Jan 14, 2014
As deer season across most of Iowa came to a cold, snowy finale; harvest totals and
license sales were down from previous year.
Most hunters have noticed fewer deer in the last couple seasons; as management efforts
to reduce whitetail numbers became apparent. Also, outbreaks of EHD—Epizootic
Hemorrhaging Disease—have become noticeable in some eastern and southern counties.
“Final numbers for the two (December) shotgun seasons show the number of licenses
issued declined by 5%, while the reported harvest dropped 16%”, notes Iowa DNR
wildlife research supervisor Willie Suchy. December shotgun hunters are the primary
management tool for controlling deer numbers in Iowa.
Midway through the late muzzleloader season, license sales were down 14%. The late
muzzleloader season ended December 10. Across the southern couple tiers of counties in
Iowa, the antlerless January late season went ten days more.
The deer harvest topped 92,000 this year…well below record harvests in the mid-2000s;
again indicative of lower overall deer numbers…say wildlife biologists. Hunters were
urged to work with landowners this fall and winter, to help determine if deer populations
were about where the owner preferred; and perhaps reducing harvest of does, if that was
the case. That harvest data, combined with some pressure from hunters may be enough to
push further reductions in antlerless tags.
In over 70 Iowa counties, pre-set quotas of ‘no antler’ tags allow hunters extra tags,
targeting does. DNR recommendations to drop quotas in many of those counties were
overruled by the Governor’s office…with the exception of four southwest Iowa counties.
Other Iowa counties, primarily in northwest and north-centeral Iowa, had no antlerless
DNR wildlife biologists will look through the harvest figures, as well as previous year’s
road kills, bowhunter observation surveys and the early spring spotlight survey before
making recommendations for next season.