The first of Iowa’s two shotgun deer seasons begins Dec. 4, when an expected 55,000-60,000 blaze orange clad hunters head to the timber for the annual late fall tradition.
The good news is that Iowa’s deer population is similar to last year statewide, and is continuing its slow upward trend in north central and northwest Iowa that has been a goal of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) since 2014.
“We’ve been relaxing the regulations on deer in northwest and north central Iowa for the past couple of years to allow hunters more opportunities since that population has recovered,” said Tyler Harms, wildlife biologist with the Iowa DNR.
The DNR has removed the buck-only harvest restriction during the first shotgun season in a handful of counties in north central Iowa, but left it in place for 17 counties in northwest Iowa.
The DNR manages Iowa’s deer population to provide a harvest of between 100,000 and 120,000 deer annually. Harms said they are expecting the harvest to be similar to last year, when Iowans reported harvesting more than 109,500 deer, and given the advanced state of the harvest, everything is setting up nicely.
In 2019, hunters harvested around 95,000 deer, down from 108,000 in 2018.