Oklahoma Offers Free Hunter Education Classes

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Oklahomans hoping to go hunting this year can prepare by enrolling in one of many hunter education courses to be held this fall by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The Department's Hunter Education course teaches a range of topics including firearms safety, wildlife identification, wildlife conservation and management, survival, archery, muzzleloading and hunter responsibility. The course is available as a standard eight-hour course, or as a home study course.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation offers a full listing of available upcoming hunter education courses online at wildlifedepartment.com. Visitors to the site can learn when and where classes will be held and, if pre-registration is required, a phone number is provided.

To hunt big game or small game alone, hunters ages 10-35 must be hunter education certified. Hunters age nine and under can hunt big game or small game alone except during youth deer gun and turkey seasons and on public lands, where additional regulations may apply. Hunters exempt from hunter education include those 36 years of age or older, those honorably discharged from or currently on duty the U.S. Armed Forces, and members of the National Guard.

Oklahomans who are not exempt from hunter education but who are not hunter ed certified may be eligible to hunt with an apprentice-designated hunting license. For full details and license requirements, log on to wildlifedepartment.com or consult the current "Oklahoma Hunting Guide."

Even those hunters who can hunt with an apprentice-designated hunting license are encouraged to enroll in a hunter education course.

Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation say hunter education courses have not only reduced accidents within Oklahoma, but also in every state and Canadian province with similar programs. Over the past 30 years, hunting related accidents and fatalities have declined by more than 70 percent in Oklahoma.

Oklahomans interested in becoming volunteer hunter education instructors for the Wildlife Department can reserve a spot and attend an upcoming workshop Dec. 12 at H&H Gun Range, located at the I-40 and Meridian area in Oklahoma City (400 S. Vermont, Suite 110).

Volunteer instructors teach and assist in numerous classes throughout the state each year, making hunter education more readily available for more Oklahomans. Volunteers help set up and teach classes, assist other instructors and represent the Wildlife Department and sportsmen of the state.

To become a volunteer instructor or to reserve a spot at the upcoming workshop, contact Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Wildlife Department, at lmeek@odwc.state.ok.us or call (405) 522-4572.

For more information about hunter education in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.