Hunters Urged To Harvest More Does

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Even with deer permit sales shattering the record, the DNR is still encouraging hunters to shoot more does to reduce next year's deer population.

Deer permit sales hit 290,000 as of Dec. 15, surpassing the full-season record of 265,000 set last year, according to Richard Bishop, wildlife bureau chief of the DNR. But Bishop said he is still hopeful that hunters will continue buying the remaining doe permits, which will help reduce the deer population to more acceptable levels.

With the Special Late Season to run Jan. 11-19, nearly 6,000 antlerless-only permits remain in 23 counties. After a hunter buys the first doe tag at $26, additional doe permits are only $11 each.

"Hunters who quit hunting because they can't eat any more deer do not have that excuse this year," Bishop said. "They can donate their deer to Help Us Stop Hunger (HUSH) at 43 participating lockers in central and southern Iowa. The less fortunate need that food, and the state needs fewer deer."

HUSH is a cooperative program of the Food Bank of Iowa, the DNR, hunters and many donors who pay for deer processing to provide venison to the needy. It does not cost hunters for the processing, but every time a hunter buys a deer permit, they can donate $5 to help. So far, more than 3,600 such donations have been made.

The original goal of 1,000 donated deer was met before mid-December, and estimates now are more than 1,500 deer will be given under the new program.

It will take a few years of increased hunting pressure to make a real difference in deer numbers, said Bishop. Increased deer-vehicle accidents, and crop and residential landscape damage have contributed to DNR's goal of reducing the deer herd.

Counties with doe-only permits still available as of Dec. 16 include: Adair, Adams, Allamakee, Audubon, Davis, Decatur, Des Moines, Fremont, Guthrie, Henry, Howard, Keokuk, Lee, Louisa, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Ringgold, Taylor, Union, Wapello, Washington, and Wayne.