On 2020-02-15 four of us (Mark, Matt, Glenn, Liam) headed out to Spray Lakes for a day of ice fishing over the Family Day Fishing weekend. The weather was warm at -5°C, but the wind kept us cooped up in our fishing shacks to stay warm.

We parked on the side of the Smith Dorien highway and had a taxing slog through 4 feet of snow dragging gear until we made it onto the ice. The ice thickness was about 2.5 feet, though we noted some open water down by the dam.

We were targeting lake trout in 50-60 feet of water using white jigs and smelts. The bite was slow at about a bite every hour and we never managed to get one to surface.

A friendly Alberta Parks official stopped by our tents to check our catch (none) and bait (minnows are not allowed, but smelts are). A couple times we watched packs of sled dogs go by pulling tourists out of Canmore while we admired the amazing mountain scenery.

So while we didn't take home any fish, we still had a great time. We hope our turnout is even better on the next trip out. 

Thanks to everyone that made it out and special thanks to Matt for cooking up some lunch on the bbq. 

-Mark Anderson
ODFGA Secretary

     

On 2020-02-13 we hosted our annual horn scoring night at Hubtown Brewing in Okotoks. We had 3 AFGA certified scorers (Mark Anderson, Jim Clarke from Sarcee F&G and Joe Baranyay from Calgary F&G). Things started off quite busy right at 6 pm, but slowed later in the evening.

We scored a total of 7 heads, with a mix of white tailed deer, mule deer and elk. There were a couple of really nice elk in the 280+ range, and one mule deer over 185 which scored high enough to get into the next Alberta record book.

We had lots of volunteers and members who stopped by to check it out and support it.  We had quite a few people not involved with the horn scoring take interest in what we had going on, so I think it was a good PR thing with non-hunters. (Especially when we shared a stick of the elk pepperoni.)

Thanks to all the members who showed up to help out and support the event. Thanks especially to the scorers, who did a great job.

-Matt Zazula 
ODFGA President

On 2017-03-30 we co-hosted a Wildlife Talk with the High River Fish and Game Association and brought in Brett Boukall, a senior wildlife biologist with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), to discuss big game population trends in the Bow River district. The meeting was well attended with about 30 participants from the ODFGA, HRFGA, Town of Okotoks, Western Wheel, and local landowners.

The general message is that big game populations are up across most of the Bow district, providing excellent hunting opportunities. The AEP is working to update their species counts by conducting additional and more effective aerial surveys in the next few years.

Alberta Wildlife statistics are available here:

Elk populations are continuing to increase and spread east across Alberta. WMU 212 (Calgary Bowzone) has very high elk populations above the AEP target and they are working on strategies to reduce this population through additional hunting opportunities and game management.

Predator populations are increasing with the the big game populations. Alberta's predator hunting/control regulations will remain quite liberal, allowing for hunts and landowner livestock protection.

Urban deer populations (ex: resident Okotoks deer) are not managed by AEP and it's up to the town to propose a plan to the Province. Brett recommended strategies using city bylaws, forage and access management, and other more intensive deer removal/relocation methods.

There are no significant hunting regulation changes expected in 2017, but Brett was taking feedback on a proposal to put WMU 316 mule deer bucks on a special license draw season. All of the zones surrounding 316 are on draw, which is funneling hunting pressure into 316.

Here are a few things you can do to help out AEP and improve wildlife management:

Overall the meeting was very informative and Brett answered a lot of questions from the audience.  It's great to the see that AEP is engaging us as stakeholders and taking our feedback.

Thanks to everyone that came out and thanks Pat for organizing!

Thanks to Dave Osmars for putting together a report for the Western Wheel, which they published on 2017-04-26. Here's the article.

On 2017-02-17 we hosted the annual ODFGA Horn Scoring night at the Crystal Shores Beach House.

Jim Clarke was our official scorer from Sarcee Fish and Game and he measured up a number of impressive big game animals brought in by local hunters and ODFGA members.

Thanks to everyone that came out and thanks Matt for organizing!