January hunting to thin the deer herd in select Iowa counties has been happening for several years. A legislative panel has just approved the rules for hunting antlerless deer in Alamakee, Appanoose, Decatur, Monroe, Wayne and Winneshiek Counties in early 2023.

Chris Ensminger, a with the Department of Natural Resources’ wildlife bureau, spoke with members of the legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee earlier today.

“They’re high density deer counties and as of the third Monday in December, if we still have 100 tags left, those go on sale and so they will be on sale all the way up until the January season,” he said, “which starts on January 11.”

The governor signed a bill into law this year to allow hunters to harvest antlerless deer in any county, regardless of the local deer population. Ensminger said the DNR plans to release its proposed rules “later this summer: for more widespread hunting of deer in January and it will also be linked to how many deer tags for 2022 remain unused.

Some lawmakers criticized the proposal, as it will allow AR-15 style guns to be used statewide during the new January deer hunting season.