With deer hunting seasons fast approaching, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation unveiled a redesigned and updated deer education Web page Monday during the regular August meeting of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Commissioners were treated to an online tour of the new online pages at wildlifedepartment.com. This project of the Information and Education Division is among recent efforts supporting deer hunter education through the "Hunters in the Know ... Let Young Bucks Grow!" awareness campaign.
"What's really cool about this is we have a number of interactive features," said Nels Rodefeld, chief of Information and Education for the Wildlife Department.
Website visitors can access the new features by clicking "Hunting" on the home page, then clicking "Deer." Information is accessible by clicking on cubes that open other pages on various topics including Big Game Report harvest data, whitetail history, Cy Curtis Awards Program online database and a new, first-in-the-nation "Age My Deer" interactive program.
Rodefeld said "Age My Deer" gives hunters a chance to submit information and photos to a Wildlife Department biologist, who can then render an opinion about the age of a harvested deer. "Age My Deer" shows hunters how to take photos of the deer's jawbone and submit them electronically. Hunters can then check back later to find out what age their deer was based on tooth wear, which is a reliable method of aging wild deer.
"It's a way for hunters to learn a little bit and also provide some information for us ... to contribute to our population age database."
Also new this year is an online searchable version of the Wildlife Department's Cy Curtis Award listings. The Cy Curtis program recognizes hunters who harvest deer that attain a minimum score. With the searchable database, users will be able to select among many criteria to learn about trophy deer harvest in their area.
Other information available on the new Web page includes a list of links to video relating to deer hunting and management that are on the "Outdoor Oklahoma" YouTube channel, feature articles about deer from "Outdoor Oklahoma" magazine, the Hunters Against Hunger program, a list of deer processors across the state, and much more.
Also in Monday's meeting, commissioners gave their approval to add Perry CCC Lake to the list of the Wildlife Department's designated trout fisheries, while also removing Pawhuska Lake from that list. Fisheries Chief Barry Bolton said officials in Perry are willing and eager to host a trout fishery at Perry CCC Lake, which is just east of Interstate 35 and about a mile south of Perry.
Bolton said Pawhuska officials had lost interest in dropping water levels to create trout angler access, which for years has been done by agreement. And being closer to Oklahoma City, the Perry site could generate more trout fishing activity.
In other business, the Wildlife Conservation Commission:
• Adopted a resolution to close Doc Hollis Lake to all fishing, boating and recreational use except hunting until emergency rules to allow fishing access can be enacted possibly later this year. The lake is included in a recent expansion of Sandy Sanders Wildlife Management Area in Greer County. Fisheries biologists are concerned about possible overfishing and want to collect data on fish populations before allowing public access for fishing.
• Learned about efforts to monitor water quality at Canton Lake after installation of two floating water circulators, the result of a collaborative effort involving the Wildlife Department, City of Oklahoma City and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
• Heard from Director Richard Hatcher about two successful summer events. The 16th annual Wildlife Department Youth Camp at Lake Texoma gave 42 youths the chance to learn about outdoor activities and law enforcement. Also, the Department played host to the annual conference of the International Association of Natural Resource Crimestoppers, which attracted people from 18 states and one province of Canada.
• Recognized several employees for service anniversaries: Game Warden Patrick Matlock, 20 years; Wildlife Regional Supervisor Jerry Shaw, 20 years; Wildlife Biologist Rich Fuller, 25 years; Assistant Director Melinda Sturgess-Streich, 25 years; and Fisheries Chief Barry Bolton, 35 years.
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. Sept. 8 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters, on the southwest corner of NE 18th Street and Lincoln Boulevard, Oklahoma City.