Jon Kocan

Jon Kocan

The wildlife department’s new app will make is easier to kick off a new year of fun in the outdoors.

First for the New Year will be a new way to deal with licensing for hunting and fishing. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation just launched a new app and I downloaded it last week.

My initial reaction is that it appears to be a huge upgrade for our state’s licensing system. The app might not be ready for Apple users yet, but the Android version works fine. I verified and entered missing information once I downloaded the Go Outdoors Oklahoma app for free.

It provided me with a personal account and showed me that I have a lifetime resident hunting license that is valid until the year 2022. I hope I live that long and if I do all I have to do is pull out my phone and I can prove that I am legal to hunt.

I went through the process of purchasing a license to see how the experience would be. The only complaint I have is that it pushed for a donation, up-sell and added a convenience fee as you go through the check-out process. It unnecessarily lengthened the check-out experience, but was a lot easier than tracking someone down at Wal-Mart outdoor department.

The app can also handle checking game, regulations, accessing harvest reports and controlled hunt information. You can also review your previous license history if need be. They have basically taken the Pocket Ranger app and made it able to handle any need.

More than a new app is new things I’m going to explore this year. Since becoming legal, the use of a tracking dog to recover deer has been something I hoped to work on with my canine companions. I recently got a new dog that loves be in the woods and seems to have a good nose. It’s going to be a perfect opportunity to put in a little training in the off season.

The issue of diseases in wild deer herds is always a concern, but the presence of Chronic Wasting Disease will be a bigger topic this year regardless of whether it is detected in Oklahoma or not. The state is taking steps to respond to a potential outbreak, yet little is known about the disease, and what is not known raises the most concern about CWD.

It’s a new year with new outdoor opportunities. I’d recommend checking out the wildlife department’s new app to start things off. It checks out as being something that will make life easier for those who enjoy hunting and fishing in Oklahoma.

Don’t forget

Bald eagles are enjoying the winter in and around Payne County. I was pretty surprised when one flew over my home last week. All members the house emptied to catch a glimpse as the eagle flew by our family’s farm. I’ve also spotted eagles on the western sides of Stillwater. You never know the next time one will visit your part of the Cross Timbers.

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