Hunter Education Manual - Oklahoma Department of Wildlife

Hunter Education Manual - Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
Hunter Education Manual
Set Your Sights on Safety
OKLAHOMA
Buy your license online at wildlifedepartment.com
WILDDEPART MENT OF ION
LIFE CONSERVAT
Panoramas
Robert Fleenor
Richard Hatcher
Law Enforcement Chief
Director - Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
There has never been a better time to be a hunter in
Oklahoma. Thanks to wildlife management efforts, deer
and turkey numbers are at historically high numbers.
Also, there are more opportunities than ever for
sportsmen and women to get into the field. Additionally,
hunters are safer and more ethical than ever thanks to
hunter education.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
is a constitutional agency. It was created based on the
user-pay/user-benefit principle where hunter and angler
license fees fund the operation of the Department. The
Department’s mission is to manage Oklahoma’s wildlife
resources and habitat to provide scientific, educational,
aesthetic, economic and recreational benefits for present
and future generations of hunters, anglers and others who
appreciate wildlife.
During the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation’s first 70 years efforts were focused on
bringing back native wildlife populations after decades of
uncontrolled market hunting. Methods included setting
bag limits, establishing season dates, reintroduction
of native species and even introduction of a few game
species. Those efforts have been incredibly successful.
In that time, new challenges and opportunities emerged.
In order to improve the safety and ethics of hunters, the
Department began offering hunter education courses in
1965. It became mandatory for new hunters in 1987.
Since then, more than half a million Oklahoma hunters
have graduated from a hunter education class.
Just like early wildlife managers, the ODWC still faces
challenges and opportunities today. These range from
maintaining hunting opportunities for antelope in the
Panhandle and creating new opportunities for hunting
black bear in southeastern Oklahoma.
Other challenges stem from the habits of people and the
trends of society. Families are met with more recreational
choices than ever before whether or not they are outdoor
related pursuits. The Department has risen to meet these
challenges by improving the hunter education program.
This includes offering home study hunter education
classes that require less classroom time while maintaining
a quality educational experience. The Department has
also adjusted the class schedule to better fit new hunters’
busy schedules. Another step introduced the apprenticedesignated license that allows new hunters to learn in
the field from a mentor on an actual hunting trip before
attending a hunter education class.
And what better way for hunter education graduates
to put their new skills to work than by going hunting?
The Department manages more than 1.3 million acres
of public land that is set aside for hunting and outdoor
recreation. Combined, this land provides hunters with
excellent opportunities for waterfowl, deer, turkey, quail,
rabbit, squirrel and black bear.
What will the next 10, 20 or 100 years bring for hunters
and the Wildlife Department? It will certainly bring
more opportunities and changes in wildlife management
techniques, as well as societal shifts that will affect both
groups. One thing is certain, the
Wildlife Department, with the
help of hunters and other wildlife
When
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I have had the privilege of working with thousands of new hunters during my career with the Wildlife Department. Whether
teaching them the skills they need to be a safe and ethical hunter in a hunter education course or meeting them in the field while
they are hunting, they are almost always eager to learn more.
Our main goal at a hunter education class is to give students the knowledge they need to be safe and ethical hunters. Before you
leave this class with your hunter education card, you will have to prove to us that you have mastered that knowledge. And even then,
after you have proven to us that you know how to be a safe hunter, there is no way to test whether or not you will apply those skills
when you are in the woods. Since we can’t be with you while you’re in the field, you will be the person who has to make sure you are
being safe and ethical.
Every time you go hunting, there are many decisions to make, such as where to hunt, whether to bring an extra jacket, etc. Those are
the easy decisions. The really important decisions are those that make you a safe and ethical hunter. Are your hunting companions
safe and ethical? Are you going to cut corners on being safe? Are you going to unload your firearm before you cross a fence? Are you
going to break a game law because you don’t think it will matter this one time?
Staying safe, legal and ethical is up to you. It’s your choice. Make the right one!
Alan Peoples
Wildlife Division Chief
Almost every family has a sacred memento that has been passed down through several generations. In some families it’s a china set,
in other families it’s a gun. In my family, it’s a love of hunting. My grandfather passed it to my dad, my dad passed it to me, and I’ve
done my best to pass it on to my son and daughter. Hopefully, they’ll pass it on to their sons and daughters.
Taking my daughter on hunting trips has not turned her into a hunter; she is just not wired that way, kind of like her mom. They
do however, absolutely love and cherish marinated, bacon-wrapped, jalapeño-filled, deer back strap cooked on the grill or a tasty
meal of fried quail with biscuits and gravy. With my son, however, it’s a totally different story. Ever since he was a little bitty guy, he
has lived and breathed hunting and I’m confident that he will pass the gift on to my grandchildren. Even though my daughter hasn’t
taken to hunting, I’m sure that she will raise her children in a way that hunting trips with grandpa are something that they look
forward too.
I encourage you to pass the gift of hunting on to your children or grandchildren. If you don’t have children, there are many young
people out there who would love for you to take them hunting. Youth hunting opportunities are better in Oklahoma than they’ve
ever been. License prices are low, there are special youth seasons for most game animals and wild game is plentiful, there has never
been a better time to be a new hunter. Take someone hunting this year. You might find that the gift you give yourself is even better
than the gift you give them.
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Chapter 1: Introduction ........................................................................................................5
Welcome to hunter education; History of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
Chapter 2: Hunter Responsibility.........................................................................................7
What is responsibility?; Developing a personal code of hunting ethics; The progression of a hunter; Preparing for
a successful hunt
Chapter 3: Wildlife Conservation and Management ..................................................... 13
Managing resources; Five natural resources found in a sound habitat; Carrying capacity; The North American Model
of Wildlife Conservation; Wildlife management tools; Hunters pay for wildlife management in Oklahoma
Chapter 4: Firearms: Rifles and Shotguns ........................................................................24
Rifles; Cartridges; Shotguns; The Shotgun Shell; Firearm actions; Cleaning and storing your firearms; Transporting
firearms; Marksmanship
Chapter 5: Safety ..................................................................................................................... 35
Firearm safety; Loading and unloading firearms; Hunter orange; Safely carrying your firearm while hunting;
Crossing fences; Waterways and other obstacles; Safe zones of fire; Handling ammunition safely; Turkey hunting
safety; Firearm safety in the home; Treestand safety; Water safety
Chapter 6: Field Guide to Identifying Oklahoma Wildlife .............................................. 50
Large mammals; Medium to small animals; Birds
Chapter 7: Game Care ........................................................................................................... 60
After the harvest; Care of the carcass; Field dressing; Disposal of entrails and carcass
Chapter 8: Archery ................................................................................................................. 66
Bowhunting; Types of bows
Chapter 9: Hunting with Muzzleloaders .......................................................................... 70
Safety comes first!; Black powder; Loading a muzzleloader
Chapter 10: Survival ...............................................................................................................73
Surviving being lost; Survival kit
Federal Funding & Quail Management .............................................................................75
Cover Photo by Mike Lambeth
Published by the Oklahoma Department
of Wildlife Conservation
State of Oklahoma
MARY FALLIN, Governor
Wildlife Conservation Commission
M. David Riggs, Sand Springs - Chairman
John P. Zelbst, Meers - Vice Chairman
John D. Groendyke, Enid - Secretary
Ed Abel, Oklahoma City
Mike Bloodworth, Hugo
Bruce Mabrey, Okmulgee
DAN ROBBINS, Altus
Harland Stonecipher, Centrahoma
Oklahoma Department Of Wildlife Conservation
Richard Hatcher, Director
WADE FREE - Assistant Director of Operations
MELINDA STURGESS-STREICH - Assistant Director
of Administration and Finance
BARRY BOLTON - Chief, Fisheries Division
ALAN PEOPLES - Chief, Wildlife Division
ROBERT FLEENOR - Chief, Law Enforcement Division
Nels Rodefeld - Chief, Information & Education Division
Curriculum developed by
Nels Rodefeld - Editor
Colin Berg - Associate Editor
Lance Meek - Associate Editor
Hunter education office:
P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152
Phone (405) 522-4572
Layout by Hester Designs
Edited by DANIEL GRIFFITH
This edition printed July 2012
Website: wildlifedepartment.com
E-mail:[email protected]
University of Central Oklahoma
Copyright © 2012 by the Oklahoma Department of
Wildlife Conservation. Reproduction in whole or part
without permission is prohibited. Oklahoma Hunter
Education Manual is published by the Oklahoma
Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465,
Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
In conformance with the Americans With Disabilities Act
as amended, ODWC makes every effort to provide equally
effective services for persons with disabilities. Individuals
with disabilities needing auxiliary aids or services for
effective communication in ODWC programs should call
the program in charge or TDD (800) 522-8506.
This program operates free from discrimination on
the basis of political or religious opinion or affiliation,
race, creed, color, gender, age, national origin, marital
status or disability. A person who feels he or she
may have been discriminated against or would like
further information should write: Director, Oklahoma
Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465,
Oklahoma City, OK 73152, or Office for Human
Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4040 N.
Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203.
1
Introduction
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Welcome to
Hunter Education
OBJECTIVE 1
Welcome to Oklahoma’s Hunter Education
program. This training program provides both
beginning and veteran hunters an understanding of
the responsibilities involved in the sport of hunting.
It will help develop an understanding of sound safety
practices, serve as a foundation for responsible and
ethical decision making, and start hunters on the path
to fully experience all aspects of the hunting tradition
and pass this heritage to the next generation.
Hunter education is important because it improves
hunter behavior and reduces hunting-related injuries.
Over the past 30 years, hunting related accidents and
fatalities have declined by more than 70 percent in
Oklahoma. Mandatory hunter education courses
have not only reduced accidents within Oklahoma,
but also in every state and Canadian province with
similar programs.
Hunter education is not just a firearms safety course.
It provides sound guidelines for becoming responsible,
ethical hunters and provides a comprehensive guide
to Oklahoma wildlife. It also helps increase awareness
of the importance of wildlife conservation and
management efforts in Oklahoma. And finally, hunter
education is a method of protecting the future of
hunting in Oklahoma.
The history of wildlife conservation and management
in Oklahoma is rich with commitment to the land
and the wildlife that live on it. With management
techniques that help conserve valuable wildlife and
habitat, and with the help of both hunters and
the non-hunting public, the future of Oklahoma
hunting is bright. It is up to you to be a safe, legal
and responsible hunter and thereby help ensure
Oklahoma’s hunting heritage.
Hunter education covers a variety of topics including
hunter responsibility, wildlife conservation and
management, firearm safety, wildlife identification,
archery, muzzleloading and turkey hunting. Words to Know
Responsible – Being fully accountable
for your actions.
Ethical Behavior – Acting in a manner
that is respectful of people, land and
wildlife.
Rights – Benefits you legally have, or
actions you can legally take.
Privileges – Benefits that can be taken
away.
Trespassing – Hunting or otherwise
intruding on private and some public
property without permission.
Question:
Why is hunter
education important?
Answer:
It improves hunter
behavior and reduces
hunting-related
injuries.
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CHAPTER
Table of Contents
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5
Oklahoma Hunter Education
History of the Oklahoma
Department of Wildlife
Conservation
OBJECTIVE 2
Oklahoma’s relationship with wildlife has gone
through many changes throughout the years, from
the early days of unregulated market hunting to the
beginning of conservation and continuing with a
string of conservation success stories.
1907 – Oklahoma statehood established.
1909 – Wildlife Department created. First game ranger appointed.
1933 – First deer season.
1945 – Oklahoma Game and Fish News (Outdoor Oklahoma) began
publication.
1954 – First statewide deer gun season (5 days); 1,487 bucks
harvested.
1955 – First gun safety program initiated in Oklahoma by National
Rifle Association.
CHAPTER
CHAPTER
1
Introduction
2
Hunter Responsibility
Oklahoma Hunter Education
What is a responsible
hunter?
OBJECTIVE 1
1956 – A vote of the people of Oklahoma makes the Wildlife
Department constitutionally independent.
1962 – First elk hunt results in 42 harvested. First antlerless deer
season.
A responsible hunter:
1964 – First spring turkey season. Trout stocking program started.
• Always thinks of safety first.
1966 – First antelope season. Department moved into a new building.
• Follows laws and regulations and insists that his
or her companions do as well.
1976 – Outdoor Oklahoma television show began.
• Develops a personal code of ethics and follows it
unfailingly.
A responsible hunter is fully accountable for their
actions.
Enjoying the Oklahoma outdoors is one of the great
pleasures in life, but along with that comes the duty to
protect and conserve our country’s wild lands and the
animals that inhabit them.
1969 – First lifetime combination license sold for $150.
• Ensures the safety of themselves and their
companions by (1) wearing hunter orange when
required; (2) adhering to hunting seasons and
hours; and (3) clearly identifying the target before
taking the shot.
• Protects wildlife by supporting conservation
efforts as well as following all regulations
pertaining to limits and hunting practices.
• Respects others by displaying kind and courteous
behavior to other hunters, landowners and the
general public.
• Displays restraint and does not abuse privileges.
• Takes full responsibility for his or her actions,
including mistakes, and does whatever necessary
to correct those mistakes.
• Values the land and treats it with respect.
Be Safe, Be Legal and
Be Responsible!
1979 – Operation Game Thief established.
One of the main reasons some people oppose
hunting is because of bad behavior of some hunters.
Irresponsible hunters can quickly damage or erode
public support. Harvesting an animal is a serious
action, and how the public views that behavior can
influence the future of hunting in Oklahoma.
1990 – Statewide deer population estimated at 250,000, total harvest
44,070.
1996 – First watchable wildlife area established at Byron Hatchery.
1998 – Hunter education offered as home study.
2003 – Hunting and fishing licenses first offered online.
2004 – Archery in the Schools program started. Statewide deer
population estimated at 475,000, total harvest 94,689.
2005 – First Wildlife Expo.
2009 – First bear season.
2010 –Wildlife Dept. adds 5,952 acres of public hunting land to
Beaver River Wildlife Management Area.
2012 – Youth deer gun season expanded to allow hunters to harvest
two antlerless deer or one antlered and one non-antlered.
Unfilled youth deer gun licenses can be filled during the
regular deer season.
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Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
Photo courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation
2008 – Wildlife Dept. adds 6,832 acres of public hunting land with
the addition of Cimarron Bluff and Cimarron Hills wildlife
management areas.
Question:
What is one of the main reasons some
people oppose hunting?
Answer:
The bad behavior of some hunters.
Question:
What is a responsible hunter fully
accountable for?
Answer:
His or her actions.
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Oklahoma Hunter Education
Do your part: Always be fair, ethical
and responsible in all your actions!
CHAPTER
CHAPTER
2
Hunter Responsibility
2
Hunter Responsibility
Oklahoma Hunter Education
In Oklahoma and the United States, most of the
land where wildlife can be found is privately owned.
Therefore, hunters should always act as guests on
other people’s property. There are certain “good
neighbor” behaviors you should practice:
• Always get permission before going on private
property. Trespassing is illegal and unethical.
• Get to know the landowner. Always thank the
landowner for the use of his or her property for
hunting. Offer some of the game meat when you
hunt or offer to do some work for them.
Ben Davis
• Leave the land exactly the way you found
it. Careless hunters who leave trash around
campsites, destroy vegetation when putting
up deer stands, tear down fences, shoot signs,
leave gates open and drive ATV’s in fragile
environments damage the reputation of all
hunters.
Kelly Murrah
• Know the layout and boundaries of the area
in order to protect property and lives and avoid
trespassing.
• Do not poach. Poaching is taking game illegally
and is punishable by fines and the loss of your
hunting license, vehicle and hunting gear.
• Report poaching. Call Operation Game Thief at
1-800-522-8039, or call your local game warden.
Game warden phone numbers can be found in
the hunting, fishing and waterfowl guides or
online at wildlifedepartment.com.
Hunter Pride
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POACH – Taking game illegally and is
punishable by fines and the loss of your
hunting license, vehicle and hunting gear.
TRESPASS – It’s illegal to go on private and
some public property without permission.
BECOME GREEDY – Taking more game than
the legal limit or pushing to achieve a full
limit by using unsafe actions.
NEGLECT SAFETY – Safety is always the
most important thing you should think about
while hunting.
Hunters have many things on which to pride
themselves. They have been instrumental in improving
wildlife habitat, relocating species and even bringing
species back from the edge of extinction. It is a long
and rich heritage that brings rewards in a variety of
forms – not the least of which is passing the sport on
to the next generation.
Rights
Rights cannot be taken away from you except under
extreme conditions. Examples of rights are the right to
vote and the right to free speech.
Privileges
Privileges can be taken away if you fail to follow
the conditions of a privilege. Examples of privileges
include obtaining a driver’s license, membership
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CHAPTER
CHAPTER
2
Hunter Responsibility
Oklahoma Hunter Education
in a club, getting your hunting license and hunter
education certificate. Hunting should always be
treated as a privilege. It can be taken away from you if
you abuse the privilege with poor behavior.
Developing a Personal
Code of Hunting Ethics
OBJECTIVE 2
Responsible hunters develop a personal hunting code
of ethics that governs the way they hunt. It is the
way they act when the time comes to make a hunting
decision. Responsible hunters follow their personal
code of hunting ethics.
What is your personal code of hunting ethics?
2
Hunter Responsibility
Oklahoma Hunter Education
The Progression
of a Hunter
Example: Personal Code of Hunting
Ethics
I will respect all wildlife and the land
where I hunt. When I hunt, I will do so
responsibly.
OBJECTIVE 3
As hunters age and gain experience they find
satisfaction in different aspects of the hunt. For
beginning hunters, it’s often getting a lot of shooting
in or reaching their bag limits.
I will consider myself an invited guest of
the landowner, seeking their permission,
and conducting myself so that I may be
welcome in the future.
I will obey the rules of safe gun handling
and will courteously but firmly insist that
others who hunt with me do the same.
Most hunters reach the point where their main
interest is passing on the hunting tradition and
spending time in the field with friends and family.
As they continue hunting, they will likely become
interested in special methods of taking game such
as bowhunting or muzzleloading. They may even
become trophy hunters, interested in taking the largest
tom or buck possible while passing up smaller animals.
I will obey all game laws and regulations,
and will insist that my companions do
likewise.
I will do my best to acquire marksmanship
and hunting skills.
I will support conservation efforts that
can assure good hunting for future
generations of Americans.
I will pass along to younger hunters the
attitudes and skills essential to a true
outdoor sportsman.
Oklahoma is a member
of the Interstate Wildlife
Violator Compact.
Oklahoma is a member of the Interstate
Wildlife Violator Compact. Oklahoma
is one of 38 states in the Interstate
Wildlife Violator Compact. Violations
in any member state can result in the
loss of hunting or fishing privileges
in all the states. Read more at
wildlifedepartment.com/laws_regs/
violator_compact.htm
Ben Davis
Lance Meek
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CHAPTER
CHAPTER
2
Hunter Responsibility
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Preparing for a
Successful Hunt
Managing Resources
OBJECTIVE 1
OBJECTIVE 4
The resources Oklahoma wildlife depend upon
are renewable. That means important and critical
elements such as food, water and shelter are
replenished naturally by the environment. These
resources are not infinite. They will not support an
unlimited number of animals, especially when man
is competing for the same resources. This is why
conservation and management are so important. They
are necessary for the continued survival of wildlife.
Good wildlife management benefits wildlife and the
people of Oklahoma.
A successful hunt is not dependent upon achieving
your limit or even bagging a trophy animal. A
successful hunt is much more than that. It takes
preparation; not just physically but mentally as
well. Successful hunters prepare in advance. They:
• Plan the hunt in detail.
• Learn the area of the hunt by scouting in
advance.
3
Wildlife Conservation
& Management
wildlifedepartment.com
• Use wildlife identification guides to learn
the habitat, food choices and behavior of the
wildlife they are hunting.
Habitat
Most of the land in Oklahoma where wildlife can
be found is privately owned. People value wildlife
not only as part of their quality of life, but for
the contribution it makes to Oklahoma tourism,
recreation, hunting and fishing. In order for a species
to thrive, it must have good habitat available. Habitat
consists of food, water, cover, space and arrangement
to support wildlife. If there is not enough food,
water or cover in an environment for a species, or if
the quality of the habitat is poor, then the numbers
of that animal will decrease. The most important
thing we can do to ensure that we have wildlife in the
future is to increase and to manage wildlife habitat.
Wildlife belongs to the people of Oklahoma.
Conservation requires wise use of wildlife resources.
• Maintain firearms and hunting equipment
in good condition and use the appropriate
ammunition or accessories for the game they
are hunting.
Ben Davis
• Practice shooting with their firearm or bow
often; not just the day before the season opens.
• Get in shape physically before they go hunting.
Question:
Who owns the wildlife in the state of
Oklahoma?
Answer:
The people of Oklahoma.
Question:
What is the most important thing we can
do to ensure that we have wildlife in the
future?
Answer:
Increase wildlife habitat.
• Become familiar with all of the laws that
govern the area they will hunt.
• Acquire the required licenses.
Wise hunters improve public opinion of hunters
and protect the future of hunting by being:
• Courteous
• Thoughtful
• Respectful
• Responsible
Jerry Hand
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CHAPTER
3
Wildlife Conservation
& Management
Five Important Parts
of a Sound Habitat
Arrangement
OBJECTIVE 2
Words to Know
Food
All wildlife rely on either plants or
other animals for food. Without
proper nutrition, animals will starve
and die, get diseases, or fail to
reproduce. The availability of food
can vary depending on changes in
the weather or seasons. It is also
changed by man’s actions including
livestock stocking rates, planting
crops, new housing developments or
other activities.
Water
Water is necessary for everything
to live. A species will quickly die
without water. The amount of
rainfall can affect the quality of
the vegetation and therefore the
population numbers of a species.
Habitat – Consists of cover, food, water,
space and arrangement.
Conservation – Wise use and protection
of natural resources.
Management Tool – Tools, such as
prescribed fire or planting food plots, that
Wildlife Department employees use to
manage wildlife resources.
Species – Animals or plants that have
the same common characteristics and can
interbreed.
Carrying Capacity – The amount
of wildlife each habitat can support
throughout the year.
Pittman-Robertson Act – A federal tax on
firearms and ammunition that helps fund
conservation. This is administered through
the Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration
Program.
The distance and obstacles between the four other
parts of habitat is arrangement. Some animals may
need to have all of these parts closer to each other than
other animals. The white-footed mouse only travels
half an acre to find all of these parts, while a white
tail deer can travel a square mile or more to find these
parts. An animal’s home range needs to have several
sources of each part of habitat. If one factor is too
far away for an animal to safely travel, or if there is an
obstacle, like a highway, the animal may abandon that
habitat for a more suitable area.
MIcah Holmes
Factors that limit the amount of wildlife:
Disease/parasitesStarvation
PredatorsPollution
Accidents
Water
Conservation
Food
Carrying Capacity
OBJECTIVE 3
Carrying capacity is the amount of wildlife a habitat
can support throughout the year. If there is enough
food, water, space and cover for all members of the
population to survive, reproduce and do well then the
number of animals is below or at the carrying capacity
of the environment.
wildlifedepartment.com
Cover
Shelter is important for protecting and providing
refuge for animals to reproduce, sleep, eat and hide
from predators. Depending on the animal, shelter can
be in the form of trees, bushes, rocks, ground cover,
burrows and other features of the environment.
Without enough space, wildlife cannot find enough
food and shelter causing them to fail to reproduce.
The number of animals drops and even the animal’s
behavior can be changed. This results in less wildlife.
14
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Space
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However, if animals are starving, do not reproduce or
are generally diseased, then the number is above the
carrying capacity of the environment. It’s all a matter
of balance!
Species reproduce annually or more often,
replenishing their numbers or population. If a species
reproduces so much that the number of animals is
greater than the ability of the land to supply water,
food, space and cover, the result can be disease and
death. When the number of wildlife is greater than
the carrying capacity, then wildlife begin to compete
for food, water, space and cover. This can damage the
habitat and drops the carrying capacity even farther.
This is where hunting and trapping can help maintain
nature’s balance.
The North American
Model of Wildlife
Conservation
OBJECTIVE 4
Oklahoma and all other 49 states manage wildlife
based on The North American Model of Wildlife
Conservation. There are two main principles, fish
and wildlife belong to the people of North America
and they should be managed in a way that their
populations can be maintained forever. It is the
world’s most successful method, no other continent
has as many of its native wildlife species still living.
While other countries struggle to conserve the few
species they have left, we enjoy great abundance and
diversity of native wildlife. This is mainly because of
the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation,
which strives to sustain wildlife species and habitats
through sound science and active management.
Hunting and angling make the North American
Model of Wildlife Conservation work. These activities
have generated more than $10 billion toward wildlife
16
conservation since 1937. The conservation efforts that
hunters and anglers fund also benefits non-hunted
species. Protecting wetlands for ducks, forests for deer
and grasslands for pronghorn have saved countless
non-hunted species from peril. Even people who don’t
hunt or fish need to understand the conservation role
sportsmen play.
Hunters and anglers actively support wildlife
conservation by buying licenses and paying taxes on
hunting and fishing equipment. Why are hunters and
anglers so willing to support conservation through
their pocketbooks? Because people value and are
willing to pay for what they can use. In many states
there aren’t as many hunting and fishing licenses
sold as there were 20 years ago. In Oklahoma
and a few other states, the number of hunting
and fishing licenses sold has remained stable. But
given the rate of population growth, the percentage
of people participating in hunting and fishing is
actually decreasing. There is no alternative funding
system in place to replace the potential lost funds for
conservation. If hunting ends, funding for wildlife
conservation is in peril.
Wildlife Management
Tools
OBJECTIVE 5
Question:
What does good wildlife management benefit?
Answer:
Most of the plants and animals in a habitat –
not just one species.
Nels Rodefeld
CHAPTER
3
Wildlife Conservation
& Management
Managing the way people interact with wildlife is
one of the most important tools wildlife managers
use. When wildlife populations are high, hunters
often have increased opportunities to harvest game.
When populations are low or the environment has
been damaged, then hunters harvest less. Research and
harvest surveys are also used as Wildlife Management
tools. Managers keep data on numbers of species and
the quality of the habitat each year in order to develop
the best plans. Studying wildlife and researching such
things as where wildlife live, what they eat, and how
and where they reproduce are all things that wildlife
biologists study in order to have a good understanding
of wildlife species. Surveys are conducted every year
to see:
• How many animals can be harvested from a
population.
• The condition of the environment.
• Trends in population numbers and habitat
conditions.
• Basic information on sex and age of animals
harvested.
• Social impact of wildlife and of hunting.
What Is Good
Wildlife Management?
Good wildlife management:
• Is based on sound biological
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
is the state agency responsible for managing wildlife in
Oklahoma.
The first tool Oklahoma wildlife managers use to
keep wildlife at the carrying capacity of the land or
environment is a sound management plan. Without
proper wildlife management plans, many species and/
or populations of wildlife in Oklahoma would be in
danger. These plans change when the environment
changes.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
information.
• Includes the management of human
activities that affect wildlife. Managing
people is possibly one of the most
important tools in a management plan.
• Has wildlife numbers that are just right
– not too many and not too few. The
number of animals are balanced with
the resources of the habitat (food,
water, shelter, space and arrangement).
wildlifedepartment.com
In Oklahoma, the story of the whitetail deer is an excellent
example of the positive results of wildlife management. In
the early 1900s, there were only 500 whitetails in Oklahoma,
primarily in the Kiamichi mountain range. By using protection,
restocking, and other management tools, the whitetail
population thrives today.
wildlifedepartment.com
17
CHAPTER
3
Wildlife Conservation
& Management
Transplanting, protecting and conserving are
management tools that have brought many species
back from the edge of extinction. Without good
management plans and the support of hunters and of
the public, many species would no longer be found in
Oklahoma.
Law enforcement is an essential part of Oklahoma
wildlife management as it helps to ensure that
everyone obeys game laws such as bag limits and
season dates. One of the primary purposes of wildlife
laws is to protect game animals from being overharvested. Laws are enforced by full time and reserve
game wardens. However, individual sportsmen are
a crucial part of this effort. They should study and
observe all game laws and report hunters who refuse to
do so.
Licensed hunters pay for wildlife conservation in
Oklahoma. Money from the sale of hunting licenses
goes toward the management of both game and
nongame species.
Another source of funding is the Wildlife & Sport Fish
Restoration Program, funded partially by the PittmanRobertson Act passed by Congress in 1937. This
act established a special tax the federal government
collects on all gun, ammunition and archery purchases
to help wildlife. Third, specific groups interested in
wildlife raise money and work cooperatively with the
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to
conserve and protect wildlife and habitat.
Question:
What is one of the primary purposes of
wildlife laws?
Answer:
To protect game animals from being overharvested.
Ben Davis
Prescribed burning is an important management tool.
Hunters Pay For Wildlife
Management in
Oklahoma
OBJECTIVE 6
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
is the state agency responsible for managing fish and
wildlife. Managing wildlife costs money. The Wildlife
Department receives no general state tax appropriations.
18
• The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation is a constitutionally mandated
and independent state agency that regulates,
manages and conserves the state’s fish and wildlife
resources.
Department Organization
The Department is organized into five major
divisions: Administration, Fisheries, Information and
Education, Law Enforcement and Wildlife.
Education
An important management tool of wildlife biologists
is education. Education helps hunters be safe and
helps them understand how taking care of wildlife
affects their sport. The more the public understands
wildlife management, the more likely they are to
support management tools. Oklahoma education
programs provide new, inexperienced and even
experienced people with the information, knowledge
and skills necessary for conserving wildlife.
Question:
Who pays the most for wildlife conservation?
Answer:
Licensed hunters.
Oklahoma Wildlife
Conservation Commission
• The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the
eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma
Department of Wildlife Conservation.
• Commissioners serve eight-year terms and are
appointed by the Governor and confirmed by
the Oklahoma Senate.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
Impact of Hunters and Anglers
on Oklahoma’s Economy
Anglers, hunters and wildlife viewers spend
dollars that, in turn, benefit many other
industries throughout the state. The resulting
economic benefits reach every corner of the
state and its economy. Every resident and
tourist of Oklahoma benefits from fish and
wildlife recreation spending.
By the Numbers
Hunters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251,000
Total Expenditures . . . . . . . . . . . $492 million
Total Jobs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9,800
Salaries and Wages . . . . . . . . . . . $251 million
State Tax Revenue . . . . . . . . . . . . $49 million
Ripple Effect on the
State Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . $840 million
Anglers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 611,000
Total Expenditures . . . . . . . . . . . $522 million
Total Jobs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10,300
Salaries and Wages . . . . . . . . . . . $273 million
State Tax Revenue . . . . . . . . . . . . $57 million
Ripple Effect on the
State Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . $906 million
- The 2006 Economic Benefits of Hunting,
Fishing and Wildlife Watching in Oklahoma
by Thomas Allen & Rob Southwick with Dr.
Peggy McKee
National Wild Turkey Federation
Department Funding
Data derived from the 2006 National Survey
of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated
Recreation, conducted by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and the U.S. Census
The Wildlife Department remains a nonappropriated, user-pay/user-benefit agency that
is funded either directly or indirectly by hunting
and fishing license sales. In fiscal year 2011 the
Department operated with an estimated $50.8 million
in revenue.
wildlifedepartment.com
19
20
Although seeing a bear along the road is rare, a total of
seven bears have been killed by vehicles in the last four
years. Officials with the Wildlife Department do not just
research wildlife and fish populations, they also research
people – or more specifically their attitudes and preferences
toward hunting and fishing opportunities. Each winter the
Wildlife Department conducts a survey of hunting license
holders. Participants are asked about their hunting activities
in the previous year and their opinions on issues facing
the Wildlife Department. Sportsmen and women respond
to a wide variety of questions each year ranging from how
many squirrels they killed last year to how often they used
wildlife management areas during the last year. These
annual surveys also present an opportunity for the Wildlife
Department to gauge the interest and opinions about
potential regulations changes that may be on the horizon.
In 2006, the Wildlife Department asked nearly 1,300
hunters their opinions about a limited bear hunting season
in the state – an impressive 89 percent said they would
support such a season.
During the summers of 2000-2006, graduate students
used radio telemetry and DNA samples to learn just how
many bears were out there, how they used the landscape
and how fast the population was growing. The research
teams captured 80 black bears and collected data such as
age, weight, and blood samples on each animal. Radiotelemetry collars were placed on 25 females, or “sows.”
This allowed researchers to track the animals’ movements,
feeding patterns, and habitat preferences. The collars also
allowed researchers to track the female bears directly to
their hibernation dens in the winter. By sedating the bears,
researchers were able to learn about the reproductive success
of the sows. During the study researchers were able to get
data on 13 litters with a total of 29 cubs. The research
showed that sows had an average of about two cubs every
other year.
with hunters calling a bear hotline every evening to find out
if the limit had been reached. Hunters harvested 19 bears
over the course of 28 days. In 2010, hunters harvested 32
bears on opening day and in 2011 a total of 31 bears were
harvested on opening day. According to Joe Hemphill,
southeast region wildlife supervisor for the Oklahoma
Department of Wildlife Conservation, the quota of 20 bears
was very conservative.
“When we planned the regulations for the season, we took
into account the possibility of exceeding the harvest quota,”
Hemphill said.
In March of 2012 the Oklahoma Wildlife Commission
voted to change the black bear archery season to Oct.
1 through the third Sunday in October with no quota.
A bear muzzleloader season with a quota of 20 bears
also was guaranteed, set to run concurrent with the deer
muzzleloader season.
Micah Holmes
In 2011, the Department entered into a research project
with the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research
Unit and the Department of Natural Resource Ecology
and Management at Oklahoma State University to study
bears in northeast Oklahoma. The three-year research
effort involves trapping bears for tagging and collection of
biological data such as measurements, age estimates and
DNA samples.
By studying range distributions, breeding success, body
conditions, genetic diversity, feeding habits and other data
collected during the project, biologists will learn important
information about the health and stability of black bear
populations in the northeast region.
Micheal Bergin
Black bears once ranged across North America, including
the entire area of what is now the state of Oklahoma.
But by the early 1900s, sightings had become rare.
Black bears are sensitive to habitat loss, so as human
encroachment persisted, black bear populations became
patchy to non-existent in Oklahoma. Like other wildlife,
black bear numbers declined drastically with the impacts
of urban development, unregulated hunting, and habitat
fragmentation. But as with other conservation success
stories, such as that of the whitetail deer and wild turkey,
things eventually started turning around for what seemed
like an inevitable downfall for the black bear in Oklahoma.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Arkansas Game and
Fish Commission successfully reintroduced black bears
into the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.
That initial relocation of about 250 bears from northern
Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada, turned into thousands
of bears in the mountains of Arkansas, which then
expanded into southwest Missouri and eastern Oklahoma.
Viewed as one of the most successful reintroductions of
large carnivores in the world, this reestablishment of black
bears led to a renewed black bear season in Arkansas in
1980. Twenty-nine years later, in 2009, the Oklahoma
Department of Wildlife Conservation offered its first black
bear hunt, making Oklahoma the 29th state to host a black
bear season.
Research done by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation and Oklahoma State University has given
more insight into the ecology and population dynamics of
black bears. The Wildlife Department worked on a joint
project with the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife
Research Unit at Oklahoma State University to learn more
about this unique and growing population of more than
450 bears. The project centered on the LeFlore County
portions of the Ouachita National Forest and Honobia
Creek Wildlife Management Area.
Micah Holmes
Oklahoma Black Bears
Micah Holmes
CHAPTER
3
Wildlife Conservation
& Management
The sex ratio of Oklahoma’s bear population is split down
the middle, about 50 percent males and 50 percent females.
The average age of bears in Oklahoma is 3.7 years, a
relatively young average age compared to other populations
in other states. This means that the population is still
growing. The oldest bear in the study was an 11-year-old
female.
The Wildlife Department also tracks how many bears
are killed by vehicles while crossing a road or highway.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
In 2009 this research and planning resulted in the first
Oklahoma bear season which was open to archery and
muzzleloader hunters in Latimer, LeFlore, Pushmataha and
McCurtain counties. A season limit of 20 bears was set,
wildlifedepartment.com
21
CHAPTER
3
Wildlife Conservation
& Management
Review
• Food, water, space, cover and
arrangement are the five components
that animals must have in an
environment in order to survive.
• Carrying capacity is the amount of
wildlife a habitat can support each year.
When the amount of wildlife is greater
than the carrying capacity, then wildlife
begins to compete for food, water, and
cover. This can damage the habitat and
drop the carrying capacity even lower.
Ben Davis
The Future of Oklahoma Wildlife
:
Question
state
ma, what
In Oklaho
for
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responsib
agency is
wildlife?
managing
Answer:
oma
The Oklah
life
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nt o Wild
Departme
tion
Conserva
Did you know?
• The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation is the state agency responsible
for managing wildlife.
• One of every three Oklahoma residents hunt
or fish.
Lifetime License Trust Account
• When a lifetime license is sold, the
money goes in the lifetime license trust
fund. The principal cannot be spent but
the interest investment income can be
used for operations.
• First lifetime combination license was
sold in 1969 for $150.
• Since 1969, 200,484 lifetime licenses
have been sold.
22
• The 28,142 jobs supported by hunting,
fishing and wildlife-viewing in Oklahoma
are greater than the state’s third largest
employer, Tinker Air Force Base, with 23,000
employees.
• The number of people who hunt in
Oklahoma could fill the Oklahoma State
University football stadium AND the
University of Oklahoma football stadium
almost two times, while the number of
people who fish in Oklahoma could fill the
stadiums four and a half times.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
Wildlife in Oklahoma belongs to the people of
Oklahoma. The future of wildlife and hunting
doesn’t just depend on wildlife managers. It depends
on hunters, trappers, wildlife enthusiasts and the
public who:
• Support programs that improve the habitat on
both public and private lands.
• A sound management plan, research and
harvest studies, transplanting, protecting
and conserving and law enforcement are
all management tools used by wildlife
managers.
• The sale of hunting and trapping
licenses, money from the Wildlife &
Sport Fish Restoration Program and
money from private sources are the three
main funding sources of the Oklahoma
Department of Wildlife Conservation.
• The Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration
Program provides a tax on firearms and
ammunition in order to help fund state
wildlife agencies.
• Educate the public about the importance of
hunting and trapping as a management tool.
• Use only the highest ethical behavior when
hunting and trapping so as not to damage public
support.
• Contribute time and money to help wildlife.
• Realize that hunting and trapping are important
management tools that benefit wildlife
populations and their habitat.
• Take someone hunting.
wildlifedepartment.com
23
Oklahoma Hunter Education
What is a Safety?
Words to Know
Rifle – A firearm whose barrel has small
spiraling grooves causing the bullet to spin
and fly straighter.
Shotgun – A firearm that fires multiple
pellets.
Action – The part of a firearm that loads,
fires, and ejects the cartridge or shell.
Barrel – The part of the firearm through
which the bullet or pellets travel when
fired.
Stock – The wood, metal or plastic frame
that holds the action and barrel
Rifling – Grooves inside a rifle barrel that
cause the bullet to spin.
Darrin Hill
Firearms: Rifles and
Shotguns
The main difference between rifles and shotguns is
the inside of the barrel. Rifles are grooved in a spiral
pattern while the inside of most shotgun barrels are
smooth.
OBJECTIVE 1
While rifles and shotguns may have similarities and
often look alike, the difference is the purpose and the
barrel. Rifles are primarily designed to shoot single
bullets which strike a single, usually stationary target,
while shotguns are designed to fire a spread of shot or
pellets in order to hit a moving target.
All rifles and shotguns have three main parts; the
stock, action and barrel. The action is the part that
loads, fires, and ejects a shell. The barrel is the tube
the bullet or pellets pass through. The stock is the
wood, metal or plastic frame that holds the barrel and
action.
A safety is the most important part
of the gun. Its purpose is to prevent
the trigger, or the firing pin, from
moving and thereby preventing the
gun from firing. A careful hunter
always knows where the safety is
located on the gun before loading
and firing.
However, a safety is a mechanical
device. It can fail! Just because you have the safety on
doesn’t mean the gun won’t fire. Safeties should never
be used as a substitute for safe gun handling and the
observance of all gun safety rules.
Safety
Choke – The narrowing at the end of a
shotgun barrel that determines the pattern
of the pellets as they leave the gun.
Non-Toxic Shot – Any shot approved
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service for
hunting waterfowl or in designated
waterfowl areas.
Question:
What is the safety
on a firearm?
Answer:
It is a mechanical
device that can fail!
Caleb Irwin
CHAPTER
4
Firearms: Rifles and Shotguns
Safety
Safety
Range – How far shot or bullets travel after
exiting the barrel of the firearm.
Muzzle – The end of the barrel where the
bullet comes out.
Rifling
Rifle
Safety
Shotgun
Smooth
Kelley Farrar
24
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
wildlifedepartment.com
25
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Telescopic
OBJECTIVE 2
Safety
Barrel
Action
Parts of a Rifle
Forearm
Muzzle
Trigger
Grip
Stock
The spot you want to hit on the target should be lined
up so that it appears to sit on top of the post. The post
should be lined up with the top of the V notch.
Aperture sights
cartridge case
gunpowder
primer
Centerfire
bullet
cartridge case
gunpowder
Front
Peep
rim containing
primer
The Rifle Cartridge
Open sights
Open sights are composed of a post or bead at the
muzzle end of the barrel and a blade with a V shape
near the action.
OBJECTIVE 3
Peep
Front
Kelley Farrar
Front
Rear
Front
Kelley Farrar
bullet
Aperture sights are also known as peep sights. Guns
with aperture sights will have a post at the muzzle end
of the barrel and an aperture or hole as the rear sight.
There are three main types of sights for rifles – open,
aperture and telescopic.
26
Rifle Cartridges
Kelley Farrar
Rifles are designed to accurately hit a precise point.
They are long-barreled firearms with grooves cut into
the barrel of the rifle. These grooves are called rifling
and give rifles their name. The rifling makes the bullet
spin as it leaves the muzzle, making the projectile
much more accurate and stable in flight. Make sure
the ammunition you use matches the caliber that is
stamped on the side of the barrel.
Telescopic sights are also known as
scopes. Scopes come in many styles, but
the most common has crosshairs that
Question:
are lined up with the target. The main
When can a rifle
advantage of telescopic sights is that
scope be used as
they make your sights and target appear
binoculars?
on the same level. This means that you
Answer:
can keep both the target and crosshairs
Never.
in focus. Using scopes does not
mean you do not need to spend time
practicing with your firearm. Never use a rifle scope
in place of binoculars. A rifle should only be aimed at
the identified target that you plan to shoot.
Rear
The spot you want to hit on the target should be lined
up so that it appears to set on top of the post. The top
of the post should appear to be in the middle of the
hole.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
Cartridges are small explosive devices that have a
primer at the bottom. When the primer is hit or
compressed, it ignites a spark, which makes the gun
powder rapidly ignite, causing the cartridge to fire. As
the bullet travels down the barrel, the rifling makes
the bullet spin.
For quick, clean shots, a bullet must penetrate
sufficiently deep to reach vital organs. Cartridges are
among the least expensive items for the hunt; get the
best available for your quarry, and make every shot
count. Always strive to cleanly harvest the animal with
one shot.
Kelley Farrar
Rifles
Kelley Farrar
CHAPTER
4
Firearms: Rifles and Shotguns
Rimfire
Centerfire vs. Rimfire Cartridges
The difference between a rimfire and centerfire
cartridge is the location of the primer. Centerfire
cartridges have the primer in the center of the bottom
of the cartridge. These cartridges are usually more
powerful than rimfire cartridges and are used in
larger caliber firearms. Rimfire cartridges have the
primer material “spun” into the edges of the rim of
the cartridge and are usually used in smaller caliber
firearms.
wildlifedepartment.com
27
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Trajectory
The trajectory of a bullet is the path the bullet takes
from the muzzle of the gun to the target. It is not a
straight line. The bullet begins to drop the second it
emerges from the barrel because of the force of gravity
and air resistance. Some bullets can travel a mile or
more.
The Shotgun Shell
.308 WIN
Caleb Irwin
20 gauge
Caleb Irwin
12 gauge
Shotguns
Never carry more than one gauge of
shotgun shell or the above could happen
OBJECTIVE 4
Choke
Shotguns typically shoot a spread of small projectiles
instead of a rifle’s single bullet. This increases the
chances of hitting a moving target. They also have
a smooth barrel inside. Shotgun styles allow a wide
variety of choices including the gauge, the type of
choke and the type of action. Shotguns can also fire
a single projectile, called a slug, which is similar to a
rifle bullet.
12 GA for 3”or shorter shells
The choke is a taper in the barrel that determines the
pattern of the shot. As pellets leave the barrel they
spread or disperse. A tight choke keeps pellets together
as they leave the barrel so they travel farther before
dispersing. An open choke allows the pellets to start
dispersing as soon as they leave the barrel.
Question:
How do you determine the correct size of
ammunition for your firearm?
Answer:
Find the gauge or caliber stamped on the
outside of the barrel.
To find out the best shot shell and choke combination
to use at different distances it’s necessary to pattern
your shotgun. It isn’t a complicated process, but
it does take some time and effort. Patterning your
shotgun will keep you from wounding or crippling
game and will reduce the number of shots needed to
harvest your game.
• Shotgun gauge size is marked on the barrel of the
shotgun and on the box of ammunition. Make
sure the ammunition matches what is stamped on
the gun barrel.
Parts of a Shotgun
Safety
Action
More information can be found at wildlifedepartment.
com/shotgunpatterning.
Barrel
Forearm
Stock
28
There are five main parts of a shotgun shell: the case,
primer, powder, wad and shot. The case is the outer
part that holds everything together. The primer,
found at the bottom of the shell, explodes when hit by
the firing pin. This ignites the powder, which is just
above the primer. The burning powder pushes the
wad and shot out the barrel and towards the target.
The wad holds the shot together until it leaves the
barrel. The shot is many ball-shaped pieces of lead
or lead substitute that spread out after they leave the
barrel.
Shotgun Shell
shot
The effective range of a shot shell and choke
combination will vary. As a rule of thumb, the
improved cylinder choke is effective 20-30 yards, the
modified choke 30-40 yards and the full choke 40-50
yards.
Gauge
Gauge is a measurement that has to do with the size of
the barrel. Common shotguns are 10 gauge, 12 gauge,
16 gauge, 20 gauge and 28 gauge. The only shotgun
that is not measured by gauge is the .410-caliber
shotgun which means it has a .41 inch barrel diameter.
OBJECTIVE 5
shell case
slug
wad
gunpowder
primer
Kelley Farrar
CHAPTER
4
Firearms: Rifles and Shotguns
Shotgun Shell Size
The shotgun shell size is given in inches and
determined by the length of the empty case.
Muzzle
Trigger
Grip
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
wildlifedepartment.com
29
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Shot Size
Shot comes in a variety of sizes from very small
(size #12) to very large (size #000). Choose the
shot size that fits the wildlife you are hunting.
Non-Toxic Shot
Historically, shot was made from lead pellets.
However, because waterfowl eat lead shot and
develop lead poisoning, the use of lead shot has
been banned for all waterfowl and some upland
game bird hunting.
Today’s non-toxic shot is made from a variety of
substances, the most popular and affordable of
which is steel. Again, it is extremely important to
pattern the ammo you plan to use.
Firearm Actions
OBJECTIVE 6
Break Action
Single-shot
Caleb Irwin
CHAPTER
4
Firearms: Rifles and Shotguns
The firearm action loads, fires and ejects the cartridge
or shell. The action can be:
• Bolt Action
• Break Action
• Pump Action
The Pump Action is more commonly seen in shotguns
than in any other type of firearm. It is a very reliable
action, and an experienced shooter can go through
the pumping actions very quickly, and instinctively.
Sliding the front grip back and then forward ejects the
spent shell, loads another shell and cocks the hammer.
Lever Action
Double barrel
side-by-side
• Lever Action
• Semi-Auto Action
Caleb Irwin
Bolt Action
Double barrel overunder
One of the simplest firearm actions is the break action.
Lever-action uses a lever located around the trigger
guard area, often including the trigger guard itself,
to load, fire and eject cartridges. The lever action is
most commonly seen in rifles. Lever actions firearms
are known for their accuracy and reliability. They
are popular for short- and medium-range hunting in
heavily covered areas.
Caleb Irwin
The bolt action is most often seen in rifles. Bolt action
firearms are common and simple to use. Opening a
bolt action firearm is as simple as pivoting the bolt
upwards and pulling it backwards, using the handle
on the bolt.
Bolt action rifles are known for their accuracy and
reliability. Jamming is extremely rare in bolt-action
firearms.
The action release on a break action firearm is usually
on the top of the firearm behind the chamber.
To load a break action firearm, simply open the action
using the action release, insert the ammunition into
the chamber, and close the action. After firing the
firearm, open the action using the action release and
remove the spent ammunition manually.
Pump Action
Semi-Automatic Action
Caleb Irwin
The semi-automatic action is very popular in both
rifles and shotguns. A semi-automatic fires a bullet,
ejects the spent cartridge and chambers a fresh
cartridge each time the trigger is pulled.
Caleb Irwin
30
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
wildlifedepartment.com
31
CHAPTER
4
Firearms: Rifles and Shotguns
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Cleaning and Storing
Your Firearm
OBJECTIVE 7
Dirt and debris can easily collect in any firearm. You
should clean your firearm after every use in order to
ensure safe and efficient functioning. Every hunter
should own a fully stocked cleaning kit and use it
regularly.
Components of a Cleaning Kit
Cleaning kits should include:
• Bristle brushes for each caliber and gauge firearm
you own • Cleaning rods of varying lengths for rifles,
shotguns and handguns
• Cleaning patches sized to fit down the bore of
each different firearm
• Patch holders that screw into the ends of the
cleaning rods
• A stiff toothbrush
• Gun oil
• Make sure the firearm is
unloaded
• Check for obstructions
in the barrel and
malfunctions
• Run a patch or bristle
brush soaked in bore
solvent down the barrel
OBJECTIVE 9
OBJECTIVE 8
Shooting Positions:
The Prone Position
There are certain safety rules and laws that govern
transporting firearms in a motorized vehicle of any
type. It is illegal and unsafe to transport a loaded
firearm.
• Bore solvent
The procedure for cleaning
all firearms is essentially the
same:
Transporting Firearms
Question:
What should you do
before cleaning a
firearm?
Answer:
Always make sure it is
unloaded.
Guns should always be unloaded and cased before
being placed in a vehicle.
A gun should never be leaned up against a tailgate,
other part of a vehicle or any other object. The gun
could easily slide and hit the ground, causing it to fire.
Marksmanship
Lance Meek
The prone position is by far the most stable firing
position and the most accurate firing position.
The Sitting Position
• Run dry follow-up patches to dry the barrel and
check for traces of rust
• Once clean, run a patch with a light coat of gun
oil down the barrel
• Clean all exposed parts of the action
Kelley Farar
• Clean and oil all exterior metal parts
Lance Meek
Question:
In the picture above, is this safe?
Answer:
No.
32
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
A more stable firing position than the standing firing
position is the sitting position. The sitting firing
position generates much less sway in the muzzle than
the standing position. Using a bipod will make this
position even more stable.
wildlifedepartment.com
33
Oklahoma Hunter Education
CHAPTER
CHAPTER
4
Firearms: Rifles and Shotguns
5
Safety
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Firearm Safety
OBJECTIVE 1
The person holding the gun is responsible for the safe
handling of the firearm. The International Hunter
Education Association (IHEA) emphasizes four basic
rules of firearm safety.
A
Ben Davis
Lance Meek
The Kneeling Position
Shotgun Shooting Position
The kneeling firing position is more stable than the
standing firing position. Using a bipod will make this
position even more stable.
Because shooting a shotgun is very different from
firing a rifle, the shotgun firing position is also
different.
The Standing Position
The standing position is easy to adopt quickly upon
spotting game. However, the standing position
is unstable, making it the least accurate shooting
position.
34
C
ontrol the direction of the muzzle –
point the gun in a safe direction.
T
rigger Finger – keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
T
arget – be certain of your target and of what’s behind it.
• Always determine if a firearm is unloaded before
picking up or accepting it from another person.
• When carrying a gun, the most important thing to
do is to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
Never point a firearm at yourself or others.
• The natural instinct when picking up a firearm is
to put your finger in the trigger guard. DON’T!
This could cause an accidental discharge if the gun
is loaded.
• Never take a shot unless you are aware of your
target and what is behind it. Never point your
firearm at something you do not intend to shoot.
• Do not use telescopic sights as a substitute for
binoculars.
Review
• If a friend refuses to follow safe gun handling rules
while hunting with you, immediately tell them
your concerns, and don’t continue to hunt with
them unless they follow the rules.
• One of the main differences between a rifle
and a shotgun is that rifles shoot a single
bullet and shotguns shoot many pellets.
• Always unload your firearm and examine the barrel
after a fall to be sure there is no snow, mud, or dirt
in the barrel. If there is, clean it out before firing.
• Be able to locate and describe the parts of
rifles and shotguns.
Lance Meek
ssume that every gun is loaded.
Safety Tips
• Clean your firearm after every use in order
to ensure safe and efficient functioning.
• The most common firing positions are
sitting, standing, kneeling, prone and
shotgun shooting positions.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
Question:
What do you do when hunting with someone who
refuses to follow the rules for proper firearm safety?
Answer:
Immediately tell them your concerns and refuse to
hunt with them unless they follow the rules.
Lance Meek
Question:
When unloading a firearm, where should you point
the muzzle?
Answer:
In a safe direction.
wildlifedepartment.com
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CHAPTER
5
Safety
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Crossing Fences,
Waterways and
Other Obstacles
• Never use drugs or alcohol before or during
shooting.
• Make sure you have the correct ammunition for the
firearm you are using.
• Don’t shoot at water or hard objects such as rock or
metal.
Loading and
Unloading Firearms
OBJECTIVE 2
Firearms should be kept unloaded unless they are in
use. Be sure you are familiar with the way your firearm
is loaded and unloaded. When loading and unloading
a firearm make sure the muzzle is pointed in a safe
direction. Have someone who is familiar with the way
your firearm works show you the proper methods of
loading and unloading ammunition.
• Always check for yourself whether or not a gun is
loaded. Don’t rely on someone else’s say-so.
• Practice using “dummy” ammunition until you
can efficiently load and unload your firearm.
• Keep your finger out of the trigger guard when
loading and unloading ammunition.
• Even if you just unloaded it, always treat a firearm
as if it were loaded.
Question:
The more you hunt, the more likely you are to
have an accidental discharge. How do you make
sure it doesn’t kill or injure someone?
Answer:
Always point your firearm in a safe direction.
Question:
What should you assume about every gun?
Answer:
Assume that every gun is loaded.
Question:
When handling a firearm, you should always
control what?
Answer:
The direction of the muzzle.
OBJECTIVE 3
A common cause of accidents is when hunters
cross fences or other obstacles and forget basic
rules of safety. It is easy to lose your footing or
your balance and slip when climbing over a log,
down into a ravine or wading through a stream. A
loaded firearm in these situations can be extremely
dangerous.
Always unload your firearm. When picking up, or
accepting a firearm from another person, always
make sure that it is unloaded.
Question:
Who is responsible for safe handling of the
firearm?
Answer:
The person holding the gun.
Question:
When do you know that a firearm is pointed in a
safe direction?
Answer:
If it went off, no one would get injured.
Question:
You should never take a shot until you are
certain of what?
Answer:
Don’t take a shot until you are certain of your
target and what is behind it.
Question:
When should you treat a firearm as if it were
loaded?
Answer:
Always, even if you just unloaded it.
Lance Meek
Question:
What is the most important thing to do when
carrying a gun?
Answer:
Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at
all times.
36
Lance Meek
Question:
Is it OK to use drugs or alcohol before or during
shooting?
Answer:
No. It is dangerous. Never do it.
If hunting alone, point the muzzle of the gun away
from you and place the gun on the ground on the
other side of the barrier.
Question:
Before crossing a fence or other obstacle what
should you do?
Answer:
Always unload your firearm.
Question:
What should you do after a fall?
Answer:
You should examine the barrel of your firearm
to make sure there is no snow, dirt or mud in it.
If two people are hunting together and come to
an obstacle, they both unload their guns and one
person holds both guns while the other person
crosses. Then the guns are handed across, muzzle
pointed up, over the obstacle to the second person
and the first person crosses.
Question:
What should you do when picking up or accepting
a firearm from another person?
Answer:
You should always make sure that it is unloaded.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
wildlifedepartment.com
37
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Safe Zones of Fire
OBJECTIVE 4
The area into which a hunter may shoot safely is
referred to as a “zone of fire.” When hunting alone,
your safe zone of fire will be determined by your field
of view, the presence of trees, rocks, water or other
obstacles and the range of your firearm.
Upland gamebird and waterfowl hunters often use
zones of fire that are triangle shaped. Hunters walk
or sit in a straight line, in sight of each other when
hunting. No one runs ahead or lags behind the line.
The area behind the hunters is off limits–no one turns
to shoot behind. The middle hunter or hunters have
the narrowest zone of fire–about 45 degrees. Hunters
to the left and right ends have a broader zone of fire
since they can swing to the outside edges. No one
shoots at game that is directly between each hunter.
Kelly Farrar
Safe Zones of Fire
38
Ammunition Safety
Hunter Orange
OBJECTIVE 6
OBJECTIVE 5
It is extremely important to know the correct methods
for handling ammunition. Following a few rules can
keep you and your hunting partners safe.
• Carry only the correct size of ammunition for
your firearm.
• If ammunition appears dented or in any way
defective, don’t use it!
• Store ammunition in its original box. Do not
mix different types of ammunition in a generic
container.
• Keep ammunition away from heat or from being
hit.
wildlifedepartment.com
• Keep your ammunition locked in a separate
container from your firearms.
In Oklahoma,
individuals hunting deer,
elk, bear or antelope
with any type of firearm
must conspicuously wear
both a head covering
and an outer garment
above the waistline both
consisting of hunter
orange color totaling at
least 400 square inches.
The safest color to wear
while hunting is solid
hunter orange.
The 10 Commandments of Firearm Safety
1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
2. Firearms should be unloaded when not actually
in use.
3. Don’t rely on your gun’s “Safety.”
4. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
5. Use correct ammunition.
6. If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled,
handle with care!
7. Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting.
8. Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before
shooting.
9. Don’t alter or modify your gun, and have guns
serviced regularly.
10. Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics
of the firearm you are using.
Question: Who can safely shoot at this bird?
Answer: The hunter on the right.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
All other hunters, except those hunting waterfowl,
crow or crane, or while hunting furbearing animals
at night, must wear either a head covering or upper
garment of hunter orange clothing while hunting
during any antelope, bear, deer, or elk firearms
(muzzleloader or gun) season.
While hunters hunting in other
seasons are not required to,
hunter orange is still the safest
color to wear. Upland game
bird hunters (quail, pheasant,
etc.) should wear at least a
hunter orange vest or head
covering. Turkey hunters
should wear at least a hunter
orange vest or head covering
while moving through their
hunting areas.
Questio
n:
What is
the safe
st
color to
wear wh
ile
hunting
?
Answe
r:
Solid hu
nter
orange.
Safely Carrying Your
Firearm While Hunting
OBJECTIVE 7
There are several safe methods of carrying your rifle
or shotgun when you are hunting. The method you
choose will depend upon the type of animal you
are hunting and the conditions of the environment.
Always be conservative and choose the safest method
possible.
Ben Davis
CHAPTER
5
Safety
Remember that other hunters cannot see your hunter orange
when you are in your blind. Attach a piece of hunter orange
material to the outside of the blind.
All hunting situations are different and most of them
could easily change at any given time. For example,
the cradle carry with the muzzle of your firearm
pointed to the left is a very safe carry if you are the
furthest left person in a group of pheasant hunters.
However, if another hunter joins your group to your
left, you will need to adjust your carry. You must
remember, when carrying a gun the most important
thing is to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction
at all times. If a firearm is pointed in a safe direction
and it went off, no one would get injured.
wildlifedepartment.com
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CHAPTER
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Safety
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Turkey Hunting Safety
OBJECTIVE 8
Two-handed Carry
Cradle Carry
Cradle the gun’s forearm in
the bend of one arm. Hunting
situations change often. You should
always keep the muzzle pointed in
a safe direction. This can change
depending on the location of other
members of your party.
Hold the grip in one hand and the
gun’s forearm in the other hand.
This carry provides the best muzzle
control.
Never stalk a turkey. The chance of getting close
enough for a shot is slim, and the chances of becoming
mistaken for a turkey and involved in a hunting
accident are increased.
Michael Bergin
Lance Meek
Michael Bergin
Turkey behave differently from other game species,
and hunters use different techniques to hunt them.
Therefore you should observe some special safety rules
while hunting them.
Shoulder Carry
Rest the forearm on the top of your
shoulder by holding the grip.
Lance Meek
Lance Meek
Question:
What carry provides
the best muzzle
control?
Answer:
The two-handed carry.
Trail Carry
Hold the stock with one hand, and
make sure the muzzle is pointed at
the ground.
40
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
Turkey Hunting Safety
• Never assume that you are alone in the woods even if you are the only one on with permission
to hunt.
Don’t wear red, white or blue. Red is the color most
hunters count on to differentiate a gobbler’s head
from the hen’s blue-colored head. Never move, wave,
or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter to your
presence. A quick movement may draw fire. Yell in a
loud voice and remain hidden. Be particularly careful
when using a gobbler call. The sound and motion
may attract other hunters. When selecting your calling
position, don’t try to hide so well that you cannot see
what is happening around you.
• Never assume that other hunters are acting
responsibly.
The best calling position provides a background as
wide as your shoulders, and will completely protect
you from the top of your head down. Small trees will
not hide slight movements of your hands or shoulders
which might look like a turkey to another hunter who
could be unwisely stalking your calls.
• Keep your decoy covered until ready to set it up.
After harvesting a turkey, cover it until you are out
of the woods.
Elbow Carry
Hold the grip of the gun over your
elbow, let the stock rest against the
back of your upper arm. The muzzle
of the gun should be pointing down.
Using this carry gives the handler the
least control.
Never shoot at a sound or movement. Be 100 percent certain
of your target before you pull the trigger. Don’t ever shoot
at a “piece” of a turkey. You must see the whole bird to
determine whether it is safe or legal to shoot. A good rule of
thumb is to not shoot until you can clearly see the gobbler’s
eye. That way, the bird will be in range and you will be sure
it is a turkey. When turkey hunting, assume that every sound
you hear is made by another hunter.
• Use a flashlight when walking in the dark. • Make sure your head-net does not obscure your
vision. • Be aware of what is beyond your target before you
shoot. • Keep your gun unloaded until you are set up in the
field. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are
ready to shoot.
• Wear orange when moving through the woods.
Question:
What should you avoid wearing while turkey
hunting?
Answer:
Don’t wear red, white or blue.
wildlifedepartment.com
wildlifedepartment.com
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CHAPTER
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Safety
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Firearm Safety
in the Home
The quickest and surest way to show children the
power of firearms is by demonstration. Take them
to the local range, fire a few rounds of high velocity
ammunition at closed gallon cans of water, and
show them the results.
Safe storage of your firearms is your responsibility.
Firearms should be loaded only when in the field or on
the range. At all other times, during travel and especially
in the home, they should be kept unloaded.
Never handle or show guns without first carefully
checking to be sure they are unloaded. Open the action
and keep it open until the gun is again ready for storage.
Never assume that a firearm is unloaded, even if it was
checked only a few minutes earlier. Don’t trust the
safety to compensate for unsafe gun handling. Like all
mechanical devices, safeties can malfunction, and in any
case, they are only intended to supplement human care
and intelligence.
The best method
for storing firearms
and ammunition
in the home is
locked separately
in a cabinet or safe.
If it’s not possible,
seek the next best
solution. That is
locked together in a
safe or cabinet.
Finally, if the proper
storage facilities are
not available, trigger locks should be purchased.
On the practical side, guns should be stored in a
reasonably dry environment but away from exposure to
heat. Dampness causes rust and heat can bake the wood
of stocks and grips to the point of cracking or splitting.
42
Question:
What is the best method for storing
firearms and ammunition in the home?
Answer:
Locked separately in a cabinet or safe.
It is a serious mistake to assume that keeping
children ignorant will prevent accidents. Nothing
could be further from the truth. Where firearms
are concerned, there is no such thing as blissful
ignorance. Keeping children in the dark only
ensures that they will not understand the potential
danger and increases the likelihood that they
will seek to satisfy their curiosity without proper
supervision. Also, the hazards that the parent wishes
to eliminate are greatly increased if the child does
not know how firearms function.
When handling firearms, always keep the muzzle
pointed in a safe direction. Avoid horseplay at all
times -- guns are not toys and they must be handled
with respect. Common sense must be used in
choosing the safest direction to point the muzzle.
“Down” is not always the safest direction and neither
is “up.”
A good rule for children is hands off until they are
old enough to be taught safe gun handling, and
then only in the presence of an adult – never while
playing with other children. As they progress, they
need to know that the more they hunt, the more
likely they are to have an accidental discharge. The
way to make sure it doesn’t kill or injure someone is
to always point the gun in a safe direction.
Firearm Education
Safety in general is largely a matter of education,
and home firearms safety is certainly no exception.
All family members must learn safe gun handling.
Without proper education, preventive measures are
nearly useless.
Children are never too young to begin the lessons
of safety. Teaching can begin long before children
are old enough to understand detailed instruction.
Start by setting a proper and consistent example. If
parents treat guns with care and respect, children will
likely follow their lead.
Children should learn that firearms are not toys.
Having noticed adult interest in guns, children will
naturally develop a healthy curiosity about their use and
operation. In addition, children tend to have an entirely
unrealistic idea of what guns are all about because of
exposure to modern realistic toys and to the fantasies of
television.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
Lance Meek
OBJECTIVE 9
Set up your treestand at ground level the first time you use it
so that you’ll know how to install it before you climb a tree.
Rich Fuller
Treestand Safety
OBJECTIVE 10
What are treestands and how are
they used for hunting?
A treestand is simply a perch in a tree that provides a
place to sit or stand. It gives the hunter the advantage
of height and silence; big advantages when hunting
with bows. It keeps the hunter’s scent from drifting as
easily to wildlife. It does have some drawbacks. Once
you are in a treestand you can’t move around to get a
better shot.
The biggest hazard of a treestand is an accidental
fall. Hunters have to climb a tree to get into their
stand. They also have to get their firearm or archery
equipment up the tree. Once there, they have to perch
on a narrow seat or ledge. These are all situations
that can get hunters into trouble if they are not
careful. Hunters have slipped and fallen, strangled on
gun slings, landed on arrows or triggered a firearm
unintentionally. Even a fall from a short distance can
result in broken bones, paralyzation or death.
wildlifedepartment.com
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CHAPTER
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Oklahoma Hunter Education
ALWAYS inspect the treestand for signs of wear or
damage before each use. Contact the manufacturer
for replacement parts. Destroy all products that
cannot be repaired by the manufacturer and/or
exceed the recommended expiration date, or if the
manufacturer no longer exists. The full body harness
should be discarded and replaced after a fall has
occurred.
ALWAYS practice in your full body harness in the
presence of a responsible adult, learning what it feels
like to hang suspended in it at ground level.
Treestand Safety Rules
ALWAYS wear a full body harness meeting
Treestand Manufacturers Association standards even
during ascent and descent. Do not rely on belt or
chest harnesses. Failure to use a full body harness
could result in serious injury or death.
ALWAYS read and understand the manufacturer’s
warnings and instructions before using the treestand
each season. Practice with the treestand at ground
level prior to using at elevated positions.
Keep the manufacturer’s warnings and instructions
for later review as needed, for instructions on usage
to anyone borrowing your stand, or to pass on when
selling the treestand. Use all safety devices provided
with your treestand.
NEVER exceed the weight limit specified by the
manufacturer. If you have any questions after
reviewing the warnings and instructions, please
contact the manufacturer. Always wear a
safety harness!
44
ALWAYS attach your full body harness in the
manner and method described by the manufacturer.
There should be no slack in the tether when seated.
Failure to do so may result in suspension without the
ability to recover into your treestand. Be aware of the
hazards (suspension trauma) associated with full body
harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a
harness may be fatal. Have a plan in place for rescue,
including the use of cell phones or signal devices that
may be easily reached and used while suspended. If
rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have
a plan for recovery or escape. If you have to hang
suspended for a period of time before help arrives,
exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or
doing any other form of continuous motion. Failure
to recover in a timely manner could result in serious
injury or death. If you do not have the ability to
recover/escape, hunt from the ground.
ALWAYS hunt with a plan and if possible a buddy.
Before you leave home, let others know your exact
hunting location, when you plan to return and who is
with you.
ALWAYS carry emergency signal devices such as a
cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, signal flare, personal
locator device and flashlight on your person at all
times and within reach even while you are suspended
in your full body harness. Watch for changing weather
conditions. In the event of an accident, remain calm
and seek help immediately.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
ALWAYS select the proper tree for use with your
treestand. Select a live straight tree that fits within
the size limits recommended in your treestand’s
instructions. Do not climb or place a treestand against
a leaning tree.
Never leave a treestand installed for more than
two weeks since it could be damaged from changing
weather conditions and/or from other factors not
obvious with a visual inspection.
ALWAYS use a haul line
to pull up your gear and
unloaded firearm or bow
to your treestand once
you have reached your
desired hunting height.
If hauling up a firearm,
be sure the muzzle points
away from you. Never
climb with anything in
your hands or on your
back. Prior to descending,
lower your equipment
on the opposite side of
the tree.
ALWAYS know your
physical limitations. Don’t take chances. If you start
thinking about how high you are, don’t go any higher.
NEVER use homemade or permanently elevated
treestands or make modifications to a purchased
treestand without the manufacturer’s written
permission. Only purchase and use treestands and
full-body harnesses meeting or exceeding Treestand
Manufacturers Association (TMA) standards. For a
detailed list of certified products, contact the TMA
office or refer to the TMA web site www.TMAstands.
com.
NEVER hurry! Accidents can happen when climbing
into and out of a treestand. While climbing with a
treestand, make slow, even movements of no more
than 10 to 12 inches at a time. Make sure you have
proper contact with the tree and/or treestand every
time you move. On ladder-type treestands, maintain
three points of contact with each step. On hanging
treestands always check the steps to make sure they are
securely fastened.
Question:
When should treestands and full body harnesses be
checked for wear and damage?
Answer:
They should be checked before each use.
Question:
What two things should you do before using a treestand?
Answer:
Always inspect trees and check the steps to make sure
they are securely fastened.
Question:
What should you wear when installing, removing or using
a treestand?
Answer:
Use a full body harness from the time you leave the
ground until you are back down.
Question:
Why should you be careful when climbing into or out of a
treestand?
Answer:
Accidents can happen.
Question:
What should you always wear when hunting from a
treestand?
Answer:
A full-body harness.
Question: What should be used to get your bow or
firearm into and out of your treestand?
Answer:
A haul line.
wildlifedepartment.com
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CHAPTER
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Oklahoma Hunter Education
Types of Elevated Stands
and Climbing Equipment
Ladder Stands – Stands that use a ladder to reach
the perch. These are often heavy and require at least
two to three people to install or remove.
Self-supporting Stands (Tripod Stands) –
Used when no trees are available. Needs to be
erected on level ground.
About Climbing Aids
Hang-on Stands – Chained or strapped to trees.
Inexpensive and light weight. May be difficult to place
in a tree and a ladder may be required. Last step of
climbing aid should be installed above platform.
Climbing Stands – Moves up and down the tree
with a series of stand up/sitdown motions. Can only
be used on trees that are straight and have no lower
branches.
46
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
Climbing aids are often used to reach
a stand. There are many types; regular
ladders attach with straps, chains or ropes,
hang-on steps hang from the bottom
or side of a stand, climbing “sticks” are
portable ladders; and screw-in steps attach
with screws into the wood of the tree. All
climbing aids should be used with extreme
care. A full body safety harness with
climbing belt should ALWAYS be used
when installing and climbing any type of
ladder. Be sure you have the landowner’s
permission to install a treestand, especially
if you are using screw-in steps or treestand
that may damage the tree. Carefully inspect
the treestand and climbing aid before each
use. What may have been safe from the last
hunt may not be safe today.
Justin Marschall
There are five common types
of elevated stands:
Homemade Permanent Stands in Trees –
Should never be used. Wood rots, trees grow and
changing weather conditions can cause damage to
the stand not seen by visual inspection. Permanent
stands and screw-in steps are illegal on wildlife
management areas.
NO MATTER what type of stand you
use, you need to CHECK IT FOR WEAR
AND TEAR, such as broken welds,
cracked boards, weak spots in the
expanded metal, or frayed cables, etc.
every time you get into the stand!!!
Any kind of stand can be dangerous
depending on how it’s built, how it’s
maintained and how well you inspect
it.
wildlifedepartment.com
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CHAPTER
5
Safety
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Hypothermia
Hypothermia is one of the biggest dangers to hunters
during bad weather or near water. Hypothermia
occurs when you get too cold for too long and your
body’s internal temperature drops. A person does not
have to fall completely into water to get hypothermia.
Just getting sweaty dampens clothing enough to allow
the body to chill.
Review
Question:
What should you wear to avoid hypothermia?
Answer:
You should wear layers of clothing.
Hypothermia symptoms include:
• Shivering (although, at extremely low body
temperatures, shivering may stop).
• Weakness and loss of coordination.
• Confusion.
• Pale skin.
Wareagleboats.com
Always wear a Personal Flotation Device while you are in a boat.
• Drowsiness – especially in more severe stages.
• Slowed breathing or heart rate.
Water Safety
OBJECTIVE 11
Boating
Hunters that use boats often think of boating and
boat safety as secondary to their primary pursuit. You
should keep in mind that safety starts long before you
start hunting when boats are involved.
• Do not overload your boat.
Treat mild hypothermia by getting into a warm and
dry area and away from wind and wet conditions as
soon as possible. If you do get wet,
• Change wet clothing for windproof, waterproof
gear.
• Add heat – if safe, start a fire.
• Increase exercise, if possible.
• Get into a pre-warmed sleeping bag or blanket.
• Keep the center of gravity low.
• Drink hot drinks, followed by candy or other
high-sugar foods.
• Always wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
while you are in the boat.
• Apply heat to neck, armpits and groin.
• Stay with your vessel if it capsizes.
48
Hypothermia can even be fatal.
Dress
• Carry dry clothes in a waterproof sack.
• To avoid hypothermia do not wear cotton.
• Take a boating safety course.
• Wear layers of wool or synthetic clothing.
• Follow boating laws.
• Wear a windproof/waterproof outershell.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)
Every hunter who is on the water should wear a
personal flotation device regardless whether he or she
knows how to swim. Children and non-swimmers
should always wear them when near water. If you
do fall into the water while hunting, conserve your
body heat by keeping your arms as tight to your chest
as possible. Your legs should also be together and as
near your torso as you
can get them. If you
fall into the water with
another hunter huddle
together to conserve
heat. Even the best
swimmer can chill
quickly and develop
hypothermia in cold
water.
• Safely load and unload a firearm. Firearms
should be kept unloaded unless they are
in use.
• Five methods of carrying firearms:
two-handed, cradle, elbows/side, trail,
shoulder carry.
• When two hunters need to cross a fence,
both hunters unload their firearms and
one hunter holds the firearms while the
other hunter crosses the fence. Then the
firearms are handed over the fence.
• The area into which a hunter may shoot
safely is referred to as a “zone of fire.”
When three hunters are hunting in a line
and a gamebird flies up behind them –
NO ONE SHOOTS IT!
• The biggest safety hazard when using
tree stands is falling. You should always:
1. Wear a full-body harness, 2. Follow
manufacturer’s instructions, 3. Inspect
treestands and fall-arrest systems for
signs of wear.
• Hypothermia occurs when you get too
cold for too long and your body’s internal
temperature drops. The first symptom of
hypothermia is shivering.
Remember, victims of
mild to moderate hypothermia may be suffering from
impaired judgment and may not be making rational
decisions. They might be more prone to accidents. If
you are a victim of mild to moderate hypothermia,
be extra cautious! Don’t make a bad situation worse!
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Field Guide to Identifying
Oklahoma Wildlife
Identifying Oklahoma
Wildlife
Not properly identifying an animal before you
shoot it can result in not only hunting fines or the
suspension of your license but can also severely
damage public support for hunting. A hunter who
isn’t cautious about what he or she shoots is a
dangerous hunter and an unethical one.
Whitetail Deer
Habitat
Found across most of North America, except in northern Canada
and far west United States. Prefers forests, valley bottoms and
farmland. Often found along streams and rivers.
Question:
What is this a picture of?
Answer:
A whitetail deer.
Kelley Farrar
LAR GE M AMMA LS
Elk
wildlifedepartment.com
Habitat
Mountainous areas ranging from dense coastal forest
to semi-open interior forest. In spring and summer
they prefer higher elevations.
Size
4 to 5 ft. high at the shoulder. Males weigh 580 to
1,000 lbs. Females are smaller at 420 to 600 lbs.
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Size
About 3 ft. high at shoulder. Weighs 150 to 225 lbs. Generally
smaller than mule deer and bigger than black-tailed deer.
Mule Deer
Russell Graves
Habitat
Lives in a wide variety of areas such as coniferous forests,
desert shrubland, grassland with shrubs and the mixed boreal
forests of the north. Favors openings in these areas, browsing
on shrubs and twigs (and grass and herbs at times).
Size
3 ft. high at shoulder. Bucks (males) weigh up to 405 lbs.;
does (females) up to 160 lbs.
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Field Guide to Identifying
Oklahoma Wildlife
Warren Williams
Mountain Lion
wildlifedepartment.com
Pronghorn Antelope
Habitat
Grasslands; also grassy brushlands; and bunchgrass-sagebrush areas.
Size
3 ft. high at shoulder. Males weigh up to 140 lbs.; females weigh
up to 105 lbs.
Habitat
Prefers mature and second-growth forests in rocky and
mountainous terrain.
Size
26 to 30 in. high at shoulder. About 6 to 7 ft. long (including 3
ft. tail). Weighs 100 to 200 lbs. Females are smaller than males.
ME DI U M T O S MA LL MA MMA LS
Virginia Game & Fish
Black Bear
Habitat
From coastal beaches and estuaries to dry grasslands, forests
and sub-alpine and alpine areas. Prefers open forests where
dense thickets of timber provide cover and seclusion. May be
found in or near suburban areas.
Size
5 to 6 ft. high when standing on its hind legs. 2 to 3-1/2 ft.
high at the shoulder. Weighs 200 to 475 lbs. or more.
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Russell Graves
Coyote
Habitat
Mountainous areas ranging from dense coastal forest to prairies.
In spring and summer they prefer higher elevations.
Size
23 to 26 in. high at the shoulder. 39 to 55 in. long, including a
12 to 18 in. tail. Weighs 20 to 50 lbs.
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Bobcat
Field Guide to Identifying
Oklahoma Wildlife
wildlifedepartment.com
Habitat
Prefers open brushland or semi-wooded country.
Inhabits from valley bottoms to timberline, though generally
found in mixed cover at lower elevations.
Size
Up to 22 in. high at the shoulder. 25 to 30 in. long.
5 in. tail. Weighs 15 to 35 lbs.
Gray Fox
Habitat
Varied, more often in wooded and brushy habitats than red fox.
Size
15 to 16 in. high at the shoulder. Weighs 8 to 15 lbs.
Raccoon
Red Fox
Dave & Steve Maslowski
Habitat
Very adaptable to living in almost any environment – even close
to humans. Often inhabits the edges of parklands, lake and river
shores, logged areas and farmland.
Size
15 to 16 in. high at the shoulder. Weighs 7 to 15 lbs.
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Dave & Steve Maslowski
wildlifedepartment.com
Habitat
Along waterways near forests or rocky banks. Nocturnal and
omnivorous. Frequently dunks food in water before eating.
Dens in hollows of trees, logs or ground burrows and rock
crevices.
Size
18 to 28 in. long not including tail. Tail length is up to 12
in. Weighs 11 to 35 lbs.
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Field Guide to Identifying
Oklahoma Wildlife
UPLAN D G AME B IRD S
Bobwhite Quail
Kelly Murrah
Habitat
Farmland areas, open brushy country, roadsides and forest
edge. Prefers open forests, grasslands, pastures, meadows and
shrub cover.
Size
8 1/2 to 10-1/2 in. high. Weighs 6 to 8 oz.
Wild Turkey
wildlifedepartment.com
Wade Free
Habitat
Oak woodlands, pine-oak forests. The two main
subspecies in Oklahoma are the Eastern wild turkey
in the southeastern quadrant of the state and the Rio
Grande wild turkey in the rest of the state.
Size
37 to 46 in. high. Weighs 17 to 28 lbs.
Scaled Quail
Reid Allen
Habitat
Dry grasslands and brushy deserts.
Size
10 to 12 in. long. Weighs 6 to 8 oz.
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Field Guide to Identifying
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One of the main concerns of new and experienced waterfowl hunters alike is correct identification. While
it might seem like a hard skill to develop, there are a few simple things you can do to improve your
identification skills. Go with an experienced waterfowl hunter, study a waterfowl I.D. guide or practice by
watching waterfowl when not hunting.
Ring-necked Pheasant
Dave and Steve Maslowski
Habitat
Farmlands, pastures, and grassy woodland edges. Although
successful in most grassland habitats, this species most commonly
found in the central plains.
Size
Male 33 in. high; female 21 in. high. Weighs 2 to 3 lbs.
Canada Goose
Tom Martineau / www.therawspirit.com
Habitat
Near water, grassy fields, and grain fields.
Size
30 to 44 in. long. Weights 7 - 20 lbs.
Male
M IGR ATORY B IRDS
Female
Mourning Dove
58
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Mallard
Tom Martineau / www.therawspirit.com
Habitat
Open lands including prairies and open forest as well as
suburban areas.
Habitat
Grasslands areas around a pond or small lake with lots of
reeds or marshy areas.
Size
10 to 12 in. high. Weighs 4 to 6 oz.
Size
24 to 28 in. long. Weighs 2 1/2 to 3 lbs.
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CHAPTER
7
Game Care
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Field Dressing and the
Care of Game
After the Harvest
OBJECTIVE 1
Care of the Carcass
OBJECTIVE 2
Ethical and responsible hunter’s:
Once a deer, elk, antelope, bear or turkey has been
harvested, you must tag it immediately with name,
license number,
date and time
of harvest. You
should also make
sure that evidence
of sex and species
of animal is
clearly attached
and evident.
Game wardens will want to know the species and sex
of both birds and animals that you shoot.
• Know the laws and use legal and ethical methods
of hunting.
• Never waste game and properly care for game
meat.
• Tag and check in game if required.
Jerry Shaw
The Hunt:
One Shot Harvests
The hunter is responsible for proper care and use of a
harvested game animal. Proper care starts with the first
shot. Responsible hunters strive for clean, one-shot
harvests.
Once you’ve tagged the animal, you need to do two
things quickly to prevent the meat from spoiling –
field dress it and cool the meat.
How you hunt an animal and how you immediately
care for it affects the taste of the meat. An animal that
is shot while resting will not have a gamey taste while
an animal that is chased for a distance will secrete
waste products into the muscles that affect the taste of
the meat.
Nels Rodefeld
Words to Know
Game Care – The process of taking care of
the meat immediately after an animal has
been harvested.
Field Dressing – A method of cleaning a
dead animal to preserve the meat.
Carcass – Body of a dead animal.
Entrails – Waste products left over from
field dressing.
Aging Meat – A method of tenderizing
meat.
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Meat should be kept cool by:
• Keeping it in the shade.
• Keeping it in moving air or a breeze.
• Hanging it from a tree or post.
Never transport carcasses of large animals on the hood
of a vehicle. The heat will spoil the meat. Hunters
need support from the public. An animal’s carcass
in plain view can offend non-hunters. Cover it with
canvas or place it in a closed area inside the vehicle.
Always be responsible and thoughtful of the opinions
of others.
Meat should be kept dry by:
• Immediate field dressing.
• Wiping off excess blood or fluids.
Field dressing is simply removing the entrails. It
prevents the meat from absorbing waste products from Meat should be kept clean by:
the body cavity organs. Three environmental factors
• Not allowing meat to be drug through dirt.
affect the taste of your meat: temperature, dirt and
moisture. Meat that has been kept cool, dry and clean
• Covering with a cheesecloth.
tastes better than meat that has been allowed to get
warm, wet and tainted with dirt.
Question:
Who is responsible for the proper care and
use of a harvested game animal?
Answer:
The hunter who harvested it.
Question:
When should deer, elk, antelope, bear and
turkey be tagged?
Answer:
Immediately after being harvested.
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Game Care
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Field Dressing
Basic Field Dressing Tools
OBJECTIVE 3
Field dress wildlife immediately. The extra time spent
taking care of the meat will pay off when it comes
time to make a meal from that meat. Field dressing
can be messy so remove any heavy coats and roll up
your sleeves.
Disposable vinyl or latex gloves lessen the chances of
catching infectious diseases and make hand cleaning
easier.
Blood and digestive juices from organs possibly
penetrated by the shot must be removed from the
body cavity quickly. Organs deteriorate rapidly so
remove them quickly. The faster they are removed,
the faster the meat will cool and the better it will be
preserved. Field dressing will eliminate quite a bit of
weight so it is better to field dress the animal before
you transport it.
Remember that it is important to keep dirt and
foreign objects away from the exposed body cavity.
Removing the scent glands is not considered necessary
but if you wish to do so, be careful as they can taint
the meat if broken or smeared on the carcass.
Perhaps the most important tools you can carry for
field dressing are a sharp knife and a good sharpener.
These will be the primary implements you use for
skinning and cleaning carcasses. Other tools you
might include in your field dressing bag are:
• A small axe or saw
for cutting through
bone.
Jerry Shaw
With a small sharp knife, cut around the anus and
draw it into the body cavity, so it comes free with the
complete intestines. In doing this, avoid cutting or
breaking the bladder. Loosen and roll out the stomach
and intestines. Split the pelvic bone to hasten cooling.
• Rope for tying the
carcass together or
dragging it.
• Latex or rubber
gloves.
A clean cloth may be useful to clean your hands. If
you puncture the entrails with a bullet or your knife,
wipe the body cavity as clean as possible or flush with
water and dry with a cloth. Don’t use water to wash
out the body cavity unless the paunch or intestines are
badly damaged.
Part of the satisfaction of the hunt comes with making
a clean kill and in doing a neat job of field dressing
your deer. Veteran hunters may have variations in
the steps of field dressing. The important points are
to remove the internal organs immediately without
contaminating the body cavity with dirt, hair, or
contents of the digestive tract and to drain all excess
blood from the body cavity.
All parts damaged by gunshot should be trimmed
away. If the weather is warm or if the deer is to be
left in the field for a day or more, it may be skinned,
except for the head, and washed clean of dirt and
hair. It should be placed in a shroud sack or wrapped
with porous cloth to cool (cheesecloth is ideal). The
cloth covering should be porous enough to allow air
circulation but firmly woven enough to give good
protection from insects and dirt. Adequate cooling
may take six hours or more, depending on weather
conditions.
Jerry Shaw
Aging the Meat
Steps in Field Dressing
Jerry Shaw
Roll the deer carcass over on its back with the rump
lower than the shoulders and spread the hind legs.
Make a cut along the center line of belly from
breastbone to base of tail. First cut through the hide,
then through belly muscle. Avoid cutting into the
paunch and intestines by holding them away from the
knife with the free hand, while guiding the knife with
the other.
Unless the deer head will be mounted, the cut should
pass through the sternum and extend up the neck to
the chin to allow removal of as much of the windpipe
as possible.
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Jerry Shaw
Cut around the edge of the diaphragm, which
separates the chest and stomach cavities, and split the
breastbone. Then, reach forward to cut the windpipe
and gullet ahead of the lungs. This should allow you
to pull the lungs and heart from the chest cavity.
Drain excess blood from the body cavity by turning
the body belly down or hanging animal head down.
Prop the body cavity open with a stick to allow better
air circulation and faster cooling.
Age the deer carcass in a cool, dry place. Aging of a
well cared for carcass at correct temperatures yields
better flavored, more tender meat. Best results are
obtained in a near-constant temperature, preferably
from 34 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it is rarely
that cold in Oklahoma, hunters should not age their
carcasses outside.
Aging for one to two weeks is about right for the best
quality venison, depending on the age and condition
of the animal.
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Game Care
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Disposal of Entrails
and Carcasses
OBJECTIVE 4
The Oklahoma carcass disposal regulations are: No
person may dump the carcass of any dead animal in
any well, spring, pond or stream of water or leave it
within 1/4 mile of any occupied dwelling or public
highway without burying the carcass in an appropriate
manner where it is not liable to become exposed
through erosion of the soil or where such land is
subject to overflow.
Review
• Tag your deer, elk, antelope, bear or
turkey immediately with name, license
number, date and time of harvest.
• A sharp knife and a good sharpener
are two of the most important tools
for field dressing. Rope, gloves and
a game bag are handy to have in the
field.
• Prevent the meat from spoiling by
immediately field dressing the animal
and keeping the meat cool and dry.
• Field dressing a carcass immediately
helps preserve the meat. Organs
deteriorate rapidly so remove them
quickly. The faster they are removed,
the faster the meat will cool and the
better it will be preserved.
• Dispose of animal carcasses in a
manner consistent with state law.
Never leave waste remains out where
other people can see them.
Other states may have different laws about how you
should dispose of the unused parts of a game animal.
Never leave the waste remains out where other people
may see them. Remember that the land you hunt
is often used for other purposes. Many people will
be offended if they find the unused parts of a game
animal.
Colin Berg
Appreciate the Gift!
Never forget to appreciate the gift! Hunting an animal
is a great privilege that can be immensely rewarding.
Russell Graves
Careless behaviors such as this can result in poor
public opinion of hunting and end up damaging the
sport and hurting your opportunities to participate in
the future. Be aware of your actions; how they affect
others and how they affect the sport.
A responsible hunter never forgets to give back when
opportunities rise.
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65
CHAPTER
8
Archery
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Bowhunting
OBJECTIVE 1
Bowhunting is one of the oldest hunting methods.
It was the main form of hunting until firearms were
invented in the 14th century. Bowhunting is growing
in popularity in Oklahoma.
Bowhunting requires concentration and patience. It is
not a method of hunting that you can learn in a day
or two. Making accurate shots with a bow takes much
practice. In fact, practice is perhaps one of the main
things you need to do to be a successful bowhunter.
There are both classes and groups that offer
instruction in the proper methods of bowhunting and
a wise hunter will take advantage of all the instruction
he or she can receive.
Why Do People Bowhunt?
People bowhunt for several reasons. It gives them
a sense of history. After all, it is one of the oldest
hunting methods. It also can be a personal challenge
to master the skills of a good bowhunter.
What Do You Need To Bowhunt?
A good pro shop that specializes in bow hunting will
set you up with equipment that is right for you. You
must feel comfortable with your bow, how it feels in
your hand and how it draws. Remember, no matter
how good your equipment, it’s only as good as you are
so practice, practice, practice.
The easiest way to judge distance is to carry a
rangefinder with you while bowhunting. Otherwise
it requires a lot of time and practice. You can develop
your range finding skills by either joining a 3D
archery club or working with a friend who will place
3D targets for you and let you practice judging their
distance. Knowing your hunting area and the distance
of different landmarks from your stand also helps.
Equipment needed:
• A good bow
• Arrows and razor sharp broadheads
• Finger protection and/or release equipment
• A covered quiver to keep broadheads from
cutting the hunter
Words to Know
Bow –
Longbow – One of the first bows invented. It’s little more than a slim stick with a string.
Recurve – A shorter bow with recurved limbs that allow it to shoot as powerfully as a long bow.
Crossbow – A recurve or compound bow mounted on a rifle stock. String
is held back by the bow requiring less
movement when game approaches.
Compound – A modern bow designed to allow an archer to hold their bow at full draw with less force.
Arrow –
Field tips – Narrow arrow tips used for target shooting and hunting small game.
Broadheads – Wide, razor sharp tips used for hunting large game and turkey.
Daniel Griffith
Matching Equipment
Question:
What piece of equipment protects the hunter
and other people from contact with broadheads?
Answer:
A covered quiver.
Question:
What is one of the skills should you develop to
become a good archer?
Answer:
Judging distance.
Equipment must be matched to the needs of the
hunter. A bow should match the drawing ability of the
hunter as well as the game being hunted.
You should have an experienced bowhunting specialist
help you pick the bow that best meets your skill and
strength.
Broadheads – used
for hunting large
game or turkey.
Matching Arrows
Arrows should be matched to the bow and the hunter
in stiffness (spine) and length.
Arrows should match each other. Not all arrows fly
the same or have the same range in flight.
Field Tip – used for
target practice and
small game.
Covered quiver – A case that safely holds
and carries arrows.
Nock locator
Blunt Tip – used for
hunting small game.
Nocking point
Judging distance
Shaft
Kelley Farrar
To become a good archer you must practice and
develop the skill of judging distance. In order to place
an arrow within the kill zone of Oklahoma’s big game
animals, you must judge the distance accurately.
Nock
Tip
Fletching
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Archery
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Four Main Types of Bows
Long Bow
Grip
Upper Limb
Lower Limb
OBJECTIVE 2
In modern times, the recurve and compound bows
dominate for sport and hunting practices. Newer
materials, including flexible plastics, fiberglass, and
carbon fibers, have led to increases in range and
projectile velocity.
String
Recurve Bow
Grip
Lower Limb
Upper Limb
Long Bow
Sometimes called a “Stick Bow” -- the traditional
bow. Usually straight until the string is attached. The
bow curve and power is dependent on how far the
string is pulled.
Recurve
A stick bow that curves at the ends. Smooth and
quiet when shooting, a recurve has more power and is
shorter than a long bow.
This program hits the bulls-eye in education
by providing archery training to the
nation’s youth. Designed for 4th to 12th
graders, Oklahoma National Archery in the
Schools curriculum covers archery history,
safety, techniques, equipment, mental
concentration and self-improvement. To get
your school involved call 405-522-1857.
String
Compound Bow
Grip
Lower Limb
Window &
Arrow Rest
Upper Limb
Compound
Most popular bow for hunting. Uses cables and
pulleys to provide more power with less effort than
pulling a long bow.
Cam
Crossbow
Short bows mounted on a stock so they can be aimed,
cocked and fired. Hunters who use crossbows need to
exercise the same restraint that hunters do using stick
bows. In other words, shooting distance is less than
compound bows.
Crossbow
Scope
Wheel
String
Review
String
Cams
Ben Davis
• Blunts, field tips and broadheads are three
types of points commonly used in the field.
• Arrows should be matched to the bow and
to the hunter. They should also be matched
to each other.
• Recurve and compound bows are most
popular for sport and hunting.
Stock
Trigger
• The long bow, recurve, compound and
crossbow are the four types of bows.
Foot
Stirrup
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CHAPTER
9
Hunting with Muzzleloaders
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Muzzleloaders
Black Powder
Hunting with equipment other than modern firearms
can be both exciting and challenging. A hunter can
find that a special style of hunting game provides a
sense of personal satisfaction.
Muzzleloaders were originally developed in the 14th
century. Over the years they became more refined but
they were finally replaced by the modern firearm.
Muzzleloaders are loaded directly through the muzzle
of the firearm. Their range is less than a modern
rifle, so making a clean shot with a muzzleloader is
a challenge to the hunter. He or she must get close
enough to hit a vital area.
People like the challenge of hunting with a
muzzleloader as well as the sense of heritage that
comes with using such a specialized, historical firearm.
However, special precautions must be taken with
both the firearm and the powder to ensure that the
muzzleloader is safe to fire and to store.
Loading a Muzzleloader
Words to Know
Muzzleloader – Firearm that uses black
powder and loads through the barrel.
Black powder – Combustible powder for
firing a muzzleloader.
Black powder substitute – Replacement
for black powder that is less sensitive,
cleaner and more efficient.
Percussion Caps – Ignites black powder
Ramrod – Stiff rod used to load a
muzzleloader.
Safety Comes First!
OBJECTIVE 1
Mastering hunting with a muzzleloader can be both
exciting and challenging. Many hunters want to use
historic guns in the field. However, old metal may
not be strong enough to withstand the rigors of black
powder explosions. Always consult a gunsmith before
using any historic firearm.
Remember that black powder is an explosive. If not
handled responsibly, it can be dangerous. Do not
expose black powder to an open flame or store it
anywhere there is a possibility of a spark.
OBJECTIVE 2
Smokeless powder is not safe to use in most
muzzleloaders on the market. Check your owner’s
manual to find out which powder is safe to use in
your muzzleloader. Most muzzleloaders use black
powder or a synthetic powder. Both can be ignited
from sparks, heat, impact, static electricity and even
sunlight. When ignited, they burn hot and fast. They
will not ignite when damp or wet. All gun powders
need to be stored and handled safely. Store in correctly
labeled original manufacturer’s containers to prevent
accidental ignition.
Black or synthetic powder is highly corrosive and will
damage your muzzleloader if not cleaned with soap
and water after every use.
These powders are ignited by using percussion
caps that are coated on the inside with an explosive
substance. These should be stored separately from gun
powder.
OBJECTIVE 3
Loading a muzzleloader should be done with great
care. Black powder is an explosive. Always follow your
owner’s manual for the correct loading procedure.
The first thing you must do is to prove that the
muzzleloader is unloaded. Check the barrel by
inserting a marked ramrod. If empty, point the firearm
in a safe direction and fire a cap. This will remove oil
from the barrel and clear the flash point.
Making the Marked Ramrod
You should always use a marked ramrod to prevent
double loading and to make sure the bullet is firmly
seated against the powder charge. To make a marked
ramrod, you should first determine the optimum
powder charge and bullet for your muzzleloader.
Consult your owner’s manual for this step.
• Be certain the muzzleloader is unloaded.
• Put your ramrod down the barrel.
• Make a mark all the way around the ramrod
where it comes out of the barrel.
• With your muzzleloader loaded, put your ramrod
down the barrel.
• Make a mark all the way around the ramrod
where it comes out of the barrel.
• Use the marked ramrod to determine whether or
not the muzzleloader is loaded before loading.
• When loading, use the marked ramrod to make
sure there is no air space between the bullet or
shot and the powder.
Ben Davis
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Oklahoma Hunter Education
Review
• Use a marked ramrod to find out if a
muzzleloader is unloaded.
• Use a marked ramrod to make sure there
is no air space between the bullet or shot
and powder.
• Always consult a gunsmith before using
any historic firearm.
• Do not expose gun powder to an open
flame or store it anywhere there is a
possibility of a spark.
• The two types of powder most commonly
used in muzzleloaders are black powder
and synthetic.
Daniel Griffith
10
Survival
Oklahoma Hunter Education
Surviving Being Lost
• Follow manufacturer’s procedures and
get help from a qualified instructor.
Loading a muzzleloader should be done
with great care. Always follow your
owner’s manual for the correct loading.
Question:
What should you use to find out if a
muzzleloader is loaded?
Answer:
The marked ramrod.
Question:
Where should the bullet and patch be when
a muzzleloader is properly loaded?
Answer:
Firmly seated against the powder.
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9
Hunting with Muzzleloaders
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
OBJECTIVE 1
Enjoying the outdoors is one of the primary reasons
why hunters love their sport. As with any sport,
however, there are certain skills a person must know in
order to be safe. One of these is how to survive if you
get lost or are injured while hunting. While you may
think you know the area you are hunting in, it’s often
very easy to get turned around or confused about your
location. This can be dangerous if you aren’t prepared.
I’m Lost! Now What?
The most important thing to do when lost is to stop,
don’t panic and think before you act. As darkness
nears, it is much more important to make a plan for
staying warm and alive overnight than to try to find
a way home. You must make a conscious decision to
ignore your other obligations such as making it home
in time for dinner or to work in the morning. Since
Oklahoma has few remote wilderness areas, you will
likely be found the next day.
When you are lost all you have to save yourself is
what’s in your survival kit and the clothes on your
back. Therefore, survival starts before you go afield.
You should bring a survival kit every time you go
afield. The best survival kit will do you no good if it’s
left in your vehicle. It is also very important that you
tell someone where you are going and when you will
return. If you don’t return at the right time, they can
contact the authorities and launch a search party.
A person’s attitude and emotional state can make
all the difference in finding a way out of difficult
situations. Stop, think and do not wander around.
That is dangerous and can lead to disorientation and
confusion. Lastly, plan on what to do next!
A rule of thumb is that a person can survive three
minutes without air, three hours without shelter in
severe weather, three days without water and three
weeks without food. Assuming you have not been
injured and can breathe, you have time to plan how to
get out of your situation.
You require more food and water when you use lots of
energy. Also, tired people don’t think as well. So, relax
and think about your situation before you react.
As with any problem, the best way to solve it is to
not have it happen in the first place. There are several
things you can do to prevent yourself from getting lost.
The first thing is to know how to use a compass and
map. A good topographic map shows all details of a
terrain. It shows roads, rivers, hills, elevation, and even
trees and bushes. You can obtain topographic maps
of the area you are hunting in from several sources
including the website wildlifedepartment.com as well
as bookstores. A map and a good compass can tell you
exactly where you are.
Survival Kit
A survival kit is a personal item that should be
adjusted for your needs, the time of year and the
activity in which you will engage in. You should
build, and carry, your own. There are some basic
rules and items you should be aware of when putting
one together. They should be lightweight and
compact, while including the equipment you need to
survive a night or two in the outdoors. Finally the
equipment must be reliable and working order, and
you must carry it each time you go afield.
Basic survival kits should contain:
Shelter material
Large, heavy duty, orange, plastic bag
Parachute line
Fire Starting Materials
Matches contained in a waterproof case
Cigarette lighter
Metal match with a scraper
Vaseline saturated cotton balls in a waterproof
container
wildlifedepartment.com
73
An Overview of Key Concerns and Theories
Affecting Quail Populations
Signaling equipment
Whistle with a lanyard
Glass, or good plastic, signal mirror with a lanyard
Fluorescent plastic surveyors tape
Question:
What is the first symptom of hypothermia?
Answer:
Shivering.
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Cattle Grazing
Cattle grazing can be good or bad for
quail habitat. Overstocking, leads to overgrazing. If quail are unable to find suitable cover and food due to overgrazing, an
imbalance results that impacts quail populations. On a positive note, if an area is
too overgrown, cattle grazing can contribute to ideal quail habitat conditions.
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undeveloped land in Oklahoma, large
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fragmented. Even communities in rural
and semi-rural areas that once were
havens for wildlife continue to sprawl
with housing additions, businesses and roadway expansions
that pressure wildlife to look elsewhere for suitable habitat.
Additionally, other tracts are becoming degraded by land use
changes that affect the quality of available habitat. Because
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movement of quail across the landscape is interrupted in fragmented habitats, the birds have a difficult time recolonizing or
increasing their numbers following weather catastrophes. Also,
the localized populations within these small patches of habitat
are more vulnerable to direct losses from predation, hunting,
disease, etc.
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CUT HERE
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation • Hunter Education Manual
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• Learn to use a map and compass.
Lance Meek
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One hundred years ago, a wildfire could consume thousands of
acres of land at a time without
interruption. With nobody to
control what, where or when it
burned, the detriment could be
significant…for a time. But just like the sun comes up
every morning, charred earth recovers — and it actually
recovers in a manner that beneficially restores the landscape with new growth, forage, food and habitat for
wildlife. Fire maintains grassland ecosystems and suppresses woody growth. Wildlife managers have known
for years that prescribed fire is a useful tool for improving habitat, but with development and expansion comes the need
to suppress fires to protect property, homes, communities, livestock and people.
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• Before going afield tell someone where
you are going.
Directions for preparing and using a plastic bag as
emergency shelter.
1. Before going afield, cut a face-sized hole in the
corner of the bag near the top seam.
2. To use, unfold bag and pull it over your body like
a poncho.
3. Pull it completely around your body and with the
opening around your face.
* See illustration to the right.
74
across its range can have significant impacts.
Take a look through the following section to get a feel for
which environmental factors are proving to be the most daunting, as well some issues that are of less immediate concern but
still important to biologists hoping to understand and reverse
downward quail trends.
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• When you think you are lost, stop, don’t
panic and think before you act.
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• Survival starts before you go afield.
Emergency blankets are not recommended because they
can tear easily, are almost impossible to use if you are
injured and they do not completely cover the user. We
recommend instead carrying a large, heavy duty orange
plastic bag.
as concerning in eastern portions of the state, but the quail in
eastern Oklahoma still face their own slate of threats, such as
the maturation of forests into habitats unsuitable to the needs
of quail. As a whole, a number of different issues facing quail
Fire Exclusion
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* This survival kit is available for purchase from outdoorsafe.com. See directions
for use below. This suggested survival kit is reprinted with permission from
outdoorsafe.com.
I
t has been established that quail populations are currently in decline, but what exactly are some of the factors that could be negatively impacting the numbers?
And just how much of a threat does each of them pose
to the state of the bobwhite quail? A better question
still: What is the “number 1” cause of quail decline? According
to wildlife biologists, there is likely no single answer, but rather
a combination of factors occurring at the same time across the
quail’s range that together present concerns. Quail may face
challenges related to land uses in western Oklahoma that aren’t
Question:
What is the first thing you should do when
you think you are lost?
Answer:
Stop, don’t panic and think before you act.
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In addition to the basic three categories of equipment
also consider the following equipment:
Additional clothing for warmth and protection from
wind and wet
Sturdy fixed or folding blade knife
First Aid Kit
Metal cup
Flashlight with a headband and spare bulbs/batteries
Food bars high in carbohydrate
Water purification tablets
Folding saw
Compass
Tube tent
Plastic water bag
Which ones are most likely behind the decline and why
biologists see them as priorities
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UPLAND URGENCY:
Oklahoma Hunter Education
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Survival
75
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Upland Urgency:
The Fight Against Bobwhite Quail Decline
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Whether
not the origin of the extreme
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weather Oklahoma has experienced in
recent years is an effect of a long-term
global climate change, biologists want to
better understand weather effects on
quail population dynamics in Oklahoma.
The Wildlife Department is working with Oklahoma State
University on two northwest Oklahoma wildlife management
areas, and biologists plan to use the knowledge gained from the
study to move forward with conservation efforts that help minimize negative environmental effects on quail populations.
Along
impacting food sources like
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insects and weed seeds, overuse of herbicides
to control brushy cover in grassland does no
favors for habitat. Quail require some brush
like plum thickets and shinnery oak to provide escape and protective cover from
raptors. Additionally, brush is very important for thermal cover during extreme weather conditions like heat, snow or ice storms.
“Basically, if you own or manage grassland and you overuse
herbicides to eliminate brush on your property, it will have negative impacts on quail,” said Doug Schoeling, upland game bird
biologist for the Wildlife Department. “Have a good percentage of
brush scattered across the landscape.”
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Global Climate Change
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ERAT suggested reducing
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days to hunt quail to three days weekly as
in the past, but legal hunting is shown to
have no negative impact on quail populations rangewide. However, localized hunting pressure may cause reduced numbers
of
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quail, such as may be the case on some Oklahoma wildlife management areas. To help regulate quail harvests, some WMAs are
open to quail hunting only during specific hours. For example, on
the popular Beaver River WMA in northwest Oklahoma, shooting hours for quail hunting close at 4:30 p.m. and shooting hours
for quail close at noon on Cimarron Bluff and Cimarron Hills
WMAs (these WMAs and some others also are closed for part or
all of the deer gun season). In short, biologists don’t discourage the
hunting of quail, and in fact remind sportsmen that hunters are
key to the success of quail.
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Over the years, farming operations have
not only become more efficient, but
many have also focused on cleaner properties with well manicured fields that lay
abruptly adjacent to edges created by
timber or fence lines. Though this contributes to efficiency and looks good to many people, field
edges and fence lines that were once left brushy and ideal for
wildlife are fewer and farther between. Many of the family
farms that brought richness to the history of Oklahoma also
contributed to the richness of wildlife diversity in the state.
Years ago, a drive across rural farmland may have revealed
miles of brushy roadsides as well as feathered field edges and
fence lines that gradually transitioned from timber or rugged
prairie into crop production. Today, you may see a “cleaner”
approach, but biologists say this is affecting downward quail
populations trends.
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Large Scale Clean Farming
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No-till farming can be productive for
farmers, but farmers using this method
have to use applications of herbicides
that reduce annua l
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and seeds on which
quail depend.
With a less diverse
vegetative composition, insects may be less
abundant — a problem
because insects are a
critical component of
quail chicks’ diet for the
first several weeks of
their life.
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Areas that once held large numbers of
quail may hold fewer now as some farming operations have transitioned from
production of row crops to pasture, hay
fields and other crops that are “less
friendly” to birds. Introduced, nonnative grasses like Bermuda and tall fescue make for poor quail
habitat because of their sod-forming qualities that make it difficult for quail to walk and search for food. Additionally, sod
forming grasses contribute to loss of cover and good structure
needed for nesting. Bare ground availability, such as that provided in habitat with native grasses that form bunches rather
than sod, offer better foraging opportunities and easier traveling for quail. Non-native grass plantings also tend to be monocultures, with far less beneficial diversity than native grasses.
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Some researcher
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term trends in quail populations may be
due in large part to weather effects on production, and we all know the state’s weather can be harsh. In the past year alone,
weather events have been particularly detrimental. July 2011 was the hottest July ever on record in Oklahoma
with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees for extended periods,
and extreme drought has affected over 85 percent of Oklahoma.
Data has shown correlations between periods of drought and fall
quail population levels, and field biologists have often noted nest
abandonment, egg spoilage and suppressed courtship during
extended periods of high heat combined with low moisture.
Winter was harsh as well, seeing snowfalls of up to 14 inches and
temperatures well below zero. Tornadoes and hailstorms hammered
the plains this spring. Nighttime cold and wet weather during certain times of brooding season can predispose chicks to hypothermia.
Likewise, the catastrophic weather can disrupt reproduction
and survival of adult birds. For example, ice storms can pack a
thick layer of ice on the surface of the ground, making it difficult
to impossible for quail to access food underneath. Flooding can
destroy nests and send birds looking for cover; and prolonged heat
and drought can be detrimental to insect populations that quail
rely on for food. Combine a few of these, such as a period of poor
insect production followed by a flood season that takes a toll on
quail nesting success, and you have a recipe for disaster.
While weather extremes are nothing new and cannot be blamed
entirely for rangewide quail declines, biologists agree that localized weather events as well as the timing of inclement weather
with other factors can be problematic for wildlife.
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Though
predator
calling and hunting
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may have enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in recent years, the fur market isn’t
booming like it once was. During the
historical booms of the fur trade, trappers
may have put significantly greater pressure on all furbearing species, including those that are known
to prey on nests of ground nesting birds.
As a result, predator species like bobcats may still be highly
sought after by hunters, but others such as raccoons, skunks and
possums that are likely to prey on quail nests are receiving less
pressure from hunting and trapping in recent years. Quail, especially in fragmented habitats, may be more vulnerable to predation
now than during years when the fur market offered higher prices.
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Exotic Non-Native Grasses
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Catastrophic Weather Events
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Survival of the fittest
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Fewer wild birds to provide
experience for young
hunting dogs
What Does it All Mean?
The quail is somewhat like any type of crop in that environmental conditions affect a given year’s production. When the condition of the habitat and available food interact favorably with the weather and other factors, the chance for a successful year of quail
production is increased. But even then, the average lifespan of a wild quail is only seven months, and only about 20 percent survive
from one October until the next. Their approach to species survival is to produce excessive numbers of offspring to compensate for
the high number of losses caused by the environment. When a given year’s environmental conditions are particularly challenging, it
shows in the quail population. It goes without saying that conditions that negatively affect the survival of the bobwhite quail in one
year — be it weather or any of the threats that have been explored in this issue — can have far reaching affects on the next year, and
likewise, a series of challenging years can lead to gradual declines like those seen across the western edge of the bobwhite’s range.
The challenge before Wildlife Department biologists as they begin their upcoming comprehensive research efforts with
OSU and Operation Idiopathic Decline is to determine what unknown factors are playing a role in the downward population
trend of quail, and just how much of a role they are playing. Only then can a sharper focus be placed on halting the unexplained decline. But we aren’t limited to waiting and doing nothing while biologists carry out their research, however. We all
can be involved in bobwhite quail conservation now.
The Fight Against Bobwhite Quail Decline
79
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Turkeys, deer,
egrets, roadrunners
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Ticks and fire ants
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Feral hogs and
feral cats
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The “survival of the fittest” concept basically implies
that individuals of a species who adapt most readily to
their environment tend to have a better chance of survival and thus reproducing their genes. Biologists say
it’s possible that today’s quail, though maybe fewer in
number, are better at surviving. Could that mean they
are more elusive as well? For example, quail that tend to
run under pressure rather than flush may create greater
distance between themselves and a bird dog that has
pinpointed their location. The result in that case is that
the birds may go unseen more often than flushing. If
the tendency to run rather than flush results in higher
survival, then the tendency to run could be passed on
to offspring with increased frequency as each generation improves at surviving in their environment.
Additionally, with wild bird numbers down in
recent years, the rate at which young hunting dogs
can gain experience hunting wild quail may be
slowed. It’s been suggested that this phenomenon
may be causing a decrease in the number of coveys
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on domestic birds for training.
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CONCERN
Pick any remaining patch of habitat on
the outskirts of a community experiencing growth, and watch closely to see how
long it takes for a large commercial development or housing addition to go up in its
place. While economic growth and development are good things, the fact that wildlife habitat may be
impacted as a result is well known. If the habitat is gone, the
wildlife will be gone as well. New roads, parking lots, parks,
homes and businesses are signs of thriving, but the natural world
that once called those places home are forever gone.
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Urbanization and
Commercial Development
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With the exception of the Ozarks and
Ouachitas, Oklahoma was historically a
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prairie state.M Exclusion of fire along
with
other human activities has led to much of
Oklahoma’s prairie and savannah habitats
being invaded by timber growth, all at the
expense of native prairie and therefore the bobwhite quail.
Many counties that were characterized by native grasses during the early 1900s (or even the late 1900s) are now marked by
draws of oak timber with trees as wide as 10 inches in diameter.
In short, habitat characteristics change over time, sometimes in
ways that would be difficult to control or that might even go
unnoticed, until it affects something so dear to the heart of
Oklahoma as bobwhite quail.
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Late Stage Habitat Succession
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West Nile Virus,
Coccidiosis, Avian
inf luenza, qua i l
fever, pox, and bronchitis are diseases
that quail can contract. Many questions remain to be
answered regarding
their direct and
indirect population level impacts across the bobwhite’s range.
Biologists would like to learn more about the incidence of
disease among quail populations, be it through contact with
domestic quail that have been released on hunting preserves,
through blood-feeding insects like ticks and mosquitoes, or at
wildlife feeders.
In order to better understand which diseases and parasites are
having the greatest impacts on quail populations, the Wildlife
Department is taking part in a research project with the Rolling
Plains Quail Research Ranch, Texas A&M and Texas Tech
University to study quail diseases and parasitism. Through the
study called “Operation Idiopathic Decline,” biologists are not
only analyzing individual quail for diseases, but they are also
studying certain quail parasites like mosquitoes and ticks for
more insight on the spread of disease through parasitism.
A more in depth look at this research project is provided
later in this issue.
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Two More Theories: Survival
of the Fittest and Fewer Wild
Birds for Training Bird Dogs
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Competition is one of the greatest forces in the natural world,
from the smallest of organisms that affect the natural food
chain on up to Oklahoma’s largest game animals such as deer
and elk. When species compete — each one with the powerful
natural will to survive — one will often take a greater hit than
the other. Such may be case for quail. Though biologists believe
it to be of little consequence to quail populations, it is possible
for turkeys, deer, egrets, roadrunners and other wildlife to prey
on quail chicks. Ticks can sometimes kill chicks as well.
A bigger threat still presents itself when non-native competition comes into play. In Oklahoma, feral hogs are widespread,
and feral cats are found statewide as well. Non-native fire ants
may at times kill quail chicks too. Each one can inflict harm
on quail habitat and individual birds, and the worst part about
them is they are not native wildlife. When a non-native species
is the source of competition and predation on native wildlife,
the significance of the problem is automatically increased, even
in the case of feral hogs and cats that are not believed to be toplevel threats to quail populations. Non-native and invasive species often have little competition and few predators, allowing
for more detrimental impacts on native habitat and food sources
otherwise available for native species.
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tions, a wildlife feeder may be a twoedged sword. While they do provide
some supplemental food and can increase
the likelihood for hunters and wildlife
watchers to see and harvest animals that
concentrate near them, they also draw natural predators that
opportunistically prey on quail. They also can lead to the transfer of disease. Additionally, they have little positive impact on
quail numbers when placed where quality quail habitat already
exists. The result could mean fewer birds seen by hunters in
those areas.
In addition to attracting predators to potentially “easy pickings,” some seeds used in wildlife feeders, especially corn, may
contain naturally occurring af latoxins (a form of toxic mold).
Quail can survive very high levels of af latoxin, but it may
have sublethal effects that could compromise a quail’s fitness,
including its reproductive success. The impact af latoxin may
be having on quail reproduction is still unknown.
Wildlife feeders are legal in most scenarios in Oklahoma,
and they are not believed to be a threat to quail populations
rangewide. Rather, they may simply impact very localized
coveys and hunters. But even so, landowners who focus on
creating and enhancing as much habitat on their property as
possible can have lasting effects. Making habitat a priority
and getting involved in conservation is as important now as
it ever has been, and it starts with landowners and sportsmen getting involved. Additionally, if you are concerned
that af latoxins in corn may be affecting quail populations
in your area, there are other feed options that may be more
expensive but are known to have lesser amounts of af latoxins, such as black-eyed peas and milo. You can also routinely
clean your feeders.
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Feeders and Aflatoxin
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We All Can Play a Role
WAYNE HUGHES
The Role of Sportsmen
W
ildlife Department officials are optimistic
that we can make a difference for quail in
Oklahoma. One thing that is sure is quail
populations have a better chance of rebounding when private landowners, sportsmen and the Wildlife
Department partner together for the benefit of wildlife.
The Role of Private Landowners
In Oklahoma, the impact of what a landowner does for wildlife on his property spreads beyond his fence line. When an
area provides a good arrangement and diversity of nutritious
food, shelter and nesting cover, quail have a better chance of
foraging and nesting successfully. And when more than one
landowner in an area catch on and begin striving to provide
better wildlife habitat, their success is multiplied.
While landowners cannot control the weather, they can make
great strides in restoring and enhancing the wildlife habitat on
their property, and in doing so put in place at least one of the
puzzle pieces critical for quail to thrive.
Landowner efforts are far more than simply a beneficial supplement to quail and other wildlife; they are actually crucial for
the success of wildlife in the state.
“Ninety-seven percent of Oklahoma is privately owned,”
said Mike Sams, private lands senior wildlife biologist for the
Wildlife Department. “Without private landowners, wildlife
management is not going to happen.”
With so much land under private ownership, it’s up to landowners to partner with the Department and sportsmen to provide habitat for wildlife, and they do a good job of it. However,
with land use changes taking place every day, small-tract landowners face challenges in the quest to provide habitat on a
small scale that still makes a big impact. But there is a way.
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Put simply, hunting is conservation.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation receives
no general state tax appropriations and is supported primarily by
sportsmen through their purchase of hunting and fishing licenses.
Because of efforts to enhance and restore habitat, quail benefit, as do so many other species in Oklahoma ranging from
big game like deer and antelope to turkeys, rabbits and others.
Sportsmen’s dollars have gone a long way in making that happen through research projects, habitat restoration, law enforcement, education and long-term cooperative relationships
between the Wildlife Department, landowners and sportsmen.
In short, one of the best ways to support wildlife conservation,
and therefore quail conservation, is to purchase a hunting license
and go hunting. Additionally, hunters can introduce others to the
outdoors by taking them hunting. Becoming a volunteer instructor
for the Wildlife Department’s hunter education program makes
a big difference through educating the next generation of hunters in local communities. For more information, contact Lance
Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Wildlife Department,
at (405) 522-4572. Or get involved in local chapters of effective
conservation groups such as Quail Forever and Quail Unlimited.
Projects and fundraisers held by conservation organizations are
effective ways to raise money for conservation projects.
Landowners and citizens can
play an important role in quail
conservation by getting involved
in these research projects.
To find out how you can
participate, please visit:
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/
hunting/quail.htm
The Role of the Wildlife Department
While quail are known for their “boom or bust” cycles, biologists have seen a consistent and concerning downward population trend. Unfortunately, this trend has been mirrored by the
number of Oklahoma quail hunters — declining from 110,000
in 1980 to less than 30,000 hunters today.
While this issue has explored a number of threats that could
be contributing in one way or another to declining quail populations, and while landowners and sportsmen have an important role to play in conserving quail, the question that begs an
Upland Urgency:
answer is what does the Wildlife Department plan to do to help
conserve this upland treasure known as the bobwhite quail?
To many Wildlife Department biologists, the question is both
scientific and deeply personal. Biologists with the Department are
not only experts in the science of wildlife biology, but most are passionate hunters and wildlife enthusiasts who eagerly seek to benefit
the bird that has given them so many cherished memories afield.
And while it is true that quail numbers can fluctuate between “good
years” and “bad years,” biologists are working now to ensure the
bobwhite quail is a staple of the upland landscape forever.
Along with private lands programs and routine management
efforts on public lands, the Wildlife Department is beginning
a phase of extensive research involving two specific projects—
one right here in Oklahoma and another through a joint effort
between the Department and some of its national partners.
Research Project #1
A True Oklahoma Partnership
to Benefit Quail: The Wildlife
Department has recently committed to a long-term bobwhite quail
research project with Oklahoma State
University’s Department of Natural
Resource Ecology and Management
and the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish
and Wildlife Research Unit. This
research is in response to the decline in both quail populations
and hunter numbers.
By conducting research on two of the best remaining public lands quail habitat areas in the nation — Packsaddle and
Beaver River wildlife management areas in northwest Oklahoma
— biologists hope to gain insights on various aspects of quail
management, including the movement and distribution of birds
during the late summer and early fall when coveys are known to
shuffle and regroup into new coveys, how to effectively manage
habitat to boost chick survival, and how the weather influences
reproductive success and bobwhite survival in Oklahoma. To
address these and other topics, studies will revolve around four
primary approaches: habitat and population dynamics, insect and
food availability, quail use of habitat by predators and aflatoxin.
Habitat and Population Dynamics: In this approach,
researchers will fit both adult quail and chicks with transmitters to determine which factors affect habitat use, production
and brood survival, and mortality of bobwhites throughout the
year. In addition to telemetry work, habitat manipulations will
be closely monitored for changes in vegetation, and biological
information will be collected from hunter-harvested birds. From
this information, biologists hope to create models that will help
them predict the response of quail populations to drought and
evaluate the role that temperature plays in nesting and survival.
Arthropod (Insect) Availability and Preference: Telemetry
work from the above-mentioned studies will be used in conjunction
with arthropod sampling to determine how nest location and chick
The Fight Against Bobwhite Quail Decline
survival are linked to arthropod abundance. Invertebrate samples
will be taken from preferred home ranges, known nesting sites, and
areas where foraging is not occurring. Researchers will also attempt
to identify how diets fluctuate as chicks develop. A model will be
developed at the end of this approach to predict how nest selection
and chick survival will be influenced by invertebrate abundance.
Aerial/Terrestrial Predator Influence on Usable Space: The
potential impact of both avian and mammalian predators will be
evaluated through raptor surveys, perching site assessments, and
carnivore surveys. A GIS model will be developed using these
surveys, predicting how potential raptor perch sites (including
human structures) and areas frequented by mammals (waterways
and streams, food plots, etc.) may facilitate predation of quail.
Af latoxicosis: Though af latoxin-related issues have long
been a concern for waterfowl managers, the role of this fungus in quail populations has yet been determined. To better
understand the potential effects on quail, several seed sources
(including both native and commercially-obtained seed) will
be evaluated for potentially toxic concentrations. Additionally,
researchers hope to learn how feeders and supplemental feeding
strategies influence quail and quail predation.
The six-year study is kicked off in the fall of 2011 and will
continue until summer 2017. Field stations will be built on both
study areas, providing research students with both a working
lab and temporary housing.
Research Project #2
Operation Idiopathic Decline: In addition to the cooperative
research with OSU, the Wildlife Department will participate
with the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch, Texas A&M,
Texas A&M-Kingsville and Texas Tech University in a second study dubbed “Operation Idiopathic Decline.” The role of
Wildlife Department biologists will include trapping quail in
the fall and sending them to Texas Tech, where samples will be
analyzed for contaminants and diseases like West Nile virus and
avian influenza. Extensive research on the birds will also cover
disease, parasitism, herbicides, insecticides and other issues. The
Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch is providing $2 million of
privately raised funds for this project.
“We are going to look at things like aflatoxins, Coccidiosis,
West Nile virus, and all of the other ‘black box’ diseases,” said Doug
Schoeling, upland game bird biologist for the Wildlife Department.
The primary goal of this project is to determine the role of
infectious diseases on bobwhite quail. Disease research with
respect to quail has been limited and little is known about the
prevalence or importance of specific diseases on the population.
Ten Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s) from across
Oklahoma’s Rolling Plains region have been selected as sample sites for the operation: Beaver River, Black Kettle, Canton,
Cimarron Hills and Bluff, Cooper, Ellis County, Hackberry
Flat, Mountain Park, Packsaddle and Sandy Sanders. Biologists
and technicians will trap quail twice at each location — once in
August and again in October. Each sampled bird will be banded
81
Packsaddle WMA
• Approx. 22,000 acres, and is located in Ellis County.
• Uplands sites are vegetated with mixed native grass
species including big bluestem, indian grass, little
bluestem, side-oats grama, and buffalo grass and brush
species like shinnery oak, sagebrush, and sand plum.
• Bobwhite quail are usually present in good numbers,
but are highly sought after.
Beaver River WMA
• 26,700 acres of western Beaver County in the
Oklahoma panhandle.
• Sagebrush and buffalo grass predominate on upland sites.
• Bobwhite quail are usually present in good numbers
but are highly sought after. Very few blue quail present.
Doug Schoeling
Upland game bird biologist
(405) 301-9945
Jena Donnell
Quail habitat restoration biologist
(405) 684-1929
JEREMIAH ZURENDA
to ensure all future samples are unique. Researchers hope to collect approximately 300 samples during each trapping session.
ODWC staff also collect insect samples from each site. Once the
samples have been tested for a range of pathogens, researchers will
compare the number of birds with diseases to the prevalence of that
pathogen in quail parasites (ticks and mosquitoes).
By collecting biological samples from bobwhite quail, ODWC
hopes to have a better understanding of which diseases are impacting our population. The three year study began August 15, 2011.
If you are a landowner who would like to speak with a
Wildlife Department biologist about enhancing or creating quail habitat on your Oklahoma property, contact one
of the following:
Mike Sams
Private lands senior biologist
(405) 590-2584
OKLAHOMA
WILDDEPART MENT OF ION
LIFE CONSERVAT
82
Upland Urgency:
The Pittman-Robertson Act
America is the home of large numbers and varieties of
wild creatures. Yet, only a few decades ago, wildlife’s
survival was very much in doubt. Early settlers
harvested an abundance of wildlife, wiping out some
species and reducing others to just a fraction of their
original numbers.
Because of this, congress passed the act known as
the Pittman-Robertson Act. It was signed into law
by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September
2, 1937. This act is now administered through the
Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFRP).
Since then, numerous species have rebuilt their
populations and extended their ranges far beyond
what they were in the 1930’s. Among them are the
wild turkey, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope,
wood duck, beaver, black bear, giant Canada goose,
American elk, desert bighorn sheep, bobcat, mountain
lion and several species of predatory birds.
Federal Funding from WSFRP pays for up to
75 percent of project costs, with the Oklahoma
Department of Wildlife Conservation putting up at
least 25 percent. A steady source of funding lets the
ODWC make a lasting impact on species populations.
The department annually receives approximately $18
million in Federal excise taxes for wildlife restoration.
WSFRP funds are used to buy, develop, maintain
and operate wildlife management areas. The ODWC
manages more than a million acres for wildlife.
WSFRP has greatly aided in a nationwide effort
to enlist science in the cause of wildlife
conservation. About 26 percent of
WSFRP funding to the States is used for
surveys and research.
Surveys provide solid information on
the numbers and activities of species,
which helps biologists make management decisions.
This includes season dates, bag limits, controlled
burns, etc.
Research findings have enabled managers to keep
wild creatures in balance with their environments and
to permit more people to enjoy the wildlife without
endangering the future of any species.
Although WSFRP is financed wholly by firearms
users and archery enthusiasts, its benefits cover a
much larger number of people who never hunt but
do enjoy such wildlife pastimes as birdwatching,
nature photography, painting and sketching and a
wide variety of other outdoor pursuits. Almost all the
land in Oklahoma purchased with WSFRP money is
managed both for wildlife production and other public
uses.
Numerous non-game species enjoy WSFRP benefits,
too. Ground cover for game birds is also used by all
sorts of other birds and small animals. Bald eagles
benefit significantly under careful management of
forested areas where they typically nest. Fortunately,
the WSFRP does not restrict use of funds to game
species, but instead allows their use for any species of
wild bird or mammal.
The ODWC began using WSFRP funds to run its
hunter education program in 1973.
Hunter education is designed to make each hunter
aware of how his/her behavior affects others.
Hunters learn safe and proper handling
of hunting equipment, responsible
hunting and conduct afield. They also
learn identification of wildlife and
understanding of its habits and habitats,
and respect – for the animals, and for
other hunters, landowners, and the
general public.
wildlifedepartment.com
83
A Publication of the OKLAHOMA Department of Wildlife Conservation
OKLAHOMA
DEPARTM EN T OF
W ILD
LIFE CONSE RVATION
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