As hunting seasons open in Oklahoma, everyone 10 or older who plans to hunt is strongly urged to get hunter education certified using the free online course.

"The COVID-19 pandemic makes the online course an especially good option since people are avoiding crowds," said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Also, online hunter education is always a great option for students unable to make it to a live class because of transportation or timing issues."

Getting an Oklahoma hunting license without an apprentice designation requires hunter education certification for anyone age 10 to 30, unless exempt. Anyone, including youths younger than 10, may hunt with an apprentice-designated license, which requires being with an accompanying hunter.

"With hunter education, you can hunt by yourself," Meek said. "And anyone of any age is encouraged to go through the hunter education course for many reasons, including becoming a safer hunter and learning about things like wildlife ID, survival, conservation and hunter responsibilities."

The online hunter education course is at www.wildlifedepartment.com/education/hunter-ed/take-the-hunder-ed-course-online.

Students can work at their own pace, logging in and out as many times as they'd like. Most students take about eight hours for online classwork and testing - about the same as an in-person class, but no travel is required.

Students will need to create accounts with Go Outdoors Oklahoma and the NRA Learning Portal so their certification can be registered. They must provide an email, birth date, phone number, street address, and the last four digits of their Social Security number.

While the online course becomes the best option for many people during the pandemic, the Wildlife Department continues to offer some in-person classes for hunter education. For a list of those classes, search online at https://license.gooutdoorsoklahoma.com/Event/Events.aspx.

"The great thing about our new Go Outdoors license system is that your hunter education number is recorded with your license information. If it is in the system, you will not have to present your number when you buy a license," Meek said.

In Oklahoma, hunting-related accidents and fatalities have declined by more than 70 percent during the past 40 years. Mandatory hunter education courses have not only reduced the number of accidents in Oklahoma, but also in every state and Canadian province with similar programs.

While hunter education certification is not required of people 31 and older in Oklahoma, it's still available for free and will make anyone of any age a better hunter, according to Meek.

Find out how to get started with the online hunter education course by watching a video tutorial at https://youtu.be/6JS4GZah-L4.

Anyone who needs a replacement Hunter Education certification card can learn how to get one at www.facebook.com/watch/?v=754035528474692&extid=fQHPOS7LQpLeSH06.

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