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With shotgun seasons over, deer hunting shifts to late season mode

  • 12/20/2023 6:41:00 AM
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With the two shotgun seasons now in the books, Iowa’s deer hunting shifts to a more solitary endeavor with the opening of the late muzzleloader season and the reopening of the archery season.

Jace Elliott, state deer biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said roughly 15-20,000 hunters will participate in the late muzzleloader season and likely harvest about 10,000 deer.

“The season is popular with hunters looking to avoid the crowds. It’s the season with the highest percentage of does harvested and is a good opportunity for herd management or to put meat in the freezer,” Elliott said. “This time of year, hunters would be wise to target existing food sources as these resources can be limited.”

While the archery season also re-opens, fewer deer are harvested during this time than during the early portion of the season.

The late muzzleloader and late split archery season are Dec. 18 to Jan. 10, 2024.

The final deer seasons are the two January antlerless deer only seasons – the Population Management January Antlerless Season and the Excess Tag January Antlerless Season. Both seasons run from Jan. 11-21, but there are differences between the two.

The Population Management January Antlerless Season is available only in Allamakee, Appanoose, Decatur, Lucas, Monroe, Wayne and Winneshiek counties if there are more than 100 antlerless tags available in that county on Dec. 18. Since all seven counties met that requirement, all seven will be open. Hunters participating in the population management January antlerless season may use bows, muzzleloaders, handguns, shotguns, crossbows, or rifles .223 caliber and larger, as a method of take.

The Excess Tag January Antlerless Season is available in all counties with unsold county antlerless tags on Jan. 11. Due to the compressed timeline, license sales will only be available over the counter, not online, until the quota is filled. Hunters participating in the excess tag January antlerless season may only use rifles from .223 caliber to .500 caliber as a method of take.

“Last year was the first year when we had both seasons running concurrently and we had just shy of 4,000 hunters participating who harvested about 2,500 deer statewide,” he said. “We will likely have similar counties participating as last year – primarily in northeast Iowa and southern Iowa - that will not fill their antlerless quota by Jan 10.”

Hunters can monitor the quotas in real time at iowadnr.gov/Hunting then click on the Available Tags, Quota Information link under the Helping You Prepare heading.

“If hunters are interested in using more than a centerfire rifle, they should consider purchasing the Population Management tags to have larger menu of options for the method of take,” he said.

Harvest Update

“We’ve been tracking closely to last year when we harvested 110,000 deer across the state, and I think we will end up in that same ballpark when the season closes in January,” Elliott said. To date, hunters have reported harvesting more than 90,000 deer.

Chronic Wasting Disease Update

The Iowa DNR has raised its deer sample quota this year due to the sampling increases around the new positive deer from 2022. This year, the DNR has collected over 5,000 samples from across the state to date and the lab at Iowa State University is working through them.

So far, 20 deer have been either confirmed as having chronic wasting disease or are suspected and subject to a follow up test. All 17 are either from areas where the fatal disease has been confirmed or near those same areas.

Late Muzzleloader season

  • Method of Take: Bows, muzzleloaders, handgun, or crossbow
  • Season is Dec. 18-Jan. 10. 2024

Population Management January Antlerless Season

  • Method of Take: Bows, muzzleloaders, handguns, shotguns, crossbows, or rifles .223 caliber and larger
  • Season is Jan. 11-21, 2024 – only in Allamakee, Appanoose, Decatur, Lucas, Monroe, Wayne and Winneshiek counties if there are more than 100 antlerless tags available in that county on Dec. 18.

Excess Tag January Antlerless Season

  • Method of Take: Rifles .223 caliber to .500 caliber
  • Season is Jan. 11-21, 2024 – available in all counties with unsold county antlerless tags on Jan. 11, and sales will only be available over the counter, not online, until the quota is filled.

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