As November firearms deer season (it runs Nov. 10-20) and other fall firearms hunting opportunities draw nearer, many people’s thoughts are starting to focus on hunting trips, not only for themselves, but also for friends or family members who have never been hunting before.
If either part of this scenario — the hunter or nonhunter — describes you, maybe it’s time to check into the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Apprentice Hunter Authorization.
In a nutshell, this is an option that is designed to introduce adults to hunting. It’s designed for adults (age 16 or older) who haven’t had hunter education and were born on or after Jan. 1, 1967. This is the mandatory date after which all Missouri hunters need hunter education certification in order to buy a firearms hunting permit.
This feature is not a different type of hunting permit. After purchasing your Apprentice Hunter Authorization for $10, you’ll still need to purchase whatever firearms hunting permit (turkey, deer, small game, etc.) you’ll need for your type of hunt. The only difference is you won’t need hunter education to purchase that permit.
The holder of an apprentice authorization will need to be in the presence of a properly licensed adult hunter (age 18 or older) who is hunter-education certified. This adult, who is the mentor, must have either a filled or an unfilled permit for the prescribed season. Obviously, if the person who is in the role of adult mentor has a filled permit, it would be best if he or she is not carrying a firearm when they’re accompanying their “apprentice” companion on a hunt.
The Apprentice Hunter Authorization can be purchased by the holder for two consecutive years. After that, the apprentice will be required to take hunter education if he or she wants to continue hunting on a firearms permit.
It should be noted that there are special provisions for Missouri resident landowners hunting on their own property. If you’re a landowner and have questions about your hunting as it applies to the Apprentice Hunter Authorization or other situations, check with your local conservation agent, Missouri Department of Conservation office or the Wildlife Code of Missouri.
Some veteran hunters might be thinking “Great ... this is just what we don’t need, a bunch of inexperienced hunting wannabes out in the woods making things more crowded and less enjoyable for those who grew up hunting and fishing in the outdoors.”
Actually, programs like the Apprentice Hunter Authorization are exactly what hunters and all other Missourians who love the outdoors do need. On the broadest sense, programs such as these are designed to increase the number of people who get out and see the natural beauty and wildlife diversity that make up this state’s outdoor landscape. Once they’ve seen it, it’s hoped they will develop an appreciation for it and want to continue in their outdoor pursuits, which in this case is hunting.
The next hoped-for step is that these individuals will become better stewards of the outdoors and will become more involved in making sure these resources will be around for the next generation to enjoy. That would give even more residents a chance to prove what many of us already know, that Missourians care about conserving forests, fish and wildlife.
People wanting more information about the Apprentice Hunter Authorization can contact their nearest Missouri Department of Conservation office or their county’s conservation agent. Information about this hunting provision can also be found at missouriconservation.org.
Francis Skalicky is the media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation's Southwest Region. For more information about conservation issues, call (417) 895-6880.