This girl shot a deer at youth mentor hunt held at Springbrook State Park.

This girl shot a deer at youth mentor hunt held at Springbrook State Park.

Around 10,000 young Iowans, 15 and under, are expected to take part in the state’s youth deer hunting season, which opens Saturday.

Jim Coffey, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says participation in the season has been growing, even though only one-third of those young hunters are forecast to harvest a deer.

An adult “mentor” must accompany the child, who can continue to hunt in future deer seasons if they don’t fill their tag in the youth season.

“A youth hunter’s tag is valid for all other deer (gun) seasons if it’s not filled during the youth season,” Coffey says. “So, we’re seeing more hunters shift to buying a youth tag for those youngsters because they can continue to go out and use that license until it’s filled.” The tags are not valid for the archery season.

The deer must be harvested by the youth with the tag. Coffey encourages the mentors, often the child’s parent, to focus on teaching hunting ethics, sportsmanship, and safety. “And, realize that success is not harvesting the animal. Success is being out there, watching the woods, learning the animals, and really just starting to build that base of a good sportsman,” Coffey says.

The September 20 to October 5 period allows youngsters to be the first Iowans to take a shot at deer. Coffey says the early season usually features slightly warmer temperatures, so the experience is less stressful for a young hunter. The youth season coincides with the disabled hunter deer season. Last year, nearly 300 disabled hunters reported harvesting 120 deer.

Photo courtesy of the Iowa DNR.