Beginning this fall, all deer, all elk and those turkeys that require checking will be reported through the e-check system available online at wildlifedepartment.com within 24 hours of leaving the hunt area. The e-check system is provided by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation as a way to check game more conveniently, affordably and accurately. And while many hunters will check in their deer right from the deer woods, some local businesses will still provide a service to sportsmen by offering internet access for checking deer at their locations.
After a successful hunt, Oklahoma big game game hunters know how inconvenient and sometimes even difficult it can be to get their trophy to the nearest hunter check station. By the time an animal can be recovered, tagged, field-dressed and placed in a vehicle for transport, it may be late in the morning or well after dark, when hunters could be focusing on cooling their trophy or settling in with a cup of hot coffee around the campfire with good friends. Loading their deer into a vehicle and having to go in search of the nearest open hunter check station can be a chore, and now it is no longer necessary.
"Any computer or cell phone with internet access can be a check station," said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
Hunters do not have to own a computer or have good cellular signal to check in a deer. They can visit a local business that offers sportsmen access to the e-check system, or they can even relay the information by phone to a friend who does have access to a computer within 24 hours of leaving the hunt area. When a harvested game animal is reported through the e-check system, a number is generated on a carcass tag that can be printed or simply written on a field tag and attached to the harvested animal.
Not only is the online check station more convenient for the hunters, but it also saves the Wildlife Department time and money. Physical check stations require a minimum of five visits by a biologist or technician each year, taking up hours on the road and fuel expenses. In previous years, Department employees spent over 200 man-hours editing check station books by correcting mistakes and illegible handwriting. The instant data provided through the e-check system allows biologist and game wardens to quickly access up-to-date, accurate information.
Additionally, the e-check system makes it easier for Wildlife Department game wardens to review online game check information in real-time, and several cases of violations have been made in the last few years. Beginning Nov. 1, the penalties for failing to check game will increase substantially (up to $446 and/or up to 10 days in jail for first offenses) as a result of House Bill 1426, sponsored by State Rep. Scott R. Biggs, R-Chickasha, and Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha.
Many hunters have already experienced the convenience of e-check. The online check system was first implemented during the 2009 deer season, when over 17,000 hunters experienced the ease of the new system. That number almost doubled in 2010 with over 30,000 hunters checking in almost 40,000 deer electronically. Last year about 60 percent of the 107,848 deer harvested were reported through e-check.
Those without Internet access can still check in their animal by having a friend or relative with Internet access check in the animal for them and provide the confirmation number to be used on the field tag. They can also visit a public library or any business location that offers access to the Department's e-check system.
To check in a deer, elk or turkey online, log on to wildlifedepartment.com. As hunting season approaches, a link to the e-check system will be provided on the homepage.