Iowa’s first shotgun deer season closed Wednesday and the preliminary numbers indicate that license sales and harvest are both down from previous years.
Sales of licenses declined 7 percent from 2012 and the reported harvest is 18 percent lower. The decrease reflects decreased deer numbers across the state as well as fewer licenses being issued, continuing the downward trend in harvest since its peak in 2006. The bitterly cold weather was likely a factor as well.
Iowa’s second shotgun season begins Saturday.
Historically a lower kill during the first season often results in more deer being taken during the second. Hunters get an additional weekend of hunting during the second season and the weather forecast looks more favorable.
Party hunting is a common practice during the shotgun season and hunters are reminded to be careful when hunting in a group. Always make sure that you are shooting in a safe direction before pulling the trigger.
Hunters during the second season typically take a higher percentage of does than first season hunters do. However, if hunters are seeing fewer deer where they hunt they may want to refrain from harvesting extra does. Hunters should check with landowners to see if deer numbers are at an acceptable level and tailor their harvest accordingly.
To avoid waiting in line hunters should consider buying a license today. Current sales for the second season are nearly 30,000 below last year but a large proportion of hunters wait until the last minute to buy a license. About 25,000 licenses will be purchased between Thursday and Saturday morning.
Hunters are reminded to report their harvest within 24 hours of recovering their deer. This information is an important part of the data needed to manage Iowa’s deer herd.