Since 1975, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Cy Curtis Awards Program has recognized deer hunters who harvest a trophy buck in Oklahoma. Soon, hunters who bag a trophy elk, black bear or pronghorn antelope in Oklahoma also will be able to collect a Cy Curtis Award.


Jerry Shaw, regional supervisor for the Wildlife Department, outlined future changes to the Cy Curtis Awards Program during the May 5 meeting of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission in Oklahoma City.


"If you would've asked me when I started 20 years ago if we would ever be putting black bears in our Cy Curtis book, I would have said no. But here we are!" Shaw said, alluding to the many successes of the Department's wildlife management programs over the past several decades.


For decades, only those hunters who harvested a whitetail or mule deer buck that met the minimum score for antler size were eligible for a Cy Curtis Award. Details about the deer, the hunter and the location of harvest are then added to the Cy Curtis record book, published annually by the Wildlife Department.


The Cy Curtis program is similar to national recognition programs operated by the Boone and Crockett and the Pope and Young organizations. Shaw said the minimum scores that will qualify for the Cy Curtis record book will generally fall between the scores required by Pope and Young and those required by Boone and Crockett. He said this will allow more hunters to be recognized for Oklahoma animals that might not qualify for the national record books.


Cy Curtis entries will still be required to be scored by an official scorer employed by the Wildlife Department, or a certified scorer for either the Boone and Crockett or Pope and Young organizations. The Cy Curtis record book will become an online searchable database later this year, enabling hunters to have ready access to trophy harvest data.


Assistant Director Wade Free updated commissioners on the status of wildlife-related bills working their way through the state Legislature. The governor has signed legislation to establish a nuisance wildlife control license; to require lifetime fishing or hunting license applicants to certify that they intend to remain a resident of Oklahoma; and to remove quail hunting from the privileges granted by the five-day nonresident hunting license.


In other business, the Commission emerged from an executive session and voted to authorize the director to negotiate the purchase of land in Bryan County. The Commission tabled consideration to sell land in Latimer County pending further research.


Commissioners recognized the Oklahoma Station chapter of Safari Club International for a $2,000 donation to the Department's Hunters Against Hunger Program, which allows hunters to donate legally harvested deer to feed hungry Oklahomans.


Director Richard Hatcher recognized two Department employees with service awards: Lark Wilson, game warden stationed in Muskogee County, for 30 years, and upland game biologist Scott Cox for 20 years. District 8 Commissioner John Groendyke then recognized Hatcher for his service anniversary of 35 years with the Department.


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 set for 9 a.m. June 2 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters, 1801 N. Lincoln, Oklahoma City.