Hunting licenses for deer went on sale for the first time Wednesday and a D.N.R. spokesman says the number of “deer tags” available is dropping in some areas. Deer research biologist Tom Litchfield, says efforts to reduce the deer herd by increasing the number of female or antlerless deer taken have been successful.
“Back in 2003 the availability of antlerless licenses was greatly increased in Iowa, and now in 2012 approximately two-thirds of the counties in Iowa are at the target levels, which was to return deer populations back to the mid to late 1990 levels,” Litchfield explains.
Litchfield says the drop in deer numbers will be reflected in the available licenses. “There’s going to be approximately 13,000 fewer antlerless only licenses available, and these reductions all occurred in eastern Iowa counties, 20 eastern counties, so there will be fewer antlerless licenses available in those counties,” Litchfield says.
He says the cutback is a direct result of the success of the plan to harvest more does to help bring down the overall deer population.
“It’s do to our deer herd declining in numbers and being at goal throughout most of the state,” Litchfield says. There will also be a change in the combination of licenses available.
“Starting this year we’re starting to go back to the way regulations were prior to 2006, so for 2012, a hunter who purchases an early muzzleloader license will not be able to purchase an antlerless only license in either of the two shotgun seasons,” according to Litchfield.
Not all counties are down to their goals for deer numbers, so Litchfield says the hunting numbers will vary based on regions. “Hunters in the northwestern and the north-central portions of the state will see deer numbers similar to what they saw last year, possibly a few more since we had such a nice mild winter,” Litchfield says.
“Throughout the remainder of the state — eastern Iowa, southern Iowa, central Iowa — by and large, what hunters will see are fewer deer than last year because the herd is still declining.”
The D.N.R. is also eliminating the Thanksgiving weekend antlerless season and cutting the late January season by one week. You can find out more about the deer hunting seasons and where to buy a license on the D.N.R.’s website.