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Youth season
October 8, 2017

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For years I have contemplated how old my kids needed to be before I took them deer hunting. I definitely didn't want them to start too young and have a bad experience that turned them off of hunting for years to come but I also want them to have a blast hunting as soon as they are ready. My oldest son turned 8 this spring and I decided that this was the year if he wanted to try. I explained to him that he had to practice all summer and prove to me that he was a good enough shot to go out. So we practiced a couple times a week for most of the summer and he became a pretty dang good shot. Youth season finally arrived and the weather was awful. It was 85 degrees and humid for opening day, which is a hunter's nightmare. But the anticipation was too much and we hunted anyway. Despite the warm weather we had a great time in the hunting blind and actually had a close encounter with a pretty nice buck. Night number two was far better hunting conditions. The high temperature for the day dropped almost 11 degrees which almost always gets deer on their feet. We were having a slow night until about sunset when a nice big doe came strolling out exactly where we wanted her to. My son pulled his gun up and with no hesitation pulled the trigger. He immediately said, "I GOT HER, I GOT HER!" Thankfully he made a great shot and the deer only ran about 50 yards. I'm not sure who was more excited.. Him or me, but I know it's an experience neither one of us will be forgetting.

The Iowa DNR has done a phenomenal job with some changes over the last few years that has made youth hunting easier and definitely more successful. The rules used to be that a youth tag was only good for youth season. Now a youth tag is good for youth season, early muzzleloader, late muzzleloader and one of the two shotgun seasons. This change in the law has made it so much easier for a youth hunter to be successful. Youth season allows kids to hunt before anyone else has the chance but it's not always the best time of year to hunt. Hunting can be tough in late September when most of the crops are still in and the weather can be extremely warm at times. Being able to take your time and hunt when conditions are right is far more successful than hunting as much as you can in a two week period simply because that's all the longer the season lasts. Another change that has recently come about is the type of firearm you are allowed to use. The rules for allowable firearms have changed for shotgun hunters as well as youth hunters. You used to only be allowed to use a shotgun, muzzleloader or bow during shotgun and youth seasons. New laws now allow you to use certain calibers of rifle. (Check hunting regulations for allowable calibers). For example my son used a break action 44 mag rifle. The gun is lighter than a shotgun, it's shorter than a shotgun and it kicks far less than a shotgun but still has good knock down power. In my opinion, it is the perfect youth gun and it wouldn't have been allowed without this new rule change.

Getting kids out hunting is the most import thing we can do for the sport. If we don't pass down the tradition it simply dies and so does the sport. There are a ton of life lessons that can be taught out in the woods and I can't tell you how exciting it was to start teaching them to my son this year. So take a kid out hunting and start teaching some lessons of your own, you won't regret it.

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