DNR issues reminders to hunters for shotgun deer seasons

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Iowa’s most popular deer hunting seasons begin Saturday, Dec. 3, when roughly 100,000 blaze-orange-clad hunters take to the timber, with wildlife experts forecasting another good year.

“Our deer population is stable to slightly increasing statewide, so hunters should expect to see numbers similar to last year,” said Tyler Harms, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Harms said the two shotgun seasons see the highest numbers of hunters participating, which also leads to significant deer harvest, all condensed into less than three weeks in December.

“About half of our annual deer harvest statewide each year occurs during these two seasons,” Harms said. Shotgun one is Dec. 3-7, and shotgun two is Dec. 10-18.

While seasonal weather is finally arriving, the mild, dry fall has benefited hunters in the earlier deer seasons, he said.

“Hunters have reported harvesting more than 23,000 deer so far,” Harms said, “which is about 8 percent higher than last year, so we’re on track to harvest more than 100,000 deer statewide again this year.”

Extensive information on rules, regulations and related issues can be found on the Iowa DNR website. Harms noted the following last-minute reminders for hunters:

  • Make sure to have a valid hunting license and habitat fee, and deer tag for the correct season.
  • Make sure blaze orange still fits and that the orange hasn’t faded to the point of being ineffective. The minimum amount of blaze orange required by Iowa law to hunt in the firearm deer season is a 100 percent solid blaze orange vest, but more is better.
  • Talk to the landowner or tenant to confirm permission to hunt and to see if anyone else has permission to hunt the same property.
  • Create a hunting plan that identifies the hunt location, who’s on the hunt and outlines their role, describes how the hunt will unfold and when the hunters are expected to return home. Leave a copy of the plan with someone in the event of an emergency.
  • Pick up and fill an antlerless deer tag. County specific antlerless deer tags are still available in 27 counties. Go to the GoOutdoorsIowa website for information on antlerless tag availability.
  • Check the Iowa Deer Exchange to see if someone nearby is looking for deer meat. The Iowa Deer Exchange is a deer donation program connecting participants willing to provide deer meat with those willing to accept it. To sign up, go to the Iowa DNR website, and scroll down to Iowa’s Deer Exchange Program link and fill out the required fields. The database creates a map and table with information deer donors and deer recipients can use to get connected. There is no cost to participate. It is illegal to sell wild fish and game in Iowa. The deer exchange, along with the Help us Stop Hunger (HUSH) program, allows hunters an opportunity to provide high quality lean protein to their neighbors.
  • Report their harvest by midnight on the day after it is tagged or before taking it to a locker or taxidermist. The hunter whose name is on the transportation tag is responsible for making the report. If no deer is harvested, no report is necessary.
  • The Iowa DNR will be working with hunters to collect deer tissue samples to test for chronic wasting disease. Interested hunters are encouraged to contact their local wildlife biologist to arrange for sample to be collected. If the sample quota has filled, the DNR will assist with submitting the sample through the hunter submission system, in partnership with Iowa State University – which comes with a fee of $25.
  • Shotgun one is Dec. 3-7; shotgun two is Dec. 10-18.
  • Become a mentor and share your hunting experience. Invite someone along from outside of the group to experience Iowa deer hunting.

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