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Iowa 2019-20 total deer harvest #
Iowa hunters harvest nearly 94,000 deer from the 2019-20 seasons Hunters reported harvesting nearly 94,000 deer during Iowa’s 2019-2020 hunting seasons, which is a decline from 2018-19, when hunters reported nearly 108,000 deer.
Wildlife experts say while there are a number of factors that likely contributed to the decline, the most prominent is the outbreak of hemorrhagic disease that killed thousands of deer across the state. It was the second largest outbreak of hemorrhagic disease in Iowa, behind only the 2012/13 outbreak, and the reduced harvest is consistent with that following the 2013 outbreak.
Tyler Harms, wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said one of the department’s best population survey tools is the bow hunter observation survey where bow hunters record the number of deer and other wildlife species they observe each day from their treestand. The survey is conducted from Oct. 1 through the opening of first shotgun season.
“The lower harvest corresponds with fewer deer bow hunters reported in their survey, and while the impact from hemorrhagic disease may have contributed to some of that decline, our hunters are also conservationists and if they perceive a drop in the deer population, they will make a decision on whether or not to kill more deer. This year, many of them decided not to,” Harms said.
The Iowa DNR manages the deer herd to support a harvest of 100,000 to 120,000 deer that was based on the recommendations from the legislatively mandated deer advisory committee.
“Our deer population has rebounded after hemorrhagic outbreaks in the past and we expect the same will be true after this outbreak,” Harms said. “From our perspective, we manage the population for the long term and impacts from this year – while significant – are likely a short blip on the horizon.
Media Contact: Tyler Harms, Wildlife Biologist, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 515-777-5378.
Interesting that the bowhunter surveys were recognized as one of the more important survey assets.
EHD was huge this year in southern Iowa...first hand observation here.
Been submitting those bowhunter surveys for lots of years. Good thing my wife takes an active interest in filling them out. She grills me on what I see on each outing, then fills the daily survey out. If it were left up to me, they probably wouldn’t get filled out nearly as accurately.
Scrappy.......do you know if these surveys are sent out to every resident who purchases an archery tag, or only to a certain percentage of tag holders? I’m assuming everyone, but do not know that for certain.
t-roy, I USED to get one about every year and filled it out and sent it in. For some reason I have not received one for close to ten years. I bow hunt every year religiously. That said, not sure if everyone gets one.
Pat....I’m not sure when I started getting them, but I can’t NOT remember getting one for quite some time.
That is weird. Heck I just assumed they discontinued the surveys. Either that or the wife has been tossing them out before I get to them!! :-) I'm sure she wouldn't.
t-roy I've been a resident since 07 and I haven't ever gotten a survey.
I used to get them regularly as well, but haven't received one now for the past 3-4 years. I thought about it this year, because I saw a bobcat on Nov. 6, and was wishing I could report it.
I get them every other year or so. Always mean to fill them out but probably only fill out every other one...
Seems like some people saw the impacts of EHD, but others barely saw anything even miles apart. Anyone have any input on the impacts it had outside warren county? Seems like people are all over the board on how severe it was.
This was my first time hunting Iowa and zone 5 but it was pretty evident by the look of frustration on the faces of the outfitters and the repeat clients that the area got hit pretty hard. I still killed a great buck, but it was the only one I saw in a few days of hunting.
I am in Oskaloosa-Mahaska Co. I have a fairly large "circle" of guys that I speak with regularly prior, during and after bow season. What I have observed is a very localized impact. East of town, great numbers. West and Southwest of town, horrible with reports of dozens of dead deer being found in ponds creeks etc. Further west yet was worse. Driving over into Keokuk County one evening (east) there were deer everywhere.
I got this in an email & was going to post it.. Anyway, I've lived in Ia now 20 years & been filling the report out for at least 15.. THIS was a lean year for Deer in our area & I bowhunt a private & public spot in 2 counties. I never saw a Buck from stand on private this year & on public a few small ones.. Doe sighting were down also.
The bowhunter survey is sent to repeat purchasers of archery tags. Even if you've been bowhunting many years, they only send out enough to gather what they feel is a good sampling of the data. I've been getting one for quite a few years. I do know that if you don't send it back, you'll probably get dropped. In regards to last archery season, numbers were down in my area, found 2 EHD dead deer with very little walking. That, combined with years of liberal doe tags, is taking a toll. I shot a decent buck third sit of the year, so won't complain. It was the only deer I shot this year, only took one bow buck the previous season.
I contacted the DNR about low harvest numbers toward the end of season. They cited EHD and that license sales have been on a downward trend the last couple of years. Exit of the boomer generation? Lack of hunting access?
I saw negligible evidence of lower deer numbers in my immediate hunting area. I am approximately 1 1/2–2 hrs north of the main areas that were hit this year. Like Boatman, I have a circle of bowhunting friends in my area, that get together a time or two in November to BS. No one (that I spoke with) commented on lower numbers in our hunting areas, which encompasses roughly a 30-40 mile area. A couple of them also have land that they hunt near the impacted areas, and said they definitely saw far fewer deer while hunting as well as on their trail cams, than they normally do.
Our group’s general area has been extremely fortunate over the years, to have not been hit with EHD minimally, if at all. There was an isolated outbreak a few years back, about 20 miles south of me, but that’s the only instance that I’m aware of. It seems south central and SE Iowa are the usually the most often affected areas for some reason.
This past season was the first in several years that I hunted public. In October I spent a weekend just walking some new public spots. The first three in S/E iowa looked awesome as far as habitat and how hard it would be to hunt. I didn't even consider hunting them due to no deer sign. Moved about 80 miles away and arrived in the area I wanted to scout the next morning right at dark. In about a mile I bet I saw over 50 deer. Didn't even walk it, just returned in November to hunt. Hunted a total of five times and killed four does. What really sucks I had two bucks in bow range bigger than the one I shot.
Its like everyone has stated above, just depends on where you were hunting.