Iowa Bow Deer Hunting Season Begins Oct. 1 – Newton Daily News

By the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

An estimated 60,000 hunters will head into the woods over the next few weeks as Iowa deer archery season kicks off October 1. With careful planning and scouting, hunters can take advantage of the predictable behavior of deer in early fall.

“Early-season deer strategy is usually pretty simple — find the feeding areas and you’ll find the deer,” said Jace Elliott, deer research specialist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources ( DNR). “Acorns, high in carbohydrates and fats, are becoming a major food source that hunters would do well to target at the start of archery season.”

Across the state, the acorn crop looks promising. Hunters should focus on species in the white oak family, which are usually among the first to drop their acorns. However, acorns from red oak species, which are slightly less favored by deer due to higher acid content, can still be an important part of a deer’s daily diet and should not be overlooked. .

With drier than average conditions during the growing season, many crop fields are in time for harvest at the start of the archery season. This will create more deer activity during the day in places that bowhunters tend to target, such as stands of woods and forest edges.

Deer will begin to change their daily behavior as the breeding season, or rut, approaches in late October and November.

“The rut is when a lot of our hunters fill their tag with a dollar,” Elliott said. “Ruting bucks can be found on the move at any time of the day in search of a doe, which means spending a lot of time in the stand can be very profitable at this time of year.”

Regardless of the time of the season, look for new signs of deer activity, such as tracks, droppings, rubs or scratches, to help with stand placement and maximize time in the woods.

Iowa deer population increases slightly

Results from Iowa’s annual spring survey indicate the population has increased slightly over the past two years, said Elliott, who coordinates the project.

“Our estimates may vary from year to year, but we observed about 4% more deer in the 2021 survey compared to 2019,” Elliott said. “So far, 2022 has been a relatively minor year for Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) compared to the past two years. We hope this will help deer populations recover in areas of Iowa that have experienced larger epidemics in previous years.

He said deer data shows statewide trends are flat to slightly increasing, meaning opportunities to fill the freezer persist in all areas of Iowa.

Bow hunters hunt a lot

Bowhunters are in the greedy range of the participation scale. According to the annual survey of bowhunters, they make an average of 13 trips a year and spend an average of 3.5 hours per trip. They tend to be more selective and harvest fewer deer than other regular seasons.

Bowhunters are privileged to hunt during the breeding season, or rut, when adult males tend to be very active and vulnerable to harvest during the day. However, this privilege comes at a cost – responsible bowhunters must spend countless off-season hours training and honing their weapons to deliver ethical shots when the opportunity arises. Although they are required to use more primitive weapons than deer hunters during muzzleloading or regular firearms seasons, approximately 35% of Iowa deer hunters participate in the muzzleloading season. archery, which accounts for around 20-25% of the overall deer harvest each year.

CWD sampling

While chronic wasting disease sample collection is often associated with gun seasons, the Iowa DNR collects tissue samples from deer during bow season as part of its annual effort at the statewide to monitor the deadly disease.

“Submitting a deer during archery season is the best chance to take advantage of the free testing we offer before county quotas are reached,” Elliott said. “Samples submitted early in the season also tend to have the quickest turnaround time for test results, before the diagnostic lab is bombarded with samples from gun seasons.”

The DNR aims to collect a minimum of 15 samples in each county, with higher quotas assigned to counties where the disease has been found in wild deer or which are at high risk of disease due to adjacent counties with animals. positive. Hunters wishing to provide a sample are encouraged to contact their local wildlife biologist to arrange collection.

In the event that the county quota has been reached, or if the hunter is interested in testing a fawn or other non-priority deer, hunters can choose to pay for their own test through a new partnership with the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory of Iowa State University.

Hunters will need to contact their local wildlife staff and ask how they can have their deer tested through the new option submitted by hunters. MNR will collect and submit the sample on its behalf. There is a $25 fee for the lab to perform the test. Results should be available within 2-3 weeks.

Changes to deer seasons

  • The antlerless deer quota has been adjusted in 17 counties.
  • The January antler-only population management season will be offered in Allamakee, Winneshiek, Decatur, Appanoose, Monroe and Wayne counties if the number of unsold antler-free licenses on the third Monday in December exceeds 100 tags. This season allows the use of any legal grip method, including shotguns, handguns, muzzleloaders, bows, crossbows, and .223 centerfire rifles and more.
  • Excess Tag January Antlerless Season is new for the 2022-2023 season and will be held in all counties that still have unsold County Antlerless Tags by January 10th. Only centerfire shotguns caliber .223 and above are allowed during this season.

Deer Donation Program

The Iowa DNR, Iowa Food Bank, and 29 meat lockers are participating in the Help Us Stop Hunger program for 2022. Hunters are encouraged to contact a participating locker before harvesting a deer to see if the locker has any additional deposit instructions.

Hunters can also register as a deer donor with the Iowa Deer Exchange at and then scroll to the Iowa Deer Exchange Program link . There, donors can provide their information about what they are willing to donate. The database creates a map and table with information that deer donors and receivers can use to connect. Nearly 450 participants have registered so far. There is no cost to participate. It is illegal to sell wild fish and game in Iowa.

Don’t forget to declare your harvest

Hunters who harvest a deer are required to report their harvest by midnight the day after tagging or before taking it to a trap or taxidermist. The hunter whose name appears on the transport label is responsible for making the report. If no deer are killed, no report is required.

Successful hunters have the option to report the harvest by sending the registration number to 1-800-771-4692 and following the instructions, through the Go Outdoors Iowa app, online at, by phone at the number on the tag, or through an approved provider during their normal business hours.

Using the phone while hunting

Remind hunters that the use of cell phones, one-way or two-way radios to communicate the location or direction of game or furbearers or to coordinate the movements of other hunters is prohibited.

Apart from very few specific exceptions, modern technology, including social media and instant messaging apps, are not allowed to assist in the hunt.

Hunters are encouraged to keep their phone on their person and not in a backpack for security reasons.

Don’t look for the deer

The combination of lower temperatures and harvests in Iowa will likely cause deer to move early this year. With the peak of deer herding activity more than a month away, drivers need to stay vigilant with their defensive driving skills.

“Deer can be unpredictable when it comes to roads, so don’t assume a deer won’t jump in front of your vehicle just because they see you,” Elliott said. “This is the time of year when many deer accidents happen, and many of them could have been avoided with a few simple precautions. Always keep your eyes on the road and maintain an appropriate speed. If a deer jumps onto the pavement, do not turn or try to avoid it, but brake firmly while staying in your lane.

If a deer is spotted in a ditch or on the side of a road, drivers should always assume there are others nearby and drive accordingly, Elliott said.

Earnest A. Martinez