By Chris Horton, Midwestern States Senior Director
On February 13, the Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus hosted a Sportsmen’s Day at the Capitol, where representatives of Oklahoma’s fishing, hunting and trapping community set up booths to inform legislators about the work that their organizations do for conservation and Oklahoma’s outdoor heritage.
Following the informative discussion, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) Commissioners hosted a lunch at their headquarters, gathering Sportsmen’s Day participants and bipartisan members of the Oklahoma Sportsmen’s Caucus.
ODWC Director JD Strong opened the lunch by welcoming attendees to the relatively new ODWC headquarters facility and spoke about the stable trend and slightly increasing numbers of hunters and anglers in Oklahoma.
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Chris Horton introduced the Oklahoma Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Senator JJ Dossett and Representative Jason Dunnington, who discussed the importance of hunting and fishing in the Sooner State.
“We’re blessed to have abundant and diverse natural resources here in Oklahoma that mean so much to our way of life and our state’s economy,” said Rep. Dunnington. “We look forward to working with all of you to ensure future generations of Oklahoman’s have the same opportunities to enjoy healthy and abundant fish and wildlife resources for years to come.”
Horton provided background on the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, and the role of the individual state caucuses in protecting and advancing opportunities for hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping. He also spoke about federal priorities the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus in the 116th Congress, as well as the importance of the American System of Conservation Funding to Oklahoma and the nation.
Groups participating in both the Sportsmen’s Day at the Capitol and the lunch included: Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma, Ducks Unlimited, Oklahoma Fur Harvesters Association, Oklahoma Traditional Bowhunters Association, Oklahoma Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Quail Forever, Safari Club International, and Trout Unlimited.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation provided a feral hog hunting simulator that proved popular with many of the capitol visitors. Caucus Co-Chair Representative Jason Dunnington takes his turn.
Rep. Jason Dunnington and CSF’s Chris Horton addressing the lunch crowd.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?