Iowa Extended Season Adds to Doe Harvest

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Despite poor weather during the shotgun season extension, hunters got out and shot more than 5,000 deer, of which more than 90 percent were antlerless. Of those antlerless deer, around 3,600 were does.

The extended season was intended to increase the doe harvest by allowing unfilled tags from either shotgun season to be filled with antlerless deer from Dec. 21 to 23. Prior to the extended season, the doe harvest was 7,500 below estimates. The extension halved the doe harvest deficit.

"It was not as successful as we had hoped, but was a big step forward to catching us up on our doe harvest," said Willie Suchy, wildlife research supervisor for the DNR.

There are still plenty of antlerless only tags for the remaining seasons. The late muzzleloader season runs through Jan. 13 and there are nearly 20,000 licenses remaining in 25 different counties. These are the counties where the DNR want's to have the deer herd thinned.

There are more than 13,000 licenses remaining for the January antlerless only season across Iowa's southern two tiers of counties. The DNR has allowed center fire rifles as a selection for this entire season. All the information is on the DNR website. Go to www.iowadnr.gov then click on Hunting and Wildlife, then on Availability of Limited Quota Licenses toward the bottom of the navigation bar on the left.

Bucks have been dropping their antlers since the end of November. To maximize the doe harvest during these antlerless only seasons, hunters should look for deer that are part of a group, or a deer that has a sleeker frame. A doe often has fawns with it, and a buck almost never. A buck will have a square top of the head where the antlers were.

"If you have any doubt if it is a buck or doe, one way to improve your chance of taking a doe is to not shoot a deer standing by itself," Suchy said.

Suchy said enough antlerless deer hunting opportunities exist and the DNR is not looking at any further extensions this year.

For more information, contact Tom Litchfield at 641-774-2958.