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Waurika Sorosis Club Hosts “Let’s Talk Waurika”

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Last Thursday evening the Waurika Sorosis Club hosted Let’s Talk Waurika.  Rain and cold weather moved the meeting inside the Fellowship Hall of the Methodist Church, but did not dampen the enthusiasm for the presenters and the public forum after where attendees shared their visions for Parks and Recreation for Waurika.  “It was a great start to a much bigger conversation,” Sharon Duncan, project chairman stated. “Waurika has a beautiful landscape to work with and we are thrilled that so many came out and provided excellent ideas for the project.”  This is the fourth year that the Sorosis Club has sponsored the Let’s Talk Waurika event. 

Monica Bartling

Cody Simmons, Waurika Public Schools Superintendent, was the first presenter and gave an excellent update on how the most recent bond issue had significantly helped the elementary, middle and high school campuses, the athletic fields, and provided technology upgrades that benefit all students.  He also provided an update on the on-going virtual learning plans for the school and also thanked the community for its continuous investment in our children. 

Waurika Supt. Cody Simmons

Next up on the program was Richard Gillespie, President of Jefferson County Hospital.  Mr. Gillespie spoke about the improvements taking place at the hospital through the investment of Duncan Regional Hospital in our facility.  One of the main improvements is the air handling capabilities and air conditioning systems being added at this time.  These improvements allow patient rooms to have updated airflow that do not recycle the same air and replace the current hotel style units. This is a significant upgrade and will improve the overall patient care. There will also be a new backup generator installed. This upgrade will provide electrical power to the whole building. He also talked about the new rotation for Doctors from Duncan Regional Hospital who are now providing patient care for those patients in the skilled care wing of the hospital.  Gillespie said that one cent sales tax bond should be retired a little ahead of schedule. The $2,100,000 loan started in February of 2017 for seven years. The balance is now $843,000.  In closing, Mr. Gillespie thanked the Team at JCH for their dedication to providing exceptional quality care. He also thanked the community for their strong support of the hospital.

Richard Gillespie, President of Jefferson County Hospital

City Manager, Kyote Dunn, was next up on the program and he talked about how he was now almost three months into the job and was still learning, but is already working on a CDBG Grant to provide a major improvement and repair on Waurika’s Sewer System as well as several additional grants for various projects that he would like to pursue. The CDBG Grant will allow the City to perform much needed maintenance and repair on the City’s sewer system and will save the City almost $300,000. 

Dunn also mentioned that he is pleased with the current path that Waurika is on and will work diligently with the community and various groups to continue pushing Waurika forward. 

Waurika City Manager Kyote Dunn

Jefferson County Commissioner for District One, Bryce Bohot, was next on the program.  He talked about the retirement of the Hospital Bond coming up in a couple of years and how our community needed to begin considering keeping that one cent sales tax to support Jefferson County.  He mentioned that we do not want to be consolidated with another county and lose the local presence of our government offices and that having the funds from the 1 cent sales tax go to the county, might help us avoid that happening. 

Dist. 1 County Commissioner Bryce Bohot

At the conclusion of the four speakers, Brad Scott, former City Manager and community leader, lead a community forum on the vision for Waurika’s Parks and Recreation opportunities and what the group felt was the best use for our open spaces.  When the 50 plus attendees entered the meeting, they were asked to go to 7 stations where easels had questions about parks and recreational needs. The questions asked and the responses are listed below. Scott discussed the responses on the boards and talked about additional plans and ideas that were still in the concept stages.  When Scott was city manager, he started working with a small group of citizens to work on clean up projects and to come up with a three, five and longer-term plan for parks and recreation for the city.  This group has worked with Craig Williams from Williams Landscape in Lawton to assist his efforts with main street beautification, Sorosis Park updates and to maintain the flowers and flower beds at Veterans Park.  With the Sorosis Park project coming to conclusion soon, the group wanted to bring in more thoughts on what the community felt were the biggest needs to enhance Waurika as the best place to live, work and play. 

Brad Scott, former city manager and community leader.

Question One: “What is your favorite type of outdoor Recreation and fun?”. Responses: Green Space for open play for kids and families; walking, basketball, picnic areas, swimming/water play; walking, bicycling; hunting and fishing; and planting flowers.

Question Two: “Does Waurika need a Splash Pad and Where should it be located?”  We had 10 yes responses from the group and about 10 more from people who couldn’t attend, but asked to be included.  Responses to location were varied and equally divided between Harmon Park (close to the former golf course/clubhouse) and Centennial Park.  One concept presented was a splash pad in conjunction with a Water Park like Boomtown Bay.  We had one no because of water treatment issues. 

Question Three: “Would you use a Walking/Fitness Trail through Harmon Park?”  Nine participants voted yes to this with one clarification about clearing the poison ivy first.

Question Four: “Would you enjoy a Par 3 golf course at Harmon Park?”  We had seven participants respond yes to this question with no negative votes.

Question Five: “Do we need more playground equipment at Centennial (former Jaycee) Park?” Responses were all yes. Suggestions for equipment were:  Volleyball, tetherball, small basketball area, sandbox, tricycle path, large artboard, new swings and a soccer goal. Also mentioned was to update the current metal equipment with new paint and to add a few items for younger children. 

Question Six: “What is your vision for using the clubhouse at the former golf course?”  Several mentions were made for a restaurant with a bar and grill, patio space, outdoor music venue, and a family gathering spot. 

Question Seven: “When was your last visit to Harmon Park and what did you do?”  Responses:  Two years ago, took family pictures; five years ago, pictures; often for disc golf; 2 years ago, cleaning up brush; 1 month ago, to let kids and dogs run around; and pictures.  

Scott wrapped up the meeting by making sure that people were aware that work continues on all the spaces and that the pavilion at Harmon Park was one example of work completed.  He also invited everyone to a community event and fundraiser on May 15 at 5:30 p.m. at Sorosis Park at D and Main.  Proceeds from this event will support continued beautification efforts. 

Woods and Waters

As I write this Tuesday morning I wonder how many of you got much sleep last night? Thank goodness our little corner of Oklahoma was spared any severe weather and our prayers go out to those suffering with tornado and flood damage throughout the state!

 The fishing reports I’ve gotten from Lake Waurika have been great on the north area, especially around the island, despite the high water levels.  I know Houston Scott and Slade Cathey have been slaying the crappie and bass the last few weeks on their ponds.

 On another note, please remember that the Farmer’s Market will take place this weekend after being cancelled last Saturday because of weather! Come out and support our local folks.

  I happened on an interesting article last week about turtles and tortoises I think you will find informative.

 A tortoise is a turtle but a turtle is not necessarily a tortoise. Confusing isn’t it?

 The tongue twister of the relationship between turtles and tortoises is the same as those two boxy geometric shapes we learned in elementary school. A tortoise is a turtle just like a square is a rectangle, but a turtle is not a tortoise just like a rectangle is not always a square.

 “Turtle” is a broad term that can refer to any reptile with a shell. However, the classification can be further broken down into types of turtles. Confusingly, a turtle is a type of turtle. Tortoises and terrapins are the other two kinds of turtles.

Tortoise or Turtle

 If you look at the larger picture, all turtles are reptiles with a shell, and therefore all tortoises are turtles–in the broadest sense of the word. However, in the smaller scope of things, when you divide the larger category into three different types, you see that a turtle is not necessarily a tortoise or even a turtle, because it can be a terrapin instead.

 Are you confused yet?  Let’s leave our vocabulary lesson behind for now and dive right into the science of things. In order to have divisions of these reptiles, they have to have different characteristics.

 Distinguishing attributes of the feet, shell and habitat help to tell these reptiles apart. The most obvious distinction is where they live. Tortoises live on land. Turtles can live in water or land, with some species being almost solely aquatic.

No doubt about this one!

 As terrestrial individuals, tortoises adapted flat feet to more easily traverse the landscape. For life in the water, turtles have at least some degree of webbing between their toes–even full-fledged flippers in the most aquatic individuals.

 Box turtles spend a lot of time on land and so are often mistaken for tortoises. But, they have slightly webbed feet, making them turtles!

 The last difference between turtles and tortoises is shell shape. Because turtles spend time in the water, their shells are flatter for stream-lined swimming. A tortoise has more of a dome shape to its shell. As Box turtles spend most of their life on land, their shells look more like an Aldabra tortoise than a red-eared slider.

 To clarify things even further, the tortoise shell pattern seen on sunglasses is not actually made from tortoises. It was made from turtles–the hawksbill sea turtle, specifically. Nowadays, the species is protected and so that material is just plastic. 

Common red-eared turtle!

 The shape of a turtle’s body with regard to its feet and shell can offer understanding of its habitat. It also helps you classify if it is indeed a turtle or a tortoise!  To simplify-they are all TURTLES!

 Don’t forget the Farmer’s Market this weekend and certainly keep in mind those that have gone before us and our Veterans who gave it all!

 In the meantime get out and enjoy our great Oklahoma outdoors!

Woods and Waters May 2 2019

 We are into May and my goodness, is the fishing heating up! I am getting reports from many sources of “the bite” really picking up, especially when the wind is not blowing 50 mph!

 More on that later, but this week our favorite roadrunner “Roadie” is back in the neighborhood-love watching this guy. I know I’ve talked a little about roadrunners in the past but I thought I would give a little more in-depth information!

 The legendary roadrunner bird is famous for its distinctive appearance, its ability to eat rattlesnakes and its preference for scooting across the American deserts, as popularized in Warner Bros. cartoons.

 The roadrunner is a large, black-and-white, mottled ground bird with a distinctive head crest. It has strong feet, a long, white-tipped tail and an oversized bill.

It ranges in length from 20 to 24 inches from the tip of its tail to the end of its beak. It is a member of the Cuckoo family,  characterized by feet with 2 forward toes and 2 behind.

When the roadrunner senses danger or is traveling downhill, it flies, revealing short, rounded wings with a white crescent. But it cannot keep its large body airborne for more than a few seconds, and so prefers walking or running (up to 17 miles per hour) usually with a clownish gait.

The roadrunner makes a series of 6 to 8, low, dovelike coos dropping in pitch, as well as a clattering sound by rolling their mandibles together.

 They are easily identified by their long graduated tail which is held upright and their long stout legs.

Love Roadrunners!

 The roadrunner inhabits open, flat or rolling terrain with scattered cover of dry brush, chaparral or other desert scrub.

 The roadrunner feeds almost exclusively on other animals, including insects, scorpions, lizards, snakes, rodents and other birds. Up to 10 % of its winter diet may consist of plant material due to the scarcity of desert animals at that time of the year.

 Because of its lightening quickness, the roadrunner is one of the few animals that preys upon rattlesnakes. Using its wings like a matador’s cape, it snaps up a coiled rattlesnake by the tail, cracks it like a whip and repeatedly slams its head against the ground till dead.

 It then swallows its prey whole, but is often unable to swallow the entire length at one time. This does not stop the roadrunner from its normal routine. It will continue to meander about with the snake dangling from its mouth, consuming another inch or two as the snake slowly digests. This is why I love seeing them in our neighborhood! 

 Switching gears, this time of year is great for catfishing because many of them, including the big blue cats seek out warmer shallower water for spawning.

Judy Henderson and friends 
cleaned out a tank!

 For a good chunk of the year, catching blue catfish involves probing the deepest holes in a river system. Like many other species, however, they take note of rising water temperatures in spring. Blue cats will move toward warmer ­water and binge-eat in preparation for the spawning. There is no better time of the year to fish for them.

 If in a boat instead of anchoring over deep water in spring, execute drift tactics that allow you to probe the bank and skinny water—anywhere from 2 to 10 feet. First, use your temperature gauge and electronics to identify shallow mudflats with the warmest water. Structure like downed trees, rock piles, and brush are hotspots. After you’ve chosen a spot you want to fish, try several different spots trying to locate them. The same can apply when fishing from the bank.

Kyle Northcutt and Grandad, 
Gary Nitschke got’er done!

 A slip-float rig is the best way to fish shallow water effectively. Tie a 4/0, or larger, circle hook on a stout leader and adjust the float according to depth. Fresh cut bait such as gizzard shad, herring, or menhaden will get the most bites. Pay particular attention to structure; the slip-float will allow your bait to remain free of snags. Try several locations before moving on! When you see it go down, reel tight, refrain from setting the hook, and get ready for battle.

 Hopefully you find a reason to get out this time of year! One suggestion would be Downtown Now this weekend in our great hometown! Hope to see you there.

Woods and Waters April 18 2019

I’m sure everyone in Jefferson County got plenty of rain this weekend, unfortunately it certainly dampened the Snake Hunt! What a difference a day makes, as I write this today, it’s 80 degrees and sunny outside, wow!

   This time of the year is magical in many ways. Turkey season is in full swing, the white bass are running up the rivers and creeks and if you are lucky, you are finding a few morel mushrooms.

 Whether you are planning a week long trip into the woods or waterways-camping, hunting, fishing, hiking or just getting out to enjoy nature for a few hours, take some time to plan.

 Anytime you are out in the wild there is the possibility that something unplanned can extend your stay or endanger your safety. The Boy Scouts always advised to be prepared and they were spot on. Nobody wants to lug around a 100 pound pack with everything you might ever need but it’s a good idea to try to plan ahead for things you might need.

Stuart Ranch Outfitters Scored 100% Openning Weekend!

 Most of these items are referred to as survival gear and that is exactly what they are, especially if you find yourself in an unwanted situation. Anytime you venture out a small backpack or sling bag packed with water, a couple of snacks, a quality knife, fire-starter kit and of course your phone, along with a portable charger is not a bad idea! If you are going alone make sure to leave specific information about your intended location and the planned time of your return.

 To help you plan your next adventure I thought I might include some tips from “Field And Stream”on items you may not have thought of!

Our Oklahoma!

 Carry fire accelerants in your pack in case you need to start a fire in wet conditions. Products like Solkoa’s FastFire will burn when they’re wet and in the wind, and they require very little heat to get going. Lightweight, inexpensive and easy to use, these little cubes are lifesavers should you need to make a fire to avoid hypothermia, create a signal, or simply make a restorative cup of coffee. Several come in a pack so stack a few in your hunting pack, fishing bag, the glove box of your vehicle, and anywhere else you can think of—because you never know when the need for heat may arise.

 A  42 or 55 gallon contractor-grade garbage bag is an indispensable, yet often overlooked, piece of survival gear. Bags are very inexpensive, weigh almost nothing, and take up very little space in a pack. In a survival situation, you can fill it with dry leaves to form bedding or a ground cushion, lay it down on the ground as a seat to keep your pants dry, or make a moisture barrier for your bedding. Cut a hole in the bottom of it and place it over your head and you have an makeshift rain jacket. You can bring more than one and also use it to collect water as a transpiration bag, or a simple pack cover to keep your gear dry.

 Hypothermia, the loss of body heat faster than your body can produce it, is one of the top five leading causes of death in the backcountry and accounts for nine percent of all deaths on federal and state property. In fact, accidents, illnesses, and hypothermia are the three top causes of death, but also the easiest to prevent from happening. Always carry a minimum of two ways to make a fire. One of those should always be a disposable lighter. They are inexpensive, easy to use, and lightweight. That is a nice combination for anything that could save your life on a cold, unexpected overnight stay in the woods. A secondary choice is a backup lighter in another location and a ferro rod.

 Every time you go outside, your most important source of heat is your own body. If you utilize your body heat smartly, you’ll avoid predicaments like hypothermia. That’s why keeping a small, packable, reflective blanket in your supplies is a great idea. Wrap it around your body so when heat naturally radiates off, it is temporarily captured and reflected back toward you. You can also use it for extra warmth on top of your sleeping bag. Just don’t place it directly on the ground and lay upon it. By doing so, you’ll conduct your body heat directly into the earth through the blanket. Lastly, an emergency blanket is bright and shiny and makes a great signaling device.

 Brushing your teeth each day, especially on long hunting or backpacking trips, is not only healthy, it tells your mind and body it’s starting a new day. But did you know toothpaste also has survival uses other than giving you a clean mouth? Peppermint is a natural coolant, and it helps relieve itching on bug bites. It also has cleansing properties and can be used as a hand cleaner and sanitizer. If you find yourself out for a few days longer than you expected, make a spreadable paste with some water and use it to wash off with.

 Hopefully, this will give you some ideas you may not have thought about and make your next trip in our great Oklahoma outdoors even more enjoyable!

Woods and Waters November 15, 2018

Tuesday morning and outside a brisk 23 degrees, well, we know for sure we are done with mowing the grass!

 The “Eagles” is the only Jefferson County football team still in the playoffs after the first week! Congrats to both Ringling and Ryan on great seasons. Friday night Waurika hosts the “Cherokee Chiefs.” Come out and root for a great bunch of young men!

 Saturday is opening day of Oklahoma deer gun season and unlike the last couple of years, the bucks are already rutting. This might alter their patterns somewhat, but with the bucks chasing does, you never know when a big boy may show up!

 Remember, if you get a big one, send us a picture for the “Waurika News Journal Big Buck Award”!

 I am including information from The Department Of Wildlife about the upcoming season.

  Oklahoma’s 16-day deer gun season will run Nov. 17 through Dec. 2. With more than 187,000 expected participants, the season is the state’s most popular hunting event in terms of participation. It is also the deer season that boasts the greatest success rate in terms of harvest each year. Firearms accounted for 57.7 percent of all deer harvested in the 2017-18 seasons. That amounted to 62,257 deer, the highest total for gun harvest since 2012.

 

Good luck Saturday!

  All things considered, deer gun season hunters should find ample opportunities for success in 2018.

  “With timely rainfall throughout the growing season in much of the state, habitat is generally in great shape,” said Dallas Barber, a big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

  Acorns and other food sources are in good supply. Those hunters who take note of deer feeding patterns as the season opener approaches will have an advantage.

  The deer breeding season, known as the rut, will peak over the next few weeks, which means deer will be more active during daylight hours. During the week prior to opening day, the Department will issue its annual Deer Rut Report, which will offer hunters valuable insights on deer movement and hunting prospects using the most recent information available from all regions of the state. To get the Rut Report in your inbox when it is released, sign up for Email Updates on the left side of the Department’s home page.

 Fueling deer hunting’s popularity in Oklahoma is a management plan that serves the state’s diverse hunters’ interests by providing region-leading season lengths and bag limits along with a strong education component outlining the benefits of balanced sex ratios and selective buck harvest.

 Jerry Shaw, the regional supervisor in the Department’s Wildlife Division, said Oklahoma offers generous seasons and bag limits while still having one of the healthiest buck age structures in the nation.

 

Would you shoot?

 “Our hunters have taken the ‘Hunters in the Know … Let Young Bucks Grow’ message to heart, and the results are being seen in fields and woods across the state. Today we have more mature bucks than at any time in our state’s past. And it is all thanks to hunters following our lead and allowing many of our young bucks to walk and grow another year.”

 Central to this voluntary management approach is reminding hunters that every time they choose to pull the trigger or release an arrow, they are making a deer management decision. “Equally as important as the deer you take are the deer you pass on and let walk away,” Shaw said. “While the ODWC provides the direction, it is the hunters who are putting the management in place.”

 The statistics bear this out. Last year, 28 percent of all deer harvested were in the 0.5-year and 1.5-year age classes, while 49 percent of the harvest was in the 3.5-year and 4.5-year age classes.

 The Department’s balanced voluntary approach with its “Hunters in the Know” campaign has gained national attention in recent years. The Quality Deer Management Association recognized Oklahoma among the top five states showing declines in yearling buck harvests.

 But antler-less deer harvest remains an important component of the state’s deer management plan, Shaw said. “Adequate doe harvest is vital to keep populations in balance with the available habitat, maintain healthy buck-to-doe ratios, and synchronize fawning when conditions are the most favorable for fawn growth.

“Even if your freezer is full, you can always donate the deer to the Hunters Against Hunger program and provide nutritious, delicious food for someone less fortunate,” Shaw said.

 From the largest outdoor and sporting goods stores in the major metropolitan cities to the smallest of cafes and roadside motels in rural outposts across the state, deer hunting has a sizable economic impact estimated at more than $600 million a year.

 It wasn’t always this way. From the time of Oklahoma’s first deer hunting season in 1933 until well into the 1960s, the forests of southeastern Oklahoma were about the only places with huntable populations of whitetails. As part of what has become one of conservation’s greatest success stories, the Wildlife Department began successfully trapping and transplanting deer from the 1950s through the 1970s.

 Now, the state’s deer population is estimated to be well over 500,000 animals. And deer hunters in Oklahoma have a better chance of harvesting a deer than at any other time in the state’s history.

 Barber urged deer hunters to also do their part for future generations.

“Seeing how far we have come, it’s important to remind hunters not only to be deer managers but to share their heritage with others as well, so that this tradition of success is passed down and continued.”

 Saturday morning it starts and knows you are continuing a rich Oklahoma Heritage. Good luck to all and remember in order to acclimate yourself to the temps, come out Friday evening and cheer on your “Waurika Eagles”!

Woods and Waters September 27 2018

Did everyone get enough rain? Over 6 inches in our area; we should be good for a while but I’m sure in a couple of weeks the coffee shop talk will be “Boy it’s getting dry!”

There  are still some doves in our area, if you can get to them. I know Houston and Slade Cathey are getting their share! Deer season is just around the corner and now is certainly the time to get ready.

The majority of hunters start with deer hunting. Some never strive for big game hunting and remain avid deer hunters their whole lives. If you’re interested in taking up deer hunting as a sport or passion, there are some essential steps to getting started. We will get you started with the basics.

 Get your license, sounds silly but folks sometimes forget. Don’t let red tape ruin your hunt. Get your hunting license well in advance of opening day. If you’re traveling, allow plenty of time to apply for an out-of-state license—every state handles hunting licenses differently. Don’t get stuck waiting by your mailbox on the first day of deer season.

Hunting regulations can vary from season to season, and certainly from state to state. Double-check season dates and bag limits.

Seth Cathey’s deer from 2017

If you use private land, don’t take it for granted. Try to maintain a relationship with the landowner. Stop by for friendly visits well before the season starts. Offer to do chores, share your meat—whatever it takes to keep your spot. Be straightforward with the owner about your intentions for the season—no one likes surprises. If you’ve got a lease on the land, make sure it’s up to date and good to go.

If you are hunting public land make sure to do your homework. Chances are topographic maps and aerial photos of your hunting area are available online. Use these resources to look for natural funnels, possible deer beds and escape routes. Don’t forget to prepare for the biggest public hunting challenge—other hunters. Scope out the edges of your hunting area to see where other hunters will likely enter the field; this will help you predict where deer will move when pressured.

If you have that special spot on private land then you need to make sure you are doing everything you can to attract and hold deer in your area.

Nearly 75 percent of the average deer’s diet consists of natural vegetation. Planting and maintaining a food plot on your hunting land can lead to success during deer season. Placement is key. Set up an area—about a ½ acre to 2 acres at most—within 100 to 200 yards of a deer bed. Plant a mix of vegetation that can survive in all seasons—especially sugar-rich foods that deer flock to in the fall and winter. Make sure the area offers a prime spot to set up your tree stand.

Hopefully your trail cam pictures look like this!

   Set up trail cameras on strong, healthy trees about 10 to 15 feet from the deer path. Place the cameras near food plots, feeders or anywhere where deer are likely to pass by. Conceal cameras enough to keep them from spooking game. Ideally, you’ll have one camera for every 50 to 100 acres of land. Try to create and monitor a list of potential deer you would to harvest during the season.

If you’re hunting with a firearm, zero-in your gun from a distance that makes sense for the type of hunting you do—100 yards is a common choice. Try to zero-in in weather that is similar to your hunting conditions, as changes in temperature can affect accuracy.  Remember to check for loose screws, especially on scope mounts and rings.

Another tip is make sure you have plenty of ammo to last the season, make sure you use the same type as when you sighted in your rifle.

If you bowhunt make sure to give your bow a thorough check-up. Strings and cables stretch over time, causing cams and nocking points to move. If you don’t want broken strings and cables to ruin your hunt, replace them every few seasons. Sight-in your bow with field points, and take a couple of extra practice shots with broad-heads to make sure you’re still on target.

Use the knowledge gained from scouting and set up your tree stand accordingly, as high as possible and downwind to conceal your scent. Clear any limbs that may obstruct your shot.

Deer hunting doesn’t have to be a chore.

This may sound very simple but some folks forget! 

There’s nothing worse than taking down a buck, only to have your short-lived elation obliterated as you try to field dress the carcass with a dull knife.

I hope these tips help, and for most of you this information may seem redundant but it never hurts to go over the basics! It also gives you more reasons to get out and enjoy your Oklahoma.

Woods and Waters September 20 2018

 Wow, what a difference eight weeks make! I hardly remember how to open up “Word” on my iPad.

 We are into dove season now and from the reports I’ve gotten the birds are definitely here, I have not been out but have heard of many limits being taken in the first two weeks.

 Waurika’s football teams are on a roll with both high school and junior high being undefeated at this point. The Lady Eagles softball team has certainly been busy these last few weeks.

 With Waurika playing in Carnegie last weekend, my wife Jana and I ventured to Ringling last Friday night to watch the Blue Devils play, under new head coach Phillip Koons. Jana had worked with his wife Shelly years ago and while they had a chance to catch up, I was able to watch my old rival “Blue Devils” take on Marietta high school. 

 Years ago the Waurika and Ringling game probably meant more to me than most! Having grown up in Claypool and attending school there till the 7th grade , it was the dividing line when Claypool lost their school in 1957. My good friends the Howards and everyone east went to Ringling and the Dickeys, Smiths and Gaines and the rest went to Waurika. 

 The line was drawn! I lost my first girlfriend and half my school buddies to the Blue Devils!

 The Eagles and Blue Devils always had a great rivalry, but times change, with Waurika’s decline in enrollment over the years and dropping into 8 man they are now worlds apart!

 Ringling’s success over the last couple of decades is well documented and if Friday’s game is any indication it will not be slowing down anytime soon!

Summer is almost over.

 New head coach Phillip Koons has his team playing at a very high level and I don’t see them slowing down anytime soon.

 The great play of the Blue Devils was highlighted by quarterback- Vanbuskirk #9, runningback-Lyle #23 and the defense was anchored by the hard hitting of linebacker-Johnson #32 along with a host of other talented players! I expect them to make a deep run into the playoffs.

  Get out and support our local football teams! Enough of my ramblings, fall deer season is quickly approaching and now is the time to be preparing for the upcoming season.

 Spend a few days going through all your gear, including clothing, boots, jackets and everything. Replace laces if needed, patch holes and rips in clothing, get everything ready no, don’t wait till the morning of opening day! Same thing with your favorite deer rifle or bow, clean and check them out thoroughly to avoid problems later, that could cause you to miss that buck of a lifetime.

 Trail cameras are a great advantage and allow you to see what’s happening when you’re not around. But don’t rely completely on them alone. Spend some time with your boots on the ground. Spend time with a quality pair of binoculars, set up some distance from your hunting area and observe deer movement and their direction of travel. You will learn much more doing that, than just viewing trail camera pictures!

 Plan for success, decide what you will do the deer you harvest, whether you plan on having it processed or doing it yourself, get your game plan down so that it all goes smoothly!

You can bet Jaxton Simmons will be ready!

    Next week we’ll look at the upcoming fall hunting opportunities coming up and in meantime get out and enjoy your Oklahoma, whether it’s high school football, hunting or fishing or the new disc golf course, there’s a lot going on in Jefferson County!

Woods and Waters July 5 2018

Hope you had a great “4th of July” holiday and had a chance to celebrate the founding of our great nation! In doing so I also hope you had a chance to get on the water and enjoy a little fishing.

   While out casting on your favorite body of water catching bass, crappie, catfish or whatever your quarry is, hopefully you didn’t encounter any snakeheads! What is a snakehead you ask? Well, I’m going to tell you more than you probably wanted to know about them.

   Snakeheads (Family Channidae) are native to Africa and southern Asia. About 28 species have been identified. Equipped with a lung-like organ, these fish can gulp air and survive in waters with low dissolved oxygen levels. They can also live out of water for several days if they are kept moist. All snakeheads are aggressive predators and may eliminate other fish in waters they invade. They have even been known to bite humans who got too close to a guarded nest. The northern snakehead (Channa argus) is fairly cold tolerant, and could probably survive winters in many parts of the United States. This species also has the ability to cross land by wriggling or “walking” on its pectoral fins. Snakeheads have been imported to North America for the aquarium trade, and at one time were sold live in Asian-style fish markets. It’s thought that in some instances some of these live fish were released in waterways to reproduce as they are a sought after food source in Asia.

Native Bowfin

   That was prior to the Snakehead being added to the list of injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act in October 2002, which banned import and interstate transport without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Snakeheads were sold in pet stores and in live food fish markets and some restaurants in several major U.S. cities, including Boston, New York, and St. Louis. Live specimens have been confiscated by authorities in Alabama, California, Florida, Texas, Virginia, and Washington where possession of live snakeheads is illegal. Some snakeheads living in natural waters of the U.S. may have been released by aquarium hobbyists or those hoping to establish a local food resource. Also, some cultures practice “prayer animal release”, a faith-based activity in which individuals purchase, then release, an animal (fish, amphibian, reptile, or bird) to earn merits with a deity.

You Don’t Want To Lip A Snakehead!

   Snakeheads are a freshwater fish with little, if any, tolerance for saltwater. Within their native and introduced ranges, they live in small and large streams, canals, rivers, ponds, reservoirs, and lakes. Many species can tolerate a wide range of pH, and one species living in Malaysia and parts of Indonesia prefers highly acid waters (pH 2.8-3.8). The northern snakehead and several other species prefer to live in somewhat dense aquatic vegetation where they feed and reproduce. Northern snakehead may tolerate a wide range of water temperatures and environmental conditions which contributes to their success as an invasive species.

   During all stages of their life, snakeheads compete with native species for food and habitat. A major concern is that snakeheads may out-compete and eventually displace important native or other established predatory fish that share the same habitat.  As adults, snakeheads can be voracious predators. Should snakeheads become established in North American ecosystems, their predatory behavior could also drastically disrupt food chain and ecological conditions, thus forever changing native aquatic systems by modifying the array of native species. This could be disastrous!

Northern Snakehead!

   In the summer of 2002 and again in late spring 2004, Channa argus, the northern snakehead, generated national media attention when anglers caught these fish in a pond in Maryland and, more recently, in the Potomac River in Maryland and Virginia. Fisheries scientists consider snakeheads to be invasive species because they have the potential to threaten native fish, the recreational fishing industry, and aquatic ecosystems.

   A mature northern snakehead female can carry as many as 50,000 eggs, although some will not develop and others will be eaten by insects and small fish following fertilization. Depending on water temperature, eggs can hatch in about 24-48 hours. The fish also can spawn several times a year.

   Snakeheads are easy to identify with their large mouth-full of sharp teeth, a mottled appearance much like a snake and a dorsal fin that runs back to their tail. They have a slight resemblance to the native bowfin common in our southern states but they are not related. 

   Hopefully you never run into these creatures but you can search YouTube and pull up videos of people fishing for snakehead fish in the northeast.

    But for now you don’t have to worry about swimming in Lake Waurika. Get out and enjoy our Oklahoma.

Woods and Waters June 28 2018

 As you read this you will be enjoying the first day of summer for 2018. If you don’t believe me spend some time outside this weekend! Next week is the “4th Of July” and many of you will be spending time at Waurika Lake!

   I can’t imagine anyone in our area not knowing about “Waurika Lake” and I hope you realize what a gem it is. The lake was conceived primarily as a means of flood control and a large water reservoir. Locals began working on the plan for a lake in the fifties and sixties to control flooding of downtown and the surrounding area. It took a lot of hard work from my uncle, George Brown, Fred Richardson and others in the business community to finally see its completion in the early 1980s.

    It has become a premier fishing lake, offering many species of gamefish including largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, walleye, sand bass and certainly hybrid striped bass! Folks come from long distances to try their luck at some of the best hybrid striper fishing to be had anywhere. If you want something to test your tackle then these hybrid stripers will certainly fit the bill!

Sunset from Waurika Lake!

  The fact that the lake area is right in our backyard makes it much more special. The scenic irregular shoreline and gently sloping land to the water’s edge is an open invitation for outdoor family fun and relaxation. There are six recreation areas located around the lake that include such facilities as boat launching ramps, campgrounds, sanitary facilities, picnic tables and shelters. Boating and skiing enthusiasts will be pleased with the large areas of open water and the scenic shoreline. There are four large embankments and a number of smaller coves that make boating on the lake a real pleasure.

  Visitors to Waurika Lake will find the dam structure an impressive site.  A road runs across the top of the dam and access roads are located at each end. The lake is set in rolling prairies interspersed with croplands and timbered areas.  Protection and blending with the natural environment was a primary concern in the design and construction of Waurika Lake. Trees, shrubs, and other desirable vegetation were left in their natural state in order to maintain the environment whenever possible.  

In the beginning!

The Overlook and Wichita Ridge Pavilion are accessible to non-ambulatory persons and excellent places to view the scenery. The Kiowa II and Chisholm Trail day use areas, as well as several miles of paved roads and many primitive access points around the lake provide scenic areas and wildlife viewing from an automobile.

  The lake offers many swimming opportunities for visitors. There are swim beaches located at the Kiowa Park I and Chisholm Trail camping areas that are open to campers and day users.  Both of these areas have shower facilities.  Boats are prohibited in these areas for the protection of the swimmers.

   Walker Creek Trail is a 13-mile trail that can be used for hiking or horseback riding. The trailhead is located 5 1/2 miles north of the dam on Walker Creek.  The trail winds along the creek over gently rolling hills and through wooded areas which  are abundant with wildlife. Spring and summer offer excellent opportunities to view native wildflowers. The trail is marked with fluorescent orange posts and mileage is indicated by metal mile marker posts.  Water is available for horses at many points along the trail. Water for human consumption must be carried in. The trail is closed to hiking and riding during deer gun season. 

Beaver Creek Trails are a series of interlocking dirt hiking trails that are accessible by non-ambulatory persons, weather permitting.  These trails can be entered from the Project Office as well as from Moneka North and South.

  As awesome as the Lake experience is, it is greatly enhanced by the fact that it has a full service marina located just past the west end of the dam in Kiowa Park II.

  Eddie and Nan Reese purchased Waurika Lake Marina on September of 2000 and have continued to operated it today. They’ve put in a lot of hard work and certainly not without some tragedies along the way! The severe drought of a few years ago left them sitting on dry land for some time until the heavy rains of May 2015 finally broke the spell, as the lake rose rapidly. Things seemed to be getting back to normal with a lot of hard work until February 29, 2016 when they suffered a devastating fire to the retail area of the marina. There literally was nothing left, including all the merchandise and they had to completely rebuild that portion of the marina! Again, with hard work and perseverance, they were fully open on May 24, 2016, in time for Memorial Day!

Waurika Lake Walleye!

Next time you’re at the lake, stop in for a coke and a snack and say hi. Their hours of operation are- Closed Monday, Tuesday thru Thursday 7:30 to 2:00, Friday and Saturday 7:00 to 5:00, Sunday 7:00 to 2:00! The Crappie House is open seven days a week from 5:30am to 8:00pm.

  They also have R.V. Hookups from $30 to $50 and three clean mobile home units for $80 to $100 a night! In addition they have 4 cabins for rent with kitchenette for $60 a night.

  Kudos to Eddie and Nan Reese for their hard work  and determination to continue to supply our lake with a much needed addition. Next time you are out fishing or just enjoying the lake, stop in and say hi, maybe pick up some minnows or tackle! Get out and enjoy your Lake Waurika!

Woods and Waters June 22 2018

 With the heat indexes running above 100 degrees and increasingly dry and windy weather, sitting in front of the air conditioning is not a bad option. But there are fish to catch and adventures waiting on us!

  This time of year there is not much hunting activity at all. Fishing for the most part is concentrated in the early morning and late evening when the temperatures are more moderate. 

   With last Sunday being Father’s Day, I hope everyone had a chance to celebrate with those closest to you and maybe embark on some new adventure! At least, I hope you had the chance to sit around in the evening and relive those special memories shared with a loved one in our great outdoors. Hopefully mosquito free!

   My brothers and I were so lucky to grow up in rural Jefferson County. Back then you didn’t really think about being in the outdoors because that’s where you spent the majority of your time. You were either working cattle, building fence, killing mesquites, on a tractor or if really unlucky, hauling hay!  When not working you still preferred to be outside riding horses, hanging out on the creek or fishing at the “concrete dam” or your favorite tank.

   Times have changed but the sport of fishing remains very popular and a great way to introduce the little ones to our great outdoors.

Slade Barnett gets it done!

   If you are lucky enough to venture west to the mountains this time of year and find yourself on a mountain stream casting a fly, you are blessed!

   Waking up to the cool crisp mornings, the smell of pine and pinion trees just add to the experience. 

   If you have a trout fishing trip in your near future, we have a few tips for you that you may have forgotten.

Memories!

   From Colorado to Maine, Wisconsin to Georgia, all trout behave the same way. How, when, and where they feed is highly predictable. Learning how to catch them on a fly rod, however, goes beyond simply knowing where to find the fish. Listed below are some tips that will get you primed and ready for every aspect of the trout game, from how what to feed them, to how to set the hook.

   Learning to read the water is one of the most important it is probably the most important skill for river anglers the world over. Do you know what a riffle, eddy, tailout, run, and pool is? If not, learn them. Fish utilize these spots for different reasons and move from one to the other at different times of year and times of day. Trout are lazy creatures that utilize rocks, currents, and eddies to hide in ambush and wait for food. Start paying attention to where you saw that last fish rise and why it might have been there. Talk to fellow anglers and ask where they’ve been catching fish. Most important, just sit for a while and watch the water. It’s amazing how much you can learn if you just slow down and pay attention without throwing a line.

   While fish eat everything from snakes to birds and mice, most trout concentrate on aquatic insects, small baitfish, and crustaceans. Do yourself a favor and learn the life cycle of the major insects in the area you are fishing-probably mayflies, caddisflies, midges, and stoneflies. The recently republished book Selective Trout is an excellent resource for this information. Terrestrial (which means land based) insects like beetles, ants, and grasshoppers are also important food sources for trout, especially in late summer and early fall when they tend to be more abundant than many water-born insects.

   Trout are often the first species of fish fly anglers catch, and they learn that setting a hook on them—especially when using a dry fly—requires a quick and smooth lifting of the rod straight up. The problem is that this method doesn’t work when switching to streamers. When working flies underwater, a lift upon the strike will usually cost you the fish. In this scenario, you’ve got to strip set with the rod low and pointed directly at the fish. When the fish hits, just strip one or maybe two more times and the fish should be hooked. After a solid strip set, then you can lift the rod to fight the trout.

Chris James starts em early!

   Almost everyone is guilty of getting overly excited as soon as you get to the river and wading right in to that first run. The fact is, you probably spooked trout between you and that run. Learn to slow down a little when you hit the river. When you find  a prime piece of water, fish your way to it instead of wading right to it. You’ll be shocked at how many more trout you catch.

   After finding a feeding fish don’t immediately cast to it. It’s tempting, but instead, stay calm, still, and quiet and watch what it’s doing for a moment. Make note of the timing of each rise and drop the fly at the right time. 

    Finally, be respectful to other anglers and don’t crowd someone who might have beaten you to your favorite spot-simply find another! Everyone likes the quiet of the woods and the sounds of the rushing water. Find your spot, be attentive and enjoy matching wits with the local trout!

   Until next week , get outdoors!