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Iowa’s late muzzleloader deer season is underway; hunters provide 4,600 deer samples for chronic wasting disease testing

  • 12/20/2022 11:55:00 AM
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With Iowa’s shotgun deer seasons in the rearview mirror, hunting deer returns to a more solidary experience with late muzzleloader season and the reopening of the archery season.

Around 25,000 hunters participate in the late muzzleloader season which accounts for about 10 percent of the overall deer harvest. The late muzzleloader and archery deer seasons close on Jan. 10, 2023.

“We’re right on track with the deer harvest as compared to last year,” said Jace Elliott, state deer biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “The deer harvest during the first shotgun season was the highest in five years at more than 25,000, and the second season harvest was similar to last year at around 20,000. Iowa’s strong deer numbers in combination with relatively good weather made for productive shotgun seasons this year.”

Hunters looking to extend their time in the timber can purchase a county specific antlerless deer tag for the late muzzleloader or archery season currently available in 22 counties.

Counties with unsold antlerless deer tags on Jan. 10, 2023, will be open for the excess tag January antlerless-only season. Only centerfire rifles .223 to .500 caliber with a published or calculated muzzle energy of 500-foot pounds or higher are allowed in this season. The excess tag January antlerless season was created by the Iowa legislature in the 2022 session. The season runs from Jan. 11-22, 2023. These tags go on sale Jan. 10 and due to the compressed timeline, they will not be available online.

Hunters may also participate in the population management antlerless season in Allamakee, Appanoose, Decatur, Monroe, Wayne and Winneshiek counties. These counties met the requirement of having 100 or more antlerless licenses on the third Monday in December. Shotguns, handguns, muzzleloaders, bows, crossbows, and centerfire rifles .223 and larger may be used in the population management antlerless season. The season runs from Jan. 11-22, 2023. Tags for the population management antlerless season went on sale Dec. 19.

Harvest reporting

Hunters who bag a deer are required to report their harvest by midnight on the day after it is tagged, or before taking it to a locker or taxidermist or before processing it for consumption or transporting it out of state.

“Harvest reporting provides us critical data to responsibly manage this population. Annual harvest is a major component of how we model the deer population in Iowa, which informs important management decisions. By reporting their harvest, hunters are contributing to the success of our deer management program,” Elliott said.

To date, hunters have reported more than 93,000 deer through the harvest reporting system.

Chronic wasting disease

Samples from more than 4,600 deer from across Iowa have been collected for chronic wasting disease testing. Of those, 1,100 samples have been processed, with 11 deer testing positive. Surveillance results are available in real-time at https://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting/Deer-Hunting/Deer-Health/Chronic-Wasting-Disease/Surveillance-Results.

Nine of the 11 samples were confirmed positive; two samples are considered suspect and are undergoing additional testing. The nine confirmed positive deer was from Allamakee, Appanoose, Clayton and Wayne counties. The two suspect positive deer were from Allamakee and Plymouth counties. Plymouth County in western Iowa would be the 13th county where the disease had been found. Chronic wasting disease is always fatal.

Samples collected from the shotgun seasons are still getting tested. Results are expected within a few weeks. Most of the counties have met the sample quota. Hunters interested in having their deer tested after the sample quotas are met or have a fawn or other lower priority deer, have the opportunity to get it tested on their own. Step by step instructions are available at https://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting/Deer-Hunting/Deer-Health/Chronic-Wasting-Disease/Hunter-Submission-Pathway. Hunters will need to contact their local wildlife staff to begin the process. Wildlife staff contact information and unit boundary map is available on p. 52 of the hunting regulations. 

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