Pheasant Hunting: 2015 Special Youth Season Dates

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For most of us, it seems like just yesterday—our first romp through meadows and brush gilded by sunrise, shouldering a 20-gauge or a .410, eyes fixed 30 yards ahead, the anticipation as tangible as the stock resting in our palm. Everything was new, rose-colored, and awe-inspiring. The sheen of that first rooster’s feathers in flight, the sound of it cackling, and wings to match the beating of our hearts remain forever etched in our memory. An empty bag or a day’s limit, it makes no difference—these are the stories we will tell for decades, the ones we revert back to, reminisce about, during the hours afield waiting for the next flush.
 
Youth hunts afford adolescents the opportunity to learn the sport, hone their skills, and create memories that will potentially become the cornerstone of a lifelong passion. Several states set aside a few days each year exclusively for fledgling pheasant hunters. Often these days precede the regular season, so young hunters, chaperoned by a licensed adult hunter, can get the first shot at flushing roosters without having to worry about the pressure that comes with sharing the field. 
 

Idaho

Youth Season: Oct. 3 through Oct. 9 (regular season begins on Oct. 10)
 
Eligibility: Open to all licensed hunters 15 years of age or younger. Must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older. One adult may accompany more than one youth hunter. 
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 3/6 roosters (the possession limit increases to 9 once the regular season begins. In Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) where pheasants are stocked, the daily limit is 2 with a possession limit of 4) 

State Regulations
 

Iowa

Youth Season: Oct. 24 through Oct. 25 (regular season begins on Oct. 31)
 
Eligibility: Resident hunters ages 15 or younger may hunt without having a hunting license, paying the habitat fee, or passing a hunter education course. Youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older who has a valid hunting license and has paid the habitat fee (if normally required to do so to hunt). Only the youth may shoot pheasants. The adult may shoot other game if seasons are open. All other regulations in effect for the regular pheasant season apply during the youth season.
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 1/2 roosters (increases to 3/12 once the regular season begins) 
 
 

Kansas

Youth Season: Nov. 7 through Nov. 8 (regular season begins on Nov. 14) 
 
Eligibility: Youth ages 16 and younger may hunt under the supervision of a licensed adult 18 years of age or older. The supervising adult may not hunt.
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 2/8 roosters (increases to 4/16 once the regular season begins) 

Missouri

Youth Season: Oct. 24 through Oct. 25 (regular season begins on Nov. 1)
 
Eligibility: Open to youth ages 6 through 15. Youth who are not hunter-education certified must hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed adult; however, the adult may not hunt pheasants.
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 2/4 roosters 

Montana

Youth Season: Sept. 26 through Sept. 27 (regular season begins on Oct. 10)
 
Eligibility: Open to licensed youth ages 12 through 15. Only properly licensed youth who will reach 12 years of age by January 16, 2016 and have successfully passed hunter education may participate in this hunt. A non-hunting adult at least 18 years of age must accompany the young hunters in the field. All regulations apply.
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 3/9 roosters 

Nebraska

Youth Season: Oct. 24 through Oct. 25 (regular season begins on Oct. 31)
 
Eligibility: All youth hunters 15 years and younger.
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 2/4 roosters (increases to 3/12 once the regular season begins)  

New Jersey

Youth Season: Nov. 1, “Youth Upland Bird Day,” 8 a.m. to sunset in selected WMAs (regular season begins on Nov. 8) 
 
Eligibility: Open to licensed youth hunters at least 10 years of age. Youth hunter status continues until Dec. 31 of the year in which a youth turns 16. Youth must be accompanied by a licensed, non-shooting adult at least 21 years old and carrying a valid firearm or bow and arrow license corresponding to the season hunted. Youth licenses are issued for free upon completion of a hunter or trapper education course. 
 
Limit: 2 roosters  

New York

Youth Season: Western New York, Oct. 10 through Oct. 11 (regular season begins Oct. 17); Northern and eastern New York, Sept. 26 through Sept. 27 (regular season begins Oct. 1); Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk counties), Oct. 24 through Oct. 25 (regular season begins Nov. 1) 
 
Eligibility: Licensed youth hunters ages 12 through 15 accompanied by a licensed adult hunter. Only youth hunters may possess a firearm or harvest birds during the Youth Pheasant Hunt.
 
Daily/Possession Limit: Western New York, 2/NA roosters; Northern and eastern New York, 2/NA roosters; Long Island, 2/NA roosters (increases to 4/30 in the regular season)

North Dakota

Youth Season: Oct. 3 through Oct. 4 (regular season begins on Oct. 10)
 
Eligibility: Licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older. The adult may not carry a firearm nor hunt any species of wildlife. 
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 3/12 roosters (same as regular season) 

Ohio

Youth Season: Oct. 24 through Oct. 25, and Oct. 31 through Nov. 1 (regular season begins on Nov. 6)
 
Eligibility: Licensed hunters ages 17 and younger accompanied by a non-hunting adult at least 18 years of age. No more than two youths per adult.
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 2/NA roosters (same as regular season)  

Oregon 

Youth Season: Fern Ridge and Klamath Wildlife Areas (WAs), Sept. 12 through Sept. 13; Denman, Ladd Marsh, White River and Sauvie Island WAs, plus Willow Cr. And John Day, Sept. 19 through Sept. 20; Baker City, E.E. Wilson and Irrigon WAs, Sept. 26 through Sept. 27 and Oct. 31 through Nov. 1 (regular season begins statewide on Oct. 10) 
 
Eligibility: Licensed hunters ages 17 and younger accompanied by a non-hunting adult at least 21 years of age. 
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 2/8 roosters (same as regular season) 

Pennsylvania

Youth Season: Oct. 10 through Oct. 17 (regular season begins Oct. 24)
 
Eligibility: Open to youth hunters ages 12 through 16 who have successfully completed a basic hunter-trapper education course. Hunting licenses not required, but youth must wear the necessary amount of hunter orange and be accompanied by an adult. 
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 2/6 (roosters only in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2A, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B. Roosters and hens may be taken in all other WMUs. There is no open season for the taking of pheasants in any Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas in any WMU)

South Dakota

Youth Season: Oct. 3 through Oct. 7 (regular season begins Oct. 17)
 
Eligibility: Open to resident and nonresident hunters ages 12 (must turn 12 by Dec. 31) through 17 who possess a valid Hunt SAFE certificate and small game license. Youth at least 10 years of age can participate in a resident mentored hunt. Youth hunters must be accompanied by an unarmed adult. South Dakota advises all youth to wear at least one exterior garment of hunter orange. 
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 3/15 roosters (same as regular season)

Utah

Youth Season: Oct. 10 through Oct. 12 (regular season begins Nov. 7)
 
Eligibility: Open to hunters ages 17 or younger (as of July 31, 2015) who have passed hunter safety and possess an upland game hunting license, or those participating in the Trial Hunting Program. Youth hunters under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older who has been approved by the youth’s parent or legal guardian.  
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 2/6 roosters (same as regular season)

Washington

Youth Season: Sept. 19 through Sept. 20 (regular season begins Sept. 26 in western Washington, and Oct. 24 in eastern Washington)
 
Eligibility: Licensed hunters ages 16 and under. Must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting.   
 
Daily/Possession Limit: 2/4 roosters in western Washington (possession limit increases to 15 in regular season); 3/6 roosters in eastern Washington (possession limit increases to 15 in regular season)

Wyoming

Youth Season: Nov. 21 in Area 2; Oct. 24 and Nov. 1 in Area 8; Nov. 8, 15, 22 and 29 in Area 9. Check regulations to see if special permits are required for these areas (regular season begins Nov. 7)
 
Eligibility: Licensed hunters ages 17 and younger. Youth under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Adults cannot take any pheasants in these areas during a youth only hunt day, as these days fall during the regular season, which begins Nov. 7.   
 
Daily Limit: 2 pheasants (either sex) in Area 2; 3 pheasants (either sex) in Areas 8 and 9
 
Story by John Hennessy