If you have a youngster that wants to hunt or you are wanting to hunt for the first time, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks is holding classes to help you do that.

HuntSAFE courses are designed to teach students the importance of firearm safety. Students will participate in multiple in-person sessions that will provide the students with the knowledge and skills relative to hunting and hunter safety. Classes are held at locations all over the state, but dates and space is limited.

To be eligible for certification, students must be present and participate in all required sessions. Courses are for youth age 12 and older. If a student’s twelfth birthday falls on or between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, he/she may be issued a card and is eligible to obtain a license and hunt beginning Sept. 1 of that year.

These classes are not just for kids. Adults wanting to learn about firearm safety and hunting skills may also register for the class. If you are an adult new to hunting you are not required to take the class to hunt but I would highly recommend it.

All first time bowhunters, including adults resident or nonresident, are required to pass the National Bowhunter Education course before they are allowed to get an archery license. I have hunted deer a lot with a rifle but I would still have to take the class if I wanted to bow hunt. I have started the class but have yet to finish it.

Youth Antlerless Deer tags are available to any resident or non-resident at least 12 years old on December 31 of the current year, and are younger than 18 years old on June 30. They must complete the HuntSAFE course in order to get this tag but it a purchased license, not a draw. With this license a youth hunter may hunt with other armed hunters.

Mentored Hunting is a license that anyone between the ages of 10 and 16 may purchase a license, or apply for big game, and can hunt with an unarmed mentor. Other restrictions apply, but this is a great program.

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