The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is moving into the virtual world.
The agency is rolling out a spate of virtual hunting and fishing classes this fall through Google Meet. The free virtual classes are capped at 250 participants, but all of the classes will be recorded and archived on the Wildlife Department’s website for future viewing.
The leap into the virtual world by the Wildlife Department began last week with a basic dove hunting class and continues Tuesday with a virtual course on fishing close-to-home waters and ponds. The virtual course will be presented from 1 to 3 p.m. and registration is required.
A traditional in-person family fishing clinic also will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the South Lake Parks Pond in Oklahoma City. The number of participants will be capped at 50 for the clinic. The deadline to register for either event is noon Monday at wildlifedepartment.com.
Normally, the Wildlife Department’s family fishing clinics are held in the spring, but they were canceled this year because of COVID-19. The agency is trying to reschedule some of the sessions in the fall while rolling out its new virtual fishing curriculum.
Traditional family fishing clinics are scheduled the next three weeks, while a virtual fishing class has been scheduled once a month through the rest of the year. The topics of the virtual fishing classes will be stream fishing on Sept. 29, fall fishing tips on Oct. 13, trout fishing on Nov. 17, and winter catfishing on Dec. 8.
There also will be at least one virtual hunting course each month, but those have yet to be scheduled, said Skylar St. Yves, information and education specialist for the Wildlife Department.
The virtual courses were already being planned as part of the agency’s recruitment and retention strategy before the pandemic hit, but the arrival of COVID-19 sped up the process, St. Yves said.