Several thousand hunters will take to the woods with a bow looking to bring home a deer in the next several weeks. DNR wildlife biologist Jim Coffey says the bow season has become more and more popular because of what it offers to hunters.
“Probably the most unique thing about archery season is the hunting experience itself and the fact that a lot of people will hunt individually. It’s not quite as social as the shotgun season with the party system. And this gives people a chance to get that one-on-one relationship with nature,” Coffey says. The season opened Sunday (Oct 1) and some 62,000 hunters are expected to take part. He says on a slow deer day, there’s still plenty to see.
“If there’s not deer then you are observing the squirrels and you’re observing the woodpeckers and all of the other parts of nature. It’s just a very solace type of feeling that connects you back to nature,” according to Coffey. “A lot of bowhunters are hunting from tree stands, and that puts you right up there in intimately in the habitat itself.” The deer movement is a little different this time of year too, as they are still in their summer pattern, moving from their bedding areas to food sources.
“We’re still fairly green,but we’re turning into an early fall mixture. The leaves will be falling, we’re looking at corn be coming out which changes the habitat evaluation — so it just makes for a different experience,” Coffey says. “A lot of times the deer hunter’s going to be looking at the bedding areas and feeding areas and not so much worried about the ruts or the physical activity of the deer that are based the deer social behaviors, they are looking at the actual day-to-day movement of deer.” Using a bow takes hunters back to the very early days of hunting. Though Coffey says the modern bows used today are the top of the line in technology.
“And that’s good, but ultimately you still have to have good woodsmanship skills — you still have got to understand your weapon — just because it’s an expensive or a better weapon doesn’t mean that you know how to operate it,” Coffey says. “You’ve got to be practicing, you’ve got to understand your abilities and distance and judging. You need to practice from shooting from that elevated position because your angles change, which means it’s not the same as shooting at a target in the back yard.”
Coffey says practicing is important to avoid accidents with your bow and he says you need to check all of your equipment to be sure you are safe. “The number one hunting-related accident in Iowa is falling from a bow stand,” Coffey says. “So checking out those bolts and screws and straps on those stands…those are the most important critical things you can do.” He says the great experience of the hunt can be ruined because a piece of equipment wasn’t checked and failed.
“Going into the woods and coming out of the woods is the greatest thing you can do — not harvesting a deer,” he says. Coffey says you should at least get a chance to see a deer.
He says deer numbers are about what they were last year and he expects the total harvest from ALL the seasons should be around 100,000. Bow hunters took nearly 13,000 of the total deer last year. The archery season will close on December 1st for the shotgun seasons, then reopens on December 18th until closing on January 10th.
Photo courtesy of the DNR.