Salt Lake City — If you are interested in trying hunting for the first time this fall or winter, you’ll need to look into either taking a hunter education class or participating in the Trial Hunting Program. If you’ve never taken hunter education, rest assured that it isn’t too late; but don’t put it off because classes fill up quickly!
January and February are the most popular months for hunter education courses, so people can apply for the big game hunt drawing. The next-busiest months are July and August, right before the fall general-season big game hunts.
To hunt in Utah, everyone born after Dec. 31, 1965, must complete a state-offered hunter education class or participate in the Trial Hunting Program. Here’s what you need to know to enroll in either:
How to take a hunter education course
You have the option of taking a traditional in-person class led by an instructor or an online course followed by an in-person field day. Both options include a final written test and the “field day” with hands-on skills demonstration and a live-fire shooting exercise at the end.
The online course will teach you about firearm safety, hunter responsibility and ethics. It can be taken at your own pace. There are a few options for online courses. They range in price from $13 to $29, and you can find links to the approved courses at the bottom of this Utah Hunter Education webpage.
“If you have a young child who’s taking the course, you can help them understand what they’re learning by sitting by their side and going through the course material with them,” RaLynne Takeda, hunter education program manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said. “Your child can also take the course at his or her own speed, and they can go back and review the material as often as they like.”
The instructor will provide additional details about the field day after you register for the online hunter education course. Once you finish the online portion of the course, you’ll print your proof-of-completion document. Then, you can buy a hunter education registration certificate online. The certificate costs $10 and is required before you can do the field day.
Trial Hunting Program
Utah’s Trial Hunting Program is another way to get in the field this fall. The program gives you a chance to try hunting with an experienced hunter and see if it is something you’d like to pursue. You are not required to take hunter education to participate in this program.
You must be at least 12 years old to join the program. You just need to be accompanied by a licensed hunter who is 21 or older. To participate, you must complete a brief online orientation course, which can be found on the DWR website. You also need to buy a hunting license and the permit for the species you’d like to hunt. In this program, you are eligible to obtain the following licenses and permits:
- Combination or hunting licenses (good for hunting all small game, including upland game and waterfowl)
- General-season deer and elk permits
- Permits to hunt bear, cougar, sage-grouse, sandhill crane, sharp-tailed grouse, swan and turkey
You can learn more about the program on the DWR website.
“Both of these are great ways to get started in hunting, a sport that not only allows you to get fresh, locally sourced meat, but also gives you a unique opportunity to get outdoors and make memories with your family,” Takeda said. “Hunting is also an important tool in managing healthy wildlife populations.”