Reed Boettcher, guest writer
As a sportsman, it’s great to live in a state that offers so many hunting opportunities. Oklahoma has numerous ways for hunters to pursue their passion outside of leases and private lands and it’s one of the most ecologically diverse states in the nation. As far as game is concerned, Oklahomans can hunt whitetail and mule deer, elk, antelope, black bear, wild hog, turkey, duck, pheasant, and quail to name a few. There are more than 65 public hunting areas and over 1.6 million acres devoted to hunters and anglers in Oklahoma. Within state hunting areas there are “controlled” hunts.
Would-be lucky hunters can apply to win a hunt in a lottery type setting, and although harvest ratios are good, hunters will find out there is nothing controlled about the actual hunts!
Hunting in a somewhat controlled environment is frowned upon by those in and out of the hunting communities.
The hunts awarded to applicants are nothing like high fence hunts, which are, in my opinion, a form of canned hunting that can benefit youth and disabled hunters.
The draw hunts offered by Oklahoma are strictly controlled and regulated. Each hunting area has different rules and guidelines that hunters must follow to participate; however, all hunts consist of 100% wild game and fair chase hunting.
Draw hunts are awarded to applicants selected in a random drawing. Hunts are held in areas where unrestricted hunting would pose safety concerns or where over harvesting could occur. There are several categories from which hunters can choose, and while “drawing in” doesn’t happen every year, applicants do build up preference points, which help their odds for next year’s hunt. Hunters can choose from elk hunts, antelope hunts, deer hunts, youth deer hunts, turkey hunts and youth turkey hunts. In 2011, 121,547 applicants applied for at least one of the 6,210 individual hunt permits available. The cost to apply is only five dollars, and it takes less than 10 minutes to complete an application online.
Another benefit for hunters is if they do draw and harvest an animal, it doesn’t count against their annual bag limit. Participating in the Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife’s controlled hunts is an inexpensive way to further the hunting experience, which is why I looked forward to this lotto every year.
Brent Elliott has been hunting his entire life. For him, hunting is a hobby, activity, and endeavor that enriches the seasons he looks forward to. As a landowner, Elliott practices his own conservation efforts and manages a quality deer herd, yet he still looks forward to drawing in on the controlled hunts. He believes these hunts benefit both adults and youth hunters due to their high percentage of harvest success.
Elliott believes the best benefits of controlled hunts are for youth because they provide so much education and opportunity. This year, several of Brent’s nine children drew in for the Foss Lake, Atoka, and USDA Grazing areas. Unfortunately, these were postponed due to the government shutdown. Elliott encourages all youth hunters to participate in controlled hunts because of the quality youth programs the ODWC has to offer.
“Hunting starts with education,” Elliott said. “Hunting areas offered through the hunts provide the high numbers of game kids need to encounter to become active hunters.
“Spending time with family while teaching safe practices and simply enjoying God’s creation is what hunting is all about. Hunting also teaches the sober reality that dead is dead, and there is no reset button in life. I spend a lot of time hunting with my kids on my own place, but really look forward to the youth controlled hunts because of the high number of wildlife my kids will see. My son, Becker, started going on the controlled hunts when he was eight, and I think the target rich environment contributed to his abilities as hunter,” he said.
I have great respect for public land because I taught myself how to hunt on Blue River public hunting with my recurve bow. I come from a non-hunting family that doesn’t own acreage so I rely on public land and controlled hunts for a majority of my hunting experiences. I’ve been applying for the controlled hunts for 10 years, and I finally drew in for a hunt this year.
ODWC controls the situations not the hunt, so if you are looking for an inexpensive way to explore Oklahoma hunting, check out controlled hunting at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
(Reed Boettcher is a lifetime Ada resident that enjoys the great outdoors. As an avid hunter and fisherman Boettcher frequently writes articles in Great Plains living, the official magazine he publishes for Great Plains Kubota. As communications director for Great Plains Kubota he writes, designs, edits, and publishes the 32 page/full-color quarterly magazine in which the dealership prints 13,000 copies. To request your free issue of Great Plains living email Reed Boettcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.)