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Iowa’s deer harvest on similar track as 2020

  • 12/14/2021 2:50:00 PM
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Iowa’s hunters reported harvesting around 75,000 deer heading in to the final weekend of Iowa’s shotgun deer season, which is similar to the 2020 deer harvest at the same point.

“We typically harvest another 9,000-10,000 deer during the late muzzleloader season, so with one more weekend for the second shotgun season, we should end up with a deer harvest around 100,000 again this year,” said Tyler Harms, wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “That’s right where we’ve been over the last six years or so and where we want to be as far as our population goals are concerned.”

Hunters have volunteered around 4,300 deer tissue samples to be tested for chronic wasting disease, resulting in one deer confirmed positive for the disease, and six deer suspected positive that are awaiting additional testing. These deer are all from areas where chronic wasting disease has already been confirmed in the wild.

The Iowa DNR is still looking for tissue samples from certain areas and is encouraging hunters willing to provide a sample to contact their local wildlife biologist and let them know where the deer was harvested. If the sample quota has been filled and the hunter would like to get the deer tested, they can do it by working with their wildlife biologist and submitting the sample through the new Hunter Submission pathway in partnership with the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

“We can help guide you through the process, and pull and submit the sample. We just need the hunter to complete the hunter submission form, which is available on our deer hunting webpage,” Harms said. “We will include their samples with the regular DNR shipments to the lab, if they’d like, or they can send it in themselves.”

The details and forms to submit a sample are available through the green hunter submission pathway button at

Antlerless tags are currently available in 25 counties, with a handful of counties likely to sell out soon. The listing of antlerless licenses available and in which county is online at then click on the blue Current Hunting Quota Counts on the right side of the page.

“We hope our hunters will take advantage of these opportunities to harvest additional antlerless deer, especially in our priority areas where we have chronic wasting disease,” Harms said. “Harvesting does in these areas helps to slow the spread of the disease by keeping the deer herd at the lower end of our population goal.”

The antlerless tags also allow hunters to provide high quality lean protein to fellow Iowans through the Iowa Deer Exchange.

To sign up for the Iowa Deer Exchange to either donate deer or to receive deer, go to then scroll down to Iowa’s Deer Exchange Program link and fill out the required fields. The database creates a map and table with information deer donors and deer recipients can use to get connected. There is no cost to participate. It is illegal to sell wild fish and game in Iowa.

Hunters are reminded to report their harvest by midnight on the day after it is tagged or before taking it to a locker or taxidermist. The hunter whose name is on the transportation tag is responsible for making the report, even if the deer is donated through the Iowa Deer Exchange of through the Help Us Stop Hunger (HUSH) program. If no deer is harvested, no report is necessary.

Options to report your harvest include texting. Simply text the registration number on your deer tag to 1-800-771-4692 and follow the prompts. Hunters are still able to report their harvest online, by phone, or using the Go Outdoors Iowa app. Reporting using the app is straight forward, fast and easy. Hunters have their confirmation right on their phone and also receive it as an email.

Deer harvest numbers are an important component of Iowa’s deer management plan.

Safety reminder

There were two hunting incidents over the weekend – one property damage and one injury.

  • An individual was shooting at a running deer in Worth County around 1:30 p.m., Sunday, when the round fired from a .45-70 traveled over a hill toward Hwy. 105 and struck a vehicle. There were no injuries.
  • Late Sunday afternoon, an individual was unloading their .350 Legend at the end of the hunt in Bremer County, when it discharged. The round went through the vehicle, striking the victim in the upper arm and grazing the torso. He was transported to Waverly Health Center where he was treated and released.

Hunters are encouraged to continue to keep safety as a focal point of the deer hunt through their hunting plan, and to practice the basics of gun safety whenever they are handling a gun – treat every gun as if it were loaded, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and keep the safety on until ready to shoot.

Second shotgun season runs through Dec. 19. Late muzzleloader season and the late split of archery season opens on Dec. 20.

Hemorrhagic disease

“We had an outbreak of hemorrhagic disease in Iowa primarily in counties bordering the Missouri River and encourage hunters who come across dead deer to call those in as we do track it,” Harms said. “We’ve had a few hard frosts so the midge responsible for hemorrhagic disease is likely gone for the year.”