Jon Kocan

Jon Kocan

I can’t say I did anything to help last year, but the information provided from the second survey of state bow hunters is worth a look.

In 2016, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation began conducting a voluntary Bow Hunter Observation Survey. All they have asked is to record and submit sightings of wildlife while bow hunting for the first two months of the season. I participated the first year.

Last season, participation reached 2,185 hunters, but only 476 submitted information. I have to admit that I forgot and am one of the people registered who did not submit their records. I contributed to the 88 percent of people registered that did not provide information. That’s not good.

Here’s the numbers from last season’s survey. A total of 2,566 surveys provided 16,852 individual sightings from 10,595 hours of wildlife observation data. Hunters averaged 4.13 hours of observation each trip afield.

As with last season, submissions peaked at the beginning of bow season and then tapered off as time went by. It goes to show that hunters are very enthusiastic to hit the woods Oct. 1. There were also spikes in submissions at the end of October and early November – prime time for hunting rutting bucks.

Observations per 1,000 hours of hunting were up from last year on both public and private land.

Hunters in Payne County had 175 totals hours from 50 submissions, averaging 3.5 hours of time hunting for each submission. The number of bucks observed was 251, with 360 does and 206 fawns. Eighty were reported being unknown, bringing the county’s total to short of 900 deer observed over the first two months of bow season.

Unlike observations of whitetail deer, furbearer observations were down state-wide from last season on both public and private land. It wasn’t much, but it is worth noting.

Payne County had what could be considered typical numbers. Six of the nine grey foxes reported in our zoogeographic region were in Payne County. No red foxes were observed. Nearly 35 percent of the hunters surveyed reported seeing a bobcat, which equaled the number of raccoon sightings at 17. There were no river otters or badgers observed during the period.

Black bears had the fewest sighting per 1,000 hours state-wide at two for both adults and cubs. They were followed closely behind by house cats that were observed three times per 1,000 hours.

A number that should cause alarm is 41 sightings statewide of feral hogs per 1,000 hours. Observations of domestic dogs were fewer at 13.

As with any survey, there are many factors that influence the ability of bow hunters to observe wildlife. Regardless, the information is worth a look. Next year the numbers will be better because I won’t forget to submit my information.

Jon Kocan is the Stillwater News Press outdoors writer and a longtime hunter. He can be reached at jkocan@stwnewspress.com.