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Montana sees decline in youth hunters, but a rise in adults in recent years

Posted at 6:57 PM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-18 10:19:44-04

The wait is over for many Montana hunters, with the youth hunt taking place October 17 and 18 across the Treasure State, and the general big game season kicking off on Saturday October 26.

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), there have been fewer young hunters in recent years.

The number of Residential Youth Sportsman licenses issued has decreased by around 1,350 from 6,964 in 2016 to 5,607 in 2018.

The recent numbers are not that far off from other years however, with 5,673 Residential Youth Sportsman licenses sold in 2009.

Apprentice Hunter Certifications has stayed around the same number of participants -- around 4,500 -- since 2016.

Ed Beall with Capital Sports and Western has been outfitting hunters for the past three decades.

“I do think it’s more challenging today,” said Beall. “Kids have other opportunities , they’re more involved in other different things and so it’s kind of interesting to see how that has changed over time.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service report a decline in hunters nationwide.

Montana however has seen a steady increase in adult hunters over the past decade, with almost 11,000 more Residential Sportsman licenses sold in 2018 compared to 2009.

Beall said he still sees the tradition of hunting continuing with families in Montana, with former youth hunters grown up and continuing the tradition with their own children.

“Essential I think it remains the same. It’s such a big heritage here, almost like they should cancel school for it,” quipped Beall.

Public school is not held on the same days of the youth hunt as they coincidentally coincide with the annual MFPE Educator Conference each year.

More information about hunting -- including current regulations -- can be found here.