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Iowa’s youth only turkey hunting season begins April 5 for residents age 15 and younger at the time when they purchased their youth turkey license.
This season is set aside to allow youths to hunt under direct guidance of an adult mentor, age 18 and older. Over the past four years, an average of 5,500 youth participated in the season.
The focus of the youth season is to provide opportunities to teach skills necessary to become a confident turkey hunter.
Ideally, the experience would begin before the season where the mentor and the youth will scout the area they plan to hunt, identify roosting trees or which fields the birds are using, together, secure permission if hunting private land, and pattern the gun so the youth understands the limits of the gun and shot. It’s also a good idea for the youth and mentor to start practicing calling so when the season begins their confidence won’t be shaken.
The one-on-one relationship with the mentor has produced a higher rate of harvest than during the other spring turkey seasons 27 vs 23 percent. An unfilled youth season tag continues to be valid until filled during any of the remaining spring turkey seasons. This allows for a potential 38 day season that other hunters do not have. The key is for the youth tag to be purchased before the youth season closes because once the season is over this option is no longer available. The season ends April 7.
Mentors must have a valid turkey hunting license for one of the spring turkey seasons and may not carry a bow or firearm while participating as a mentor.
Successful hunters are required to report their harvest by midnight of the day after it is tagged and be prepared to answer a few simple questions (county of harvest and spur length.) The easiest way to report is to log on to www.iowadnr.gov. Other ways to report are by calling the phone number listed on the tag or by going through a license vendor. Be sure to write the harvest registration number on the harvest report tag. This allows the Iowa DNR to monitor annual harvest across the state.