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10/24/2014 @ 07:33 PM

Bow Season Preview, Anterless Tags

   

By Joe Wilkinson
Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Iowa's bow season offers the chance to hunt deer early and hunt often. And that's just what state wildlife officials would like to see this year. With nearly 90 days to hunt, conditions range from late summer through midwinter. The season opened October 1.

Up until a few years ago, bow hunters were allowed just one...and later, two...tags a season. With just one tag to spare, most hunters focused on bucks, especially during the late October to mid November 'rut' or peak of the breeding season in Iowa. Now, with what almost seems like an unlimited supply of antlerless tags, the prospect of thinning the herd looks good. Data shows that Iowa bow hunters spend an average of 17 days per season in the woods. And an awful lot of does pass close by those stands. "Bow hunters could play an important role in deer management," stresses Willy Suchy, deer research biologist for the Department of Natural Resources. "I'd encourage them to try to take an antlerless deer early, then be selective with the buck they take. You can really improve the quality of deer herd and control deer populations at the same time."

Iowa's 56,000 bow hunters harvested 28,000 whitetails in the 2003 season. That helped set another overall record harvest of nearly 183,000 deer in 2003. Post-hunt surveys show that, for the first time, Iowans killed more does than bucks (52 percent, 48 percent.) Fewer does will help point deer numbers downward. However, in many areas, they still remain above preferred levels, prompting Suchy's pitch to bow hunters. Many are responding. In line over the weekend to buy my bow tags, two hunters ahead of me each purchased three or four tags, as well, including a couple antlerless for the special Johnson County 'corridor' zone.

Whether you harvest 10 deer or one this year, or you miss the buck of a lifetime when he turns right instead of left, bow hunting is one of the most heart-pounding outdoor experiences that exists. Strapped into a stand or going from ground level, it offers the chance to see the woods come to life. Wild turkeys are oblivious to human eyes watching them scratch for acorns under a stand of oak trees. Bucks sparring or checking scrapes make your heart race, wondering if one is going to close within range. I've heard an eagle's wing beats, as it skimmed the top of the oak tree above me. Come to think of it, maybe that stand was too high.

Every outdoor magazine or deer hunting book goes into great lengths about strategy. Basically, though, for the early season...think 'late summer.' "Early on, they are still tied to late summer, early fall food sources," suggests Suchy. "Alfalfa fields, for instance. As crops are picked, as acorns start to fall, things change. Hunters should adapt to those changes."

With 30,000 more antlerless tags out there this season, the prospect of extra venison in the freezer and then a crack at a trophy rack are two very real possibilities.

Antlerless Hunting Opportunities Abound

Besides Iowa's traditional 'any sex' deer tag, which allows you to take any deer, anywhere in the state (within existing seasons and regulations, of course) you have a variety of options for taking antlerless deer. Your first antlerless tag costs $26. Subsequent tags are $11.



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Bow Season Preview, Anterless Tags
Authored by: coolcly3 on 11/06/2004 @ 06:47 PM
I am a bow hunter and a gun hunter, and in my opinion if you want to control the deer population,you should extend the gun seasons not the bow season! That is basic logic to me. While you are giving the deer more of a chance, the deer population is still growing out of control. I don't think the DNR is doing all they can do to control the problem! Come down to my corn and beans and I will show you the problem. Instead of charging $11 per each additional tag, they should be free!
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