Iowa's early muzzleloader deer season begins Saturday for the 7,500 residents who purchased a license before the season quota filled. Early muzzleloader season is preferred by some hunters for its moderate temperature and the solitary experience with fewer firearm hunters in the field.
This year, the muzzleloader season falls closer to the rut and combined with below normal temperatures, hunters should expect to see plenty of deer on the move.
Deer will be especially attracted to acorns, any remaining green forage and will be using corn for both food and cover. Stand sites that take advantage of these food resources or trails connecting them to bedding areas are good bets during this season. Bucks have also started making scrapes and rubs in preparation for the rut.
While the general quota has been filled, landowner/tenant and depredation licenses can still be obtained for this season as those licenses do not count towards the quota.
Survey data collected by the DNR indicates that, in general, deer populations in northwest, north-central, and portions of central Iowa will be similar to last year. Deer densities in eastern, southern, and areas of central Iowa have declined from 2008 levels. However, deer populations are strong in northeast, southern, and west-central Iowa and remain above objectives. In these areas, hunters can help by killing one or more antlerless deer during the season.
The early muzzleloader deer season runs from Oct. 17 - 25 and muzzleloader hunters are required to wear blaze orange. Muzzleloader hunters should remember that bowhunters and others who enjoy the fall countryside are likely to be sharing the woods with them.
Hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. All hunters are reminded that if an antlered deer is killed, the transportation tag must be placed on the animal's antler. It is recommended that the tag be placed on the antler beam either at the base or between two points.
All deer taken must be reported using the harvest reporting system by midnight the day after the deer is recovered. Accurately reporting your kill is an important part of the deer management program in Iowa, playing a vital role in managing deer populations and future hunting opportunities. Hunters can report their deer on the DNR website www.iowadnr.gov ), by calling the toll free reporting number (1-800-771-4692), or at any license vendor. For hunters with Internet access, the online reporting of your harvest is the easiest way to register your deer.
Last year, early muzzleloader hunters reported harvesting 4,342 deer, of which, 47 percent were does.