The days are getting shorter, nights are getting cooler and tree-stands are being moved into place. For bow hunters, the long wait is nearly over. Iowa’s archery deer season begins Oct. 1.
“Our deer population has been relatively stable, keeping things consistent. I’m expecting hunters to have a pretty good fall,” said Jim Coffey, forest wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Iowa’s world renowned deer herd is the result of a beneficial partnership between hunters, landowners and local wildlife staff all working together.
“Our hunters play an important role in helping us to maintain their high quality deer herd,” Coffey said.
An estimated 62,000 bow hunters will purchase more than 90,000 deer licenses this year. On average, bow hunters take 12 trips to the timber and spend more than three hours out each time before the season suspends on Dec. 2 to make way for the shotgun hunters.
“They’re a pretty dedicated group. Having 62,000 pairs of eyes in the field really helps us to identify any local issues, like discovering a local case of hemorrhagic disease, and by hunters providing tissue samples that we can test for chronic wasting disease. We encourage them to talk to their landowners about the status with their local herd and adjust their doe harvest accordingly,” he said.
Iowa is unique versus other premier deer hunting states because there is a restriction on the use of firearms during the rut that reduces pressure on the bucks, allows bucks to grow older, which is an important factor for antler growth. Iowa also has mild winters compared to northern states, and excellent soil quality that provides natural vegetation which also allows deer to grow quickly.
Early in the season, deer will likely be in their summer pattern, moving from their bedding areas to food sources, like acorn producing trees. Hunters putting in the work studying the changing patterns should improve their odds for success.
Deer population varies across the state with lower numbers in northwest Iowa and increasing numbers along the Mississippi River and across southern Iowa, but high quality animals are available in every county. The highest antlered deer harvest comes from Clayton, Allamakee, Van Buren and Warren counties.
For bow hunters, Iowa is the place where dreams are made. Bow hunters harvested nearly 13,000 antlered deer last year. The archery season will close on Dec. 1 for the shotgun seasons, then reopens on Dec. 18 until closing on Jan. 10, 2017.
The Iowa DNR has information on the number of antlerless deer licenses available, locations of hunter education classes, and maps of available public and private hunting land, a list of lockers participating in Help Us Stop Hunger, and more at www.iowadnr.gov/deer
Hunters must report their harvest
All deer taken must be reported using the harvest reporting system by midnight the day after the deer is recovered. Accurately reporting the kill is an important part of Iowa’s deer management program and plays a vital role in managing deer populations and future hunting opportunities.
Hunters can report their deer on the DNR website www.iowadnr.gov, by calling the toll free reporting number 1-800-771-4692, or at any license vendor. For hunters with Internet access, the online reporting of your harvest is the easiest way to register your deer. If no deer is harvested, no report is necessary.