North Dakota Now Offers Hunter Apprentice Program

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Individuals at least 16 years of age who have never hunted in North Dakota because they have not taken a hunter education class, now have the opportunity to hunt small game and deer.

State law requires anyone born after 1961 to pass a certified state or provincial hunter education course in order to purchase a North Dakota hunting license. The only exceptions were persons who hunt only on land they own or operate, and youth under age 12 with the appropriate licenses.

However, a new apprentice hunter validation law changes that, according to Paul Schadewald, chief of administrative services for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. "The intent is solely to recruit hunters," Schadewald said. "Other states have done this and have seen positive results."

The 2009 state legislature passed Senate Bill 2165, which in part allows residents and nonresidents who are 16 years of age and older who have not taken the hunter education course to be issued an apprentice hunter validation to hunt small game and deer, but for only one license year.

"If the apprentice hunter enjoys hunting and wants to continue beyond the trial year, he or she must then complete a certified hunter education course," Schadewald said.

An apprentice hunter may purchase the small game license and apply for a deer license, through the Game and Fish Department electronic licensing system.

To purchase an apprentice hunter license online, access the department's website at, click on the online services link and "purchase and print an online license." Follow the regular licensing procedure, and leave the "hunter safety number" field blank as the licensing system is programmed to waive the hunter education requirement.

To apply for a deer license, enter the online services page and click on "apply online." The same procedure applies.

"The system keeps track of the sale and will not issue licenses to the apprentice next year unless they have completed the hunter education course," Schadewald said.