What is the Purpose
of Hunter Education?
Hunter education strives to instill responsibility, improve skills and knowledge, and encourage the involvement of beginner and veteran hunters. Responsible, ethical behavior and personal involvement are both essential to the survival of hunting.
A knowledgeable and skillful student of hunting will never be a true hunter unless he or she also behaves responsibly. Responsible behavior includes courtesy, respect of others and of wildlife, and involvement. Responsible hunters do not poach or act carelessly. Responsible hunters obey hunting laws, hunt fairly, practice safety rules, and wait for a clean kill before shooting. How you behave and how other people see you will determine hunting’s future.
Hunting-related safety skills are gained through hands-on training and practice. It is most valuable to learn these skills from an experienced hunter.
Knowledge is learning and understanding the basics of safe gun handling and hunting. Before being trained in the skill of firearm shooting, you should know how the firearm operates and how to handle it safely.
Part of the process of becoming a true, responsible sportsman is becoming involved in efforts to make hunting a respected sport. That includes teaching others, working with landowners, and cooperating with game wardens. It also includes joining conservation organizations, which will help preserve habitat and promote wildlife management.
Why is Hunter Education Important?
What we call Hunter Education used to be called Hunter Safety. In 1949, New York became the first state to require young hunters to take a hunter safety course. Many hunters didn’t know how to handle firearms safely, and hunting accidents occurred at an alarming rate. To make hunting safer, experienced hunters organized classes to teach others basic safety techniques. It worked. There are now fewer hunting accidents.
Montana began offering voluntary Hunter Education classes in the late 1940s, and in 1957 classes became mandatory for all hunters under the age of 18. Today anyone born after January 1, 1985, must complete hunter education before they can buy a hunting license in Montana.
Hunting, like the public view of it, has changed over the years. As a result, Hunter Education has had to change, too. Safety is still a big part of Hunter Education, but today’s classes also teach responsibility and ethics.
Hunter Education is Important Because It Helps To:
- Prevent hunting and shooting accidents.
- Improve hunter behavior to maintain public acceptance of hunting.
- Ensure the future of hunting in Montana by educating the next generation of hunters.
The responsible and respectful hunter understands and respects the views of nonhunters. Many people have never hunted and don’t understand what it’s all about. Others simply disagree with hunting and killing animals. But in some instances, people who have nothing against hunting may have seen hunters doing things they don’t like. For instance, wearing blood stained clothing in public. Irresponsible and disrespectful behavior of a few hunters can affect the public’s attitude toward all hunters. Those who are against hunting, for whatever reason, may close their land, vote for laws that limit hunting opportunities, or try to ban hunting altogether.
To preserve hunting in Montana we all need to behave responsibly—to the land, wildlife, the laws, and other people.
Hunter Education provides you the tools and knowledge to do just that.
Who is Responsible for Administering Hunter Education Courses and Managing Wildlife in Montana?
In Montana, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is responsible for administering Hunter Education courses and managing wildlife. Most volunteer instructors are hunters who are dedicating their time to make sure you get a good start as a hunter.
Montana Hunter Education classes are free to participants. Even though the instructors are volunteers, Hunter Education still costs money because manuals and other class materials are not free. Much of the money for wildlife management and Hunter Education comes from a tax placed on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment.