It’s never too early to plan ahead for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Apprentice Hunter Program. FWP encourages early mail-in 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 FWP website.
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. The phone numbers and mailing addresses of FWP offices are below for your convenience:
- 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
- Region 3 (Bozeman) 406-577-7900, 1400 S. 19th Ave, Bozeman, MT 59718
- Region 4 (Great Falls) 406-454-5840, 4600 Giant Springs Rd, Great Falls, MT 59405
- Region 5 (Billings) 406-247-2940, 2300 Lake Elmo Drive, Billings, MT 59105
- Region 6 (Glasgow) 406-228-3700, 1 Airport Rd, Glasgow, MT 59230
- Region 7 (Miles City) 406-234-0900, 352 I-94 Business Loop, Miles City, MT 59301
- FWP Headquarters (Helena Licensing) 406-444-2950, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620.
Some key details to note:
- 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
- Fill out a certification form and pay a $5 certificate fee (forms available online at fwp.mt.gov or through FWP Regional Headquarters)
- 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 and direct voice contact with the 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 12 years old before Jan. 16 of the following year 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, black bear, mountain lion or wolf 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 and carry it on their person while hunting with the apprentice
- 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