DWR: How to take a hunter education class in Utah

Students learn how to handle a firearm and how to shoot it safely, as well as hunter responsibility, survival skills and how to identify wildlife. Courtesy photo

Those who want to hunt in Utah this fall must have completed 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, said Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesperson Faith Jolley.

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 people need to know to enroll in either:

How to take a hunter education course

There are two options for completing a hunter education course. Students can take a traditional class led by an instructor or an online course followed by a field day. Both require a written test and a live-fire shooting exercise at the end.

Take the online class

The online course will teach students about firearm safety, hunter responsibility and ethics. It can be taken at the student’s pace. There are a few options for online courses. They range in price from $13 to $29 and students can find links to the approved courses on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website, Jolley said.

Once students finish the online portion of the course, they’ll print their proof of completion document. Then, they’ll need to purchase a registration certificate at any DWR office or a license agent. They are $10 and are required before they can do the field day, said Jolley.

Next, students will find a field day in their 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 participants 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, Jolley said.

Attend the instructor-led course in a classroom

Taking the class in person is also an option. For this option as well, students will need to purchase the $10 registration certificate at any DWR office or a license agent.

Students can find the nearest hunter education class 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. Students will 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, students and instructors will meet at a shooting range where the students will demonstrate their ability to safely shoot a small-caliber rifle, said Jolley.

Which is better?

“There’s isn’t really a better option because it depends on how students best learn and what his or her schedule is like. However, if they want to be in the field hunting on Sept. 1, the online option might be the way to go because they can finish it faster. Plus, it allows them to take it at a time that is convenient for them,” Jolley said.

“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 they don’t know much about hunting, taking the course in a classroom might be the best option so they can ask questions and get more feedback and instruction from those with experience. Volunteer instructors who are also experienced hunters teach the classes. 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 people a chance to go hunting with an experienced hunter and see if it is something they’d like to pursue. Students are not required to take hunter education to participate in this program.

Anyone 12 years of age or older can join the program. They need to be accompanied by a licensed hunter who is 21 or older. To participate, they must complete a brief online orientation course, which can be found on the DWR website. They also need to buy a hunting license and the permit for the species they’d like to hunt. In this program, they 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.

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.