Deer Hunters Set Record Harvest

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Iowa deer hunters harvested more than 210,000 deer during the 2005-2006 season, an increase of 17,000 from 2004 and the third year in a row of dramatically increased harvests.

Willie Suchy, state deer biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said hunters are doing what was asked of them by shooting more does. Ninety percent of the increased kill was due to more does being taken. Does made up 56 percent of the total deer harvest and this was the third straight year where significantly more does were harvested than bucks.

"Adding the November antlerless season and the extra weekend during the January antlerless season in the southern tiers of counties, really added to the antlerless deer harvest last year," Suchy said. "This is the third year of the effort to harvest more does, and we are seeing the population come down." The previous record deer harvest before the effort to take more does was an estimated 136,655 in 2001.

Suchy said when you put the harvest survey data together with the population indexes, the projected deer population looks to be on track to meet management goals. The number of deer sighted on the spring spotlight surveys was down 8 percent while 18 percent fewer deer were counted on aerial surveys during the past winter. The conditions for the aerial surveys were less than ideal due to the mild winter and lack of snow so the actual numbers may not be down as much as the surveys indicated. The number of reported road killed deer also decline 6 percent in 2005.

"We are getting deer numbers down to the department's goal in some areas and should be there in other areas in a year or so. The antlerless quota could come down substantially in the next couple of years," he said.

Suchy said that deer numbers may still be higher than preferred in southern and northeast Iowa, but in north central and northwest Iowa, hunters will see fewer antlerless deer licenses, or an elimination of extra antlerless licenses for this fall. He said there would still be special hunts in parks and in urban areas to control local deer numbers.

For more information, contact Suchy at 641-774-2958.