Shut in does not mean shut out, and while a number of you who believe you have come through the worst of this epidemic, Gov. John Edwards is right — stay home, practice the guidelines and stay safe.

Yes, fish are biting and it’s turkey season. Emails arrive daily about how good bluegill, bass and speckled trout are out there for the taking. While it’s true being outdoors is a healthy alternative to staying indoors 24/7, maintaining distance is the key, and, if you go, take along hand sanitizer and be careful about who touches your stuff and how close you get to them.

Moreover, there are enough outdoors activities to occupy your time.

Is it time to check those wheel bearings and lights on your boat trailer? How about cleaning hunting weapons so they’re ready for next season? Cleaning and changing line on your reels and checking tackle boxes for rusty hooks?

There’s more. Check these out:

  • While Wildlife and Fisheries had to cancel its boater education series, the agency continues to offer its safe boating course online, and reminds us successful completion of a state-approved boater education course is required for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1984, to operate boat powered by an engine rated more than 10 horsepower. The only exemption is if the youngster is in a boat with “...someone over the age of 18 who has a successfully completed an LDWF approved boater education course.”

The regulation further uses that same 1984 date to require the course for anyone 16 and older (the minimum age) operating a personal watercraft.

The approved courses are offered through BoatUS.org (no fee) and Boat-Ed.com (fee charged) and both require a minimum 70% score to to pass the course. If you pass, you’ll get a temporary certificate, and, in 3-4 weeks, the LDWF will issue a permanent Boater Education Card.

  • More from the LDWF comes free on its website and can get youngsters (even some oldsters) involved in learning about our state’s flora and fauna.

The at-home education page offers — wlf.louisiana.gov/page/outdoor-ed-at-home — has lessons, activities, virtual tours and videos on topics ranging from wildlife and fish identification guides, fishing knots, the food web, planting a wildlife-friendly garden and safety afield from the LDWF, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Louisiana Sea Grant, NOAA, and the Department of Education.

  • The National Rifle Association launched four new online gun safety courses, as NRA spokesman Joe DeBergalis said, “...to provide an option for first-time gun owners who don’t have the ability to take an NRA certified instructor-led class at their local shooting range at this time.”

Those courses include a gun safety seminar, distance learning in basic pistol and rifle shooting, and the NRA basic personal protection in the home course.

The courses range from 1-8 hours and are available at the website: NRAInstructors.org.

It might be a good time to spruce up on the NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe program: eddieeagle.nra.org.

  • The International Game Fish Association is offering free “learning modules” covering topics like the basics of fishing, marine and aquatic biology, fish anatomy, knot tying, baits and lures among others. Go to it’s website: Learn-to-fish.igfa.org.

For your information

The Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area will be closed to the public for the next two weekends, the first (April 18-19) for a lottery turkey hunt, and second (April 25-26) for an open turkey season. The WMA will be open to public on weekdays.

  • LDWF Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds said an email survey was sent Thursday to in-state waterfowl hunters 16 and older to gather their input on the 2019-20 waterfowl hunting season.

He said the LSU Public Policy Research Lab in conjunction with the LSU School of Renewable Natural Resources is administering the survey and Michael Climek sent the 30-question emails with the title, “2020 Survey of Louisiana Waterfowl Hunters.”

While your input is voluntary, Reynolds said the info “... provide(s) hunter-preference data to inform management decisions affecting Louisiana’s waterfowl habitat and hunting regulations.”

He said all responses will be confidential and there’s a May 15 deadline.

Exiting

Again from the new book, “The Angler’s Book of Favorite Fishing Quotations:" “If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.” Doug Larson.