- Nov 28, 2010
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Interesting to see how things have changed over the years.
And now, it's almost time for the shotgun hunters to take to the field. Deer hunters, both archers and muzzle loaders, have had their opportunities to collect some of their favored game.
Next weekend may be the biggest two days of the entire fall and winter in this part of the country when it comes to different types of bird hunting. In Oklahoma, waterfowl hunters across the majority of the state encompassed in Zone 2 will be heading to marshes and akes for opening day of duck season. Goose hunting also opens Nov. 11 statewide, although better days lie ahead in the latter weeks of December and January. For those who enjoy hunting the pinnated grouse, Saturday will also be opening day of chicken season. Prairie chicken season opens Saturday for a nine-day hunt in several northern counties.
It's also likely that many Oklahoma hunters will be afield next weekend in our neighbor to the north. Kansas pheasant season opens Nov. 11, statewide, along with uail hunting in about two-thirds of that excellent bird state. As always, prospects for these many hunts vary greatly from region to region and county to county, depending mostly on who you talk with concerning bird numbers. From all reports the outdoor desk could gather in the past couple of weeks, the best prospects in all of these different types of hunts will be for bobwhite quail in the Sunflower State. Kansas game officials say they have excellent bumper-crops of quail across much of the state. Pheasant numbers are basically predicted to be about what hunters found there last year. And that means a very slim to poor hunt in much of the state. Last year's long ringneck season produced approximately 644,000 Kansas roosters for 144,000 hunters. That's still a lot of pheasants, but the poorest season since 1984. For those upland gunners staying home next weekend, a prairie chicken hunt is one of the more interesting outings available. he greater chicken is found in eastern counties while out west the lesser bird is legal. Counties open to chicken hunting are Beaver, Craig, Ellis, Harper, Kay, Mayes, Nowata, Osage, Ottawa, Rogers, Wagoner, Washington and Woodward. There's partial openings in Noble County east of I-35 and north of U.S. Highway 64, and that part of Pawnee County north of 64 and west of state Highway 18. As usual, wildlife officials are hedging on what chicken hunters will see this fall. But weather does play a big role in this hunt. "If we get a real hard freeze, chickens are forced to abandon their diet of insects and switch to seeds," commented Russ Horton, central region biologist for the Wildlife Department. "That means they'll be coming into cut grain fields in good numbers. Last year we did not see a real good frost prior to the season, and the birds were widely scattered." Game managers with the Department estimated that shotgunners downed about 6,000 of these high-flying, deceptively fast birds last fall. That compared with 7,400 taken the year before. As usual, there will again be several spots where hunters may obtain access to chicken fields for nominal fees.There's likely to be some real confusion in this region, too, if hunters are planning on traveling to Osage County to hunt on what used to be two spots comprising the Osage Wildlife Management Area. There is only one spot in the area and it was recently re-named to honor longtime state political leader John Dahl. The John Dahl WMA was formerly the Osage WMA #1, and is located near the tiny community of Foraker. Osage WMA #2, still shown in the current Wildlife Department Public Hunting Atlas as situated on the Kansas/Oklahoma line, is no longer in existence. I just learned of that
in preparing this story, by accident. Sure hope no chicken hunters head for that area in the black, pre-dawn hours Saturday - and find no such spot still in existence. At any rate, the Wildlife Department has designated the Dahl WMA as permit-only hunting for opening weekend of chicken season. Two hundred permits, at $7 each, will be issued there on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at noon Friday, Nov. 10. A better deal for local hunters might be the popular and
fun outings available from the Wann Lions Club. The annual Wann chicken hunts will be staged there both weekends. Hunters begin this outing by a very early arrival in the tiny community which is located in extreme northwestern Nowata County. Permits to hunt on a large amount of leased lands will be available for $3 a day or $5 for the weekend. Begin your
visit with a hearty breakfast at Wann School, where they begin serving at 4 a.m. For metro-Tulsa area hunters, that means arising in the middle of a very short night. No other form of hunting that I have experienced calls for an earlier start than a chicken hunt. Normally, the birds begin flying just as a big November sun peeps over the rolling prairies. Some birds are always harvested later in the day, but the vast majority will be seen, and shot, very early. Hope for a clear, cold day. Chickens seem to fly best during that type of invigorating fall weather.
Duck hunters across the huge area of Oklahoma found in Zone 2 should also experience some fairly good outings next weekend. Early hunts usually produce birds such as gadwall, teal and baldpate. And you can harvest three of any of those ducks, as opposed to only two mallard drakes. Steel shot is a very big, increasingly important part of waterfowl hunting. Personally, I quit worrying about this ever-growing hassle several years ago. I shoot nothing but steel at ducks and geese simply because it's much easier than trying to keep track of where it's required, and where lead is still legal. For the record, though, new steel shot zones for this fall include all of Muskogee, Sequoyah, McIntosh and Wagoner
counties, and that portion of Fort Gibson Lake and adjoining Federal land in Cherokee and Mayes counties, to Lake Hudson Dam. (See what I'm talking about?) There are other new areas this year, too. All steel shot zones are shown in the current Oklahoma waterfowl hunting regulations. There is also a vast and ever-growing complexity of regulations and rules for today's waterfowlers to peruse before a hunt. Get a copy of the regulations and read them closely, several times, before next weekend. It could save you a needless violation. There's also a bright note to report about duck hunting-access.During a recent informative and in-depth interview with game managers at the northeast regional Wildlife office,we discussed the state's Duck Stamp areas. All of those in this region should be ready for next week's opener, and most are ready for some scouting and inspection visits this weekend. These spots provide some wonderful duck hunting, all of which have been paid for by the state's hunters in past seasons. The game division has done a marvelous job with
the waterfowl projects, outlined in detail in the current Public Hunting Atlas. It's a hunter's time now. That marvelous 11th month. And next weekend, it really gets under way.
Sam Powell is the Tulsa World outdoor editor.