Iowa’s Popular Youth Hunting Event Turns 20


The 20th year of Iowa’s youth hunter education challenge (YHEC) wrapped up on June 10, with 68 kids ages 12 to 18 participating in the eight station competition.

The event has changed little competition-wise during its two decades.  The format has remained the same. The set up has been pretty consistent.  About the only thing that has changed are the competitors and the event location.

“We moved from the 4H camp at Madrid to Wesley Woods three years ago and that has provided us a better layout to set up the stations and allows us to go through the course much faster,” said Donise Grygierczyk, who coordinates the challenge for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Youth from all over Iowa compete as part of a team in four shooting events and four non-shooting events.  The events include the Hunter Responsibility Exam; the Hunter Safety Trail Challenge that simulates hunting and includes the ‘dos and don’ts’ of firearm safety and shoot/don’t shoot situations; the Hunting Shotgun Challenge, including shooting at clay and/or life-size targets.

Other events include the Light Hunting Rifle Challenge; the Hunting/Wildlife Identification Challenge to identify animals, tracks, or wildlife signs without an identification book; the Hunting Orienteering Skills Challenge covering map and compass skills; the Hunting Muzzleloader Challenge taking shots at life-sized targets at varying distances and positions; and the Hunting Archery Challenge requiring shots at life-size game targets.

Each event is scored. Teams compete against each other in each event and for the overall competition.  Hunter education instructors are encouraged to put a team together and coach their participants.

It takes nearly as many volunteers as competitors to put on the event and over the 20 years, five volunteers have seen each and every competition: Bill Shipley, of Birmingham, Craig Glosser, of Batavia, John Sears, of Ottumwa, Loren Zaruba, of Charlotte, and Dean Ross, of Jefferson.

“We couldn’t do this without the volunteers,” Grygierczyk said. “They are the reason this event has been successful and around for 20 years.”

Iowa will have a team entered in the 2013 International YHEC in Raton, N.M. The team from Eddyville will be raising money to offset the $8,000 needed for the competition.

Iowa YHEC is co-sponsored by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa State University Extension Wildlife Programs, National Rifle Association and the Iowa 4-H Safety and Education in Shooting Sports program.

The 2013 Iowa YHEC is scheduled for June 7-9, at Wesley Woods, near Indianola.

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