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11/27/2014 @ 12:02 PM

The January Antlerless Season – the Finale of Iowa’s Deer Seasons

   

From the IDNR

The January Antlerless deer season begins Sunday, January 11, in 59 Iowa counties mostly in southern and eastern Iowa. The season is designed to allow hunters one last opportunity to harvest antlerless deer, which is the most important component of the population management of deer herds. The season ends on January 25, 2009.

Shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns and bows are legal equipment in all open counties and center-fire rifles (.24 caliber or larger) are legal in the 21 counties in the southern two tiers of state. Party hunting is legal and firearm hunters must wear blaze orange. Hunters are also reminded that beginning on January 11, 2009, a 2009 hunting license and Habitat Fee payment will needed.

Currently, with the snow, ice, and cold that Iowa has already experienced the deer throughout the state are concentrated near higher quality food sources with waste grain in harvested fields and standing corn and soybeans being especially attractive. With the colder weather the deer have been feeding at consistent times and have often been visible well before sunset. Moderating temperatures (or extremely cold temperatures) may slow down this drive to feed and alter movement patterns somewhat but the animals will still remain fairly predictable unless a major snow or ice event changes the availability of food resources.

There are still thousands of antlerless licenses available for the January Antlerless season, although they are only available in parts of southern and northeastern Iowa. In northeastern Iowa, Winneshiek and Allamakee counties have licenses and a few are still available in Fayette County. In the more southern portions of the state, there are more than 20 counties with licenses available and 16 of these counties are counties in which center-fire rifles are legal to use.

Last year, about 27,000 antlerless licenses were issued for this season. Hunters reported killing about 9,000 deer. Does made up about 80 percent of the reported harvest which represented about 10 percent of Iowa’s doe harvest last year. This is significant, especially considering that the entire state is not open during this season. In many counties, the 2008 January Antlerless season increased doe harvests from 15 to 50 percent.

Shed-antlered bucks make up a small percentage of the January Antlerless season’s reported harvest. Typically, shed-antlered bucks represent about 4 percent of the harvest and last year, due to the early onset of severe winter weather, they represented 7 percent of the January Antlerless season harvest. This percentage was higher than normal, but shed-antlered bucks still represented only 4 percent of the total “adult” buck harvest for the 2007/08 season. In both the late muzzleloader and shotgun seasons of 2007/08, the numbers of shed-antlered bucks reported were similar to those of the January Antlerless season.

To date, during the 2008/09 deer hunting seasons, more than 200 fewer shed-antlered bucks have been reported and the proportion they represent of the “adult” buck harvest is lower as well. This is most likely due to the less severe weather conditions Iowa is experiencing this winter resulting in a lower proportion bucks that have shed their antlers.

Hunters can minimize the number of shed-antlered bucks killed during the January Antlerless season by not shooting lone animals and waiting for deer traveling in family groups (does and fawns). At this time of year, bucks can be found traveling together in small bachelor groups (typically 2 to 4 animals) but these groups will be made up of all adult deer. Because of differences in muscle mass, older bucks will move with a slower, more stiff-legged gait than does and have blockier, wider heads. Hunters can make good use of binoculars during this season (and all seasons) and forehead patches and antler pedicels are visible in good lighting conditions. In January, if a small group of adult deer contains even one antlered buck then usually all the animals in the group will be bucks. Currently, shed-antlered bucks are being observed throughout Iowa. However, the majority of bucks will shed their antlers after the end of January.

Deer populations are strong in central, northeastern, and southern Iowa with densities still above objectives. Hunters can help farmers and landowners by taking an antlerless deer or two during the season. Hunters can also utilize the HUSH program to donate deer to the Iowa Food Bank and provide needed meat for Iowans.

Hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. All deer taken must be reported using the harvest reporting system by midnight the day after the deer is recovered. This is the third year where hunters have reported their kill and it is a very important part of the deer management program in Iowa, playing a vital role in managing deer populations and hunting opportunities. Hunters can report their deer on the DNR website (www.iowadnr.com), by calling the toll free reporting number (1-800-771-4692), or also at a license vender. For hunters with Internet access, the online reporting of the harvest is a quick and easy way to register your deer.



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