Cold weather greeted hunters on the opening weekend of Iowa’s shotgun deer season. Success rates varied; depending on the time spent in the field…and a little bit of luck. In east central Iowa, hunter numbers appeared down by late Saturday afternoon; following a morning of subzero or single digit temperatures.
Sunday, it was a little warmer, and a few more hunters were stomping the fields and woods.
“It seemed like every group we checked had a deer or two; actually, we had a couple groups with six or seven; but it was still spotty in areas,” notes DNR conservation officer Aric Sloterdyk. “You could tell the deer population is down, at least in Linn and parts of Benton and Johnson County, where I was.”
Early in the day, patrolling the Hawkeye Wildlife Area, near North Liberty; success was varied. A large group might have a couple deer. A few single hunters and a group of three had none, yet.
That’s also where conservation officer Erika Billerbeck was dealing with two hunters, who walked out with the antlers and some of the meat from a buck they had dropped. The hunter who tagged it was ticketed with ‘wanton waste’ and illegal transportation. Other hunters can learn from the misstep. Your deer is to be removed from the field; not just your choice of cuts and the rack
Near the Linn/Cedar County line, Sloterdyk talked with groups ranging from five to 12 hunters.
“We’re seeing more does this year than last year. Last year, we had no trouble filling buck tags,” offered hunter Dennis Day. “This year, we’re not seeing any quality bucks.”
He pointed to standing corn in the area which offered a multi-acre hiding place.
A few miles away, Brie Winegar found one. However, it came after a long drive…and a change of clothes. The Grandview University student had spent the week in Sioux City at the NAIA national volleyball tournament. After their fifth place finish Friday, it was back to Solon, for a couple drives Saturday…and then back out on Sunday.
A middle blocker on the court, she was a blocker—of a different kind--on a drive near Solon.
“We were on the (Coralville) Reservoir bottoms. Two does came down first. My Dad and brother shot at them,” she recalls. “The pressure from the drive pushed an eight-point buck toward me. I was posted up by a tree. It made a turn, and I shot at 50 yards. One shot.”
This weekend, second season shotgun hunters hit the woods with a pretty nice snow cover…but forecast high temperatures still below 20. Still, the same reminders stand. Know where everyone in your party is. Know what you are shooting at…and know what lies beyond.