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Hunters-to-be can get online certification

Frustrated parents who anticipate trouble finding a hunter-education course for their young hunters-to-be now have only their computer savvy standing between them and a hunter-ed certificate.

The classroom portion of Oregon's certified hunter-education course is now available online at www.hunter-ed.com/or. Would-be hunters must be at least 10 years old to participate in the independent-study course.

Getting the mandatory classroom time and testing for the hunter-ed certificate that's required of all Oregon hunters under age 18 has never been easy, says Chris Willard, hunter-education coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"For families who are busy, I think they are going to receive this well," Willard says.

The online course is offered through Kalkomey Enterprises, which runs similar programs in several other states, including California. Kalkomey last year acquired the firm that used to publish the Oregon manual, so Kalkomey was able to offer the online version this year here, Willard says.

The cyber version works similarly to the old classroom version.

The course takes about 10 hours to complete online, and includes practice tests. Test takers must score 80 percent or above to pass.

Use of the course and practice tests are free, with students paying only when they sign up for the test.

The Oregon version of the test costs $15, and those who pass will receive a certificate that makes them eligible for a "field day" exam needed to gain the hunter-ed certificate.

During the field day, tests are conducted by certified hunter-education instructors and typically last six to eight hours — similar to the "range days" of the classroom version.

Students receive hands-on instruction on safe firearms handling, the crossing of obstacles, hunting with others, situational ethics and live-fire exercises.

Students finish the field day with a final exam.

The ODFW also charges another $10 application fee to all hunter-education students, which is payable at the field day.

ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy suggests that students who decide to take the online course first visit the ODFW's independent-study page on its Web site and register for a scheduled field day in their area before completing the online course.

The independent-study page can be found at: www.dfw.state.or.us/outdoor_skills/hunter/independent_study.asp.

Hunters without Internet access still can get the regular workbook course by calling a local ODFW office or by signing up through the traditional hunter-ed classroom program.

The online program should prove popular with families who either don't have access to a hunter-ed class or get frozen out of already full classes when they wait until the last minute to seek out certification.

The ODFW certifies about 6,000 new hunters annually through the entire hunter-education program. Though not required for adults, many adults take the course with their kids to brush up on safety skills, while other first-time hunting adults also are welcome.

The hunter-ed certificates must be carried by hunters under age 18. The only exceptions are for kids hunting on land owned by their parents or legal guardian or kids test-driving hunting through the ODFW's Mentored Youth Program, which allows an adult to supervise a kid in the field who can legally fill the adult's big-game or bird tag.

The Medford-based Rogue Flyfishers Association has scheduled its regular monthly meeting Wednesday at the Red Lion Hotel, 200 N. Riverside Ave. Medford.

This month's featured speaker will be Malena Marvin, of the Klamath Riverkeeper program. She is expected to present a program on the issues involving dams on the Klamath River.

The group's "Wet Fly" social hour begins at 6 p.m. A buffet dinner, meeting, raffle and program will begin at 7 p.m.

Guests are welcome.

For more information, telephone 858-5981 or visit the association's Web site at www.rogueflyfishers.org.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.