A state deer biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says adjusted numbers for the most recent shotgun deer season show that hunters took more deer this year than last. The DNR’s initial report showed 146,215 deer were taken this year, compared to 150,552 taken last year.
But, biologist Tom Litchfield, says they’ve adjusted for the hunters who failed to report the deer they took. Litchfield says last year they corrected for "noncompliance" in reporting deer kills and this year they will do the same thing, as roughly four percent fewer people reported taking deer this year. Litchfield says when you adjust for the four-percent decrease in reporting, the number of deer taken this year would surpass the 150,000 taken last year. The state went to a mandatory phone-in system two years ago for hunters to report deer taken that replace an old postcard reporting system.
Litchfield says they felt the old system overestimated the number of deer taken, but the new system underreports the number of deer taken. He says reporting is very high, but you can’t expect to get 100-percent. Litchfield says they believe 95% of hunters reported as required in the first year and 91% this year.
Clayton County led the state in reported deer harvest with just over 7,500, while Van Buren and Allamakee tied for second at 4,473. The rest of the top ten counties in order were: Jackson, Fayette, Davis, Dubuque, Linn, Winneshiek and Johnson. Litchfield says that will help cut the high deer numbers in those eastern and southern Iowa counties.
He says although they had the type of harvest wanted in those counties, there still needs to be some thinning out in those counties. "I’m not going to say because of this year’s harvest all the numbers are where we should be, we still need to work on lowering the deer numbers in eastern Iowa and southern Iowa," Litchfield says. He says there are a few counties that stick out that could’ve used some more thinning.
Litchfield says Madison, Addair, Cass and Harrison counties in south-central Iowa "probably didn’t see the harvest they needed to to begin making any significant declines in the deer herd in those counties." Litchfield says the find out more about the overall deer population from an aerial and spotlight surveys in March.
Litchfield says they’ll couple those surveys along with the collision information from the DOT and deer "salvaged" or picked up after collisions with cars. Litchfield says deer-vehicle collisions reported by the DOT were down five percent from the previous year.