Oklahoma Wildlife Department hopes to connect hunters directly with needy families
Wildlife Department hopes to connect hunters directly with needy families
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's "Hunters Against Hunger" program is a way the state's deer hunters can donate meat to local food banks.
The program has been around since 2002, but now the Wildlife Department has a new initiative to connect hunters directly with people who would like a deer.
Through its "Deer Share" page on wildlifedepartment.com, hunters who are willing to give away a deer or deer meat can sign up and leave their names, phone number or email, and county where they live to be contacted.
Anyone wanting a deer can check the list and call or email a hunter who lives near them about possibly getting a deer. Some people who do not hunt or might not be able to hunt would still like the meat, said Micah Holmes, assistant chief of the information and education division for the Wildlife Department.
In addition to helping your neighbor, the initiative is part of the agency's effort to encourage hunters to shoot more does, Holmes said.
"Doe harvest is an important tool to (deer) management," he said. "Take a doe and give it away to somebody who could use it."
Deer gun season remains open through Dec. 6. The holiday antlerless gun season is Dec. 18 through Dec. 31. Archery deer season is open through Jan. 15.
Pheasant season opens Dec. 1 in northwest and north-central Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s two-month pheasant season opens Dec. 1.
Pheasant hunting is open in Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Major, Noble, Texas, Woods and Woodward counties, as well as the portion of Osage County west of State Highway 18, and portions of Blaine, Dewey, Ellis, Kingfisher and Logan counties north of State Highway 51.
Traditionally, Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Grant and Texas counties usually have the highest number of pheasants.
Most of the best hunting is on private land, but there are a few public hunting opportunities for pheasant. The Beaver River Wildlife Management Area in western Beaver County, the Drummond Flats WMA in western Garfield County, the Cooper WMA in northwestern Woodward County and south-central Harper County, and the Cimarron Hills WMA in Woods County all normally have some birds.
The Oklahoma Land Access Program, where the Wildlife Department leases private land for public hunting, also provides public hunting opportunities for ringnecks, especially in the Panhandle.
Like quail, the pheasant season is expected to be fair at best, but birds can be found in areas not severely impacted by drought.
Fishing and hunting continues to be popular pastime in the pandemic
The Oklahoma outdoors continues to be busy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fishing license sales rose during the spring and summer as the result of the pandemic and the trend continued with hunting.
At the start of the deer gun season last weekend, state hunting licenses sold in November 2020 were 12 percent higher than in November 2019, Holmes said.
Combined, fishing and hunting licenses are up by 25 percent in 2020 over the previous year, he said.
Ed Godfrey, Outdoors editor