Being in the great outdoors is one of the premiere benefits of living in the pristine State of Utah. Over the decades hunters have ventured into our mountains taking with them not only their children and grandchildren, but other people, young and old alike, in pursuit big game. Today, these inductees are taking their own families and friends in the field each fall pursuing big game and making memories for a lifetime. For hunters born after December 31, 1965, the State required them to first complete the Utah Hunter Education Course before purchasing a hunting license or big game permit.
Things changed in 2014 when The Division of Wildlife Resources began offering a new Utah Trial Hunting Program. This change provides a wonderful opportunity for hunters to introduce a family member, friend or neighbor to the outdoors while teaching them how to be a responsible sportsman and steward of the land. This program allows anyone over the age of 12 to try hunting for up to three years while accompanied by a licensed hunter over the age of 21.
The 2019 Utah Big Game Guidebook explains that a hunter must be at least 11 years old to apply for a hunting permit and at least 12 years old by the time of the hunt. The potential hunter will have to complete a brief orientation course and complete a short exam before being issued a trial hunting authorization number. The number is valid for three years during which time the applicant can complete the hunter education course.
The next step will be to purchase a combination or hunting license (good for hunting all small game, including upland game and waterfowl). Permits a trial hunter can apply for include: general-season deer, elk and pronghorn permits, bear, cougar, sage-grouse, sandhill crane, sharp-tailed grouse, swan and turkey, and mitigation deer, elk and pronghorn permits.
Participants in the trial hunting program may not apply for or obtain the following types of big game permits: limited-entry, premium limited-entry, once-in-a-lifetime, CWMU, dedicated hunter, sportsman or one drawn at a hunting convention.
The trial hunter must be accompanied by a hunter 21 years of age or older who possesses a valid Utah hunting or combination license. The experienced hunter can supervise up to two trial hunters. If supervising a hunter who is a minor, he or she must obtain written permission from the minor’s parent or guardian. The supervising hunter must provide direct, continual supervision and instruction to the trial hunters on safety, ethics and hunting regulations.
The DWR looked at similar programs from a variety of states before authorizing the new program. These states found them to work in helping promote increased numbers of hunters in the field. Of course, the traditionalist will still require their hunting partners to complete the necessary training before going afield, but for others, this is just what is needed to spark interest in the hunt for someone the care about.
If you want to take advantage of this program for the General Deer hunt, you must hurry, time is running out. The deadline for applying for this hunt is March 7, before 11:00 P.M. If you miss the deadline you can still take advantage of the program though General Bull elk, and mitigation hunts. Additional details about the program can be found at www.wildlife.utah.gov/trial-hunting- program.htmlon or by picking up a guidebook at your favorite sporting goods store. You are also welcome to call or visit the DWR Northern Regional Office located at 515 E 5300 S. in Ogden. You may also be interested in other programs offered by the DWR including a hunter mentoring program and the free fishing day scheduled for June 8, 2019.