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Iowa’s youth enjoy special pheasant season Oct. 21-22

  • 10/17/2023 11:48:00 AM
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Iowa’s young hunters will get to experience the first cackle and flush of the year during the youth only pheasant season, Oct. 21-22.

The residents-only youth season gives Iowans age 15 and younger the opportunity to hunt for rooster pheasants without purchasing a license, habitat fee or taking hunter education. Each youth must hunt under direct supervision of an adult age 18 or older that has a valid hunting license and habitat fee.

The 2023 August pheasant population survey had the highest statewide counts since 2015, with the biggest increases coming from southwest, northwest and northeast regions. The statewide average was nearly 23 birds per route; a 15 percent increase over 2022.

“We haven’t had too many years since 2012 that areas were considered excellent, but there are some swaths of counties listed as excellent in northwest and north central Iowa – and over half of the state is considered fair to excellent,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“And with the advanced crop harvest we’re seeing across much of the state, this would be a great time to spend a weekend in the field passing along our pheasant hunting tradition to the next generation.”

Special youth only seasons allows young hunters an opportunity for success without pressure or competition from other hunters. Only the youth are allowed shoot pheasants and they may bag one rooster per day. Shooting hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Tips for a Safe Hunt

  • Iowa law requires hunters to wear at least one of the following articles of visible, external apparel with at least 50 percent of its surface area solid blaze orange: hat, cap, vest, coat, jacket, sweatshirt, shirt or coveralls.
  • Hunters should stay in communication with each other and to stay in a straight line while pushing a field.
  • Discuss the hunting plan that spells out how the hunt will take place, each person’s role in the hunt and where each person will be at all times.
  • Know exactly where standers will be located, especially when hunting standing corn or tall switch grass to avoid having the standers get shot by the pushers as they near the end of the field and the birds begin to flush.
  • Make sure to unload the gun when crossing a fence or other obstacle to avoid it accidentally discharging.
  • Properly identify the target and what is beyond it especially if hunting in fields that still have standing corn.
  • If hunting with a dog, never lay a loaded gun against a fence. Hunting dogs are usually excited to be in the field and could knock the gun over causing it to discharge.
  • Share the hunt. Take someone new along to help keep Iowa’s great hunting tradition alive.