dnr-deer-thmbThe first shotgun deer season opens Saturday across Iowa, and DNR deer biologist Andrew Norton says the weather has a big impact on the success of the hunt.

He says people don’t want to sit very long in extremely cold weather, rain makes things a little hazardous. Norton says snow is a mixed bag as it can help you track deer, but it can also make visibility tougher. Norton says the forecast appears to favor hunters the first couple of days.

“Overall it looks like at least this first weekend conditions should be pretty good across most of the state. Maybe some rain will start later in the weekend, which might hinder things a little bit,” Norton says. Hunters can expect to see the same number of deer they saw last year.

“We’ve been in a stabilization for about the last two or three years across much of the state,” Norton says. “It’s going to vary a little bit — especially when you get a little further north and west in the state — their numbers are a little bit lower, so we’re trying to increase numbers there a little bit maybe.” Norton says the bow hunting season got off to a slow start because of warm weather, and that could impact the shotgun season.

“I think that pushed back a lot of the success during the rut to later in November when things actually cooled down,” Norton says. “But if that did actually result in fewer deer being harvested in November, that might equal more success or more deer running around during these shotgun seasons here in December.” He expects the deer harvest to be a little bit better than last year.

“Last year was 105,000, so I would be surprised if it was less than it was last year. And I’m thinking we might even exceed 110,000,” Norton says. Some 75,000 hunters are expected to head out for this first shotgun season, which runs through December 7th. Another 50,000 are expected to try their luck in the second shotgun season that runs from December 10th through the 18th.

Photo courtesy of the DNR.