Saturday marks the opening of the first shotgun deer season in Iowa.
The DNR’s Tyler Harms oversees the surveys and management of the deer herd. He says one change from last year is the dropping of the “buck only” status in some counties.
“That restriction has been in place in about 24 counties in north-central and northwest Iowa since 2014. In the past few years here we have been slowly removing that restriction from counties as our data suggests that populations are recovering to goal levels in those areas,” Harms says.
Harms says he’s had many questions about a survey that found COVID in deer — and he reassures hunters it is not a problem.
“This result should not rise to the level of concern that it keeps anyone from hunting this year. We are recommending that hunters take some basic precautions when processing deer that they harvest,” Harms says. “Those are just wearing gloves and making sure that you are washing your hands and your equipment thoroughly when you are finished processing that animal. Those precautions should minimize any risk that there is from a deer if it were infected.”
Harms says there shouldn’t be any concern about finding deer. “Our data from the spring spotlight survey suggests that populations are stable for the most part. Statewide maybe slightly increasing in some areas — but we are still right at our goal level across the state,” he says”
One key variable appears to be breaking the hunters’ way. “The weather for this weekend looks really good — that’s always a big factor that drives harvest and hunter efforts. And it’s looking to be a really nice weekend,” Harms says. “So we expect hunters should see the same numbers of deer they saw last year.”
He says the deer take numbers haven’t fluctuated a lot recently. Last year hunters took around 109,000 deer and he says the numbers for this year should hit that. “And that’s really where we’ve been for the past five or six years — kind of right around that 100,000 mark.”
Harms reminds hunters to read all the safety precautions before heading out. “We do have legal requirements for blaze orange while deer hunting. So hunters will want to check on those things that are hunting regulations. What we always recommend is the more the better for blaze orange — making sure that you are seen by other hunters is really the key to a safe hunting trip,” according to Harms.
The first shotgun deer hunting season runs through December 8th. The second shotgun season runs from December 11th through the 19th. There is more information about the shotgun season at www.iowadnr.gov.