Oologah Lake was the site of the 18th annual disabled sportsman’s hunt held Nov. 11-13.
The special hunt is a conservation effort to control deer population and provide disabled individuals an opportunity to hunt.
“The objective of this hunt is to try to decrease the number of deer vs. vehicle strikes in this particular area and in turn give some disabled sportsman across the state of Oklahoma an excellent opportunity to come and hunt,” stated B.J. Parkey, Oologah Lake Manager.
Every year approximately 12-15 deer are struck by vehicles on the one mile stretch of Oklahoma state highway 88 just south of Oologah dam. The hunt is sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in conjunction with the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and numerous local volunteers
The annual hunt is an ODWC draw hunt that is typically held the 2nd weekend in November and garners interest from about 50-80 applicants every year.
This year’s hunt was comprised of six men and two women, with both women harvesting their first deer ever.
“I’ve been using the ODWC website for years, drawing into disabled hunts, but have never been lucky enough to draw into Oologah until this year,” said hunter Rick McLaughlin of Tishomingo, Oklahoma. “I’m very thankful and blessed to have drawn into it this year.”
Portions of Oologah Lake are closed for the weekend so hunters can be placed at predesignated blinds throughout the property that will offer the greatest chance for success.
Each hunter is assigned a volunteer to work with them for the weekend, and each sportsman is allowed to take two deer, either two does or a buck and a doe.
“When applying for a special hunt, I would definitely rate Oologah as my first choice. ODWC has made it so easy for us, there’s really no reason not to go hunting if you have a disability,” said McLaughlin. “This Oologah lake hunt has just been absolutely fantastic! These folks and all their volunteers go way above and beyond to insure we have the best experience possible.”
Volunteers treat the hunters to a chili dinner at the campsite on the first night of the hunt, followed by a country breakfast the next morning to help get their day started.
“I can’t say enough about our volunteers for this hunt,” said Parkey. “Big thanks to ODWC, Northwest District Fire Department and all the volunteers who make this hunt such a huge success.”
The Oologah hunt boasts one of the highest success rates in the state among disabled hunts.
The hunt has produced a harvest of 211 deer since its beginning in 1999, and has seen hunters limit out with two deer each, both last year and this year.