Iowa's First Shotgun Deer Season Begins Saturday

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The Iowa DNR expects that nearly 90,000 hunters will be heading to the woods and fields during Saturday’s opening day for first shotgun season. Iowa’s shotgun deer seasons are the most popular among hunters and account for more than half of all deer harvested. Although hunters will still have good hunting opportunities they can expect to find fewer deer across much of the state. They may need to hunt a little longer this year to be successful.
“Deer numbers in many areas are near the department’s objective and we are now encouraging hunters to be more selective with their harvest,” said Dale Garner, the DNR’s wildlife bureau chief.

“We have been hearing complaints from hunters that they are not seeing the number of deer that they had in the past and some are voicing their concerns that the herd reduction may have gone too far,” he said. “My advice to those hunters is to work with the landowner to see if the deer population is at a desirable level and adjust the local doe harvest accordingly.”

With the crop harvest being completed, good habitat conditions and a favorable weather forecast hunting conditions should be excellent in most of the state. However, in western Iowa, hunters may find that the summer-long Missouri River flooding has changed the deer distributions so they may need to adjust where they hunt.

Safety First
Blaze orange is required for hunters participating in the shotgun hunts and party hunting is legal. Hunters using blinds during the shotgun seasons are reminded that they are required to display at least 144 square inches of blaze orange that is visible from all directions (see p. 23 of the 2011 Hunting Regulations for more information).

Report Your Harvest
All deer taken must be reported using the harvest reporting system by midnight the day after the deer is recovered.  Accurately reporting the harvest is an important part of Iowa’s deer management program and plays a vital role in managing deer populations and future hunting opportunities.
For hunters with Internet access, the online harvest reporting is the easiest way to register the deer. Hunters can report their deer online at, by calling the toll free reporting number 1-800-771-4692, or at any license vendor. 

Tagging Antlered Deer
Hunters are reminded that antlered deer must have the transportation tag attached to the antler’s main beam, either at the base or between two points.

First shotgun season is Dec. 3-7. Second shotgun season is Dec. 10-18. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Youth Season Tags
Youth season hunters with an unfilled “any-deer” license from the youth deer season who did not harvest a deer are eligible to hunt during one of the two shotgun seasons. However, the youth hunter must follow the weapons restrictions that are in place during the season and be under the direct supervision of a licensed adult. A youth must harvest and tag their own deer.

For more information contact Tom Litchfield, State Deer Biologist, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 641-774-2958.



Ca_Vermonster's picture

Iowa is one of my dram places

Iowa is one of my dram places to hunt, right there with Illinois.  Should be some great deer being shot.  As for the idea of seeing less deer, unfortunately, that may have to be something hunters live with in states that have adopted some sort of quality deer management.  Most of those places believe in shooting lots of does to bring the "herd in balance".  I don't agree with it personally, but that's what they do.  This results in lots less deer running around the woods.

There are a couple of things that I really like about what Iowa does.  If the kids did not fill their tags during the youth season, it appears that they can still use them during this season as long as they follow the weapon restrictions.  Secondly, reminding the hunters to be safe.  There have been way, way to many accidental deaths this fall, and we'd hate to see more.  You don't see many states requiring blaze orange to be displayed outside the blind, but that's a great idea!

Retired2hunt's picture

  Hmmmm.  Well first of all -


Hmmmm.  Well first of all - good luck to all Iowa shotgun deer hunters!  However the Iowa DNR does not make it sound too encouraging with their "forecast".  Hunter longer in order to harvest your deer is certainly not a bad thing.  Being out in the woods for the week is great... seeing a lot of deer and being able to be selective is also great.  I don't see how the Iowa DNR can request the hunters to be "more selective".  If you are seeing less deer I would think you would be more apt to shoot sooner than later.  I would think that if the DNR is stating that the deer populations are "near their objective" then there should be a good balance and the hunters will still fill the expected numbers of tags with their deer.  I would think that after the season is over the state tallies the harvested deer and compares to the licensed hunters with unfilled tags and then should be able to make the appropriate decisions.  If the revenue ends up going way down that may be another factor as well.  Personally I have no issue with filling my tag with a doe as it is definite meat in the freezer.