Outdoors: Deer gun season might be a week longer next year
Oklahoma’s 16-day deer gun season opened Saturday statewide, but next year hunters could get even more time in the woods.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is considering extending the deer gun season by another week. It will likely be one of the new hunting regulations the Wildlife Department is suggesting for next season when the new fishing and hunting rule proposals are published on the agency’s website on Dec. 2, said Micah Holmes, spokesman for the Wildlife Department.
The public will have 30 days to comment on the new proposals then they will be presented next spring to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, the governing body of the Wildlife Department. The commission would have to vote to approve the new hunting season dates.
Holmes said extending the deer gun season another week is primarily to give hunters more opportunities.
“We want to do as much as we can for the hunters until it has a negative impact on the (deer) population,” he said. “The thought is here, an extra week could provide more opportunities for hunters. We are all busy this time a year and an extra week, extra weekend would provide people more time to go hunting, and the deer herd is very healthy right now.”
The Wildlife Department also hopes a longer season would allow deer hunters to be more selective. The agency would like hunters to let young bucks grow and kill more does, Holmes said.
“Every time a hunter pulls a trigger, he is making a management decision,” Holmes said.
Beginning Dec. 2, the public can leave comments on the agency’s new hunting and fishing proposals at wildlifedepartment.com. Public hearings on the proposals also will be held in Oklahoma City and Broken Bow on Jan. 2
“We want to know what people think,” Holmes said.
Gunning for a good cause
Earlier this month, the Mid-Continent Oilman’s Shooting Association held a two-gun charity shoot at H&H Shooting Sports in Oklahoma City. It’s something it does twice a year.
Over the last four years, MCOSA has donated $45,100 to various charities, money raised through the entry fees for the shooting matches. Phil Owens, who helps organize the events, likes to call it an example of good guys doing good things with guns.
In a day when much of the public perception about guns is negative, these are guys who enjoy the shooting sports, do it safely and help the community, Owens said. This year’s beneficiaries are Camp Cavett, which offers recreational programs for kids with serious illnesses, and House of Healing, a ministry for teenage girls.
There is a long history behind the shooting event. Owens is CEO of a small consulting firm that provides sales and marketing support to the service sector of the oil and gas industry. In 1978, he joined the Society of Petroleum Engineers, started serving on committees and became the special events chair.
“In the mid-‘90s we held the first sporting clays tournament in the Oklahoma oilfield,” Owens said. “We held our 25th tournament this year.”
When Oklahoma passed the concealed carry permit, Owens was one of the first to obtain one and started shooting pistols occasionally. His son, who was in the military, suggested Owens needed to shoot more to be more comfortable and maintain his competency.
One day during a SPE sporting clay event, Owens asked his colleagues how many would be interested in shooting pistols. The SPE Pistol League was born 19 years ago, and its shooting matches over the years have raised college scholarships for children of SPE members and other families.
“It was the hottest ticket in the oil field in Oklahoma,” Owens said of the pistol matches.
The pistol matches are still one of the most popular events and are held four times a year, but some participants wanted to shoot more and have more challenging contests. That led to the formation of MCOSA in 2014.
The organization has held some three-gun matches (pistols, shotguns and semi-automatic rifles) but shotguns require outdoor venues. The recent charity shoot at H&H was a two-gun match with pistols and semi-automatic rifles. It’s a shooting competition based on speed and accuracy that allows the shooters to move from station to station.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved to shoot,” said Bryson Varner of Blanchard, who works for Cathedral Energy Services and was one of the participants in the recent match. “This is a good, safe environment to come shoot with your friends, and a lot of these charities are near and dear to my heart. It’s just a good time. It’s fun.”
Public to get more access to Little River NWR
The Little River National Wildlife Refuge in McCurtain County gained another 160 acres of forest and wetlands last week.
In 2017, The Conservation Fund bought the 160 acres, which was completely surrounded on all four sides by the refuge. Last week, the nonprofit transferred the land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The land will now be available for big and small game hunting, bird watching and hiking.
Because the property includes a major access road to the refuge, visitors will now be able to explore nearly 1,000 acres of refuge land that were previously inaccessible.
The 15,000-acre refuge protects one of the largest remaining bottomland hardwood forests that can be found in Oklahoma. Migratory birds flock to the refuge’s sloughs and oxbow lakes in the winter.
The refuge is one of the few places in Oklahoma where the most secretive of birds, the Swainson’s Warbler, have been known to nest.