The first deer hunting season of the year opens today as youth and disabled hunters will take to the field. DNR deer biologist, Tim Litchfield, tracks the number of deer in Iowa. “This year in Iowa I expect our deer numbers to be lower than last year,” Litchfield says. Although he says it’s hard to gauge how the hunt will turn out.
Things have been dry for much of the summer in the state, and that could bode well for hunters. “I feel that these drought-type conditions actually help bolster the harvest in that there is less quality forage available for the deer, there’s fewer water sources and so the deer are up and traveling more,” Litchfield explains. “And so, if those deer are up and traveling more then that increases the odds that those deer will be exposed to a hunter during one of the various seasons.”
He says the southern area of the state is one of the hotspots for deer hunting. “Within southern Iowa and the Loess Hills counties, there will be localized areas that experienced the hemorrhagic disease outbreak from last year where hunters will likely notice fewer deer than what they are used to, but probably not markedly less than what they were seeing last year,” Litchfield says.
The weather plays a part in the success of the hunt. “If it’s warm, deer are going to be moving more early and later during the day,” Litchfield says. He says it’s a good idea to set up near the trails to and from water to find the deer. The DNR recommends that hunters be prepared to deal with warm weather by having something to drink and being prepared to process any deer quickly by getting the deer to a locker or skinning and boning the deer out and getting it in a cooler and on ice.
The were nearly 9,700 youth and 290 disabled hunters who took over 3,900 deer last year. Youth hunters may hunt with a bow, shotgun or muzzleloader. Blaze orange is required for hunters using firearms. Hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.