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Celebrate Oklahoma's mule deer with 2009 habitat donor patch

From Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

-- Few images are more stunning to an Oklahoma hunter than that of a whitetail buck, but many may not realize that the mule deer also calls Oklahoma home. And its stunning features are being celebrated this year on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's 2009 habitat donor patch, available now through the Wildlife Department's Outdoor Store at wildlifedepartment.com.

Much less common in Oklahoma than the whitetail, the mule deer is characterized by its large, “mule-like” ears and cream-colored tail with a black tip. Additionally, mule deer bucks like the one featured on the 2009 habitat donor patch have antlers with forked mainbeams that are branched equally. The mule deer typically weighs more than the whitetail.

Hunters along Oklahoma's far western border and Panhandle areas are most likely to get a glimpse of a mule deer, as they do not inhabit central or eastern portions of the state. “Mulies” are attracted to grasslands, plains, foothills and river bottom habitat in addition to forests, desert shrubs and thickets of shrub trees.

“By purchasing a $10 habitat donor patch, buyers help provide public land access for the future,” said Melinda Sturgess-Streich, assistant director of administration for the Wildlife Department. “One purchase may not seem like much, but that purchase is pooled with those of all other outdoor enthusiasts, and it can really add up. With public land access becoming more important over time, this really is a program sportsmen can feel good about supporting.”

To purchase a donor patch, visit the Department's Outdoor Store by logging on to wildlifedepartment.com. Caps featuring the habitat donor patch also are available for $15. Outdoor Store order forms also can be found in copies of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine. Additionally, patches can be purchased at the Wildlife Department headquarters in Oklahoma City.

 All proceeds go to the Department's Land Acquisition Fund, which is used to provide public hunting and fishing access. This program has helped the Wildlife Department make available over 300,000 acres of land for public hunting and fishing. To view the new patches and those from previous years, log on to the Department's Web site at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/land.htm.

The colorful patches have displayed a different game or fish species every year since 1986, and collectors can purchase a patch from any year. For more information about the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

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