Three employees of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation were major award winners at the National Wild Turkey Federation’s 42nd annual Convention and Sport Show recently in Nashville, Tenn.
• Senior Wildlife Biologist Jack Waymire received the Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of the Year award in recognition of his dedication to wild turkey research and management. He has worked for the Wildlife Department for 25 years and manages one of the state’s more popular turkey hunting destinations, the 19,247-acre Pushmataha Wildlife Management Area.
Because of his vision and implementation of habitat management practices, the WMA serves as a demonstration area for thousands of hunters, landowners and biologists. He hosts field days to show the effects of different timber practices and fire rotations, and the results that can be achieved.
“It has been my passion and privilege during my career with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to apply the long term research (entering its 36th year) from the Pushmataha Forest Habitat Research and Demonstration Area to the landscape level by increasing solar radiation to the forest floor and using the proper prescribed burning regime to reclaim and maintain pre-settlement ecosystems,” he said.
• Game Warden Spencer Grace, based in Kay County, was selected as NWTF’s National Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for his accomplishments in upholding the state’s game laws and his dedication to training the next generation of hunters.
“Some of my very favorite things are teaching youth about the outdoors. I enjoy introducing new people to hunting, trapping and fishing. I get to make a positive impact on the sportsmen and women of Oklahoma,” he said.
Besides handling a sizable case load, Grace helps the Wildlife Department’s Law Enforcement Division maintain a social media presence and he mentors and inspires future hunters and anglers. In December, Shikar Safari Club International honored Grace with its 2017 Wildlife Officer of the Year Award.
• Clinton “Tres” Phipps of Hodgen won the Gobbling Championship of the NWTF’s Grand National Calling Championships. He works for the Wildlife Department as a wildlife technician at the Ouachita (Le Flore Unit) WMA in southeastern Oklahoma. He earned the right to represent Oklahoma in the nationals after winning the Oklahoma State Turkey Calling Championship in August.
• T.J. Goodpasture, NWTF’s western regional director in Oklahoma, was honored as the organization’s Rookie of the Year for the Fundraising and Volunteer Relations Division. He said this recognition was possible only because of “all the great volunteers coming together and working so hard with me to promote NWTF in western Oklahoma.”
The NWTF was founded in 1973 with a goal of conservation America’s wild turkey resources. It’s “Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.” initiative has mobilized science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to raise $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, go to www.NWTF.org.