The Montana Hunter Advancement Program, through its Montana Master Hunter certification program, is an intensive course which includes classroom instruction, online instruction and field work.This program is offering mastery with education, practical experience and specialized training. Instructors will include ranchers/farmers/landowners, professional shooting instructors, private land wildlife managers, wildlife biologists, first aid personnel, as well as backcountry survival and equipment experts. Each element will have either written, oral or field tests that will assess student competence. It is anticipated that the entire course will take 40 hours over 6-8 weeks. There will be a fee charged to each participant and a certificate will be issued upon successful completion of the course. The certificate will need to be renewed every 5 years via additional courses and testing.

Assuming success with the pilot program in 2018, substantial work needs to be done to expand both hunter and landowner involvement for the 2019 season. If all is successful in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons our goal is to have the program become statewide in 2020.

Eligibility for hunters who would like to enroll in the 2018 Montana Master Hunter program include:

  • A minimum age of 20 at the time of enrollment
  • Evidence of having purchased a big game license in Montana for the last five years
  • Only Montana resident hunters will be eligible for inclusion in the 2018 pilot implementation phase
  • The course fee for the 2018 pilot course will be $200. A limited number of need-based scholarships may be available for qualifying candidates.
  • The pilot implementation phase will be limited to 30 hunters whoare primarily rifle hunters. Bow hunters will be accommodated in future Montana Master Hunter certification courses.

 Computer Skills required for this course:

Portions of this course will be web-based and students enrolled in the course will need to have the following computer skills and abilities:

  • Access to a computer with basic internet access, word processing software, Adobe Acrobat Reader, etc.
  • Ability to use word processing software such as MicrosoftWord.
  • Ability to browse and use the World Wide Web.
  • Ability to send emails with attached documents.
  • Each student will need to have an email address.

Benefits to Hunters:

  • Opportunity to access previously inaccessible private and/or public lands.
  • Creates an opportunity for a higher quality hunting experience.
  • Increased knowledge level and mastery of all aspects of hunting.
  • Specific competency based instruction, certification of each students personal “maximum effective range” for their preferred weapon.
  • Opportunity to develop positive, mutually beneficial relationships with landowners.

Montana Master Hunter Certification Course Content:

  • History of conservation in the U.S.
  • Hunting ethics and Fair Chase
  • Conservation/land ethics
  • Wildlife biology and habitat management
  • Farm and ranch management
  • Landowner/sportsmen relations
  • Pre-hunt planning
  • Hunting skills
  • After the kill, working up and removing big game from the field
  • Effective range shooting school teaching hunters to shoot accurately, effectively and ethically with their own equipment.

Montana Master Hunter Course Schedule:
Classroom instruction will be in Bozeman, Montana on the following dates and times.

  • Saturday, April 28, 2018 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 5, 2018 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 12, 2018 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 19, 2018 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 2, 2018 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 9 – 10, 2018 Field Exercise

Students will be taught to safely and effectively shoot their rifles at various distances at the Jack Creek Preserve, Ennis, Montana. This will be an overnight field experience with meals and lodging provided.

One Montana and Common Ground view the Montana Hunter Advancement program and the Montana Master Hunter certification program as a significant innovation in sportsmen-landowner relations, not only in Montana, but in any other states that struggle with private land access and hunter behavior issues. We strongly believe there is a demonstrated need for this type of program in Montana’s landowner community, and we intend it to compliment and enhance existing access programs that are already in place. We fully intend this effort to be a model that, if successful, would be replicable in other states. Finally, while we have emphasized Common Ground’s potential to incentivize access on private lands, it is critical to stress that the educational value of the program will stand on its own. This certificate program will be valuable to any hunter, regardless of where they hunt, and it will go a long way in creating a trusted partnership between sportsmen and landowners who are involved in the program going forward.