Each year, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation proposes changes in Title 800, the administrative rules that govern hunting, fishing and Wildlife Department operations. The public comment period is now open for this year’s proposed rule changes.
If these proposals are approved by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, the changes will be incorporated into the state’s Title 800. Public comments on the proposed rule changes are being received now.
Some proposals for 2020 are new rules, while many are simple housekeeping matters and other proposals simply add existing rules already in effect under emergency status.
To read all of the proposed rule change proposals, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com and follow the Public Comment Here link
Rule changes proposed for next year include these that have significance for statewide or southwest area hunters and anglers:
n 800:10-1-4. Size limits on fish — Remove the minimum length limit for Blue and Channel Catfish at Lake Texoma to be consistent with Texas Regulations. Increases rainbow trout minimum length from twenty (20) inches to twenty-five (25) inches or greater in the Lower Mountain Fork River Trout Area from State Park Dam to U.S. Highway 70. Increases the brown trout minimum length from twenty (20) inches to thirty (30) inches or greater for the entirety of the Lower Mountain Fork River Trout Area.
n 800:10-1-5. Bag limits on fish — Define the reporting requirements for the harvest of Alligator Gar. Reduces Lower Mountain Fork River Trout Area rainbow trout bag limits from Broken Bow Dam to State Park Dam from six (6) to three (3) daily of which only one (1) may be greater than twenty-five (25) inches in total length. Reduces Lower Mountain Fork River Trout Area rainbow trout bag limits from State Park Dam to U.S. Highway 70 to one (1) rainbow twenty-five (25) inches or greater. Reduces the Lower Mountain Fork River Trout Area brown trout bag limit to one fish of thirty (30) inches or more
n 800:10-5-2. Department fishing areas — Allow antlerless deer harvest during deer gun seasons and deer muzzleloader season on certain Department lakes. Open muzzleloader season on certain Department lakes. Delete the references to low point beer.
n 800:10-5-3. Designated Trout Areas — Expand Lower Mountain Fork River Trout Area to include a portion from Rough Branch Creek to the re-regulation dam. Eliminates bait restrictions; restricts entire Lower Mountain Fork River Trout Area to barbless hooks.
n 800:25-5-48. Blind Construction — Update and clarify language on permanent (Seasonal) and temporary (Daily) waterfowl blinds on Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs.
n 800:25-7-52. Deer- primitive firearms (muzzleloading) — Commission may by resolution establish muzzleloading season bag limits up to 6 deer, no more than one antlered.
n 800:25-7-53. Deer gun — Extend deer gun season to 23 days. Commission may by resolution establish deer gun season bag limits up to 6 deer, no more than one antlered. Remove the set dates, open areas and bag limit for zone management hunts and replace with Commission authority to set management season dates, open areas and bag limit by resolution. This rule provides greater flexibility in addressing deer management issues.
n 800:25-7-153. Washita NWR — Add hunting opportunity for dove, rabbit and waterfowl. Add language for hunters to contact Refuge for special restriction for quail, dove and waterfowl.
n 800:25-7-154.1. Wichita Mountains NWR — Add hunting opportunity waterfowl. Contact Refuge for special restrictions. Allow controlled hunts for spring turkey. Allow controlled hunt participants to take predators and furbearers.
n 800:25-24-1. Cervids — Establish carcass part import restrictions to help prevent potential Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) infectious materials from coming into Oklahoma from out of state. Align Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation requirements with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
n 800:30-1-22. Hunting equipment on Wildlife Management Areas — Require hunters to include their name and valid hunting license number or customer identification number on all equipment placed on WMA’s, including but not limited to tree stands, ground blinds, and trail cameras.
n Discussion Item: Would you support or oppose combining the waterfowl zones 1 and 2 into a single zone, and reducing the split to 5 days which would start the season later, but continue to run the season as late as allowed?
To comment on any of these items, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com and follow the links. Or if you would rather attend a public hearing, the ODWC will host one Jan. 2, at its Oklahoma City office, 1081 N Lincoln Blvd. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.
Furbearer season opened
December marks the opening of furbearer season in Oklahoma, offering outdoorsmen the chance to hone their outdoor skills, harvest a variety of game species and perhaps earn some extra cash in the process.
It’s hard to believe, but what happens in Russia and China impacts fur prices here more than any other issue. With Russia in a depression the last couple of years, the market has been somewhat unstable. Last year was a better year for fur sales and European demand seems to be higher.
Fur prices are a little better than last year, but again that market really fluctuates. Oklahoma fur brought a wide range of prices last year, bobcats sold well last year, but the market is currently flooded, and no pelts are being bought. Coyotes are in demand and were selling at about $20 depending on quality; raccoons $20; badger $10; beaver $20; and fox $20-$30.
Companies will also buy claws and teeth from certain furbearers, so this may be a way of supplementing your sell.
European buyers have always sought U.S. pelts for use in that area of the world. And with a little looking, a buyer can be found. Moscow Hide and Fur is a large buyer that has bought furs and antlers for over 34-years. Based out of Idaho, their website furbuyer.com, offers prices, and tips for preparing furs to be sold.
Furbearing animals include raccoons, minks, badgers, muskrats, opossums, weasels, bobcats, beavers, skunks, river otters and gray and red foxes to name a few, and many hunters and trappers harvest these furbearers and sell their pelts. Check the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” for requirements on tagging, selling and possessing furbearing wildlife. The Wildlife Department’s website also has a list of Oklahoma Fur Dealers and Bobcat tagging stations.
There are three styles of furs that are typically sold — stretched, green and carcass. Groenewold Fur & Wool Company has some good information on the current fur demand and gives these tips for preparing a fur for market:
Stretched and Dried
All pelts must be scraped free of excess fat. (Raccoon, otter & beaver must be scraped perfectly clean).
Stretch on proper wire or wood stretchers (beaver should be stretched in an oval pattern).
Raccoon, grey fox, otter, muskrat, mink, opossum, and squirrel are stretched fur-side IN.
Red fox, coyote and fisher are stretched fur-side OUT.
The tail bone should always be removed from all skinned raccoon.
Always dry animals in the carcass completely before skinning.
When skinning, cut from back foot to back foot. Then case out like a rabbit. (Except beaver, which is skinned up the belly).
Skinned fur must be sold immediately or quick-frozen.
Always freeze the fur Flat, fur-side out, with no exposed flesh.
Never roll furs. Never freeze or thaw furs in plastic.
Thaw larger animals with heavy flesh (coyote, raccoon, beaver, badger) 5-6 hours in a cool room or until partially thawed before selling.
Never thaw so long that grease melts or skins become slimy. Keep them cold. Keep them away from sunlight.
Muskrats should be frozen flat and not thawed before seeing the buyer.
Always error on the side of selling something too frozen rather than too thawed.
Selling in the Carcass
Buyers will not buy opossum or skunk in the carcass.
Coyote — Only fully furred coyote will have value in the carcass.
Buyers will not purchase muskrat in the carcass, except in the northern 1/2 of Wisconsin, the UP of Michigan, and Nebraska.
Clean the dirt, blood and burrs from the fur.
Always hang carcass by rear feet in a cool, dark area, away from livestock. Livestock generate heat and bacteria.
If the weather is warm, freezing may be required. If frozen, thaw only the feet.
There is also a market for deer hides. Here are some tips for hunters wanting to get into that market.
Skins may be sold fresh, frozen or salted, with NO heads or legs. By law, buyers cannot buy deer hides with head or legs.
Fresh means within a day or two of skinning the deer. Do not let the leather side dry out. Keep folded with skin side in.
Salted hides must have large chunks of fat removed and must be heavily salted with fine salt. Shake hides of excess salt before arriving at the seller.
Frozen hides should be folded skin side in and rolled tightly. Allow to thaw only slightly before arriving at the seller.