Iowa’s Bowhunting Season Opens for Deer

The start of Iowa’s archery deer season begins on October 1 and state wildlife officials say the deer are looking good.”Deer hunters should have another great year,” said Andrew Norton, state deer biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “Our white-tailed deer population is relatively stable, keeping things consistent. It should be a pretty good fall.”

“Our hunters play an important role in helping us to maintain their high quality deer herd,” Norton said. An estimated 62,000 bow hunters will purchase more than 90,000 deer hunting licenses this year. On average, bow hunters take 12 trips to the field and spend more than three hours out each time before the season ends on December 2 to make way for the shotgun hunters.

“They’re a pretty dedicated group. Having 62,000 pairs of eyes in the field really helps us to identify any local issues, like discovering a local case of hemorrhagic disease, and by hunters providing tissue samples that we can test for chronic wasting disease. We encourage them to talk to their landowners about the status with their local herd and adjust their doe harvest accordingly,” he said.

Iowa’s Deer Hunting is Unique

Iowa is unique versus other premier deer hunting states because there is a restriction on the use of firearms during the rut that reduces pressure on the bucks, allows bucks to grow older, which is an important factor for antler growth. Iowa also has mild winters compared to northern states, and excellent soil quality that provides natural vegetation which also allows deer to grow quickly.

Early in the season, deer will likely be in their summer pattern. Hunters putting in the work studying the changing patterns should improve their odds for success.

Deer population varies across the state but high quality animals are available in every county. Population is lower in northwest Iowa and increases along the Mississippi River and across southern Iowa. The highest antlered deer harvest comes from Clayton, Allamakee, Van Buren and Warren counties.

Iowa’s Bowhunters Must Report Harvested Deer

All whitetail taken must be reported using the harvest reporting system by midnight the day after the deer is recovered. Accurately reporting the kill is an important part of Iowa’s deer management program and plays a vital role in managing deer populations and future hunting opportunities.

Hunters can report their deer on the DNR website, by calling the toll free reporting number 1-800-771-4692, or at any license vendor. For hunters with Internet access, the online reporting of your harvest is the easiest way to register your deer. If no deer is harvested, no report is necessary.

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