Outdoor Notebook — Local DU dinners, Oklahoma bears and bass angling redemption

Lynn Burkhead
Herald Democrat

The countdown continues for the 45th edition of the Texoma Ducks Unlimited Banquet, a longtime staple on the local calendar. Quacker backers in the area will gather for that annual fundraising dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 at the Hilton Garden Inn Texoma Event Center in Denison.

According to Texoma DU information, the 2020 Texoma dinner will run from 6-10 p.m. and will feature the usual array of DU merchandise, sporting art, wildlife collectibles, and hunting and fishing gear available through the event’s raffles, special games, silent auction, and live auction.

Pre-event individual ticket prices are $60; Bronze Sponsorships are $300; Silver Sponsor Tables are $750; and Gold Sponsor Tables are $1,500. Usually, tickets are available at the door but that isn’t expected to be the case this year since COVID-19 restrictions will limit the number of attendees.

Since seating will be limited this year, get your tickets early if you plan on attending the Texoma DU dinner. To do so, visit the DU website at www.ducks.org/events or contact a Texoma DU committee member.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call current Texoma DU chairman Kris Spiegel at 903-820-8882; past Texoma DU chairman Eric Kloppers at 903-815-2229; or retired DU regional director and Texoma Chapter co-founder Jim Lillis at 903-815-8002.

Bryan County DU Approaches — North of the Red River, the Bryan County DU dinner is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 12 from 6-10 p.m. After a venue change a year ago, the southern Oklahoma DU fundraiser returns this year to its previous location at the Choctaw Event Center near Durant.

Pre-event ticket prices for the Bryan County dinner are $50 for singles; $65 for couples; and $20 for youth. A Bronze Sponsorship level membership is also available for $300. Do note that ticket prices go up $10 at the door the night of the event.

In addition to the ticket pricing options noted above, several table options also exist with different ticket numbers attached. Those include a Reserved Table ($400); Bronze Sponsor Table ($650); Sponsor Table ($1,000); Teal Table ($1,250); Mallard Table ($1,500); and Pintail Table ($2,500).

To get advance tickets to the Bryan County DU Dinner via Ducks Unlimited’s online sales portal, visit www.ducks.org/oklahoma/events/64922/bryan-county-dinner. For in person ticket sales or information about the fundraiser itself, please contact Chris Dorman at 405-517-7187.

Governor Gets Bear with Bow — Speaking of Oklahoma, Sooner State Governor Kevin Stitt took advantage of the state’s healthy and growing black bear population, bagging a shaggy bruin last weekend in the southeastern portion of the state.

According to OCWC on its Instagram page, “Oklahoma is home to a healthy & growing bear population. Biologists have been tracking and studying bears for decades and hunting is an important tool in the management of this thriving population.”

The Oklahoma bear archery season runs from Oct. 1 through Oct. 18, while the state’s muzzleloader season runs from Oct. 24 through Nov. 1. Bear hunting is only permitted in Choctaw, Haskell, Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties along with that portion of McIntosh, Muskogee and Sequoyah counties south of I-40 and that portion of Atoka, Bryan, McIntosh, and Pittsburgh counties east of Hwy. 69.

The statewide limit is one bear (either sex) per season. While there is no quota system for bowhunters, the state does have a 20-bear quota system in place for the muzzleloader campaign.

Nevada Youth Finds Bass Fishing Redemption — A year ago, Las Vegas, Nev. angler Carter Doren was a 15-year old frustrated with his angling efforts. After all, he didn’t even get a bite while competing in the 2019 Big Bass Zone Junior Championship presented by the Bassmaster Elite Series.

What a difference a year can make. Last weekend, Doren went to the other end of the spectrum at the event, landing a 4.35-pound bass that would prove big enough to win the event’s first place prize, a Bass Cat bass rig powered by a Mercury outboard.

The last competitor to walk across the stage at Idaho’s Lake Pend Oreille, Doren landed the fish 30-minutes into his day when he skipped a football jig and a Yamamoto Fat Baby Craw trailer under a boat dock. When he did, the other 51 anglers wished that he hadn’t.

“I am in shock,” said Doren in a B.A.S.S. news release. “It was an amazing day. I caught a three-pounder on my first cast. Things really slowed down, so we motored to the other side of the river and pulled up next to a dock. I skipped my jig under the dock, immediately got a bite and set the hook. The fish didn’t feel all that big while I was fighting it, so I went to boat flip it and realized that would be a bad idea. I freaked out, then lipped it and went crazy!”

Little did he know that the early day bass was already enough for the win.

“I am so thankful I skipped under that dock, because we didn’t get a bite the last four hours of the day.”

In beating anglers from 48 U.S. states, Doren’s win capped the unique fishing tournament aimed at young anglers.

“This format allows every kid that can find a fishing rod the ability to compete against their peers across the country for almost $300,000 in prizes,” said BBZJC president Bill Siemantel. “They can qualify by fishing from the bank, from a kayak or from a bass boat in every sort of fishery you can imagine.

“This year, we had 13 anglers compete that also qualified last year. We had a kid from Florida drive to Maine to qualify in that state. It is simply unbelievable the passion these kids have for the format and the commitment parents and family members showed to get anglers involved.”

Incidentally, the Lone Star State was well represented as Brayden Stoker from Stephenville landed a 3.86-pound largemouth to grab second place.