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Oklahoma is a sportsman’s paradise for all to enjoy, but only with the proper licensing.


I


t’s still summer on Keystone Lake just outside of Tulsa, Okla., and Creek County game wardens Dwight Luther and Karlin Bailey are fi ring up their boat for a morning patrol. Anglers will venture out in these calm and cooler morning hours before the scorching heat of the day sets in.


Over the past few months, these game wardens, employed through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), have spent countless hours on the water conducting lake patrol. With the same pow- ers and authorities as state troopers, the offi cers can enforce any law, but their main objective is to make sure sportsmen are following the rules— whether on land or water.


“Most of the contacts we make while checking licenses are good,” Bailey, a game warden with 24 years of experience, says. “We meet a lot of nice people who are well educated on our state hunting rules and regulations.”


Out in the middle of the lake, Bailey steers the boat alongside a trio of anglers from Texas. The 73-year-old and his two sons-in-law voluntarily begin to dig in their wallets.


“How are we doing today, guys?” Luther says. “Mind if we check your licenses?”


The older man admits his fi shing permit is in his truck and not with him on the boat. Oklahoma state law requires anglers to keep their license on them while fi shing, but the man is in luck. “Well, you’re over 65 years of age, so you’re exempt anyways,” Luther says. “Don’t worry about it. You all enjoy the day.” According to Oklahoma’s offi cial fi shing regulations, nonresidents 65 years and older who reside in Texas are exempt from buying an Oklahoma


fi shing license. And with that, the game wardens move further out onto the lake to check the next boat of anglers.


“We’re trying to educate the public that you need a license out here,” Luther says. “I think we’ve done a good job of that, but sportsmen need to read up on the rules before they head to the fi eld.” Luther, a East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative board member,


has been a game warden for 29 years. He says he enjoys the freedom his profession offers—working with northeast Oklahoma’s hunters and an- glers in the great outdoors. The job allows for fl exible hours, but Luther and his peers devote a lot of time to studying the hundreds of state hunt- ing and fi shing regulations. Offi cials with the ODWC say there are around 700,000 anglers and 300,000 hunters throughout the state in any given year. Those numbers are based on the amount of valid hunting and fi shing licenses issued by Oklahoma, of which a signifi cant number are lifetime permits. “If you know that you’re going to participate in hunting or fi shing for a period of years, you will actually save money and of course, have the convenience of a valid license year-round,” Nels Rodefeld, chief of in- formation and education at the ODWC, says. A lifetime combination fi shing and hunting license costs $775 while a lifetime license strictly for fi shing is $225. Several other license options also are available: an annual fi shing permit is only $25, and a two-day fi shing license is just $15. Regardless of the type, all annual licenses are available at local sporting goods stores including Bass Pro Shops, Academy Sports and Outdoors and Wal-Mart. Lifetime licenses can be purchased only at the ODWC state offi ce in Oklahoma City. Regardless of the type of license anglers and hunters decide to


SEPTEMBER 2013


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