HELENA — Adults accompanying young hunters for the Special Youth Deer Only Hunt this next hunting season will now be able to hunt themselves, just not deer.
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the change Thursday morning.
The original rule stated the accompanying adult had to be a non-hunter.
“We are not going to stop anyone from taking their rifle or shotgun for a walk,” said Fish and Wildlife Commission Chairman Shane Colton. “This doesn’t mean they get to deer hunt, and shame on you if you use a kid to take a deer early.”
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Enforcement Division asked for the change given how many other hunting seasons overlap the Youth Only Deer Hunt, such as antelope, moose and upland game bird.
“We want the focus to be on taking that new hunter out, getting them an introduction to it,” said FWP Sgt. Phil Kilbreath. “Giving them an opportunity to enjoy hunting, but at the same time it’s difficult to enforce having a rule that somebody has to be a non-hunter.”
Kilbreath also believes the rule change may help encourage more mentorship opportunities between adult and youth hunters.
FWP stresses if an adult hunter takes a deer during the Youth Only Deer hunt, it will be treated as any other poaching case.