SPORTING SAFELY: Certain animals still legal to hunt through February

Logan Curtis | Daily Press

Garrett Kilpatrick, gun counter associate at Atwood's in Tahlequah, examines a firearm that is for sale. Hunting is a pastime enjoyed by many in Tahlequah and is an activity available in winter.

Whether it be to relax, for trophies or to be able to provide a meal for their families, hunting and fishing is a way of life for many around Tahlequah. It is important, however, for those who do it to follow the laws that are set around hunting for their safety and to ensure the longevity of the wildlife that is being hunted.

Lt. Gary Wilcox, game warden in Muskogee County, shared some information about which seasons are still active and which of those have concluded or are concluding soon.

"We still have archery deer season going on for about two more weeks, but the 31st of December was the final day of our holiday antlerless rifle season. Any archery deer killed during this time count towards your Fall 2020 limit count. This limit restarts in October of 2021," said Wilcox.

Archery season is the longest of all of the deer seasons and will be the last one to conclude on Jan. 15. There are still other game available for hunting, though, even if deer are not available. Wilcox said that small game and waterfowl are extremely popular in the Tahlequah and Muskogee area.

"Other than deer we have waterfowl going on, such as ducks and geese. We have small game like rabbits and squirrels," said Wilcox.

Squirrel season will go on until the end of January, while rabbit season continues until the middle of March. As for waterfowl, duck and pheasant season concludes Jan. 31, and geese will conclude mid February.

Furbearers, such as bobcats, foxes and badgers, are also in season until the end of February.

As for fishing, things are not as set in stone. While there are parts of the year that fish are more abundant, Wilcox said that there are no dates set aside for fishing seasons.

"There are parts of the state that have streams that may only be stocked with trout for certain parts of the year, so they may have trout seasons separately. With our trout stream below Lake Tenkiller, we have a daily limit of six trout. But we don't have specific dates when you can and can't catch them," said Wilcox.

Early spring is considered a great time to go fishing as soon as the weather starts to warm up, which also brings many people out to the marinas in the area. Ann Davis, store manager at Paradise Cove Marina, said there is just something special about seeing all the families spending time with each other while fishing.

"I love when the kids come out with their families. The moms and dads teaching the kids how to fish really brightens up the lake. Fishing season really picks up in late February and March; people are everywhere on the banks fishing," said Davis. "It's really just awesome to see the families out there fishing and spending time together."

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