Controlled Hunts Deadline

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It is that time of year again. Time for hunters to submit their controlled hunt applications offered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Those interested in applying have until May 3.

"We're approaching the home stretch," said Melinda Sturgess-Streich, chief of administration for the Department. "We want to remind everyone that applications must be made by May 3, or they will not be accepted."

Sturgess-Streich added that the best way to assure the Department receives their application is to apply online. The online application system will accept applications until 11:59 p.m., May 3. By logging onto the Department's official Web site, www.wildlifedepartment.com, applicants will be assured that they provide all the necessary information for their application to go through.

"Applying online helps to eliminate concerns about lost, incomplete or incorrect applications. The program will not accept an application if there are discrepancies or incomplete information, and it will inform the applicant how to correct the application," Sturgess-Streich said. "The applicant can double-check to make sure the application was accepted by going back into the Web site's controlled hunt page and clicking on the confirmation link."

So far, there have been few problems with hunters using the online application system, however Sturgess-Streich said one problem has surfaced with some AOL subscribers.

"Some users of AOL versions 6.0 and 7.0 have experienced difficulty with some of the information 'fields' not showing up correctly. This problem can easily be remedied however, by users accessing wildlifedepartment.com via the Internet Explorer browser located on their machine's desktop."

For those unable to apply online, the Oklahoma Controlled Hunts 2002 booklets are available at Department installations and hunting and fishing license vendors across the state. Mailed applications must be post-marked no later than May 3, 2002, to be accepted.

Hunters applying for the Wildlife Department's controlled hunts will notice a number of changes, including provisions designed to spread out hunter opportunity and a $5 per person application fee.

The fee is required of all applicants, including lifetime hunting or lifetime combination license holders, and is collected via credit card payment for online applicants. Mail-in applicants can pay via cashier's check or money order and should refer to the Oklahoma Controlled Hunts 2002 booklet for more instructions. The fee was authorized during the past legislative session to offset rising costs for administering the controlled hunts program.

Other significant changes for this year's drawing involve combining all archery, muzzleloader, deer gun and non-ambulatory deer hunts into one general deer category. The Department also has implemented a progressive draw, whereby the elk hunts are drawn first, then antelope, and then deer. If an applicant is selected for an elk hunt, they earn preference points in the antelope and deer categories (if they applied for those categories) but are not eligible to draw either of those hunts. The new progressive drawing system was implemented to spread out hunter's opportunity to draw a hunt by preventing individual hunters from drawing multiple big game hunts.

For a number of years, hunters who apply for certain categories but do not successfully draw a permit have been awarded preference points. Within Oklahoma's preference system, hunters with the most preference points have greater chances of being drawn, but the system does not guarantee that those with the most points get drawn - only that their odds improve. In fact, first-time applicants with no preference points can get drawn over those with many points.

According to Sturgess-Streich, hunters who have previously applied for the various deer categories will carry over their highest preference point total to the new deer category. In other words, if a hunter had one point in the archery and five in muzzleloader category, they will have five points in the new combined deer category.