A proposed Oklahoma City ordinance that would allow bow hunting near Lake Overholser and Lake Stanley Draper during deer season took a first step forward Monday.
The Oklahoma City Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously Monday to recommend allowing 20 bow hunters to set up deer stands in October in parts of the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge and 20 hunters at Lake Stanley Draper. The proposed ordinance must be approved by the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust and the city council in order to take effect.
Duck hunters using shotguns already are permitted to use parts of both areas during duck season. The proposed ordinance would include 50- to 100-yard buffer zones near trails, city property and other areas where hunters would not be allowed.
The proposal met resistance Monday from Oklahoma City police, nearby residents and users of the areas. Police expressed concerns about safety with archers shooting at a downward angle, as opposed to duck hunters shooting into the sky, and with heavy public use of the areas. Residents spoke of concern about non-hunters using the areas facing potential dangers, and about opening up places already affected by poaching and other illegal activity to more hunting.
The area where hunters are allowed would be marked by signs.
“Posting some signs is not changing people's behaviors,” said Lt. Jeff Becker, who supervises the police division that includes Stinchcomb. “If it did, we wouldn't write all the speeding tickets we do every day. We have signs everywhere, and unfortunately people disregard them.”
But commissioners argued there's little additional danger posed by allowing bow hunters, who have a range of only a few dozen yards, to an area where shotgun hunting has been common for decades. Nearby private landowners often hunt for deer.
Commissioner Joe McCrary, a primary proponent of the measure, said it's a matter of opening up public land that's available for hunters to use.
“I'm a hunter and I make no apologies about it,” McCrary said. “We want to give these people ... the opportunity to hunt in a huntable area.”