There may never be a better opportunity than this coming weekend of Sept. 1-2 to introduce someone new to hunting in Oklahoma.
Several things will come together to create a perfect scenario allowing current hunters to pass along one of America’s greatest outdoor traditions and to help ensure the future of hunting for everyone.
First, this coming weekend will mark the opening days of Oklahoma’s dove hunting season. Traditionally the first hunting season after a long, hot summer, this highly anticipated event welcomes hunters back to the fields to pursue wild game and enhances the appetite for more hunting seasons coming soon.
“I’m pretty optimistic for the Sept. 1 dove opener. We are seeing a lot of doves around, and everything is shaping up to look pretty good,” said Josh Richardson, migratory bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The recent rainfall wasn’t timed to really mess things up. Dove fields that weren’t worked up could dry out in a couple of days, get shredded, disced or burned, and be pulling birds in and ready for opener, no problem.”
Second, Sept. 1 and Sept. 2 are also Free Hunting Days in Oklahoma. State residents are not required to have a state hunting license or a Harvest Information Permit while in the field either of those days.
“Free Hunting Days are a great time to take someone out who hasn’t been hunting before,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “It’s a great time to take a kid hunting, and it’s also a great time to introduce grown-ups to our sporting heritage.”
Not only is dove season open for Free Hunting Days, which can expose new hunters to the often fast and furious sport of wingshooting, but so is squirrel hunting season, giving novices a chance to experience the thrill of small game hunting.
Third, this year brings more public access to hunting land than ever as the Wildlife Department’s OLAP (Oklahoma Land Access Program) begins its second year of operation. OLAP now has more than 50,000 acres enrolled across the state where the public may walk into private lands for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. These leased private areas are in addition to about 1.35 million acres of Department-managed lands available for hunting and fishing activities.
Fourth, Sept. 1-2 is a holiday weekend. Many people will not be on the job or at school Monday in observance of Labor Day. Without those Monday obligations, some people will find it much easier to enjoy some additional time in the dove field or the squirrel woods on Sunday evening.
And when these factors combine, they result in a fifth motivator: the pride and satisfaction felt by veteran hunters (who are doing something good to support America’s sporting tradition) and by new hunting recruits (who have experienced the enjoyment of being outdoors and the appreciation of nature’s bountiful resources).
Not to mention the fact that hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits financially support the various wildlife agencies responsible for the conservation and management of our nation’s natural resource and habitat.
The Wildlife Department encourages everyone with an interest in hunting and wildlife conservation to take advantage of the Sept. 1-2 weekend, take someone new with you, and contribute to the future well-being of Oklahoma’s outdoor sporting heritage.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
For complete regulations for dove and squirrel hunting, consult the Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide, which is available online at www.wildlifedepartment.com, in the free OK Fish & Wildlife mobile app for Apple or Android, and in print wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.
For information on public lands open to hunting, go to the “Where to Hunt” section on the Wildlife Department’s website at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
For information and maps for current OLAP areas, go online to www.wildlifedepartment.com/OLAP or search “Oklahoma Land Access Program” on Facebook.
State game wardens will be on duty as usual to ensure compliance with bag limits, shooting hours, shotgun plugs, hunter education requirements and other general regulations that apply during Free Hunting Days.