Hunting Takes Center Stage as Summer Turns to Fall

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Heading into September, hunters should be working with their dogs in preparation for spending hours wading through thigh high grasses, field stubble and brush during the upcoming hunting seasons. The preseason hunting checklist should also include a few trips to the shooting range and a refresher of safe and ethical hunting practices.

"Go through the equipment, including the blaze orange clothing and make sure everything is in good working order," suggested Dale Garner, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife bureau. "Hunters spend a lot of time thinking about hunting and telling old hunting stories. They should spend some of that time replacing the worn out gear or taking a hunter education class before the season starts."

Garner said so far, the August roadside population survey of pheasants, quail, partridge and rabbits, has been a pleasant surprise. The fairly mild spring over much of Iowa allowed pheasants and quail to have good nest survival and more chicks hatch. There were a few pockets in the state where spring or early summer rains damaged nests. Final results for the survey will be available in early September.

Iowa's hunting seasons begin in September and continue into April 2006. Hunters have their work cut out for them to match the safety record from 2004, when it was a fatality free year.

"Last year was excellent on the safety front with no hunting related fatalities and the lowest number of personal injuries recorded. I think we can attribute at least part of that to getting the word out about the new requirement and the importance of upland game hunters wearing blaze orange," said Rod Slings, recreation safety program supervisor with the DNR. "I think we can also point to the increased use of a hunting plan, and hunters sticking with the plan in the field."

Hunter education instructors have been promoting hunting plans, that outlines the role each person has in the hunt, where they will be at all times during the hunt, and where they will be hunting. The plan should include the zone of fire for each hunter - the 45-degree cone in front of each hunter that serves as the safe area in which to fire. The plan servers as a blueprint and only works if followed.

"A major point we stress when talking about safety is that hunters should never shoot at a running deer and that they should always look past their target and know what is behind it. We also say never to swing on game - meaning make a quick turn, swing the gun and fire without knowing exactly the target or what is around it," Slings said. Shooting at a running deer is the number one result of deer hunting related injuries and fatalities.

Knowing what is behind the target should include knowing who has permission to be on the property. Since most hunting in Iowa is done on private land, hunters must receive permission from the landowner before going on the property.

"The earlier you can get permission to access the land, the better off you will be. Early September is pretty late in the game, but you can still find some land to hunt," Garner said.

It is a good idea for hunters to get permission in writing from the landowner, outlining the property boundary and when the hunters are allowed access. "We get our share of trespass complaints." Slings said. "Some are legitimate, and some are just a lack of communication. If hunters get permission in writing, that can clear up much of the confusion."

Iowa Hunting Seasons

Sept. 1 - 15 Canada goose Cedar Rapids and Des Moines special goose zones
Sept. 1 - Jan. 31, 2006 Squirrel (Fox and Gray)
Sept. 1 - Feb. 28, 2006 Rabbit (Cottontail)
Sept. 3 - Nov. 27 Snipe statewide
Sept. 3 - Nov. 11 Rail (Sora and Virginia) statewide
Sept. 10 - 11 Canada goose statewide
Sept. 17 - Oct. 2 Deer - Youth (ages 12 to- 15) and Severely Disabled Hunter
Sept. 17 - 21, Ducks Mergansers and Coots, excluding Canvasbacks, North Duck Zone
Sept. 24 - 28, Ducks Mergansers and Coots, excluding Canvasbacks, South
Oct. 1 - Dec. 2 Turkey Bow only
Oct. 1 - Jan. 31, 2006 Ruffed Grouse
Oct. 1 - March 31, 2006 Pigeon
Oct. 1 - Dec. 2 Deer Bow only
Oct. 1 - 9 Canada goose, North and South Goose Zones
Oct. 1 - Dec. 11, White-fronted geese, North and South Goose Zones
Oct. 1 - Jan. 15 Light geese (white and blue phase snow geese and Ross' geese) statewide
Oct. 1 - Nov. 14 Woodcock statewide
Oct. 8 - Jan. 31, 2006 Gray Partridge
Oct. 8 - 9 Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days statewide
Oct. 10 - Dec. 2 Turkey Gun/Bow
Oct. 15 - Nov. 30 Crow
Oct. 15 - 23 Deer Early Muzzleloader
Oct. 15 - Dec. 8 Ducks Mergansers and Coots, excluding Canvasbacks, North Duck Zone
Oct. 15 - Dec. 4 Canada geese and Brant North Goose Zone
Oct. 22 - Dec. 15 Ducks Mergansers and Coots, excluding Canvasbacks, South Duck Zone
Oct. 22 - Nov. 20 Canvasbacks North Duck Zone
Oct. 22 - 23 Youth (residents, ages 15 and younger) Rooster Pheasant
Oct. 22 - Dec. 4 Canada geese and Brant South Goose Zone
Oct. 29 - Nov. 27 Canvasback South Duck Zone
Oct. 29 - Dec. 1 Rabbit (Jack)
Oct. 29 - Jan. 10, 2006 Rooster Pheasant
Oct. 29 - Jan. 31, 2006 Bobwhite Quail

Nov. 5 - Jan. 31, 2006 Raccoon and Opossum
Nov. 5 - Jan. 31, 2006 Fox (Red and Gray)
Nov. 25 - 27 November Antlerless Deer
Dec. 3 - 7 Deer Shotgun 1
Dec. 10 - 18 Deer Shotgun 2
Dec. 19 - Jan. 10, 2006 Deer Bow only
Dec. 19 - Jan. 10, 2006 Turkey Bow only
Dec. 24 - Jan. 2, 2006 Canada geese and Brant North Goose Zone
Dec. 24 - Jan. 9, 2006 Canada geese and Brant South Goose Zone
January 2006
Jan. 11 - 22 January Antlerless Deer only
Jan. 14 - March 31, 2006 Crow
Jan. 16 - April 15, 2006 Light Geese Conservation Order (White and blue phase snow geese and Ross' geese) additional regulations may apply