Big Game Licenses for Mentored Hunters Available Online

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PIERRE, S.D.—Big game license for mentored hunters are now available through the S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Department Web site.

The big game licenses allow mentored youth to hunt antlerless deer, antelope and turkey. Available to resident mentors for a $5 fee, the licenses are valid during the youth deer season, the archery and firearms antelope seasons and the fall turkey season.

The last session of the S.D. Legislature passed a law that allows children as young as 10 years of age to take part in mentored hunts. The availability of mentored hunting licenses for three big game seasons is just the latest step in providing more hunting opportunities for young people.

License applications may be submitted through the Web site at or by printing out a paper application available on the site and through license dealers. To apply by computer, on the GFP home page hold the cursor over “Licenses and Reservations” and then click on “Limited Issue Licenses.” Then follow the instructions to complete and submit the application. A credit card is needed for making the payment online.

The purchase of a mentored hunting license does not affect the eligibility of the parent or guardian to purchase a license in other deer, antelope or turkey seasons. “However,” said GFP Licensing Office Supervisor Scott Simpson, “the purchase of such a license renders the mentored youth hunter ineligible to purchase regular licenses for the youth deer, antelope or fall turkey hunting seasons.”

With the first mentored hunts set to take place this fall, the Game, Fish and Parks Department is anticipating plenty of interest and plenty of questions.

“The Resident Mentored Hunting pamphlet available online is a good source of information about the requirements and restrictions governing these hunts,” said GFP Licensing Office Supervisor Scott Simpson. “Even if a mentor applies for the licenses online, printing out the pamphlet and keeping it on hand is still a good idea.”

Other online sources of information can be found by clicking on “Mentored Hunting” under the “What’s New” tab on the home page of the GFP Web site. The information there includes regulations governing young hunters and mentors as they take part in small game and big game seasons and frequently asked questions. Among those questions are:
What do I need to do to grant permission to my neighbor to take my child on a mentored hunt?
Written permission is required. The parent or guardian may write a note as simple as, “I grant permission for <mentor name> to take my child, <child name>, on a mentored hunt.” Signed (your name)

Can an adult mentor carry a gun on a mentored big game hunt?
One firearm may be carried between the mentored hunter and the adult mentor. Only the youth may shoot the gun under this mentored season. However, if there is a concurrent season in progress (for example, East River Deer) and the adult mentor is legally licensed, the adult mentor may have possession of the firearm and shoot an animal he/she is licensed to take. Any adult or mentor who possesses a valid concealed pistol permit may possess a pistol.

What do you define as immediate control between the adult and mentored hunter?
Immediate control is most appropriately described as within arm’s length.

Does my child need to take the HuntSAFE class to participate in a mentored hunt?
No. The intent of the mentored program is to expose youth to the sport of hunting. We believe that once a youth has participated in a mentored hunt that the experience will spark their interest in hunting and they’ll make the decision to enroll in a HuntSAFE class at the appropriate time.

Since the Mentored Hunt big game license is issued to the parent and the parent may assign the responsibility of mentorship to another adult, may the parent also assign another mentored hunter to use the license?
The mentored hunter license is not transferable, and is specific to the mentored hunter named on the license.

How many people can hunt in this mentor situation?
The maximum party size is six individuals. There can be two mentors, two mentored hunters, and two observers; or there can be as many as three mentors and three mentored hunters. The ratio of mentors to mentored hunters must remain one-to-one and there can be no more that six people total in the group.
My child is 9 years old but will turn 10 during the hunting season. May I apply for a mentored hunting big game license?
Yes, you may apply and receive a license for the mentored hunt. The license will not be valid until your child’s 10th birthday.
I took the hunter education course many years ago but I don’t have my certification card. May I still mentor a hunter?
The adult mentor must have the hunter education certificate/card in their possession while hunting. If you took a South Dakota course, you may check the Game, Fish and Parks Web site at or call the GFP office at (605) 773-7154.
Hunt SafeIf I want to mentor a hunter but have never taken a hunter education class, how can I get my hunter education certification?
You may check for a class near you by going to:

Does becoming a mentor affect my ability to hunt other seasons during the time I am a mentor?
Being a mentor does not affect the eligibility of the parent/guardian or mentor for any other hunting license.

How many big game mentor licenses can be purchased for a mentored hunter?
For each mentored hunter a parent or guardian can purchase one mentored deer license, one mentored antelope license, one mentored fall turkey license, and one mentored spring turkey license.

How do I apply for a mentored big game license?
Mentored big game license applications can be found at all GFP offices, license agents throughout the state, or you can apply online at this link:

As a parent who does not hunt but would like my son/daughter to learn to hunt, am I restricted to designating only one person to serve as a mentor to my child?
As the parent of the mentored hunter, you can grant permission to multiple individuals to serve as a mentor, as long as they have written permission from you and they meet the requirements to be a mentor.

If I purchase a mentored hunt deer license for my son/daughter, why can’t they also purchase a license for the regular youth deer season?
The idea behind the mentored hunting program is to provide the experience and exposure to a young person who is interested and just getting started in hunting. The emphasis of the mentored hunt should be to have fun, learn and become more knowledgeable about hunting, not to harvest as many animals as possible.

If I want to take my 10-year-old son on a mentored waterfowl hunt, what license does he need? What license do I as the mentor need?
Your son would need no license. As the mentor, you would need to have the proper South Dakota hunting license, Federal Waterfowl Stamp, and Migratory Bird Certification.

As a mentor, do I need to carry my hunter certification with me in the field?
Yes. It is required that the mentor possess their hunter education certification.

Can a mentored hunter use a bow and arrow to harvest a deer or antelope?
Yes, bow and arrow may be used to hunt during firearms seasons. If a bow is used to harvest deer or antelope, it must meet all equipment restrictions currently in place for big game hunting.

If a mentored hunter chooses to hunt with a bow, do the National Bowhunter Archery Education requirements also apply?
No, the bowhunter education requirements apply only to archery-only hunting licenses.

If a mentored hunter is accompanied in the field by an adult mentor who is not the parent or guardian, who should sign the big game tag once the animal is harvested?
Because a mentor was granted permission by the parent/guardian, the mentor will sign the tag once the animal is harvested.

What is the limit for the mentor while small game hunting, for example pheasants?
The mentor does not have a separate limit from the mentored hunter. Between the mentor and mentored hunter, only three pheasants can be harvested. For example, if the mentored hunter harvests two roosters, the mentor would only be allowed one additional rooster the remainder of that same day.

Can a mentor take out more than one mentored hunter in a given day?
Yes. However, the ratio of mentor to mentored hunter must be one-to-one. Also, if a mentor were to hunt with two different mentored hunters in one day, the daily limit would apply to both hunts. For example, if a mentor takes out 2 mentored hunters, between the two groups only three pheasants could be harvested in one day.