Montana has done a lot to increase the opportunities available to the youngest of our state's hunters over the years.

That includes youth waterfowl and pheasant hunting days and apprentice hunter programs. But one of the featured events every year allows kids to get out in the field for a couple of days, ahead of the grownups, with proper adult supervision, leading up to Montana's big-game rifle seasons.

That's what is happening this Thursday and Friday, October 21 and 22. It's Montana's annual youth hunt for deer, limited to youngsters between the ages of 12–15. The dates coincide with Montana’s annual two-day teachers’ convention, which means no school for most public school students. It also means parents put in for vacation days to spend that quality time with their kids.

The two-day youth hunt is open to legally licensed 12-15 year olds who have completed hunter education and who are accompanied by a non-hunting adult at least 18 years of age. The youth hunt is also open to properly certified and legally licensed apprentice hunters 10-15 years of age who are accompanied by a non-hunting adult "mentor" at least 21 years of age.

This hunt is for deer only. Elk hunting is prohibited. All regulations apply. Montana's deer and elk rifle seasons open up this Saturday and run through November 28.

It can be a bit of a numbers game with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, as to who can and cannot hunt. State law allows any resident and nonresident youth 10 or older to hunt with a valid license during an open season, with certain restrictions applying.

If a hunter turns 12 by January 16, 2022, they may hunt any game species with a valid license during an open season after August 15, 2021. They must first, however, successfully complete an approved hunter education course.

Here's wishing all Montana hunters successful opening days!

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