It’s not too early to plan ahead for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Apprentice Hunter Programs for those eager youth in your household.

Early mail-in is encouraged for certification for eligible Apprentice Hunters in order to avoid crowds and frustration prior to season openers and the youth hunt.  COVID-19 safety protocols are in place at FWP offices and lobby occupancy is very limited, therefore wait times outside may be long.

The “Apprentice Hunter” law allows anyone 10 years of age or older to hunt two license years without completing hunter education. An apprentice hunter may not obtain a big horn sheep, black bear, mountain lion or wolf license. Apprentice hunters, ages 10-15, may hunt in the two-day youth pheasant and duck hunt (Sept. 26 and 27) and two-day deer hunt (Oct. 15 and 16) and throughout the general season.

FWP recommends that people interested in this program read the Apprentice Hunter Program packet before seeking certification through your regional office. 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. The application packet is available on the Fish, Wildlife and Parks  Apprentice Hunter page.

In-state personal checks for the $5 fee, along with the application may be accepted from Montana residents and can be mailed to your regional FWP office or FWP Licensing in Helena. For nonresidents please send a money order or cashier’s check along with the application. For your convenience, we've attached a couple of the western Montana contacts:

Region 1 (Kalispell) 406-752-5501, 490 N. Meridian Rd, Kalispell, MT 59901

Region 2 (Missoula) 406-542-5500, 3201 Spurgin Rd, Missoula MT 59804

And here are a few other key details:

>>>After apprentice hunter certification at FWP offices, licenses may be purchased at any provider. The child’s residency at time of purchase is determined by the proof of residency of the PARENT or LEGAL GUARDIAN for minors aged 10-17 years old.

>>>A person must be certified before purchasing appropriate licenses. Once certified, the Apprentice Certification will show on the person’s ALX record.

>>>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 on the mentor form and carried while in the field with the apprentice.

>>>The mentor may only accompany one apprentice at a time.

>>>An Apprentice must be at least 10 years old at the time of license purchase.

>>>Hunt with a mentor who is at least 21 and who has completed Hunter Education if born after Jan. 1, 1985.