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It's amazing how accurate that map was back then given the tools they had, the crude tools they had. Most of the roads in the state were not hard service, they were gravel, and the amount of work the logistics in doing what they did is amazing when you think about what they did. What they had to do in the conditions they worked for. Always impresses me when I look at the Duck and Fletcher map and the report is the publication me. I think a lot of it was they had the time to spend, to ground truth and verify those maps. All of this work was done without a lot of modern instruments that we have today for survey work, documentation. This was old fashioned field work, walking and describing what was seen in the field. Even with today's satellite imagery, if you overlay those maps they were amazingly close with all of the unique ecosystems that Oklahoma has.
Today when we were able to drive across the state on really nice roads and we've got nice vehicles that are air conditioned in full-wheel drive, but I think about those guys in the period of time. These guys were coming out of, or had begun developing this map on the heels or even during one of the country's biggest environmental disasters, the Dust Bowl. And it still holds up today as one of the baseline truths from which we look at the changes that it occurred since the 40th. From 1938 to 1942, the Oklahoma Game and Fish Department, known today as the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, conducted a comprehensive survey of the state's plants and animals. Led by biologist Lester D. Duck and Jack B. Fletcher, the survey resulted in two landmark products, a map showing 15 unique vegetation types found in the state and
a 144-page book titled, a survey of the game and fur-bearing animals of Oklahoma. Nearly 70 years since their survey, Duck and Fletcher's map and book are regarded by many as the foundation for biological research of Oklahoma's natural resources. The vegetation types and animal communities described by Duck and Fletcher serve as the baseline to which all changes, either man-made or environmental, can be measured since the early 1940s. This is the story of Duck and Fletcher. Recently, Wildlife Department biologist Melinda Hickman met with the daughter of Lester Duck, Joanne Teeter, about the work her father coordinated from their home in Moreland, Oklahoma. Well, actually I was four when it started, and it was through age eight, but the time it was a four-year survey, so it was eight the time.
And I was the only child for six years, so I got to go along with my folks a lot. So I had a lovely childhood, but that part of it was just almost a deal, like it was wonderful to have all that going on and me being able to observe and see what they were doing. Well, I can remember when all of the guys, Jack Fletcher, who was going to do the survey on the east part of the state, and Lord's Lefting and my dad and no Riley Santos, they'd bring picks up soon, and I remember the first thing I remember was they had metal cages in the back and one time they were rattlesnakes. I always got to go out and watch and see what they were doing, and one time they brought a coyote in, and then one time they had a porcupine. They brought a porcupine in, and the porcupine got out and loose in my grandparents backyard, and that was really fun because I got to see these guys chasing down a porcupine, which is a job within itself.
But it was just like we were almost part of a family, and the guys were so cheerful and happy, and they were so thrilled to be doing this. A primary reason for Duck and Fletcher's survey was due to the recent ecological disaster known as the Dust Bowl. Game and Fish Administrators wanted to find out just how much the state's natural resources had suffered from poor farming practices and record-setting drought. At the same time, the passage of the Pitman Robertson Act placed federal excise taxes on such things as firearms and ammunition. Giving state fish and wildlife agencies a welcome new revenue stream to bolster funds generated from hunting and fishing licenses, the new funding source enabled the game and fish department to embark on the comprehensive survey. Often gone for days or even weeks at a time, the surveyors meticulously documented Oklahoma's flora and fauna. Using traps of various sizes and design, the teams, inventoryed mammals and bird species, and the types of habitats whereby each species was found.
Traps such as this one designed to capture white-tailed deer would not only be used for inventory purposes, but would play an important role in the late 1940s and through the 1960s for the trapping and redistribution of deer throughout the state. The surveyors also trapped bird species. Using long hoop nets, the teams captured both the lesser prairie chicken, in far northwest Oklahoma and the Panhandle, and the greater prairie chicken found in the Osage Country. But even more important than prairie chickens, the surveyors spent extensive hours capturing and documenting quail populations around the state, particularly in the areas hardest hit by the Dust Bowl. Besides bird and animal inventories, the major focus of the survey was categorizing vegetation communities. Duck and Fletcher described 12 individual game types.
What might be called an eco-region, biome, or landscape in modern scientific terms, Duck and Fletcher's game types described unique sets of plant communities. Some examples of the game types described include, the post oak blackjack forest of central Oklahoma, the tall grass prairie of north central Oklahoma, the oak pine forest of the southeast, or the short grass high plains of the Panhandle, only one printing of Duck and Fletcher's book, a survey of the game and fur bearing animals of Oklahoma, was made in the year 1943. One owner of a rare original copy is Jack Fletcher Jr., whose father supervised the survey in the eastern half of the state from their home and still well. He was a very close mouth individual and never did brag about any of these accomplishments, but whenever I heard him talk about or mention or work with a wildlife department, that was one of his great loves in life.
And I think that he would have enjoyed that as a career full time and heard about all the comments and talk that he and mom had about the events surrounding that and his close relationship with Mr. Duck and all of the great times that they had putting that book together. This book is called a survey of the game and fur bearing animals of Oklahoma. It was produced by the Department of Wildlife Conservation under a sport fish and wildlife restoration grant, but everybody knows it and has known it for decades by its authors, Duck and Fletcher. This is Duck and Fletcher, to anyone who is familiar with this book.
I was first introduced to this book as a graduate student at Oklahoma State. Dr. Brian Glass gave me a copy of this book. He was a great professor recently passed on and I was proud to have known him. He thought it was important for me to look at this as I was preparing my work on the distribution of red foxes in Oklahoma. This was a great baseline of information for the different types of vegetation where I might look for foxes. This was old fashioned field work walking and describing what was seen in the field. They used a lot of game rangers at the time, a lot of folks that were working for the department to try to help them describe the habitat and the species composition of the day. It was just old time descriptive science and it still holds up today as one of the baseline truths from which we look at changes that have occurred since the 40th. I have a copy of the original book that I guard very closely. I let a few students look at it.
That book is very interesting because the descriptions of the vegetation types are very accurate and the information about the game animals that were there and kind of where they found them on those areas. I don't know how they did that but it's a very interesting historical document. I do have a copy of the book and get it out every once in a while and look at it and look at some of the facts that surround the area where we live and the areas that we dear hunt. Like I said, Dad never did really talk a lot about the fact that he co-authored that book. Although Duck and Fletcher's book continues to be cited as a reference in ongoing biological research, it is not nearly as well known as their colorful vegetation map. On their landmark map, Duck and Fletcher identified the same 12 game types listed in their book, plus an additional three vegetation types. The Cypress bottoms, located in far southeast Oklahoma, the pockets of Mesquite grasslands in western and southwestern Oklahoma, and the distribution of pinion pine at the tip of the panhandle.
How each of the 15 game types was painstakingly plotted onto the larger state map is perhaps the most remarkable accomplishment of the Duck and Fletcher's survey. Using tools and techniques considered long obsolete by today's standards, the map is remarkably accurate when compared with those using the latest and most advanced satellite imagery, global positioning systems, and computer-aided mapping programs. Using a collection of crude county plat maps, countless vegetation clippings, dozens of field notebooks filled with scribbled descriptions and compass coordinates, and natural landmarks such as rivers, streams, and a few mountains, the Duck and Fletcher game type map of Oklahoma is not only the first of its kind, but many still consider it the best and most accurate for showing the potential natural vegetation cover of Oklahoma. Not bad for a document approaching its 70th birthday.
I had been out of Oklahoma about 10 years and came back into the state in the early 1990s, and I'd been given a book in a map early, but I was also interested in making sure that my children as well as my nieces and nephews had a map. And so I called what I thought was the Oklahoma Game and Fish Department, which had now changed its names, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. I called them, and they didn't have extra maps, of course, and they referred me to the Oklahoma Biological Survey as it was Bruce Hogan, and he's the one that told me that the map was still viable, it was still being used in the schools, and it wasn't due to budget constraints at all. They'd done several surveys, but this one was the most comprehensive, and they continued to use it because it was so pertinent. I've been familiar with the work of Duck and Fletcher for several years, and had been interested in trying to learn more about them, and just how they went about their research and compiling their map and report.
So it was very exciting one day when I had the opportunity to talk to Duck's daughter on the phone. She had called the former director of the Biological Survey, and he'd put her through to me. It was a very pleasant conversation, and really remember it fondly. She was describing in particular to me the room at their home where her father was doing most of the mapping and other research, and just listening to her describe it, I can imagine a child nervously peering in the door to see just what dad was doing back there. I did tell her that the map was still in use, and a lot of people were envious or covetous of actually having their own copy of the map, or the report, and that it had played an important role or held a place of significance in Oklahoma conservation. She seemed a little surprised to learn that her dad's work had endured over all those decades. Of course, my statement to her was, well, it's a testament to how hard they worked, and the detail they put into that map, that it still is considered an important resource when looking at land cover in the state of Oklahoma.
I've just been amazed to find out that probably I was one of the last few to really realize the importance of this to the state, being gone for that 10 years, and you have kids, and you get busy doing that, and you don't pay attention to things as much. As far as I can tell, and looking back on the letters and things, he has tons of letters from people thanking him for this, and also in later years, people have contacted my brother, who's with the Army Corps Army Engineers, about how much the book meant to them. So I think that what he and Jack Fletcher and all these young men did was just amazing to me, as well as everybody in my family, and I'm sure they're families.
I don't recall exactly the first time I saw a Duck and Fletcher map, but I've always liked maps, and I was attracted to it immediately. But like many people that live in Oklahoma, I didn't realize the diversity of habitat types until I saw that map, and it was amazing. And so over the years, I've used that Duck and Fletcher map, and also the accounts in the book in numerous presentations and publications, because in order to understand wildlife management and wildlife habitat, you have to understand vegetation types, which the Duck and Fletcher map shows very nicely, very simply, and it gives people an idea of all the different vegetation types we have, and then from that, that's how you make your decisions on how you manage habitat. Interestingly enough, all the greatest mapping technology and all the things we have today, and I've got many sources of maps from a lot of places, but I still like Duck and Fletcher because it looks at what's there historically and brings it up to date, it's still a very accurate map. It's probably been the cornerstone work for a lot of wildlife management practices going way, way back, has been based on the work of Duck and Fletcher, even with today's satellite imagery.
If you overlay those maps, they were amazingly close with all of the unique ecosystems that Oklahoma has, were one of the most diverse states in the nation. And Mr. Duck and Mr. Fletcher's work was just an absolute amazement at the time, and it continues to be a very useful tool that we use today. It's a layer on our digital atlas. It's, I guess, in a word, it's been a very helpful wildlife management tool for a long time, and it still is today. The work of Duck, Fletcher, and their teams of biologists has withstood the test of time, and serves as an inspiration to current wildlife department employees. Their book and their ingenious beautiful map continues to be cited frequently in the bibliography of biological research being conducted within Oklahoma and surrounding states. Thanks to these scientists, many people have learned how biologically diverse Oklahoma is, and can truly appreciate its many different landscapes.
However, looking at a map or reading about Oklahoma's unique places is no substitute for experiencing in person what Lester Duck and Jack Fletcher documented so many years ago. Oklahoma is the most diverse, non- Coastal state in the country. I'm very proud of that. We've got alligators and antelope, depending on what part of the state we're in. We've got Mesquite country, we've got Ozark uplift, with beautiful maple tree forests, we've got pine trees in the southeast, bald cypress swamps. We've got the Black Mesa country out in the panhandle with 10-inch rainfall annually or less, 60-inch annual rainfall in the mountains of the southeast. There's a little bit of something for everybody. Bob White quail, scaled quail, white tail deer, mule deer, it is really, there's something for everybody. It's just a beautiful spot to be in. Besides the land diversity, we've got plenty of water, too. We've got beautiful streams and rivers across the state.
We have very large, important reservoirs. In fact, I've heard it said that we have more miles of shoreline than any other state in the country. There may be something that would disagree with us, but I challenge them to prove it. We've got a great fisheries program, we've got a property, large mouth bass, straight bass, small mouth bass. You name it, we've got it. I can't sit here and tell you all the different opportunities we've got in the outdoors in Oklahoma. You just got to get out there and experience it for yourself. March is traditionally the beginning of the annual paddlefish run in Oklahoma, and if you're planning on getting in on the action, be aware of new regulations put in place last year.
Mondays and Fridays are catching release days only statewide. Also, the spring river is closed from the highway 60 bridge upstream to the state line. Snagging is also closed on the Grand River from the highway 412 bridge upstream to the Markham Ferry Dam between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. year round. And the last new regulation change last year now requires paddlefish anglers to record the date and time of harvest of each fish on their paddlefish permit. For additional information about paddle fishing in Oklahoma, log on to today. If you need a paddle fishing permit for this spring, did you know that you can go to and print one off for free?
You know, people ask me all the time how they can come to work for the Department of Wildlife and how they can get hired. And the best way to do that, the first step is to take the exams. The next exam is March 25th at Rose State College. There are some minimum requirements in order to take the exam. A minimum is two years of college. For other job openings, the minimum is a four year degree. So if you're interested, we'd love to have you come and test with us. Those that score in the top will be asked to fill out applications. If we have openings, they'll be called. We're now accepting applications for this summer's annual wildlife department youth camp. Applicants must be between 14 and 16 years of age. And the camp is completely free of charge. The week long camp held at Lake Texoma gives campers a well-rounded taste of what it's like to work for the wildlife department plus have a lot of fun at the same time. The camp is limited to only 35 youth. So be sure to get your application in by the deadline for complete instructions on how to apply. Log on to
Hey, do you like to hunt? Do you like to fish? Well, then we have the perfect magazine for you. It's outdoor Oklahoma and it can be yours for just $10 a year. You'll receive six issues packed full of tips and information to help you in the field. Subscribe by calling 1-800-777-0019 or you can even sign up wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Now let's take a look at a few new lake records set across the state. For more information about the Oklahoma Lake Records program, go to today.
If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, did you know you can find plenty of outdoor related events on the outdoor calendar page of Want to do something green for the environment? When you buy hunting lessons, you support wildlife conservation. For all your wildlife-related needs, log on to Order a subscription to Outdoor Oklahoma magazine. Get the weekly wildlife news release. Check out the weekly fishing report. Or even check out our digital wildlife management area. Visit Subscribe by calling 1-800-777-0019 or you can even sign up whenever you want.
You know it doesn't matter where you hunt. It really doesn't matter what kind of bow or gun you use either. It doesn't even matter what camo pattern you're wearing. But if you're hunting from a tree stand, you've got to wear a full body safety harness and want to set up the TMA standards. That's one thing we should all have in common.
Duck and Fletcher
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OETA (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
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This program is a presentation of Outdoor Oklahoma. It depicts how the Oklahoma Game and Fishing Department now known as the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservations, from 1938 to 1942, conducted a comprehensive survey of the state of Oklahoma's plants and animals led by biologists Lester D. Duck and Jack B. Fletcher. This survey resulted in two landmark products: a map showing 15 unique vegetation types in the state and a 144 page book titled A Survey of the Game and Furbearing Animals of Oklahoma printed in 1943. This book, nearly 70 years later, is regarded by many as foundation for biological research for Oklahoma's natural resources. This work serves as the baseline by which all changes, either manmade or environmental can be measured since the early 1940's. This was developed on the heels or even during one of the country's biggest environmental disaster, the Dust Bowl. Part of the survey was due to the ecological disaster known as the Dust Bowl. Game and fish administrators wanted to find out just how much the state's natural resources had suffered from poor farming practices and severe drought. This survey was enabled due to the passage of the Pittman-Robertson Act which placed federal excise tax on things such as firearms and ammunition giving states additional revenue. This allowed this department to embark on this comprehensive survey, documenting Oklahoma's flora and fauna using traps and hoop nets to document and inventory mammals and bird species, including the types of habitat whereby each species was found. The major focus of the survey was categorizing vegetation species. This was the predecessor for what might be called an ecoregion biome or landscape and described unique sets of plant communities. This is the story of Duck and Fletcher.
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Identifier: 3536 (Outdoor Oklahoma of Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation)
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Chicago: “Duck and Fletcher,” OETA, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 21, 2024,
MLA: “Duck and Fletcher.” OETA, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Duck and Fletcher. Boston, MA: OETA, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from