Oklahoma outdoors: Wildlife Department creates Sandhills WMA in Woods County
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation soon will be adding another wildlife management area.
The 5,212-acre Sandhills Wildlife Management Area in Woods County should be open in time for the fall hunting seasons, said Bill Dinkines, head of the wildlife division for the state agency.
"That's our goal," he said.
The Wildlife Department bought three adjoining properties in Woods County to create the Sandhills WMA. Emergency rules for the new public hunting area were passed by wildlife commissioners at their June meeting.
Gov. Kevin Stitt must approve the new rules before the Sandhills WMA can open. The governor has 45 days from when the emergency rules were passed by the commission to sign them.
"It really is a good piece of property," Dinkines said. "The south boundary of the property is the Cimarron River. The day I was out there before we actually closed on it (in March), we pulled up there and heard quail whistling. On a tour, we saw wild turkey. We saw deer. It is a wildlife-rich environment."
Under the rules passed by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, most of the hunting season dates on the Sandhills WMA would be the same as statewide hunting season dates.
The exception would be the deer gun season. Deer gun hunts on the Sandhills WMA would be allowed only through the Wildlife Department's controlled hunts. Archery deer season and muzzleloader deer season would be the same as the statewide season.
Quail hunting would be closed on the Sandhills WMA for the first nine days of the deer gun season for the controlled hunts.
Choosing the name for the new WMA was easy, Dinkines said.
"A very distinct feature when you set foot on the property is the rolling sandhills," he said.
Anyone with a valid state hunting and fishing license will be able to access the Sandhills WMA. Others wishing to access the WMA can buy a Wildlife Conservation Passport from the Wildlife Department.
A small portion of every hunting and fishing license sold by the Wildlife Department is earmarked for the agency's land acquisition fund to buy land for public hunting and fishing. Last year the agency added the 7,620-acre Sans Bois WMA in Haskell County in eastern Oklahoma.
The Wildlife Department operates more than 80 wildlife management areas in the state, but Oklahoma is more than 96% privately owned land, ranking it 45th out of the 50 states for the smallest percent of land mass dedicated as public land, according to the conservation group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.
Workshop to be offered for new deer hunters
A workshop for beginning deer hunters will be held Aug. 15 at the Lake Arcadia Wildlife Conservation Education Area in Edmond.
The "Deer Hunting 101 Workshop" will be a day-long event sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation in Oklahoma. The workshop will be limited to 30 enrollees.
Topics covered will include deer-hunting tactics and strategies, deer biology and behavior, hunting regulations and more.
"The volunteers presenting the workshop recognize there are many Oklahomans who want to learn to hunt; however, they don’t have the benefit of a trusted friend, family member or colleague to mentor them," said Rick Nolan, a NWTF volunteer and workshop instructor.
Cost is $50 for adults, which includes NWTF membership. For NWTF members, the cost is $15 for adults. For youth, the cost is $25 for non-NWTF members and $15 for members. Lunch will be provided.
To register, search for "Deer Hunting Workshop" at NWTF.org/events or contact Nolan at (405) 410-1379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RMEF chapter schedules fundraiser in Tuttle
The Oklahoma River Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has rescheduled its fundraising banquet for July 10 in Tuttle.
The event will begin at 5 p.m. at the Plantation and Coal Creek Winery, 210 N Sara Road.
The fundraiser was postponed earlier in the spring. For more information, go to rmef.org.
Grand Lake ranked among best bass fishing lakes
Bassmaster.com on Friday ranked the country's best 25 bass fishing lakes of the decade based on tournament results.
Grand Lake O' the Cherokees in northeastern Oklahoma was ranked 14th. Bassmaster.com called Grand Lake a regional powerhouse in the central portion of the country by consistently producing 20-pound bags.
This spring, state wildlife officials added older Florida bass to the lake instead of the normal finger-size fish used in stocking lakes. The Florida fingerlings never survived in Grand Lake. The hope is the older fish will survive to spread their genetics and produce big bass in the future.
The lack of large trophy-size bass is the only thing keeping Grand Lake from being ranked higher.