By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
The first of Iowa?s most popular deer seasons, the shotgun season, opens this Saturday and will continue through Dec. 6, bringing with it an anticipated 60,000 blaze orange clad hunters seeking the year?s harvest.
The second shotgun season comes hot on the tail of the first, bringing another 60,000 hunters to the Iowa timbers from Dec. 9 through Dec. 17. Each group will pack thousands of antlerless deer tags to extend time in the field. For people whom early December isn?t cold enough, about 40,000 tags are available for the Dec. 18 through Jan. 10 late muzzleloading season.
?This is by far and away the most popular seasons for deer hunters in Iowa,? Washington County Conservation director Steve Anderson said.
Iowa hunters will have a new option this fall while hunting deer during the youth season, disabled hunter season and both shotgun seasons ? rifles that are capable of shooting straight walled cartridges. The law was enacted to allow for a lower recoil option for older and younger hunters, but is available to all hunters in those four seasons. The law allows for straight wall ammunition that was previously approved for pistol hunting to be used in rifles. The list of acceptable calibers is in the Iowa Hunting and Trapping Regulations (p. 31, www.iowadnr.gov/hunting) along with criteria for similar sized ammunition not on the list. The new law requires individuals caught with a rifle capable of shooting ammunition not on the approved list while hunting deer to have their hunting privileges suspended for two years and receive a $250 fine. For more information see the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website.
Iowa?s shotgun seasons allow for group drives, drivers pushing deer toward blockers. Anyone in the group may tag a downed deer with their own tag. Whatever the season, any deer must be tagged before it is moved or within 15 minutes.
Iowa?s overall deer harvest across all seasons last year was 101,397, down more than 30 percent from the 2006 peak and the 2017 harvest should be similar.
Hunters are encouraged to use safe hunting practices and to discuss the hunting plan so each member of a hunting group knows where the others will be at all times during the hunt. Hunters must wear one of the following articles of external visible solid blaze orange clothing when hunting deer with a firearm: vest, jacket, coat, sweatshirt, sweater, shirt or coveralls. An orange hat along is not sufficient.
Hunters planning to participate in Iowa?s shotgun deer season are encouraged to purchase their licenses ahead of time to avoid long lines at the retailer. The DNR expects around 60,000 hunters to participate in the first shotgun season and so far, about 32 percent of the licenses have been sold.
The harvest is not complete until the deer is registered; either online, over the phone or at a license vendor. Online, it takes just a couple minutes. Go to www.iowadnr.gov/deerhunting and click on ?Report Your Harvest.? From there, scroll down and follow instructions. Be ready to enter your tag?s nine-digit harvest report number. By phone, call 800-771-4692. The deer should be reported by the hunter whose name is on the tag and it must be before midnight, the day after the deer is tagged. Reporting your harvest is important because harvest numbers are used to manage Iowa?s deer herd annually and it is required by law.
Hunters are also encouraged to turn in poachers. Report hunting violations to Turn in Poachers as soon as possible by calling 1-800-532-2020. Provide as much information as possible like a description of the individual(s), vehicle and time and location of the violation.