Salt Lake City — If you are interested in trying hunting for the first time this fall or winter, you’ll need to either take a hunter education class or participate in Utah’s Trial Hunting Program. If you want to learn more about how to get into trapping, there is a required course to take for that, as well. If you’ve never taken hunter education or a furharvester course, rest assured that it isn’t too late; but don’t put it off because classes fill up quickly!
July and August are popular times to take hunter education because it’s right before the fall general-season big game hunts. While many big game permits in Utah are allocated through a drawing, there are some unlimited elk permits that can be purchased over the counter any time from July through the hunting season.
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
To complete hunter education in Utah, 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. Prior to taking either course option, you need to buy a hunter education registration certificate online. The certificate costs $12 and is required before you can do the in-person field day.
Both the in-person and online courses will teach you about firearm safety, hunter responsibility and ethics. The online course can be taken at your own pace, while the in-person course typically has scheduled meeting times and locations. The online course costs $25, and you can register for it on the 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 with them and discussing the course material as they go through it, » RaLynne Takeda, hunter education program manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said. « Your child can also take the course at their own speed, and they can go back and review the material as often as they’d like. »
The instructor will provide additional details about the in-person 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.
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, and you need to be accompanied by a licensed hunter who is 21 years old 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, greater sage-grouse, sandhill crane, sharp-tailed grouse, tundra swan and turkey
You can learn more about the program on the DWR website.
« Both hunter education and the Trial Hunting Program are great ways to get started in hunting. It’s an activity 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. »
How to take a furharvester education course
To trap wildlife in Utah, everyone born after Dec. 31, 1984, must complete a state-offered furharvester education course and in-person field day. The furharvester education course provides instructions on the following:
- Safe, responsible and ethical trapping methods
- How to use trapping devices
- Trapping laws, trapping ethics, techniques in safely releasing non-target animals
- Firearm safety
- Wildlife management
- Proper catch handling
First, you will purchase a registration certificate before taking the online course. The registration certificate is $7 and can be purchased online, from a DWR office or any available license agent. Then, you will take the online course and exam. The next step is to find an in-person field day in your area and register on the DWR website. You will need to present the online course-completion document when attending your field day exercise.