Hands-on experience. Mentoring. The opportunity for students to ask questions. In-person advice from experienced hunters.

Hunter education is certainly not the only course where the advantages of in-person learning far outweigh the advantages of doing it online. But for the sake of future Montana hunting enthusiasts and what it means to be safe and responsible, it's great to see the in-person spring class schedule starting to take shape in western Montana.

According to Neal Cote from the Bob Ward's Sports and Outdoor location in Missoula, hunter and bowhunter education classes are being scheduled in Montana communities. A number of dates are already on the calendar, and more class options will be added over the next few months.  Classes are free and many are open for registration online now.

Montana law requires that anyone born after Jan. 1, 1985, complete a hunter education class or qualify as a youth apprentice hunter before purchasing a Montana hunting license. All first-time bowhunters must complete a course or show proof of a prior year’s archery license from another state or province. Students must be at least 10 years old to be certified.

Neal tells us that classes cover information and skills related to the safe handling of firearms and archery equipment as well as basic instruction in survival, hunting ethics, wildlife management, game identification, landowner/hunter relations, and Montana hunting laws and regulations.

Some of the dates that have already been scheduled include:

Missoula: February 28, March 1, 2, 3 and 5

Darby: Orientation March 1. Classes March 7-11

Victor:  Orientation March 15. Classes March 27, April 3 and 10

Missoula (Bow Ed): March 26

Florence: April 5, 7, 12 and 14

Missoula: April 11, 12, 13, 15, and 16

Lone Rock: Orientation April 22. Classes April 25-30

Missoula: June 4-5

Hamilton: Orientation Aug. 10. Classes Aug 15-19

Yes, online classes are also available. The guess here is that most experienced hunters would tell you the benefits are just not the same as hands-on.

You can get more scheduled class dates around Montana and register online here.

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