OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has renamed its game farm near Centralia the “Bob Oke Game Farm” in recognition of Sen. Bob Oke,
R-Port Orchard, an avid pheasant hunter credited with saving and improving the facility.
Formerly known as the Lewis County Game Farm, the facility is the only WDFW game farm in the state dedicated to raising pheasants for release in western Washington.
During a dedication ceremony at the game farm May 24, WDFW Director Jeff Koenings called Oke “a true friend of the department and a mentor to department staff.”
“This is a testament not only to your efforts related to pheasants, but to all the other issues you’ve helped the department with through the years, which are many and varied and very much appreciated,” Koenings said.
Oke, who is ending his 16-year career in the state Senate this year, made it possible for the department to turn the 1940s game farm into a modern facility, Koenings said. He noted that Oke served on the Senate standing committee on natural resource issues during all of his years in that office.
During the dedication, Oke said he learned to hunt pheasants with his father and has continued to make it a family activity with his grandson.
“My love for pheasants actually came about because my dad and I bonded over pheasant hunting,” Oke said. “I just know it’s good for families.”
Each year, more than 6,000 hunters in western Washington purchase permits to hunt the 40,000 pheasants raised at the game farm.
“I give much credit to Ron and Darlene Antill who lovingly care for the farm 24-hours a day, seven days a week,” Oke said. “They are dedicated and wonderful people.”
Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, whose 20th Legislative District includes the game farm, said he is proud to have the Bob Oke Game Farm in his district. “I will change my route to church so I can go by it every Sunday,” Swecker said.
House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt, who also represents the 20th District stated in a letter read at the ceremony, “Bob’s appreciation for wildlife preservation and recreation helped him see past the challenges we faced in keeping this program viable.”
Sen. Mark Doumit, D-Cathlamet, vice chair of the Senate Natural Resources, Ocean and Recreation Committee, told Oke at the conclusion of the ceremony that it is important to keep the facility well maintained, adding that the Legislature needs to make that commitment.