By Gerry Augustin Outdoor Writer



With deer, elk, turkey and quail season already open or about to open, hunters are reminded that anyone born after Jan. 1, 1972, is required to successfully complete a hunter safety course before purchasing a hunting license or hunting big game.

The 10-hour course covers subjects like firearm safety, hunting regulations, hunter responsibility and ethics, wildlife management, outdoor survival and other outdoor topics.

Even though the course is required to obtain a hunting license, the information and safety training would be beneficial to any household with firearms.

The certificate is honored in all 50 states.

If you lost your card, a new one can be obtained for $5 by sending your name, address, date of birth, location of the course taken (city and county) and the month of the year the course was taken to Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.



Trap shoot practice for quail season



Quail season opens this Saturday. Are you ready?

Local trap-shooting ranges will be open to the public this afternoon to get ready for the season and to support local 4-H shooting programs.

The Hennessey Powder and String club will hold their monthly trap shoot west of Hennessey. The Grand National Gun Club will host a ham and turkey shoot to benefit the local 4-H shooting sports program.

The public is invited to both trap shoots, and you do not need to be a member to shoot. Why go empty-handed next weekend. Bring home your limit of 10 birds and cook up some bacon-wrapped quail breast for supper. Check calendar for starting times.



Outdoor Trivia



How well did you know your Oklahoma geography? The average depth of Great Salt Plains Lake is 4 feet. The world's largest earthen dam, which measures 134 feet high and 3 miles long, is located at Foss Reservoir.

You will have two weeks to come up with the following answers: What is the state reptile of Oklahoma? What is the name of the larval stage of the dobsonfly? Hint: It is commonly used as fish bait.



Quail season looks good



The 2005 quail season kicks off Saturday and runs through Feb. 15. Quail roadside surveys conducted by the Wildlife Department indicate quail populations are up slightly, and the season should be as good as last year. Landowners and sportsmen also have reported good numbers of quail.

According to survey results, populations are up in all areas of the state except the Northeast and south central Oklahoma. Estimates indicate an increase of 40 percent over last year. Early season production was estimated to be up 70 percent. By all indications, the quail numbers haven't been this good since 1993 in the state and in northwest Oklahoma since 1997.

The ODWC 10 point quail initiative should help keep our quail population remain healthy.

1. Educate landowners, sportsmen, and policy makers on the status of bobwhite quail.

2. Identify areas for habitat improvement.

3. Improve habitat on private land and improve incentives to improve habitat.

4. Educate landowners on quail habitat requirements, management techniques and what practices harm quail habitat.

5. Set up private land demonstrations for quail management.

6. Promote existing cost-sharing programs to benefit quail and other wildlife.

7. Work to perpetuate use of controlled burns to improve quail habitat.

8. Control the evasive red cedar.

9. Work with other agencies to improve quail habitat.

10. Work with public utilities and Department of Transportation to develop right-of-way management practices to conserve nesting habitat.



Angler Numbers on the Upswing



The number of paid fishing license holders in the United States slightly has increased over the previous year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's recent National Fishing License Report.

The number of resident licenses, tags, permits and stamps issued in 2004 increased nearly 2 percent over the previous year to 31.6 million, while the nonresident quantity posted at 6.6 million, an increase of 3.7 percent over 2003.

Anglers continue to contribute more and more dollars in pursuit of their sport. The 2004 figures show gross cost paid by anglers for licenses, tags, permits and stamps -- the primary funding source for sport fish conservation and management programs in America -- was $540.9 million. That total represents an increase of 5.3 percent over 2003.



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