Even with less hunters in the woods, Iowa’s first season saw a 19 percent increase over last year’s harvest.
It’s estimated Iowa’s first rifle season, which ended Dec. 10, brought in around 37,000 harvested deer. That’s up 19 percent from last year, which had a below-average harvest, and about the same as 2012. This year’s harvest is exactly where the DNR would like to see it, in regards to its population management plans.
With 3,000 less licenses purchased this year than previous years, some were surprised the numbers increased so much and returned to traditional levels.
State conservation officer Brett Reece told reporters, “People had been telling me that deer numbers were pretty much stable compared to last year, but down from 10 years ago.”
Many wildlife experts believe the drastic increase is mostly due to weather. Last December, Iowa, along with much of the country, experienced wicked winter weather, which kept many hunters and deer at bay. This year, however, the weather was surprisingly mild. Not only were the deer moving more, but more hunters ventured out into the woods and stayed there longer.
Iowa’s second deer season started on Dec. 13 and will run through Dec. 21. This harvest is expected to be large as well, as the mild weather continues.
The second season is also many hunters first chance at a doe. Due to changes implemented to its hunting seasons, Iowa’s first season was buck-only for 27 counties across the state. With 35,000 second season licenses sold, many hunters are looking to bag both a buck and a doe within the next week.