Antlerless Deer Season Dates Approved

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After some discussion the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to make no changes to the antlerless deer season dates for the 2004 muzzleloader and modern firearms hunting seasons.

Alan Peoples, wildlife division chief, submitted a proposal to the Commission that would have decreased the total number of antlerless deer hunting days in southeast Oklahoma (zone 10) from the nine days provided last year to four days in the upcoming 2004 seasons. The proposal included no changes in antlerless deer days in the rest of the state.

“Hunters that attended our public meetings in southeast Oklahoma indicated that they were observing fewer does when in the field and consequently expressed a desire for fewer antlerless deer hunting days. This proposal was in response to that feedback,” Peoples said. “In making management decisions we try to include both social and biological factors in the decision. Fewer antlerless deer days would not have a significant biological effect one way or the other.”

However, the Commission amended the proposal back to nine days of antlerless deer hunting (six days in muzzleloader season and three days in modern gun season) in southeast Oklahoma. This amended proposal was passed unanimously by the Commission. Commissioners also approved the original proposal for the remainder of the state and no changes were made in the number of antlerless deer days.

The Commission also approved the dates for the special antlerless deer seasons and the private land elk hunting seasons. Besides calendar adjustments, no changes were made in these season dates.

In other business, the Commission accepted a generous donation of a 24-foot gooseneck trailer from the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International. The trailer will be used in the Department’s Shotgun Training Education Program, which introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms. The Commission also recognized Mike Petis with Advanced Warnings Inc. for donating the computer graphics for the trailer, which includes both the Wildlife Department and Safari Club International logos.

Also at the April meeting, Carlos Gomez, state game warden stationed in Tulsa County was recognized as the National Wild Turkey Federation Oklahoma game warden of the year.

“Carlos has proven to be an outstanding representative for the state and we are proud to honor him as the game warden of the year,” said Gary Purdy, regional director for the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The Commission voted to accept a donation of $5,000 from the Oklahoma City Zoological Park. The money will be used for the Department’s Natural Resources Diversity Program. The donation bolsters the strong partnership between the Zoo and the Wildlife Department. Five Department biologists currently work out of offices on the zoo grounds.

“We feel like this is a perfect relationship and we are proud to assist the Department of Wildlife in their conservation efforts,” said Bert Castro, executive director of the Oklahoma City Zoological Park.

In other business, the Commission voted to approve a pair of changes to the employee handbook. First, a provision was made to allow temporary Department personnel to use Department-owned all-terrain vehicles. Second, mandatory retirement for game wardens was set at age 65. Individuals may apply for a one-year work extension, which must be approved by the Department director. A maximum of five extensions may be granted. Reserve officers must also cease law enforcement activity at age 65.

Also at the meeting, the Commission entered into executive session to discuss the purchase of property in Adair and Sequoyah counties. No action was taken on the item.

Commissioners also recognized Leon Johnson, wildlife technician at Pushmataha Wildlife Management Area, for his 25 years of service to the agency and to the sportsmen of the state.

The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department, and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

The next scheduled Commission meeting is May 3 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 9:00 a.m.