The first shotgun deer season opens this weekend on the heels of what has been a successful bow season. Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife research technician, Jim Coffey, says hunters have already reported taking more than 27,000 deer.
“We’ve had an excellent fall with weather conditions and the crops came out early, and the hunters have had some great days to be out there. So, I think that has helped increase the number of people in the field and also increase license sales,” Coffey says.
Coffey says he doesn’t expect any drop in hunters taking to the field this season as he says the license sales for the shotgun season have been right on track to be about the same amount as last year. With license sales doing well, he expects the harvest numbers to be right around last year too.
“Reported harvest last year was right at about 100,000 deer and that’s what we would expect this year — unless there’s some major phenomenon in the weather — we should track pretty similarly,” according to Coffey.
The weather is expected to warm up this weekend and Coffey says the weather conditions can really dictate the success of the hunt. “Weather impacts the hunters as much or more than it does the deer. And sometimes warmer weather is just a little more difficult because the deer can spread themselves out,” Coffey explains. “It’ll be an interesting weekend, it will be a little muddy in some places. It should be nice weather, but that can actually make it more difficult to deer hunt.”
The DNR surveys the deer population to try and keep it under control. Coffey though doesn’t talk about deer numbers in specific areas. “Populations are something that are very difficult to talk about across the entire state because there is so much difference in the habitat from north to south and east and west. So we talk about trends more than anything,” Coffey says. He says if you saw deer last year in the places you normally hunt, there should be plenty of deer in those areas again this year.
This first shotgun deer season begins Saturday and runs through next Wednesday. The second shotgun season is December 12th through the 20th. The archery season closes Saturday to allow for the shotgun season and will re-open on December 21st. The late muzzleloader season opens at the same time and both will run through January 10th.