Free Hunting Days Pave Way for Sharing the Heritage

By Oklahoma Dept of Wildlife Conservation

First posted on 08-26-2009

Rita Estes of Mustang will try the sport of hunting this fall as part of Oklahoma’s Free Hunting Days Sept. 5-6, when Oklahoma residents do not need a hunting license or HIP permit to go afield.

“I usually shoot sporting clays and skeet, but I decided to try something different this year,” Estes said.

Estes plans to go dove hunting with her cousin, Lesley McNeff, and she won’t have to spend money to do it. However, officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are confident that, after trying the sport for free, new hunters will gain an appreciation for conservation and hunting, and will be more likely to participate in the sport of hunting in the future.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is the state agency charged with conserving the state’s wildlife. The agency receives no general state tax revenues and is funded by sportsmen through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and federal excise taxes on sporting goods.

While Estes plans to be dove hunting during Free Hunting Days, non-licensed hunters also can try their hand at squirrel hunting Sept. 5-6, as well as several species that are open for hunting year-round in Oklahoma.

Additionally, Oklahomans who hunt for free during the state’s Free Hunting Days can then purchase a hunting license and plan hunts throughout the fall as more seasons open. Opportunities to hunt deer, turkey, black bear, antelope, elk, rabbit, quail, pheasant waterfowl, and more through a variety of methods are available to fall hunters in Oklahoma, including some seasons designated just for youth. To find out more about hunting season dates and regulations in Oklahoma, consult the “2009-10 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available free at sporting goods stores and anywhere that sells hunting and fishing licenses, or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

Free Hunting Days participants also can follow up their outdoor experience by attending one of many hunter education courses held statewide by the Wildlife Department. The class 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, through an Internet home study course or through a workbook home study course. Officials with the Wildlife Department 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.

To learn more about hunting in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.