Good time to apply for Montana apprentice program

MILES CITY – Montana’s two-day, youth-only deer hunt is coming up October 20 and 21, and general deer season opens October 22. Now is a good time to consider signing up for the Apprentice Hunter program.

The Apprentice Hunter law allows people ages 10 and older to hunt as apprentices with a mentor for two seasons without completing a Hunter Education course.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks highly recommends that interested people visit the website at fwp.mt.gov and read the packet on the Apprentice Hunter program before seeking certification. The packet outlines guidelines for both the apprentice and the required mentor, including what apprentices can and cannot do, who can act as a mentor, and how the certification process works. Reading up on it beforehand may prevent possible confusion and save people from making an extra trip.

Some key details to note:

Certification can only be done at an FWP office, although the forms can be downloaded ahead of time from the website
A person must be certified before purchasing appropriate licenses, which will then show apprentice status
If the mentor is not related to an apprentice who is under the age of 18, a legal guardian’s signature also will be needed, and the parent must provide his or her driver’s license in addition to the mentor’s
A mentor must present a valid driver’s license or other identification at the time of certification
A youth need not accompany the adult to certify as an apprentice, but he or she does need to fill out paperwork and understand the guidelines.

An Apprentice MUST:

Be at least 10 years old at the time of license purchase
Fill out a certification form at an FWP office and pay a $5 certificate fee (forms available online at fwp.mt.gov)
Hunt with a mentor who is at least 21 and who has completed Hunter Education if born after Jan. 1, 1985
Have the appropriate current Montana hunting licenses for the species being hunted; the licenses must show that he/she is Apprentice Hunter certified
Stay within sight of the non-hunting mentor at all times

An Apprentice MAY:

Be a resident or nonresident.
Obtain apprentice certification for no more than two license years before he or she must complete a hunter safety and education course

An Apprentice is NOT ELIGIBLE to:

Obtain a special bow and arrow license without first completing a Bowhunter Education course (must be 11 years old to take bow ed)
Obtain a resident hound training license for chasing mountain lion
Participate in a hunting license or permit drawing with a limited quota
Obtain any bighorn sheep license
Obtain an elk license if under 15 years of age

A Mentor MUST:

Be 21 or older
Be related to the apprentice by blood, adoption or marriage; or be the apprentice’s legal guardian or be designated by the apprentice’s legal guardian (guardian must complete form and show ID)
Have completed Hunter Education if born after Jan. 1, 1985
Have a current Montana hunting license
Complete the Apprentice Hunter Mentor form
Agree to accompany and supervise the apprentice hunter and remain within sight of and direct voice contact with the apprentice at all times while in the field
Confirm that the apprentice possesses the physical and psychological capacity to safely and ethically engage in hunting activities
Keep the signed apprentice form in possession at all times in the field