The grownups can take a back seat to the kiddos for pheasant and duck hunting in Montana next weekend.

Obviously a lot of youth are excited about that, as are the adults who will get to mentor them. But make sure you've got all your ducks (and pheasants) in a row before you escort that apprentice hunter into the field.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks 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. Apprentice hunters, ages 10-15, may hunt in the two-day youth pheasant and duck hunt (Sept. 26 and 27) and two-day youth 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 Apprentice Hunter application packet from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is available here.

Have fun. Be safe. And good hunting.