. Check the Oklahoma Hunting Guide for details.
Gun season on turkeys will be open Oct. 30 through Nov. 19 while archery season is open through Jan. 15.
Big bass tournament
The annual Lawter & Associates Last Bass Tournament will be Nov. 14 on Lake Eufaula.
Entry fee for the two-man team tournament is $150 if postmarked before Oct. 31. There is a $20 late fee after Oct. 31.
The tournament is 100 percent payback with the law adding an additional $4,000 in prize money.
That includes $500 per hour for the big bass brought in each hour beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m.
For more information, call Jeff Saxton at (800) 522-8282, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website, www.lawterlaw.com.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is debuting a new hunter’s education manual this month.
The manual, designed specifically for Oklahoma hunters, was developed by the University of Central Oklahoma and state hunter education instructors.
Since it is an Oklahoma specific manual, unlike those used in the rest of the country, hunter education students will see more Oklahoma scenes and situations in it, said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the state Wildlife Department.
Deer muzzleloader season opens Saturday but there is still time to enroll in a hunter education course before the Nov. 20 opener of deer gun season.
Several courses are scheduled across the state on Nov, 6 and Nov. 13. Visit www.wildlifedepartment.com for a list of classes.
Oklahoma hunters exempt from hunter education include those age 36 or older, those honorably discharged from or currently on duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, and members of the National Guard.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s online check station continues to grow rapidly in popularity with hunters.
Based on numbers from the first week of archery deer season, five times more hunters are “e-checking” their deer over last year.
During the first week of this year’s bow season, 1,044 deer were checked in online. Last year during the same time, just 211 deer were “e-checked.”
This is the second year that online check in has been available to hunters at the Wildlife Department’s website, www.wildlifedepartment.com.
Some state wildlife agencies already have gone completely to “e-checking” of game.
Micah Holmes, spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said it does not have the same intention.
In fact, the Wildlife Department is not necessarily encouraging hunters to use “e-checking” even though it does save the agency money and allows its biologists to get data faster and more accurately, he said.
Online checking is primarily offered to hunters as a convenience, Holmes said.
“We are not going to get rid of physical check in stations,” he said.
The rise in “e-checking” deer could be bad sign for businesses around the state that voluntarily serve as deer check stations. More online check-ins likely will mean less foot traffic in those stores.
Oklahoma’s nine-day deer muzzleloader season opens Saturday.
New field tagging requirements
Hunters have two new requirements this year for tagging game in the field.
In addition to recording the hunter’s name and hunting license number, hunters must now also record the date and time of harvest on the tag.
Also, deer, turkey, and elk must be checked in within 24 hours of leaving the hunt area.
I’ve never been a superstitious guy, but I may have to reconsider.
Last week I wrote a story about 17-girl from Poteau who had her nails painted hunter orange for luck, then she went hunting and bagged a bear.
Now, I get this photo and story from Jody Slingo of Jones about bagging a buck of a lifetime after getting his lucky haircut.
By most reports, archery deer season has been pretty slow thus far. It’s been hot and deer haven’t been on the move very much.
Slingo, however, on Oct. 9 bagged a beautiful buck in northeast Oklahoma County that grossed 183 7/8 and weighed an estimated 210 pounds field dressed.
“We guessed since he maxed out the scale,” Slingo said.
Slingo said his first saw the big buck through binoculars on Sept. 29 while scouting from the tree stand he had put up for opening day.
“I had never seen him or the other 5 bucks in his group,” Slingo said. “He was no doubt the boss. I couldn’t tell exactly what he was but was sure he was the main frame 12.”
With the opening day of bow season two days away, Slingo was afraid he wouldn’t see the buck again.
On opening day, all the bucks, except the big one, emerged from the woods and made their way near Slingo’s tree stand.
Slingo’s trophy buck finally arrived in the early evening but it was too dark to get a shot.
“I sat in the stand until 9:45 p.m. when he left,” Slingo said.
The next day, the same pattern repeated. On Oct. 3, Slingo moved his tree stand to get downwind of the buck.
He took a shot that day at the big buck but missed as the buck ducked the arrow and vanished.
“I was sick,” said Slingo, who believed he would never see that buck again.
The following Saturday, Slingo decided to get his lucky haircut from Heather Hawkins at V’s Salon on 23rd Street between Choctaw and Harrah.
“Best thing there is for hunter’s luck,” Slingo said. “One year before, almost to the day, she cut my hair and two days later I stuck a 147-inch West Texas bruiser.”
With his lucky haircut, he climbed back into his tree stand on Oct. 9. Just like the previous days, several deer emerged from the woods but this time they were all does.
“I kept thinking he was gone,” Slingo said. “Then a crack to my left and unbelievably the 10-point (buck) that runs with him is standing at the edge of the thicket and walks out to the shooting lane.
“Then the buck I missed six days before stood at the edge, scent checked 20 times and made the mistake of giving me a second chance.”
Slingo put an arrow in the buck and an hour later, with the help of his friend Londo Duran, they were able to find the whitetail 60 yards from the stand.
“Jody, that’s a buck of a lifetime,” Londo told him.
Slingo believes the keys to bagging the buck were patience, attention to the wind and Heather’s lucky haircut.
“She’s good luck. I swear it.”
The annual fall RV show and closeout sale is now under way at State Fair Park.
The show opened Thursday morning and continues through Sunday in the Travel & Transportation Building and the Centennial Building.
Show hours Thursday through Saturday are from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. On Sunday, the show opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m.
Oklahoma dealers will be showcasing brand new motorhomes, fifth wheels, travel trailers, sport utility RVs (toy haulers), and pop-up campers.
Admission Thursday and Friday is $4 per person. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $8.
Ages 12 and younger receive free admission.
For more information, visit www.rvshowokc.com.
Last year, hunters in southeastern Oklahoma were predicting the state’s first black bear season would open and close on the same day since the season had to close once 20 bears were killed.
They were so wrong. Only four bears were killed on opening day and just 19 for the entire month-long season. Hunters should have saved their boasting for this year.
On Friday, the opening day of the bear archery season, hunters checked in 31 bears – 25 males and six females. Season over. The largest trophy was a black bear taken in Latimer County, killed by Bob Burgett of Kiowa.
The bear, shot east of Hartshorne, weighed 463 pounds after it was field dressed, said Joe Hemphill, southeast region chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
Burgett’s bear easily weighed more than 600 pounds on the hoof, he said.
Several bears weighing more than 300 pounds were taken by bow hunters Friday. Kelsey Weaver, 17, of Poteau became the state’s first female hunter to kill a bear.
Twelve of the 31 bears came from Le Flore County, 12 from Pushmataha County, four from Latimer County and three from McCurtain County, Hemphill said.
The big question is, why did hunters have so much more success this season? Hemphill said the acorn crop wasn’t as plentiful in southeastern Oklahoma this year so more bears were attracted to bait.
“Bait is drawing a lot more bears than we expected it to,” he said.
However, Hemphill thinks the biggest reason for the increase was the use of crossbows, which are legal for all bow hunters for the first time this year.
Before this season, crossbows could only be used by bow hunters with a physical disability and hunters age 60 or older.
At least 20 of the 31 bears checked in Friday to state wildlife officials were killed by hunters using crossbows, Hemphill said.
“I think crossbows made a major difference, just my opinion,” he said.
The fact that the black bear season lasted just one day left some hunters disgruntled and Hemphill said state wildlife officials would be re-examining the regulations for next year.
One possibility is to impose separate bag limits on bears for the archery and muzzleloader seasons to give hunters more opportunities, he said.
“We are definitely going to do something different,” Hemphill said.
Hemphill wasn’t concerned that 11 bears more than the imposed season limit of 20 were killed. In the beginning, state wildlife officials were “very conservative” in deciding that only 20 bears could be taken by hunters, he said.
Liberalizing the bag limit would not harm the black bear population, which studies show is continuing to grow in southeast Oklahoma, he said.