Bourjaily: Youth Deer Season Done Right

Hunting season started exactly the right way for me this year. I tagged along with my son John and my friend Mike (pictured below) for an evening hunt on opening day of our youth deer season. Mike had graciously invited John to sit in his bowstand and take first crack at his best spot.

I realize many hunters dislike Iowa for its $500 non-resident tags, and I don't blame them in the least, but we do have a great youth deer season that more states should copy. Rather than make our kids hunt in the cold, crazy December gun season, the state opens youth season opens before any other deer seasons begins. Youth hunters are the first ones in the field and their season runs for 16 days. If they don't fill their tag, it's good in any of our other gun seasons. The weather is pleasant and overall success rates run very high - about 50%. Since he started at age 12 (he's now 15), John has hunted a total of five days and shot three deer, including one big enough to cost me the price of a skull mount. Not surprisingly, he loves deer hunting. Seasons like this one are a great way to recruit new hunters and every state should have one.

If you were wondering, the gun in the picture is a 20 gauge NEF/H&R Ultra Slug. It is one of the great firearms bargains of any kind: it lists for $307 with a laminated stock, and a mere $249 with plain hardwood. It shoots as well or better than guns costing many times more and the heavy barrel helps keep slug recoil manageable. Sighting this one in for John's hunt, I put five Remington AccuTips into 2 ½ inches at 100 yards.

One AccuTip was enough for this buck. The slug went in one side, out the other, and destroyed both lungs on the way through. AccuTips are impressive slugs and as expensive (12.99/five) as the Ultra Slug is cheap.