How to take a hunter education class in Utah
SALT LAKE CITY — If you want to hunt in Utah this fall, you must complete the Utah Hunter Education Program prior to hunting. If you’ve never taken it, rest assured that it isn’t too late; but don’t put it off because classes fill up quickly!
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
There are two options for completing a hunter education course. You can take a traditional class led by an instructor or you can take an online course followed by a field day. Both require a written test and a live-fire shooting exercise at the end.
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.
Take the online class
The online course will teach you about firearm safety, hunter responsibility and ethics. It can be taken at your own pace. There are a few options for online courses. They range in price from $13 to $29 and you can find links to the approved courses on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website.
Once you finish the online portion of the course, you’ll print your proof of completion document. Then, you’ll need to purchase a Registration Certificate at any DWR office or a license agent. They are $10 and are required before you can do the field day.
Next, you’ll find a field day in your area and then contact the instructor to enroll. The field day times and locations can be found on the DWR website. The field day typically lasts about five hours and includes hands-on workstations that help you with practical scenarios like crossing a fence with a firearm and identifying wildlife. It will also include a final written test and a live-fire shooting exercise at a shooting range.
Attend the instructor-led course in a classroom
You can find the nearest hunter education class to you and get contact information for the class instructors on the DWR website. The class format varies, but usually meets two nights a week and runs for three or four weeks. In the class, you’ll learn how to handle a firearm and how to shoot it safely, as well as hunter responsibility, survival skills and how to identify wildlife.
After completing the in-class portion, you’ll meet at a shooting range where you’ll demonstrate your ability to shoot a small-caliber rifle safely.
Which is better?
There’s isn’t really a better option because it depends on how you best learn and what your schedule is like. However, if you want to be in the field hunting on Sept. 1, the online option might be the way to go because you can finish it faster. Plus, it allows you to take it at a time that is convenient for you.
“If you have a young child who’s taking the course, you can help them understand what they’re learning by sitting by their side and going through the course material with them,” DWR Hunter Education Coordinator Gary Cook said. “Your child can also take the course at his or her own speed. And they can go back and review the material as often as they like.”
However, if you don’t know much about hunting, taking the course in a classroom might be the best option so you can ask questions and get more feedback and instruction from those with experience. The classes are taught by volunteer instructors who are also experienced hunters. This is also the cheapest option.
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 go 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.
Anyone 12 years of age or older can join the program. You just need to be accompanied by a licensed hunter who is 21 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 for the following:
- 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, sage-grouse, sandhill crane, sharp-tailed grouse, swan and turkey
You can learn more about the program on the DWR website.
“Both of these are great ways to get started in hunting, a sport that not only allows you to get fresh, locally-sourced meat, but also gives you a unique opportunity to get outdoors,” Cook said.