A wildlife research supervisor with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says hunters have reported harvesting 19-percent more deer in Iowa during the first shotgun season compared to last year. Willy Suchy credits the relatively mild weather. “Last year was a tough shotgun opener with really cold weather and strong winds,” Suchy said.
Today is the final day of the first shotgun deer season. Suchy anticipates the first season’s harvest will be around 37,000 deer. “We’re similar to where we were in 2011-2012,” Suchy said. “We’re down substantially from the peak in 2006. Deer numbers are down.”
Around 150,000 deer were killed in Iowa in 2006, the first year of so-called “mandatory harvest reporting” in the state. Prior to 2006, the DNR conducted a harvest “estimate” which was calculated based on a postseason postcard survey. Last year, hunters in Iowa killed fewer than 100,000 deer for the first time since the mid-1990s. Suchy isn’t sure yet if the harvest will be below six-digits again this year.
“A lot will depend on this next weekend, the second shotgun season. We still have a lot of licenses to be issued,” Suchy said. “Sometimes, when we have a good opener in the first season, a lot of hunters don’t go the second season so maybe there are (fewer deer killed). But, if we have good weather like we’re looking at, we may have somewhere around 100,000 animals reported.”
The deer harvest during the first shotgun season increased over last year, despite 3,000 fewer licenses being sold this year compared to 2013. Suchy notes the license sales decline was primarily due to fewer antlerless licenses being available, which was by design. Iowa’s second shotgun deer season opens this Saturday (December 13) and runs through Sunday, December 21.