ODWC officials see good year for deer harvest.
Statewide gun deer season is open
Oklahoma's deer rifle season opened this past weekend and biologists for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have submitted updated reports of rutting activity in the different regions of the state.
Last year, rifle hunters accounted for 58 percent of the total deer harvest. Data indicates that 155,246 hunters headed to the field for the gun season, and almost 30 percent of all the deer harvested with a modern firearm last year were taken during opening weekend.
"Field reports say the rut is ramping up," Bartholomew said. "Now is the time to go, so don't miss opening weekend."
As Oklahoma moves into what is hopefully another great year for deer gun hunters, personnel with the Wildlife Department are offering information just in time on the most current rutting activity in regions across the state. The rut, or deer breeding season, is a biological process that typically occurs around mid November. Deer activity during the rut picks up, but the amount of activity can be influenced by a host of factors such as day length, temperatures, moon phase and herd condition.
The annual Downtown Shawnee Christmas Parade will be held on Thursday, Dec. 5, in historic downtown Shawnee. The Parade begins at 6:30 p.m. and will run along its normal Main Street route.
The theme for this year’s Parade is Celebrating Shawnee Heritage and entries should be designed accordingly. The Grand Marshal for this year’s Parade is the Shawnee Public Library.
In 1976, Shawnee Public Library joined the Pioneer Multicounty Library System to expand resources to Shawnee citizens. Entry forms may be picked up at the City Hall Annex Building (222 N. Broadway) and are due on Friday, Nov. 15. There is no entry fee. Please call 878-1665 for questions.
Recently, game wardens with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation wrapped up an important case that proves illegal hunting activity just isn't worth the cost.
In the landmark case - completed in October 2013 - a total of 73 wildlife violation charges were filed against 13 individuals who pleaded guilty in both Oklahoma and Arkansas courts, mostly for crimes involving the illegal killing of deer and obtaining fraudulent hunting licenses. They paid a total of $22,356 in state fines and court costs with no restitution, including over $10,306 paid for 18 charges filed in Oklahoma and $12,050 for 55 charges filed in Arkansas. In both states combined, only two charges were dismissed. Those charged were members of private hunting leases in southeast Oklahoma and adjoining leases in Arkansas.
The case began in June 2012, when McCurtain County game warden Kenny Lawson was contacted by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent regarding an illegal lifetime license purchase and information that several private hunting lease members were involved in killing deer illegally in Oklahoma and transporting them into Arkansas.
In all, law enforcement officers, including the primary investigator, Lawson, documented 45 illegal deer (29 bucks and 16 does) and one bear illegally killed by the group in 2012 - not including deer checked in Arkansas. All the deer killed in Oklahoma were determined to be illegally taken, as no person in the group had a valid Oklahoma hunting license or deer license - including the Oklahoma resident who killed two bucks. One of the suspects killed 13 deer in 2012, seven of which were killed illegally in Oklahoma. One of the suspects also aided a younger brother in illegally obtaining an Oklahoma lifetime hunting license by using his Oklahoma address. The primary poaching method observed by the officers included using dogs to run deer between the two leases, a technique legal in Arkansas but illegal in Oklahoma and most other states.
Through their covert investigations, officers identified suspects and 15 vehicles used in crimes. They also observed illegal hunting with rifles every day from mid-October throughout the nine-day Oklahoma muzzleloader season and the archery season as well as throughout the 16-day Oklahoma deer gun season. The officers then spent several months gathering other information and building a case
Eventually all suspects were located and were very cooperative, confessing to the crimes and giving written affidavits to the facts.
The officers also interviewed the original suspect on the fraudulent lifetime license case and learned the father of this suspect had also obtained an Oklahoma lifetime license at the same time. Both father and son were charged with additional hunting violations in both states for killing deer illegally and the license fraud.
The officers confiscated approx. 30 sets of deer antlers and three illegally obtained Oklahoma lifetime hunting and fishing licenses with a face value of $2,175 combined and an estimated several thousand dollars in value over the course of a lifetime.
Lt. Arthur Joe Young, game warden supervisor stationed in Atoka County, said this was the largest case of its kind that he could recall in District 3 in his 40 years as a game warden. Lawson credits the success of the case to good old fashioned investigative work and the interview skills of the team of officers, as well as the fact that the involved officers worked covertly to build the case before taking action.
If you have ideas or something of interest for this column, please call me at 214-3922 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and a phone number for contact purposes.