An expected 30,000 hunters will be participating in Iowa’s late muzzleloader season which begins Dec. 17. Although hunters may see fewer deer as numbers have declined in eastern and southern Iowa, the season offers some excellent hunting opportunities.
Last year, 55 percent of the 8,950 deer reported during the late muzzleloader season were does. To avoid over-harvesting deer where they hunt, hunters are encouraged to work with landowners to determine if deer are at desirable levels, and base decisions on how they use the remaining antlerless tags on local herd conditions.
Success during this season depends on finding where deer are feeding and upon the weather. Look for corn or soybean fields that have been combined but not tilled under. Deer will search for waste grain in these areas. With the warm weather there are still some areas with some green grass, clover or cover crops such as winter wheat or winter rye that also would be very attractive. Cold weather will spur the deer to feed more heavily.
Party hunting is not allowed in the late muzzleloader season and hunters are required to wear blaze orange. Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
Hunters are also reminded that the statewide archery deer season resumes so they be sharing the woods with bow hunters. About 10 percent of the bow harvest occurs during this late portion of the season.
Deer must be reported using the harvest reporting system by midnight the day after the deer is tagged. Hunters’ accurately reporting their harvest is an important component of Iowa’s deer management program and future hunting opportunities.
For hunters with internet access, reporting the harvest online is the easiest way to register the deer. Hunters preferring to donate their deer may do so through the Help Us Stop Hunger (HUSH) program, which provides needed meat to Iowans through the Food Bank of Iowa. Iowa has one of the largest programs in the nation.