Oklahoma’s deer gun hunting season will not be lengthened but instead will remain 16 days long following the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission’s approval of administrative rules during its regular meeting Tuesday.
A proposal to add a week to the regular deer gun season was initially put forth in late 2019, based on several factors relating to deer herd management and increasing hunter opportunity. However, in response to a large number of public comments, the proposal was withdrawn.
Among the Title 800 administrative rule changes that were approved include allowing the Commission by resolution to 1.) increase antlerless deer bag limits for gun and muzzleloader deer seasons within zones where more antlerless deer harvest is needed for sound herd management, and 2.) extend the length of the holiday antlerless deer gun season if needed.
All of the rule changes will now be sent to the State Legislature and the governor for approval and, if approved, they will become effective later this year.
Other wildlife-related rules approved include:
Increasing archery deer hunting days on about three dozen wildlife management areas.
Opening pheasant season in Osage County.
Clarifying sections dealing with waterfowl blind permit drawings and blind construction based on recommendations from a working group of citizens and Wildlife Department representatives.
Prohibiting importation of deer and other cervid carcasses or carcass parts from other states (with few exceptions) to help prevent chronic wasting disease in Oklahoma.
Setting up the application process and requirements for a new three-day special-use permit for charity events.
Requiring only a customer identification number be placed on equipment such as tree stands, ground blinds and game cameras that are being used on a WMA.
Commissioners also approved proposals to change some fishing-related rules. Among those:
Requiring the reporting of alligator gar harvest within 24 hours online or as specified in the fishing regulations guide.
Removing the length limit on blue and channel catfish at Lake Texoma.
In the Lower Mountain Fork trout area: reducing the rainbow trout bag limit, increasing the rainbow trout and brown trout minimum length limits, eliminating bait restrictions while adding a barbless hook requirement, and expanding the area boundaries.
In other business, Commissioners:
Recognized project lead Kelly Adams, Information and Education Specialist, along with the I&E Division, for winning the 2020 Governor’s Communication Effectiveness Award for promoting awareness and participation in the Hunters Against Hunger program, which provides meat to needy Oklahomans.
Heard Director J.D. Strong’s regular report on various division activities in the Department, along with updates federal legislative matters. Legislative liaison Corey Jager updated Commissioners on bills filed in the state legislature.
Recognized Game Warden Supervisor Lt. Dru Polk, based in McCurtain County, for 20 years of service.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.
The next scheduled Commission meeting will be 9 a.m. Monday, March 2, 2020, at Department headquarters, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City.