Ask a CO: Clarifying licence requirements for mentors and apprentice hunters

by Editorial Staff | March 18, 2021
Mentor and apprentice hunting standing in a field at dusk/dawn

Q: I am a hunter-education instructor and I know I’m going to be asked this question now that apprentice hunters can get tags.

If both adults in a family have a PAL but only one has an Outdoors Card and there are two apprentice hunters who both have tags, is it OK for the adult with just the PAL and no Outdoors Card to accompany one apprentice hunter on a hunt? Technically, the apprentice hunter is the one with the tag, but the parent is there because of the firearm. This is not a mentor situation, but still only a single firearm is involved.

– Larry Schwager, Renfrew

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ASK_A_CO_horizontal-160x160.jpg

Licence to hunt needed

A: As of January 1, 2019, only resident youth aged 12, 13, or 14 years can be apprentice hunters; all other hunters require their own licences. While apprentices can purchase their own licences and receive their own tags, they must hunt under the direct and immediate supervision of a licensed hunter who is at least 18 years old and has a licence to hunt the species being hunted by the apprentice. As a result, an adult who has a PAL, but is not a licensed hunter, cannot be the mentor for an apprentice hunter.

– David Critchlow (Provincial Enforcement Specialist, MNRF)

Send your questions by clicking here.

Originally published in the April 2020 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine. Ask a CO is also a regular feature in the print edition.

Please check the most recent Ontario hunting and fishing regulations summaries, as rules and regulations can change.

Click here for more hunting stories

For more instalments of Ask a CO, click here

Sign up for our mailing list

indicates required
Email format


  1. Brian wrote: Good day, I am a fully licensed outdoorsman and have. A friend that has an outdoors card along with fishing and small games rage which are current. He does not currently have a PAL and was unable to find a course due to Covid cancellations. My question is if he can accompany me in the bush for bird hunting and use his bag limit while sharing a single gun which is owned by myself? I would be filling my own limit as well. Thank you, Brian
    • Jason Bain wrote: Thanks, Brian. From the MNRF: "To hunt with a gun, the apprentice must have a valid firearms licence, i.e., a minor’s permit, or have proof that he or she has successfully completed the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and associated tests (stamped copy of the CFSC student report). Without one of these documents, the apprentice cannot hunt with a gun, either on their own or with a mentor. In either case, the supervising hunter must have a valid firearms licence and be licensed for the species that the apprentice is hunting. They may only carry one gun between them. If the apprentice hunter is hunting with a bow, then no firearms licence is required. The apprentice still requires the supervision of a mentor licensed for the species being hunted."