Oklahoma's Free Hunting Days will be this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 5-6. These days represent a hunter's best opportunity to introduce a new hunter to the sport.
The Free Hunting Days weekend allows any Oklahoma resident to go afield without the normally required standard hunting license. Oklahoma's game wardens will not enforce the requirements for standard hunting licenses and permits for state residents on those days.
"Don't pass up this chance to take someone new during Free Hunting Days. It's a great time to take a kid hunting, and it's also a great time to introduce adults to our sporting heritage as well," said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Dove and squirrel seasons are open that weekend, and they are plentiful around the state. These hunting seasons give sportsmen lots of action during early September."
Dove can be found from one corner of the state to the next, and hunters do not typically have to travel far to find dove. Recently harvested grain fields and cattle watering ponds on private lands can be excellent places to hunt dove, and they can often be found only a few miles outside city limits. Additionally, excellent hunting can be found on some of the areas managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Many WMAs have areas that are specifically for dove hunting.
To find out more about these areas, go online to wildlifedepartment.com and check out the "Where to Hunt" link. In addition to detailed maps, sportsmen can find additional information such as camping locations and contact information for local biologists.
While a hunting license is not required for Oklahoma residents during Free Hunting Days, all other regulations remain in effect. Wardens will be on duty as usual to ensure compliance with bag limits, shooting hours, shotgun plugs, hunter education requirements and other rules.
"Remember to always put safety first, whether it's during Free Hunting Days or any other day of the year," Meek said. Youths 15 and younger must have a hunter education card or be with someone meeting Accompanying Hunter requirements. Anyone 10 or older may become hunter education certified anytime by completing the online course at wildlifedepartment.com.
For complete dove and squirrel hunting regulations, consult the 2015-16 "Oklahoma Hunting" guide available online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print at hundreds of vendors statewide where hunting and fishing licenses are sold.
Oklahoma's Free Hunting Days weekend is a hunter's best opportunity to introduce someone new to the sporting tradition. Take advantage of the chance Sept. 5-6, when dove and squirrel hunting seasons are open and Oklahoma residents need not have a standard hunting license. (Photo by Lance Meek/ODWC)