Women deer hunter numbers are growing

PHOTOS BY GARRY BRANDENBURG — Bow hunter with her deer photo furnished; trail camera image of deer — Candace Brown of Reinbeck is proudly displaying her white-tailed deer buck she shot on Nov. 12 this year. Her Matthews 45 pound draw weight bow correctly launched an arrow while she was perched in a tree stand fifteen yards away. The buck did not go far before tipping over. Women hunter numbers across the nation are growing according to a long term study conducted by the University of Wisconsin. On any given year, 1.5 to 1.8 million women will take to the fields to pursue taking venison and antlers, or other upland game birds, waterfowl or other big game animals. The growing number of female hunters trend line shows that during the next two decades, total women hunters may top the 2 million number by the year 2030. A night time remote motion sensing trail camera captured today’s other image of a nice 6x6 buck as he explored his territory at 2 a.m. on Nov. 9. Knowing he is out there makes a bow hunter’s enthusiasm spike up a few notches.

November is nice. So nice, in spite of occasional bad weather events, that hunters try to make the most of their outdoor time. Trying to strike while the iron is hot is what it is all about.

Iowa’s Archery deer hunters are using this month to maximize deer stand time. Some go so far as to manage an all day sit by being prepared for long hours of boredom interspersed with a few short seconds of miraculous experiences.

One never knows during November when deer will be moving, or if they will be moving close to your location. If so, all the better.

Even then lots of factors have to line up to make and enable an ethical situation and good shot scenario to take a deer. When all the dominoes line up and a good shot opportunity presents itself, another deer will become destined for delicious venison meat for the family.

The University of Wisconsin study noted above has more data to share. A subtle change in demographics is playing out in the hunting world. Participation rates by males in every age group has shown a slight but persistent decline. At the same time women are increasing hunting pursuits so that they are now 11 percent of the overall hunting population.

For women, the number who chose to take up hunting activities spike for those ages 12-17. Then there is a slight decrease as they get older so that ages 18-21 show a bit of decline. After that a significant increase happens for those ages 22-38. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, ladies who hunt have an average age of 32.

Women who hunt are serious about their chosen methods of why they hunt, type of weapon choice, and reasons to put wild game meats on the table. In addition, women hunters are making a significant impact on styles and availability of hunting clothes designed just for them. Gone are the days of trying to “get by” with donning the duds of dad’s or grandfather’s old insulating coveralls that never fit well. The Wisconsin study noted that women spend about $4 billion annually on hunting clothes that fit them, on guns or bows that are tailored to them, and on boots and backpacks made to fit them.

When ladies get serious about hunting sports, retailers need to take notice. They are.


Dec. 3 is the first day of Iowa shotgun deer season number one. That season ends on Dec. 7. Second shotgun season begins Dec.10 and ends on Dec 18. Those two firearms seasons will see the bulk of Iowa’s deer population drawdown take place.

Prior to Dec. 3, archers across the state will have accounted for roughly 30,000 deer, both bucks and does. This is a number consistent with past years of harvest data collection in Iowa. From now until the end of all deer seasons on Jan. 10, 2023, firearms will the predominant deer

population control and management method.

On Jan. 10 of next year, approximately 100,000 Iowa deer will be removed. Left to insure an adequate breeding population will be about 300,000 deer, spread out across the 55,857.13 square miles of the Hawkeye State.


Deer harvest numbers as of midweek show more than 27,000 deer (bucks and does) have been taken by hunters. As of now, t40 percent were female deer, and 60 percent were male deer.

The number will get closer to 50/50 by the time firearms seasons end early next year. Marshall County deer offtakes show 50 female deer and 96 male deer.


Trail cameras are cool instruments to collect image data on a 24 hours per day, 7 days per week basis, while the camera owner is away and busy doing other things. Those images tell amazing stories of what transpires while a human is not watching, or able to watch. Such was the case for what follows, my analysis of one of my trail camera sites that observed and recorded date and time of the goings on in the field.

Today’s image of a nice buck deer was selected out of over 300 images my muddy camera made between Nov. 7 and Nov. 23 of this year.

For sure, and just to be specific, most of the images were not triggered by an animal. Wind, rain, snow, a small bird flying past, or something too far away to obtain an image but still close enough to set off the infrared shutter was responsible for an image destined for the delete file. A majority of the images were made at night. Roughly one fourth were made during day time.

For those images with an identifiable animal in the frame, far or near, here is what was recorded. Small birds sitting on a branch.

A striped skunk lumbering along during the wee hours of a morning, its black and white stripes clearing noting that this member of the weasel family was still active at night. Several raccoons were caught by the camera shutter as they waddled past the viewfinder. A single house cat also inspected the terrain in front of the trail camera. Accumulating snow was recorded, and warmer air melting the snow was also documented.

And then there were deer; does with fawns, does without fawns, small antlered bucks, medium antlered bucks and one very nice antlered buck. My reason for having never seen this big buck during daylight hours is that he is smart, hiding out or bedded down in thick tangles of brush

where he feels safe.

At night he can come out of hiding to eat, drink, and chase doe deer. My trail camera only can verify that the big buck is alive and well as he cruised his territory primarily at night. One daytime image of this buck was found, a mid day happening, while I was not nearby in a tree stand. That is typical of hunting. You are either in the right place at the right time, or you are not. Luck plays a big factor sometimes in the hunting game.

Trail camera images can be funny. Deer at night still can see very well. One adult doe noticed my remote sensing camera, and she was curious. Curious enough to walk closer and stick her nose in front of the lens.

The camera dutifully recorded her nose, whiskers, and reflected eyes, filling the frame with mostly her big wet nose. Satisfied that this thing she was looking at was not going to move, she turned and walked away.


Christmas trees at the local Izaak Walton League grounds have one correction to sale dates. This weekend begins tree sales between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Then tree sales continue on Dec. 3-4 and 10-11. There will be no tree sales on Dec. 17-18.

Take that off your list if you thought about a late selection time. Get there early is the motto to follow. All trees are $50. It is a cut your own adventure. A shaker will attempt to dislodge old needles, not all of course.


Christmas bird count is an annual event across the United States. Teams or individuals will fan out across the landscapes to observe birds, record species seen and how many. The results will be summarized and submitted to a data center. It is a citizen science activity that anyone can participate in. If you want to be part of a team, or just sign up for your own backyard bird feeder observation, call Emily Herring, Naturalist with the Marshall County Conservation Board, at

641-752-5490. Thanks for your consideration in advance to count birds.


A quote to note: “The world is big. And I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.”

— John Muir, Naturalist

Garry Brandenburg is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology.

Contact him at:

P.O. Box 96

Albion, IA 50005


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