From the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
-- The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission expanded big game hunting opportunities by approving changes to the state’s antlerless deer and private lands elk seasons.
The Commission combined the state’s two annual holiday antlerless deer seasons — previously held the weekend prior to Christmas Day and the weekend prior to New Years Day — into one expanded 10-day season. The season will be scheduled so that the last day of the 10-day antlerless season falls on the last Sunday in December.
Another big game rule change reduces the antler point requirement on bull elk on private land in the southwest zone from at least six points on one side to at least five points on one side, and defines a point as being at least an inch long and coming off the main beam.
The Wildlife Department has worked closely with private landowners in Caddo, Comanche and Kiowa counties to manage elk that occur on private lands outside of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
The elk on private lands in the southwest zone are two distinct herds. Those that occur on private lands west of Hwy 115 are referred to as the Granite Hills herd, and those that occur on the east side of Hwy 115 are referred to as the Slick Hills herd.
The Commission agreed with private landowners’ interest in reducing antler point requirement to allow for harvesting more mature bulls and increasing cow hunting days to help control depredation of agricultural crops.
Six days of cow elk hunting will be added to the Granite Hills area of the southwest elk zone. The added days will include three days in October and three days December.
In other business at the April meeting, the Commission recognized the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation for donations that benefit the Wildlife Department’s programs and conservation efforts. During 2009, the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation donated over $6,000 to the ODWC for various programs.
The Commission also received an update on the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University, an important conservation partner of the Wildlife Department. The program combines multiple disciplines at Oklahoma State University into one department and has been working in the areas of forestry, fisheries, wildlife ecology, range ecology, fire ecology and youth. About 160 undergraduate students and about 57 graduate students are involved in the program, with several graduate students indirectly funded through the Wildlife Department.