Since 2008, Wyoming's Hunter Mentor Program (HMP) has allowed a person who has not yet received hunter safety certification to apply for a special authorization to hunt when accompanied by a qualified mentor. The HMP allows someone new to hunting to experience the hunt before committing to the coursework required to complete their hunter safety certification.
Hunting is a valued natural heritage in Wyoming, one that is passed down through generations. Those born on or after January 1, 1966 (with a few exceptions) must complete a hunter safety(education) course before hunting with a firearm in Wyoming. The course teaches hunter ethics, firearms and outdoor safety, along with laws and regulations to provide an important foundation for the new hunter. Hunter education classes typically run about 15 hours and are offered as traditional or online courses. Occasionally, enrolling in a hunter education class is complicated due to scheduling conflicts. That may discourage some youths from participating in their first-time hunting experience.
Wyoming's HMP allows a person who has not yet earned their hunter education certification to apply for a special authorization to hunt while accompanied by a mentor. This special authorization may create opportunities for those potentially interested in hunting to experience a hunt before committing to the hunter education coursework.
Serving as a hunter mentor is a great way to recruit new hunters and provides seasoned hunters a way to give back to the hunting community. Being a mentor can be a great experience, but carries with it some responsibilities. Mentors should be prepared to provide a safe and memorable first-time hunting experience by conducting themselves in a safe, legal, ethical and responsible manner at all times. The mentor is responsible for making sure his or her mentee hunter understands the appropriate hunting regulations, safe hunting practices and ethical considerations during any mentored hunting experience.
To qualify as a mentor in the Wyoming HMP, the mentor must:
1. Be at least 18 years of age.
2. Possess a valid hunter education certificate while in the field with the mentee.
3. Possess a current and valid Wyoming hunting license while in the field with the mentee.
4. Sign the mentee's special authorization certificate.
5. Document hunting license type/number on the mentee's special authorization certificate.
6. Supervise only one (1) hunter mentee at a time in the field (a family member may mentor multiple immediate family members).
7. Maintain direct supervision (within sight and direct voice contact) of the hunter mentee at all times while in the field.
Anyone who plans to hunt in Wyoming may participate in the hunter mentor program. A mentee can hunt for any species with appropriate licenses, but must be at least 12 years of age to hunt big game in Wyoming. A mentee shall apply for one special authorization which is valid for one year from the date of issue. A mentee can hunt with multiple mentors when enrolled with a special authorization as long as the mentors meet the above listed requirements. A new copy of the special authorization shall be printed out and signed by each mentor. After enrolling in the HMP, the mentees are encouraged to check the Game and Fish website hunter education course schedule to enroll in a class so they may continue with a lifetime of hunting.
If the hunter mentee is under 18 years of age, he or she must obtain parental/guardian permission to apply for the special authorization. The mentee must carry the special authorization certificate at all times while hunting, just as hunters must carry their hunter education cards. The hunter mentee is also responsible for obtaining all necessary licenses, stamps or permits needed for the hunt.
The HMP program is free. Enroll for a special authorization on the Game and Fish website.
To register for the HMP online, the hunter mentee, mentor or parent/guardian must generate a sportsman identification number which includes the mentee's information, including name, address, date of birth and the last four numbers of their Social Security number.
Once the information is entered and the mentee is registered, the special authorization certificate must be printed and signed by the hunter mentor, mentee and the mentee's legal guardian if the mentee is under 18 years of age. The signed special authorization certificate must be carried by the mentee while hunting. Duplicate HMP certificates can be reprinted through the same system at no charge. This special authorization is not valid to hunt in Elk Hunt Areas 75 and 79.
For more information, or for assistance with the online system, contact the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's Hunter Education Coordinator at (307) 473-3439 or (307) 777-4538.