Deer Seasons Open With Fewer Deer, Fewer Tags

Deer Seasons Open With Fewer Deer, Fewer Tags

Sep 21, 2014

Maybe you picture sunlight beaming through the October yellows and reds of walnut, ashand oak trees, as you watch the wildlife show from your tree stand. You might prefer the cold, white December hillside; waiting for the drive to push deer to you. Stretching from late September to early January, Iowa’s deer seasons are THE outdoor draw for a couple hundred thousand Iowans each year; a chance to get outdoors, pursue Iowa’s big game…and maybe put some meat in the freezer.

More than 359,000 deer tags went across the counter last year; in large part because of 115,000 county specific antlerless tags; provided to augment the doe harvest. There are still plenty of opportunities to hunt across nearly four months of Iowa autumn and early winter.

If you still buy just a single ‘any deer’ tag, good statewide for; say muzzleloader or shotgun season, you will notice little change. The biggest adjustment will be across 27 north central and northwest Iowa counties, where first season shotgun hunters will be ‘buck only’ again.

Also this season, the ‘late’ January season is history. Also, county antlerless tags have been cut by 41,000; reflecting a drop in deer numbers in nearly all areas of Iowa. You may have to commit to a season or a county and buy earlier, before they are gone.

Early on, tags were going slowly. It took until the first of September for 7500 highly sought after early muzzleloader tags to sell out. Hunters recognized a couple years ago, ahead of the policy-makers, that deer numbers had dropped and all those tags were not necessary, like they were in the early 2000s. At a statewide listening session in February, carried on ICN, most hunters echoed that observation.

With Iowa’s deer harvest dropping 33 percent since 2006—and road kills down 39 percent–pressure wavered within commodity and insurance groups to keep pushing down the deer herd numbers. This year 41,000 fewer county ‘doe’ tags are out there.

Still, that leaves plenty of opportunities. In addition to the traditional seasons; and the county tags, there are over 50 park and urban hunts; primarily for antlerless deer…but spread across a wide range of calendar dates. The DNR’s hunting regulations list where they are and how to qualify for a tag.

For a list of Iowa deer seasons, regulations, tags available and other whitetail information, go to and click hunting, then deer hunting and dive into a season full of fun.