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News from MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks

HELENA — Montana’s two-day, youth-only deer hunt is coming up Oct. 19 and 20, and general deer season opens Oct. 21. Now is a good time to consider signing up for the Apprentice Hunter Program. 

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

Fish, Wildlife & Parks highly recommends that interested people visit the website at: 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 be done at an FWP office; forms can be downloaded ahead of time from the website. Certification can also be done by mailing the form to licensing, but the process takes longer. 

A person must be certified before purchasing appropriate licenses, which will then show apprentice status.  

There are limited license opportunities available for nonresidents. Nonresident youth (under age 18) may qualify for an over-the-counter general combination license that requires a separate form and payment to be completed at an FWP office or by mail. Nonresidents ages 18 or older do not qualify for an over-the-counter general combination license, but there are opportunities to purchase unlimited over-the-counter deer b and elk b licenses in certain areas of the state. 

Licenses for an apprentice under 18 can be purchased by a parent or relative as long as they present a copy of the parent’s drivers license, along with a completed Apprentice Certification Form. 

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.  

The last four digits of the youth hunter’s social security number is required; be sure to have this information. 

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 

Hunt with a certified 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. 

Purchase general elk, general deer, deer b, elk b, turkey and upland bird licenses, depending on the age and residency status of the apprentice hunter as well as the availability of the specific license. 

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) and be 12 years old or turning 12 by January 16 of the upcoming year. 

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, black bear, mountain lion or wolf license. 

Obtain an elk license if under 15 years of age. 

A mentor MUST: 

Be 21 or older. 

If the apprentice is under 18, the mentor must 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.  

Have completed Hunter Education if born after Jan. 1, 1985. 

Have a current Montana hunting license. 

Complete the Apprentice Hunter Mentor form and carry the form in the field.  

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. 


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