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Washita Refuge Deer Hunt Puts Smiles on Kids, Venison in Freezers
Southwest Region, October 13, 2007
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A.J. Decker of Mustang, Oklahoma checks his rifle zero under the watchful eye of Fish and Wildlife Service employee David Hollingsworth.  Photo by David Maple at Washita NWR, Oct 12, 2007.
A.J. Decker of Mustang, Oklahoma checks his rifle zero under the watchful eye of Fish and Wildlife Service employee David Hollingsworth. Photo by David Maple at Washita NWR, Oct 12, 2007. - Photo Credit: n/a

Seventeen young Oklahomans bagged twenty-eight white-tailed deer during Washita National Wildlife Refuge’s 7th Annual Youth Deer Hunt on October 12th and 13th.   The 11- to 15-year olds and their parents persevered through high winds during the 1 ½ day event - with 13 of the hunters taking their 2 deer limit, and 2 hunters taking home a single antlerless deer. The hunt began at 1:30 on Friday with an orientation session at the refuge headquarters, where the Refuge staff and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation employees briefed the participants on the purposes of the hunt and safety rules.  Each of the young hunters insured their rifles were properly sighted in at the shooting range, and then headed to the field to begin the afternoon hunt.

Robert Lamb, of Chandler, Oklahoma was the first to return to the check station with his limit of 2 deer.  He spent barely 2 hours in the field before dropping two mature does with his 7mm-08 rifle.  The bigger of the two was a 92 lb. doe that was estimated to be 6 ½ years old.  Pickups loaded with deer and excited youngsters arrived sporadically throughout the evening - and before the doors were locked, 19 deer were weighed, aged and examined by wildlife biologists at the check station.  Eight participants went home early after collecting 2 deer on the first evening of the hunt.

Six hunters who hadn’t “limited out” returned on Saturday morning.  Seven more deer were checked by noon, and the evening hunters added another 2.

“Most of these kids have hunted here in past years – some two or three times.  They keep coming back and they continue to be successful,” said Refuge Manager David Maple.  “The main reason they’re here is because they have a good time, but they also have an important role as a component of our deer management strategy.  Their efforts have really improved the health of our deer herd over the years.”

The refuge has offered an antlerless deer hunt for young hunters since 2001 in an effort to
 
reduce the overall population of deer, and to improve the buck to doe ratio on the refuge. 
 
Since that time, 190 participants have taken 318 deer.  The hunt is a joint effort of the U.S.
 
Fish and Wildlife Service and the ODWC.


Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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