Gordon's Marsh Young Hunter Education Area

Gordon brothers at swan release

PERMIT FOR YOUTH HUNTING:  go to the "Facilities" tab to the left this section or call 515-832-9570

Hunting Survey to complete AFTER youth hunt >>> Youth Hunter Survey.docx

Gordon's Marsh Youth Hunter area is 180.09 acres which consists primarily of 100 acres of wetlands surrounded by 80 acres of upland. It has been purchased through a variety of funding sources in four separate tracts. Donations from the Norman and Virgil Gordon families helped establish this area as a youth hunting area. Grants were received from the Iowa Lottery, Public-Private Cost Share Program, Iowa REAP grants, Hamilton County Pheasants Forever, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Wetlands for Iowa, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Ducks Unlimited and the Hamilton County Conservation Board.

The Purpose of the area is for young hunter education. Gordon's Marsh is divided into two areas (east and west). If you want to hunt waterfowl, choose the West area. If your quarry is pheasant, choose either area. The purpose for an area such as this is to re-establish some of the traditional values of hunting. Providing areas to foster some of those unforgettable moments of a parent and child sharing their first hunt together. Memories of days afield last forever. Many successful people are driven in life by experiences they had as a youth. We hope to provide our young people with the opportunity to experience a quality outdoor hunt without fear of interruption as is common in many public areas.

Hunter safety and education are also a part of the basic purpose of the area. By providing time to hunt, we also want each hunting group to stress safe gun handling techniques, as well as hunter etiquette. Learn about proper game care and see first hand the benefits of proper wildlife management practice.

Please remember the 200 yard rule of a residence. 

Non-toxic shot is required.

The Iowa DNR owns 104.62 acres connecting at the south end for public hunting.


This area is located 2 miles north of county road D46 and 4 miles west of county road R27.


  • Anyone hunting in the young hunter education areas must have a special use permit from the county conservation office prior to hunting.
  • The special use permit is non-transferable.
  • The permit must be displayed in the permit holder's vehicle and be visible from the outside of the vehicle.
  • A maximum of four persons are allowed per permit (two adults with two youth)
  • A minimum of two persons (one adult and one youth).
  • Youth must be 15 years and under. Adult must be 21 years or older.
  • All adults must be licensed to hunt.
  • Both the adult and the youth can carry guns.
  • The youth does not have to have a hunting license.
  • The youth does not have to have taken Hunter Safety.
  • One limit of game can be taken if the youth is not licensed to hunt.
  • Two limits of game can be taken if the youth is licensed to hunt. However, we encourage only one limit to be taken to help provide the greatest abundance of game for the youth that hunt after you.
  • The two permit times available are from 1 hour before opening time through 12:00 noon and from noon to 1 hour after closing time.
  • Vehicles shall be parked in designated areas only. Obey all boundary and refuge restrictions.
  • Boats or canoes without motors are allowed.
  • Remains of field cleaned game shall be disposed of at least 50 yards away from the parking areas and roads. No deer carcasses.
  • Hunting survey must be returned to the Conservation office before another permit will be issued.
  • The Hamilton County Conservation Department reserves the right to issue or deny approval of permits.
  • Large hunting parties can only use the Young Hunter Education Area by a special permit that is approved by the Hamilton County Conservation Board.
  • All huntable game species listed by the State of Iowa can be pursued at Gordon’s Marsh.
  • All State of Iowa Game Laws apply.
  • Only non-toxic shot that has been approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shall be used.
  • Target shooting is not allowed at Gordon’s Marsh.

Operating Hours & Seasons

  • The general public (those without a special use permit) cannot use the Young Hunter Education Area during September 1 - February 28.
  • The general public can access (foot traffic only) the State Refuge area except during September 10– December 25.
  • The area’s main parking lot cannot be used for parking during September 1 – February 28.  Hunters can drive back to the main parking lot to drop off or pick up decoys or a boat, but then must immediately return their vehicle to the appropriate Young Hunter Education parking lot. The chain gate must be closed when you return to the parking lot.
  • Dog training is not allowed on the Young Hunter Education Area during the following dates only: March 15 - July 15 of each year.