The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation sent emails to about 40,000 hunters last week to survey their preferences on the state’s waterfowl seasons.
After a public meeting in Durant in August with state waterfowl hunters, there seems to be a growing sentiment to start the waterfowl seasons later and perhaps end or shorten the current split between seasons.
State wildlife commissioner Bill Brewster organized the August meeting after hunters raised those issues with him, said Corey Jager, legislative liaison for the Wildlife Department.
Jager said the general consensus among hunters at that August meeting was to start the season later but there wasn’t necessarily agreement about the split.
“I think some hunters are good with keeping the split but maybe shortening it,” Jager said.
Many hunters would like to end the waterfowl season later “but federal guidelines restrict us from doing that,” she said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides Oklahoma a number of days and a time frame to set the state’s hunting seasons.
The Central Flyway framework allows a 74-day duck season between the outside dates of the Saturday nearest Sept. 24 and the last Sunday in January.
For Oklahoma, the 2018-19 main duck seasons are split seasons everywhere except in the Panhandle. The dates are Oct. 13-Jan. 9 in the Panhandle; Oct. 27-Nov. 25 and Dec. 8-Jan. 20 in Zone 1 (northwest Oklahoma); and Nov. 3-25 and Dec. 8-Jan. 27 in Zone 2 (the rest of the state). The main goose seasons also open on Nov. 3 statewide.
The Wildlife Department has always split the waterfowl season instead of running it non-stop in most of the state. State wildlife officials say they do so to start the season sooner for people who like to hunt the early migration. They say a split season also gives birds a respite and provides the excitement of a second opening day.
But many hunters think ducks are arriving in Oklahoma later each year and there is little chance for early success with the current season dates.
Any changes the Wildlife Department might make as a result of the survey would not be made until the 2019-20 waterfowl seasons.
Field day set to learn about food plots
A deer food plot day is scheduled for Thursday at 4 p.m. at Canadian Valley Farms in Lexington, 12781 Slaughterville Road.
Dwayne Elmore, a professor at Oklahoma State University and Bollenbach chair for Wildlife Management, will speak about what to plant, techniques and management for fall food plots.
The free field day is sponsored by OSU Cooperative Extension and Ross Seed Company of Chickasha. For more information, call the Cleveland County Extension office at 405-321-4774.
DU banquet scheduled in Guthrie
The Guthrie chapter of Ducks Unlimited will hold its fundraising banquet Saturday at the Logan County Fairgrounds.
Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $50 for individuals, $75 for couples, $20 for greenwings and $100 for a family pack. A corporate table of eight is $350.
For more information, call Paul Fincher at 405-850-0275.
NRA hunter education offered online
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is partnering with the National Rifle Association to offer an online hunter education course. The course replaces the Wildlife Department’s previously offered online course.
The free hunter education course is available on the Wildlife Department’s website at www.wildlifedepartment.com/education. The same webpage also provides a schedule of classroom-taught hunter education courses led by certified instructors at locations across the state.
Hunter education topics include firearms safety, wildlife conservation and identification, safe archery and more. The course is required for most hunters ages 10-30 who wish to hunt without a mentor present.