Opportunities to hunt on federally managed lands in Oklahoma have been expanded after recent meetings between the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The change was prompted by a 2017 order from U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke seeking to improve wildlife management and conservation; to increase access to public lands for hunting, shooting and fishing; and to put new and greater emphasis on recruiting and retaining new sportsmen conservationists.
Federal sites in Oklahoma with greater hunting access now include the Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge, Sequoyah NWR and Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
“Through a great partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oklahoma is the first state in our region to offer these expanded opportunities, and we hope this is just the start of even greater hunting and fishing opportunities on national wildlife refuges,” said J.D. Strong, Director of the Wildlife Department. “We are eager to continue working with the USFWS to seek out more circumstances where our sportsmen and women can use these fantastic areas to carry on our hunting and fishing traditions.”
USFWS Southwest Regional Director Amy Lueders said the successful effort between her agency and the Oklahoma Wildlife Department "will benefit various hunters. This expansion will also provide new economic opportunities for the local communities.”
Changes for 2018 include:
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton has added an additional elk hunt and 70 cow harvest tags.
Sequoyah NWR near Vian has added acres to the refuge's deer hunting area in addition to opening various refuge hunt units to the harvest of small game animals including gray and fox squirrels, cottontail and swamp rabbits, and opossums.
Deep Fork NWR near Okmulgee has expanded deer archery season, which will run from Oct. 29 to Nov. 30.
Further expansion of hunting opportunities at other federally managed areas in Oklahoma are expected to be implemented for the 2019-20 hunting seasons.
Oklahoma hunting license requirements apply on federally managed areas. Some areas may require hunters to carry a signed federal permit that is available in hunting brochures at the federal areas. Special hunting rules that differ from statewide rules may apply on the federal areas. Hunters are urged to consult the federal area websites for details or call the refuge office with any questions about the expanded opportunities.