Iowa Deer Herd Declining

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According to the Chicago Tribune, Iowa's legendary whitetail herd is in decline. The herd total is down 10% from a year ago and 29% from its peak four years ago in 2006.

"Deer populations for the state as a whole are declining after displaying strong growth for almost a decade," said Department of Natural Resources deer biologist Tom Litchfield. This year's harvest, which Litchfield projects at about 4 percent lower than last year's, will likely mark the fifth-straight decline after seven-straight record harvests.


jim boyd's picture

Wow, even if this were not

Wow, even if this were not true in effect (and I am sure it is) and were just conjecture, this would really hurt Iowa from an out of state hunter aspect.

Iowa is hard to get drawn for - people spend a lot of time and money going to Iowa hunt - and - they spend a lot of money when they get there... it is a real bonus for the economy.

This type of statistic, and the press that goes with it - come at a time when NO state needs any bad news about revenue flow.

That is one of the reasons I was so floored, and I know this is another topic altogether, when we read that Missouri was unsure about whether or not to establish an elk herd. That just seems to be a no brainer to me.

I do not know if elk can stand hot weather - but if they can - bring them to South Carolina, we will take them!

Back to the Iowa issue - and along with some of the struggles that Illinois has had - makes you wonder if this is cyclic and nothing to worry about of if truly some management mistakes were made.

If it is just nature, that is one thing and you just have to tough it out.

If it is management mistakes, what a crippling blow... and that would be true for Iowa, Illinois or any other state that stands to have a great revenue flow from what is now actually a fairly well established industry.

Americans love recreation and will gladly pay for it - particularly when it is the top of the game - like fishing in Florida, golfing in Augusta or - to this point - deer hunting in the midwest!

I do hope the 2012 prediction is right - heck, my long term plan was to start applying for an Iowa permit in 2011 and hope to hunt there in 2013... it too my buddy three years to get a permit.

Four guys went and all of them had bow opportunities on 130+ deer this past November. One 140+ buck was taken and unfortunately, several were shot and lost - all on public land. Hard times on the hunt for sure - and these guys are deadly bow hunters.


I hate to read articles like this. I look at Iowa as on of the monster deer mecca's. My wife has family in central Iowa. I had never been there before and I couldnt believe my eyes when we went to visist family up there about 5 years again.  I have never seen, growing up in the south, deer of that size. Seems they were everywhere  Now 5 years later im not sure whats going on.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Well, as it says in the

Well, as it says in the article, it's mostly about the does.  Many, many states are taking up quality deer management.  They believe that a strong deer herd is a well balanced herd, and that means bringing in the buck to doe ratio closer to even.  Therefore, they are increasing the doe permits.

I don't agree with it, but that's what it's all about.  I believe, as long as the carrying capacity of the land is not reached, then there is no reason to shoot so many doe.

jaybe's picture

I don't know if the entire

I don't know if the entire article has been removed or if I'm not doing something right.

I clicked on the (read more) and went nowhere.

Having said that, however, I also have an opinion about the decline of deer herds in many states.

Call me a skeptic if you will, but from what I have observed in my state of Michigan, I am convinced that the insurance companies have more to do with the "management" of our deer herd than any other single entity.

Unfortunately, as in almost all areas of human life, "follow the money and you will find the answer".

Just like the career politicians who are more concerned about getting re-elected than actually serving their constituents, I fear that many of our wildlife agencies are in a self-preservation mode and are willing to take the money offered by lobbyists rather than to be faithful to the people who depend on them to serve them and the deer herd.

While our DNR claims to be following the advice of "science and proven deer management principles", the results say otherwise.

Our annual harvest has been on the decline for several years, even though the number of antlerless permits has increased.

Hunter participation continues to fall, which should mean that there would be more deer available, not less.

Talk to any hunter who spends time in the woods - from just about any part of the state - and you'll hear report after report of fewer deer sighted and taken.

As far as Iowa is concerned, it doesn't surprise me to hear that a declining deer herd is directly linked to an overharvest of does.