Deer gun seasons begin Dec. 7
Deer season for sportsmen and women who prefer to hunt with long guns, primarily shotguns, will begin this coming Saturday. Across the state available deer habitat varies tremendously from open intensive agricultural areas to heavily forested regions along the border rivers and the hilly terrain of south central segments. A look at the Department of Natural Resources regulations booklet on page eight illustrates to some extent where deer populations are high, medium to low.
State Conservation Officer (game warden) for the area is Tyson Brown. His cell number is 641-751-5246. Questions about any DNR regulations can be answered by Brown. Clarification of any topic is best obtained from an expert before hunters go into the field. Full compliance with the law and all regs is what ethical hunters will do. Fair chase of huntable game animals is a paramount requirement to maintain high ethical standards of conduct while hunting.
“Our deer herd is trending slightly higher statewide but remains well within our population goals and based on survey data, I’m expecting another good year for our deer hunters,” biologist Tyler Harms said.
Some places in south central Iowa will be impacted by a loss of deer earlier this fall from an outbreak of epizotic hemorrhagic disease. Next year’s quota and spring survey numbers, yet to be tabulated, will assist biologists with setting 2020-21 seasons. Flexibility is a key ingredient to help maintain deer population goals.
How many deer hunters will avail themselves of gun seasons one and two? Approximately 110,000. And if history is any indication, more than one-half, about 60 percent, will opt for season one. That leaves 40 percent to choose season number two. If the hunter is a landowner, they get more flexibility by being able to hunt both season one and two. The biggest controlling tool DNR biologists have for overall deer allowable take are these gun seasons. During last year, 108,000 deer were taken and more than 59,000 were from deer gun hunters.
As of late November, total deer harvests were approaching 30,000 primarily from archers, early muzzle loader season and youth seasons. Doe deer make up about one-third of this total and bucks are the remaining two-thirds. After the traditional gun seasons end, special and specific January antlerless deer licenses will be available in 20 counties.
Tissue sample from deer taken may be and should be made available to biologists who are conducting long range monitoring of Chronic Wasting Disease. More than 6,500 samples will be taken during the 2019-20 deer seasons. Deer harvest information is also required by law to be called into the DNR to register the kill. Do this by midnight of the day after a deer is taken. The data from deer harvests is essential to maintain deer herd numbers in line with population goals.
In addition to delicious and nutritious venison meat, a high energy source of protein, personal use tops the list. Deer can also be donated to the HUSH program in Iowa, Help Us Stop Hunger. State Center’s locker is just one of many that grind deer meat into two pound packages for food box distribution later this year. Deer hides are also of use by donating to Veterans projects through the Elks Lodges of Iowa. Last year more than 4,300 deer hides went to the tannery and thereafter to Veterans Leather Programs. Marshalltown locations for deer hide collection for Elks programs are at East Side Tire and the Kwik Star convenience store on South Sixth Street.
Deer facts: Research has shown that a healthy white-tailed deer herd, reasonably sized to make the best of available habitat, can be reduced by as much as 40 percent with no ill effect on the future population. Left alone with no deer hunting at all, will have the herd double in size in just two years. Two years later it would double again. At that point habitat degradation would be very evident, landowner and home owner complaints would increase a lot and obviously vehicle/deer collisions would also increase. Proper management of deer is required through well regulated hunting to keep overall deer herd numbers at a level deemed within goals for each region of Iowa. Hunting is just a major tool in the tool box of conservation.
December things to watch for include in just three weeks time, Dec. 21, the official end of fall and the beginning of winter. We all know that variable weather conditions go right along with this month. And of course many of us are counting the days before Christmas on Dec. 25. Between now and then we can and must adapt to what Mother Nature throws at us. Weather could be very warm as it was on Dec. 5, 1998, with a high air temperature of 71 F. Or we could have very cold air as happened on Dec. 19, 1985 with -28 F. Somewhere between these extremes are “normal variations” of about 32 for highs and 14 for lows. Add snow events and rain showers into the equation just to be in touch with reality.
If the night skies are clear on Dec. 13 or 14, you may wish to venture outside to watch the Geminid meteor shower. Up to 120 meteors per hour will enter the earth’s atmosphere, get really hot in the process due to friction and light up as a “shooting star.” Keep in mind they are not true stars, but pieces of rock from far away places in the solar system. A close encounter with earth is what we may witness.
Christmas tree sales at the Marshall County Izaak Walton League began Nov. 29 and 30. From now until Christmas, the Ikes grounds will be open to cut your own tree from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Weekend dates for tree sales will be Dec. 7-8, Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 21-22. The cost is $40 per tree, any size and the Ikes encourage people to consider tall trees and use the upper half for home use. On the other hand if you have a tall ceiling room that can hold a taller tree, feel welcome to use the entire tree. The Ikes grounds are located southeast of Marshalltown on Smith Avenue, two miles south of Iowa Avenue.
Quote: “Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.”
— Benjamin Franklin
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.