The Iowa deer hunting tradition will be passed on to about 10,000 young hunters who are participating in the youth deer season, which opens on Sept. 18. This season is designed as a mentor-styled hunt, matching young hunters with a licensed adult to teach proper deer hunting techniques, wildlife behavior, and safe hunting practices without the added pressure of other hunters in the field.
For many young hunters, this will be their first experience hunting deer, and mentors are encouraged to take the needs of the new hunter into account when planning the hunt.
The goal of the hunt should be a positive, enjoyable, and ethical experience, and harvesting a deer should be considered a bonus, not define success.
The youth season coincides with the disabled hunter deer season for hunters who meet certain criteria. Each season runs Sept. 18 through Oct. 3.
Each youth must be under direct supervision of an adult mentor, with a valid license and habitat fee (if required). The youth license is valid statewide and for any legal deer.
In 2020, hunters purchased nearly 12,000 licenses for the youth season and reported harvesting more than 5,200 deer, which was a 47 percent increase over 2019. An unfilled youth season tag may be used during any subsequent deer season, while following all other rules specified for each season. Party hunting with a youth tag is not allowed. A deer must be harvested by the youth with the tag. However, that tag holder may obtain deer tags for other seasons, just as any other hunter can do.
The youth deer season usually has mild temperatures and biting insects. Hunters should be prepared to properly handle any harvest made, including having bags of ice along to cool the deer cavity and to have contacted a locker before the hunt begins that can accept the deer for processing.
A youths first hunting experience can bring a lifetime of memories. Mentors should be prepared for to make this a wonderful, adventurous and safe outing.
All deer taken must be reported using the harvest reporting system by midnight the day after the deer is recovered. Harvest reporting is a very important part of the deer management program in Iowa, playing a vital role in managing deer populations and hunting opportunities. Hunters can report their deer on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov, by calling the toll-free reporting number 1-800-771-4692, or at any license vendor.