The IOWA DEER CLASSIC is a tradition on the top of the must do list for many Iowa sportsmen. This year's show is shaping up to be as good as ever. And the theme that drives the show is our one and only big game animal, the Whitetail Deer. While Iowa's reputation for good deer is indeed known throughout the country, good deer management objectives by trained professional biologists over many decades has been one of the reasons for a long run of top quality potential for trophy animals. A careful shaping of regulations to put doe and buck harvest numbers in the correct proportions for each county of Iowa is one key element of this success. This does not mean there is a big buck behind every bush or tree, just that the potential in Iowa is present for some of our deer to grow to excellent antlers.
The timeless pursuit of the opportunity is worth a lot to all Iowa hunters, and a lot to the state of Iowa. Even though the reported deer kill for the recent 2013-14 season tallied under 100,000 deer (actual reported kill was 99,406), Iowa can and will continue to produce some very fine animals year after year. Iowa's deer numbers peaked in 2005-06 and a continual steady drawdown of overall deer numbers has been obtained since that time via controlled take of female deer. From the high of 2006, Iowa's deer herd is now 34 percent lower. Iowa DNR biologists urge hunters to work with landowners continually to make harvest decisions related to local conditions. If fewer deer are seen, take fewer doe deer by not filling a tag in the hunter's pocket.
During 2013, hunters purchased 359,956 licenses, nearly 18,500 fewer than in 2012. However, the economic impact to Iowa is $214 million, paying for more than $15 million in federal taxes and an almost identical sum in state taxes. Deer hunting is calculated to support 2,800 jobs and provides more than $67 million in earnings to those job holders.
T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG
Iowa’s 2014 Deer Classic will be next weekend, Feb. 28 through March 2, at the Iowa Events Center and Hy Vee Hall in Des Moines. Hundreds of exhibitors will fill the 100,000 square foot show floor where they will be displaying their services and products related to deer and deer hunting. Hy-Vee Hall will host additional displays downstairs while the upper floor will host the Iowa DNR Archery in the Schools program tournament. Speakers of national recognition will speak to their area of outdoor skills or services at seminars held throughout the day Saturday and Sunday. One of the Iowa traditions at the Deer Classic is the Iowa Big Buck Contest, an awesome display of the top animals in categories for youth, women and men, gun, bow or muzzle loader.
For those deer hunters that find themselves in the right place at the right time each October, November or December, you know what I mean when a trophy deer is finally yours. It can happen and it does happen every year. Deer stories of how, when, and where will fill the aisles of the Deer Classic. Every deer taken, either a button buck or doe or a nice buck is a trophy. Every buck whitetail deer has its own set of unique antlers adorning its head, the thrill of the hunt will be retold many times. The Iowa Deer Classic is a great place to keep those memories alive.
Deer Classic Show hours are Friday beginning at 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. Friday is also the day that ladies get in free. On Saturday, March 1, times are 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Doors open Sunday at 9 a.m. and close at 4 pm. Admission is free for kids 10 or younger. Youth ages 11 15 get in for $5. Adult tickets are $12 each.
HIGH SCHOOL ARCHERY STATE TOURNAMENTS are also held during the Deer Classic. Hy-Vee Hall upper floor space called the Grand Ballroom will be entirely dedicated to shooting lanes. This year 840 archers from 33 schools across Iowa will be in Des Moines competing in the NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program). This is a culminating event and will feature individual and team competition for elementary (35 grades), middle (6 8 grades) and high school. This is an intense competition as each archer concentrates on aiming and careful release of each arrow. Once the shooting line signals are given that all is safe, arrows start their journey to the target face. The light pop of paper punching is heard as scores begin to accumulate. At the end of the day, the top scores will get posted to see who wins as a school team, and who wins in individual contests. Smiles are huge for everyone. The kids love it. If you attend the Deer Classic as just a spectator, do look up the NASP shoot, watch and smile at the kids success where every kid is a winner in their own way.
SPRING is a month away, officially that is. But winter will not let go easily as attested by the weather a few days ago. For area ice fishermen with ice houses on some area lakes, the take off time for ice houses is fast approaching. At this time of year, weather moods can go from nice and warm to cold and back again. Each change is working a slow process of weakening the ice layer on ponds and lakes. The word unsafe comes to mind as it should. Do exercise care when on the ice. It is always better to be safe than sorry. The deadline date of Feb. 27 applies to state owned lakes north of Highway 20. South of Highway 20, all ice houses were supposed to be off two days ago, Feb. 20. Any ice shelter left too long, and one that may sink, is a ticket waiting to happen to the owner. All expenses of removing a sunken ice house rests entirely with the owner.
Keep Feb. 26, a Wednesday night, open for the time for sportsmen to participate in the DNR's listening session concerning fall 2014 hunting and trapping regulation proposals. The place for central Iowa will be Iowa Valley Community College at the room dedicated to ICN facilities. The time is 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. All across Iowa, ICN facilities will be live so all can hear what everyone has to say or comment on. This meeting is part of the rule making process. An overview of what went well last fall, what didn't, and what changes hunters and trappers would like to see for 2014 will be offered.
CABELA'S is a name synonymous with outdoor supplies of all kinds for the fisherman, hunter, trapper, camper or hiker. A fantastic offering of products is now a mainstay of the outdoor world. It all started as a mail order business idea of Richard N. Cabela of Nebraska in 1961. Dick had posted some fishing flies for sale on a little three page mailing and newspaper ads. Another ad in Sports Afield magazine asked fishermen to send 25 cents for a selection of 5 grade A flies. Orders started to come in. Fast forward to today. Cabela's is now a $3.6 billion company with a worldwide catalog and Internet business. There are 50 stores in the United States and Canada. The founder, Richard Cabela passed away Feb. 17 at his home in Sidney, Neb.
"The outdoor industry has lost an innovative thinker and a tireless supporter of wildlife and habitat conservation. The business world has lost a true original, who built a business model that will be studied for years; a man who, through perseverance and hard work, achieved the American Dream."
If and when you are ever close to any Cabela's store, a stop and walkabout is a treat for you and the entire family. In each story you will see the hand of the dreamer Richard Cabela. In each store you will see a fine array of products of clothing and special gear for outdoor activities. In each store you will see fine trophies from all over America and the world. And it all started because of the idea of one man and his family to provide a service that people wanted. It worked and worked well. Thank you Richard Cabela for your dreams come true.
Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.