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Apprentice Hunter Rule Approved for Montana Youth Hunt

Montana’s Fish & Wildlife Commission recently confirmed that some youth who take advantage of the state’s new “apprentice hunter” law will have the opportunity to participate in Montana’s special youth hunts.

The apprentice hunter law which was enacted earlier this year by the state Legislature, allows youth 10-17 years of age to obtain a certification to purchase some Montana hunting licenses before completing a hunter education course. Apprentice hunters, however, are required to be accompanied by an adult mentor.

Montana’s special youth hunts are for two days and are set aside for youngsters 10-15 years of age.

Montana offers two youth only hunting opportunities, one for waterfowl and pheasants on Sept. 26-27; and one for deer Oct. 15-16. The two-day youth hunts are open to:

legally licensed 12-15 year olds who have completed hunter education and who are accompanied by a non-hunting adult at least 18 years of age;
and properly certified and legally licensed apprentice hunters 10-15 years of age who are accompanied by a non-hunting adult “mentor” at least 21 years of age.

Apprentice Hunter Details

Under the law, apprentice-hunter certification is for two license years only. After two years, the apprentice hunter must complete a hunter safety and education course.

Also, to participate in the Apprentice Hunter program, prospective apprentice hunters must:

be between the ages of 10-17 years old;
obtain a $5 certification from an FWP office; certification forms are available online;
have all appropriate licenses in their possession at all times while in the field.
be accompanied by a mentor 21 years of age or older.

For a prospective mentor to participate, he or she must be:

21 years old or older;
related to the apprentice by blood, adoption, or marriage; or be the apprentice’s legal guardian, or appointed by the apprentice’s legal guardian;
have completed hunter education–if born after Jan. 1, 1985;
have a current Montana hunting license;
agree to supervise and remain within sight of and direct voice contact with the apprentice hunter at all times while in the field;
only accompany one apprentice per hunting trip;
confirm that the apprentice is psychologically and physically prepared to hunt.

Mentors are also required to complete, sign and carry a form while accompanying the apprentice hunter. Mentor forms are free and are also available via FWP’s website.

An apprentice hunter is not eligible to obtain a special bow and arrow license without first completing a bowhunter education course; a resident hound training license for chasing mountain lion; a bighorn sheep license; an elk license if under 15 years of age. Nor can an apprentice hunter participate in any of Montana’s limited-quota hunting license or permit drawings.

Violation of the terms by an apprentice hunter or mentor could result in the loss of hunting privileges for up to one full license season.

The $5 Apprentice Certification are available only from FWP offices. For more information visit FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov, then click “Apprentice Hunters”.