The Montana Hunter Advancement Program is a 50-hour course which generally takes place over a six-week period. The program is landowner-driven and is supported by major landowner associations and major conservation nonprofit organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Boone & Crockett Club, Montana Stockgrowers Association and Montana Grain Growers Association. This deep partnership with Montana’s landowner community is what makes our program unique.This program offers applicants skills mastery combined with agriculture, conservation and stewardship education, and specialized ballistics and marksmanship training. Instructors include ranchers, farmers, landowners, university faculty, professional shooting instructors, private land wildlife managers, wildlife biologists, first aid personnel, as well as backcountry survival and equipment experts. Each curriculum element includes either written, oral or field tests that assess student competence.

The cost of the program is $200 per participant and need-based scholarships are available upon request.  Program fees partially off-set facility use fees and other similar costs.  Each participant has the opportunity to become a certified “Master Hunter”, receiving a Montana Master Hunter Certificate upon successful completion of the course that is valid for five years.  Certificate renewal will be available through additional in-person and online coursework, and testing.

Eligibility for hunters who would like to enroll in the 2019 Montana Master Hunter program include:

  • Montana resident hunters only;
  • Evidence of having purchased a big game license in Montana for the last five years;
  • The course fee for the 2019 course is $200. The $10 application fee will be deducted from the course fee. A limited number of need-based scholarships may be available for qualifying candidates;
  • The program is limited to 30 hunters per course who are 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 Microsoft Word.
  • 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:

The class schedules are tentatively planned as follows, and more detail will be provided to the successful candidates for the courses:

Missoula: Eight Successive Wednesday evenings from 6 .P.M. to 10 P.M. starting on March 13th, 2019,  with the exception of one Saturday course to accommodate the schedules of the landowners for the landowners panel.

Bozeman: five successive Saturdays from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. starting on March 30th, 2019 with the exception of Easter weekend. The last course will take place on May 4th, 2019.

Billings:  five successive Saturdays from 9 A.M. TO 5 P.M. starting on April 27th, 2019.

All classes will attend an end of session two day rendezvous in June where shooting instruction and qualification will occur along with field work with OnX Maps and GPS.

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.