Iowa deer harvest approaching 110,000

December 31, 2010 at 12:37 PM

CHARITON – Hunters have reported harvesting more than 108,000 deer so far through the DNR’s harvest reporting system, which is 6.4 percent behind the 2009 levels, or about 7,000 fewer deer. Harvest totals have been lower each of the past few years as the deer herd approaches targeted population goals in more counties.

“We are expecting that the kill would be down at least 4 to 5 percent this year,” said Tom Litchfield, state deer biologist with the DNR.  “The statewide deer population has been shrinking for the past five years and a lower harvest is a natural outcome of that population trend.”

Litchfield said he is hearing more complaints from hunters who are seeing fewer deer and fewer complaints from landowners and producers about seeing too many.

“It’s hard for hunters who are seeing about 30 percent fewer deer from the population peak,” he said.  “We are reaching population goals throughout eastern Iowa. Even in the far southeast corner, the deer herd is at middle to late 1990s levels.”

Only portions of southern, west central and southwestern Iowa will have blocks of counties likely remaining above population objectives when analyses are completed this spring.

“I would like to see more does taken in the southwest portion of the state,” Litchfield said.

There are still deer seasons open and hunters who are participating in the late muzzleloader season or the January antlerless season can expect to see deer movement focusing around the late part of the day, primarily right around sunset.

Antlerless license sales are running 7-1/2 percent lower than in 2009, primarily because people are buying fewer antlerless licenses because they are seeing fewer deer and are not filling the tags as quickly.

“There are portions of Iowa where hunters are holding off shooting does because they are seeing fewer deer,” Litchfield said. “Which is what we would expect to see.”