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Wildlife Commission Approves Migratory Birds, Antlerless Deer Season Dates; Passes Leaner Budget

Wildlife Commission Approves Migratory Birds, Antlerless Deer Season Dates; Passes Leaner Budget

During a regular meeting June 5, the
Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commissionapproved hunting season dates and bag limits for the antlerless deer gun seasons and migratory bird and waterfowl seasons for 2023. 


Big Game Biologist Dallas Barber said last year’s increased opportunities for antlerless deer harvest produced good results and bolstered the Department’s deer management goals. Preliminary numbers show harvest over 131,000 deer, a new record harvest with 45 percent being antlerless. Commissioners approved proposed dates, zones and bag limits for antlerless deer, which are nearly identical to last year’s seasons. 


Migratory Bird Biologist Paxton Smith presented the resolution that will again offer a liberal harvest for ducks, a six bird daily limit, and the season and bag limits for the other migratory birds. Commissioners approved the resolution so the duck season dates for both Zones 1 and 2 will be Nov. 11-26, 2023, and Dec. 2, 2023-Jan. 28, 2024. 


The annual Oklahoma Fishing and Hunting Regulations booklet is expected to be available online around Aug. 1 and in print around Aug. 15. 


Also, Commissioners approved the Wildlife Department’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024 totaling $78.2 million, a 21 percent decrease from last year’s budget. 

“We don’t have a spending problem in the Department; we have a revenue problem,” said Commissioner D. Chad Dillingham, chairman of the Commission’s Finance Committee.


“We’ve been capped for … an excess of 20 years on our ability to generate additional revenue. And you can imagine what expenses have done over that same 20-year period of time with inflation, and how much less that same dollar will fund each year.” 

Commission Secretary Rick Holder commended ODWC leadership and staff for finding ways to not increase, and in some cases cut, expenses in the face of runaway inflation.


“Our expenses continue to outpace our revenue, which leads us on an unsustainable path,” Holder said. “This shortfall each year has to be taken from our lifetime license (trust) fund just to meet the basic expenses of the Department. The portion of the expenses covered by the trust fund is increasing each year.  


“When this ‘rainy day fund’ dries up, we will have no choice but to start cutting services to our sportsmen.” 


Most of the Department’s revenue is generated from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. 


In other business, Commissioners: 


  • Received Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Director J.D. Strong’s regular updates on various ODWC divisions since the previous meeting, including an update on fish stocking activities that included more than 8 million walleye and saugeye, and about 13,000 rainbow trout. 
  • Accepted a donation of $5,000 from the Red Bud Chapter of Quail Forever for purchase of two thermal/infrared binoculars for Game Wardens in Lincoln and Pottawatomie counties. 
  • Approved the re-appointment of four current directors on the board of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation. 
  • Recognized Education Supervisor Colin Berg for 30 years of service; Wildlife Technician David Banta for 25 years of service; and Lt. Col. Wade Farrar, Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement, for 20 years of service. 
  • Learned about the Vamos a Pescar (Let’s Go Fishing) cooperative efforts to engage the Hispanic community in fishing from ODWC program coordinator Jennifer Benge and OKC Latina founder Juliana Lopez.

The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate. 


The Wildlife Commission meeting originally set for July 3 has been canceled. The next scheduled Commission meeting is set for Aug. 7, 2023, at the John D. Groendyke Wildlife Conservation Building, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City. 

To view a video recording of the June 5 meeting, go to the Outdoor Oklahoma YouTube Channel at 


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