New hunting regulations become law on Friday that will change some hunter education requirements and the hunting apprentice designations.
The printed Oklahoma Hunting Guide incorrectly states the regulations will not take effect until Nov. 1 but they will be the law as of Friday, said Nels Rodefeld, chief of the information and education division for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The new regulations that passed the state Legislature last session and become effective Friday will:
Lower the age at which people are exempt from hunter education requirements from age 36 to age 31.
Lower the age that a youth can obtain an apprentice-designated hunting license from age 10 to 8.
Lower the age requirement from 21 to 18 for the hunter who must accompany someone hunting with an apprentice license.
Require that all hunters younger than 10 who are hunting big game be accompanied in the field by an adult.
The apprentice-designated hunting licenses allows people to go hunting without first completing a hunter education course, provided they are accompanied by a licensed adult mentor who is hunter education certified or exempt.
When hunting big game, the apprentice-designation requires the supervising hunter to be close enough that he or she could take control of the firearm.
When hunting small game, the hunter who accompanies the apprentice needs to be just close enough to be able to see and talk to the apprentice.
Lowering the apprentice designation to age 8 now will allow 8- and 9-year-olds participate in youth deer hunting seasons without getting hunter education as long as they are accompanied by an adult, Rodefeld said.
Lowering the age requirement for an apprentice was the most often request that the Wildlife Department received from license holders about the hunter education and youth hunting laws, Rodefeld said.
“Parents said they would like to take their 8- or 9-year-old hunting with them and it made more sense to them to get an apprentice license now and do the hunter education when the kids were older,” he said.
The Wildlife Department requested that change to state lawmakers, who added the requirement that anyone younger than 10 had to be accompanied by an adult licensed hunter when hunting big game.
“It's a reasonable change,” Rodefeld said.
In the past, the law allowed hunters under age 10 to go deer hunting by themselves as long as they had completed a certified hunter education course and had their hunter education card.
This season, hunters under age 10 must be accompanied by an adult when hunting deer or other big game even if they have passed a hunter education course.
They may still hunt small game alone as long as they have completed a certified hunter-education course.