Since Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) began its Apprentice Hunter program in 2015, more than 11,000 resident and nonresident youths applied to hunt as apprentices. Kids used to have to wait until they were 12 and then complete a hunter education program before hunting in Montana. Now people ages 10 and older can apply for apprenticeship and hunt with a mentor for two seasons without completing hunter education.
At first, the program was met by skepticism – even from within the agency – over whether 10-year-olds are mature enough to hunt.
“My initial thoughts when this legislation passed, I was a bit reserved, thinking about all these youngsters out in the field with rifles,” said FWP Region 7 Supervisor Brad Schmitz. “It made me a bit nervous!”
But what he has witnessed in the field since then has shifted his thinking.
“The reality has been that I’ve seen parents and children together, outside, participating in hunting,” Schmitz said. “No iPads, no game stations, just time together solidifying the heritage of hunting in families. The Montana way. The way it should be. It’s one of the more positive programs I’ve seen in my career.”
Read more about FWP’s Apprentice Program here.
For those living elsewhere, check with your state wildlife agency to see if it has apprentice hunting opportunities available.
(Photo source: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)