The Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge to open more land to hunting
Big game, squirrel and rabbit hunting opportunities will be expanded on the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced last week a proposal to open or expand opportunities at 10 national wildlife refuges, including the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oklahoma near Vian.
Darrin Unruh, manager of the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, said the hunting expansion will not be official until a 30-day comment period in the federal register has ended. That started on Aug. 11.
Currently, the refuge conducts white-tailed deer hunts through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's controlled hunt program. The new hunting proposal would open an additional 8,029 acres on the refuge for those deer hunts.
An additional 1,193 acres also would be open to rabbit and squirrel hunting on the refuge, under the proposal.
Also, big game and upland game hunters on the refuge would be allowed to take any feral hogs they might come across with no bag limit, Unruh said.
If approved, the new hunting areas would not open until the 2018-19 hunting season.
The 20,800-acre Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1970 to provide habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds and to provide food and cover for wildlife.
Located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, the refuge sits at the confluence of the Arkansas and Canadian rivers and is a prime waterfowl hunting destination.
The refuge hosts the largest concentration of snow geese in the state, and large numbers of wading and shorebirds are common in the summer and fall. Mallards are by far the most abundant species of the wintering ducks.
Hiking, bird watching and fishing are also popular activities on the refuge. It was named in honor of Sequoyah, who developed an alphabet for the Cherokee language.
Duck populations remain high
Duck hunting looks promising for waterfowlers this season, at least according to populations on the northern breeding grounds of the United States and Canada.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say overall duck numbers remain high, based on surveys conducted in May and early June by the agency and the Canadian Wildlife Service.
Total populations were estimated at 47.3 million breeding ducks in the traditional survey area, which is similar to last year's estimate of 48.4 million and 34 percent above the long-term average. The projected mallard fall flight index is 12.9 million birds, similar to the 2016 estimate of 13.5 million.
Mallards, however, declined 11 percent, or about 1.3 million birds from 2016. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say mallard populations remain in great shape overall and that the mallard fall flight will be similar to last year.
OKC Gun Club schedules sight-in days
The Oklahoma City Gun Club will hold its annual sight-in days for hunters on Sept. 23 and 24.
The club's Benchrest range will be open to the public from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. so hunters can sight in their rifles for the upcoming hunting seasons. The price will be $5 per gun.
Eye and ear protection must be worn. Members of the OKC Gun Club will be on hand to assist shooters.
The OKC Gun Club is north of Arcadia near the intersection of Sorghum Mill and Anderson roads. Signs will be posted directing people to the Benchrest range.