Photo © Chris Hull

Youth, Apprentice and Mentored

Effective July 1, 2018:: There will no longer be a minimum age for a to participate in the mentor hunting program. Starting 2018, the Youth Deer Season will be called the Apprentice Deer Season and covers individuals ages 12 and older.

  • Mentored hunting is available for residents only.
  • Hunter safety is required for individuals ages 12-16 who are not participating in a mentored hunt.
  • Hunter safety is required for individuals ages 12-16 who are not participating in a mentored hunt. To replace your HuntSAFE or BowHunter ID card click HERE or email your full name, mailing address and date of birth.
  • Please refer to the Hunting Handbook for all regulations.  

Powderhook for Mentored Hunting

Beginning October 2018 South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks has began working with Powderhook.  Powderhook is an app that connects mentors with mentees in their area quickly and conveniently.  More information regarding Powderhook can be obtained at the button below. 

Engage in Mentorship HERE

10 Commandments of Mentored Hunting

  • Safety First- Treat every firearm as if it is loaded, practice muzzle control, and be absolutely sure of the target. Safety is the primary concern when youth are involved in hunting. Practice shooting skills before the hunt to ease fears.   
  • Have Fun- Be Positive. Success is the hunt, not the kill. Involve youth in nature-oriented activities, obtaining landowner permission, studying wildlife behavior within their habitat, and other important matters that comprise a good experience.
  • Give All Your Attention to the Youth- Mentoring is about the youth, not about you.
  • Remember, They are Young- Physical stamina and mental maturity is much different in youth than adults. Consider short hunts and talk beforehand about field dressing animals.
  • Patience- Youth don’t always get it right the first time. Practice CPR: Compliment, Positive Correction, Review.
  • Listen and Talk- Listen and address any concerns the youth may have before the hunt. Talk to the youth about their connection to nature and respect for habitat and wildlife.
  • Use Appropriate Equipment- Hunting gear is not one size fits all. Use the appropriate size of equipment.
  • No Pressure- Sometimes the best shot is no shot. The only good shot is one the youth is comfortable with.
  • Practice First- This reduces wounding loss and builds confidence in the beginning hunter.
  • Use Good Judgement- If the youth is not ready for hunting, having the youth observe a hunt is a great option. 

External Resources for Mentors

Apprentice Deer | Mentored Big Game
Youth Small Game | Mentored Small Game
Youth Waterfowl  | Mentored Waterfowl