With clear skies and highs in the 40s forecast for much of Iowa this weekend, it’s expected to be an extremely busy opening weekend for shotgun deer season.

Tyler Harms, a biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the fields and forests will be full of hunters.

“It’s our most popular deer hunting season of the year,” Harms says. “We expect to see about 120,000 hunters in the field hunting deer in the next few weekends. The weather forecast for this weekend looks really great.”

Harms says those hunters should find a target-rich environment in many parts of Iowa.

“So far this year, our harvest is trending right along about where we were at this time last year,” Harms says. “That’s a good sign. That indicates to us the population is fairly similar to where it was last year and things are looking good for this weekend.”

There are a few key changes in deer hunting regulations this year, like allowing for antlerless deer hunting in seven north-central Iowa counties. “That is something that we have not allowed in previous years, mostly to allow the population to recover to goal levels,” he says, “but our data suggests the population is increasing so we’re allowing antlerless harvest in those counties.”

Harms reminds all hunters to review their safety training. “Have a plan and hunt your plan, make sure you’re wearing plenty of blaze orange,” Harms says. “Also, be mindful of your shot. Make sure you know what your target is and what’s beyond your target.”

Hours for shotgun deer season are from sunrise and sunset. The first shotgun deer season runs from December 5th to the 9th, with the second season running December 12th to the 20th.

By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City