Game wardens are employees of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation who are responsible for enforcing the state’s fish and wildlife laws, and like with any profession, certain tools help them accomplish their mission.
On October 30, the Wildlife Department’s television series — Outdoor Oklahoma — will air real footage of game wardens using the state’s decoy deer, or “dummy deer,” designed to help them catch would-be law violators who shoot at the deer from a public road.
It is considered poaching, or taking wild game illegally, to shoot at any wildlife from a public road, so when game wardens get word of an area receiving pressure from road hunters, they may choose to set up the decoy deer so that it is visible from the road while they wait nearby. If a poacher drives by and shoots at the decoy while believing it to be a live animal, game wardens are able to witness the violation and issue the poacher a citation. Under some situations, some or all of the poacher’s equipment may be confiscated.
“In some cases, poachers can even lose their firearm or their vehicle,” said Robert Fleenor, law enforcement chief for the Wildlife Department.
Using the decoy deer is effective, according to Fleenor, who said many deer across the state have remained protected from poachers as a result of using the decoy deer over the last 25 years.
“Game wardens have been able to catch many poachers in the act using this method, and of course the good thing is that a real, live deer doesn’t get killed or wounded illegally in the process. The decoy helps us catch them in the act, hold them accountable and hopefully educate them in a way that prevents them from breaking our game laws in the future.”
According to Fleenor, most hunters are responsible, legal sportsmen who follow the state’s wildlife laws, which are designed to conserve wildlife and keep hunters safe while in the field.
To see the decoy deer and game wardens in action, tune into Outdoor Oklahoma TV Oct. 30 at 8 a.m. on OETA (channel 13 in Oklahoma City, 11 in Tulsa, 3 in Eufaula, and 12 in Cheyenne).
Outdoor Oklahoma also airs at 4 p.m. Saturdays on KSBI (UHF coverage includes channel 52 in Oklahoma City, channel 21 in Stillwater and channel 35 in Ada and KSBI cable channels in more than 30 communities in central Oklahoma). Additionally, the show airs on KWEM-UHF (Channel 31 out of Stillwater, Monday at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. Channel 31’s approximate coverage area includes the southern half of Noble Co. including Perry and Morrison; the western portions of Payne Co. including Stillwater, Glencoe and Perkins; the northeastern half of Logan Co. including Orlando, Mulhall, Langston and Coyle; the northwest corner of Lincoln Co. (Tryon and Carney); on KXOK-UHF 32 in Enid and nearby communities (carried on Enid’s local cable network on Channel 18); on KTEW (Channel 20 in Ponca City); and free online through podcasts found at wildlifedepartment.com.