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Iowa archery deer season season begins Friday

October 01, 2010 at 12:19 AM

Deer hunters are busy sighting in their bows, checking trail cameras and putting up tree stands in preparation for the opening of Iowa’s archery deer hunting season on October 1.  The 55,000 bowhunters have been waiting all summer to pursue Iowa’s world class deer that is the envy of hunters from across the United States.

“Bowhunters typically want to be out there early,” said Tom Litchfield, state deer biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  “They hunt alone or with a friend or two and spend quite a few days in the field.”

Early in the season, hunting food sources and trails are good strategies.

“Hunters should be aware that the rainfall and flooding we had this spring and summer has impacted the natural forage and crop production and these changes will impact where we are seeing deer this fall,” said Litchfield.

He said the white oak acorn crop that is a prime early fall food for deer is below average statewide.  The red oak acorn crop in central, south-central and southeast is average, is average but spotty in northeast, and below average in western Iowa.

Deciding on which location to set up is part of the pre-hunt preparation.  Another is to go through the equipment, including safety harnesses and tree stands, before opening day. 

“Falls associated with tree stand use are the most common hunting accidents during bow season. Hunters should always wear a safety harness and use caution when climbing,” Litchfield said.  “Remember the lessons of the past – tree stand safety, shot placement and identify your target.  Don’t make a preventable mistake.”

Once a deer is harvested hunters should clean the animal thoroughly and efficiently. Don’t cut into the intestines or stomach contents. 

“If it’s a hot day, and you have to transport the deer a ways, it never hurts to get ice in the cavity to cool it down,” he said.

Doe Harvest Important for Herd Management

Deer numbers are still higher than objective in many parts of southern, central and west-central Iowa. 

Bowhunters are encouraged to help farmers and landowners by taking a couple of does early in the season.  Hunters can donate any deer to the Iowa Food Bank through the DNR’s Help Us Stop Hunger (HUSH) deer donation program.  In 2009, hunters donated more than 7,000 deer resulting in about 300,000 pounds of boneless meat for Iowans in need.  A list of participating lockers is in the Iowa Hunting and Trapping Regulations and online at

Another antlerless deer hunting opportunity for bowhunters is available in urban areas and state parks listed under special hunts in the Iowa Hunting and Trapping Regulations. 

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