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This Week in Fish and Wildlife: In-person field day requirement reinstated for young hunters

Online students from 12 to 17 years old are now required to complete an in-person field day to become licensed hunters in Montana.
Posted at 11:00 AM, Jan 25, 2024

For many activities, the best way to learn them is through hands-on participation. Up until the COVID-19 pandemic, Montana's hunter education classes required a hands-on field day to become a licensed Montana hunter. MTN’s Chet Layman tells us those field days are once again being required.

BOZEMAN — If you're taking hunter education this year, there are some changes required to get to hunt next fall. Beginning this year, anyone 12 to 17 years old taking hunter education classes online will be required to also complete an in-person field day to be certified to hunt in Montana. FWP says this is all about safety in the field.

“So those being firearms safety, things like crossing fences, loading and unloading a vehicle properly, safe firearm handling in the field, as well as some of the ethics and responsibilities components of hunter education as well which are very important,” said Morgan Jacobsen, information and education manager for Montana FWP Region 3.

Jacobsen notes that this is a new requirement for this year, but it is by no means new to Montana hunter education. Think of it as a return to basics.

“This was a requirement pre-COVID-19 where online students were required to take that in-person field. Now as we've kind of moved, you know, past that COVID era of hunter education we're coming back to that approach to hunter education in recognition of the safety and the training that it provides, especially to our young students,” Jacobsen said.

FWP recognizes that hands-on when it comes to firearms safety is truly the best way to learn—and in terms of hunter education it’s also the most fun.

“It’s so enjoyable that you get to be outside and in many of our field days you get to be shooting guns and having a good time and, you know, getting pumped up for hunting season later in the fall. So we're excited to be able to offer these,” said Jacobsen.

Jacobsen stresses this requirement is only for those 12-17 taking the online course. Adults don’t have to complete the field day, though he encourages them to do it if they can.

The FWP website has all the information needed to sign up for a class.