Guest Report: The Outlook for Iowa Deer Season

The Iowa season is still two weeks away, but that doesn’t keep good friend and bowhunting veteran Kim Hart from talking up the upcoming Youth Deer Season, which opens tomorrow. Hart resides in deer-rich Jones County, a short drive east of Cedar Rapids. “The grandson is nine,” Hart told me. “And he’s all kinds of ready. The blinds are up, and he’s been checking the trail cameras like a pro.” Iowa’s Youth Deer Season runs through October 5, and is open to Iowa residents ages 15 and younger.

Hart spoke matter-of-factly this morning about what he’s seeing and what he expects to see as the 2014-15 Iowa deer season unwinds. “All the velvet’s gone now,” he said. “The bachelor groups are breaking up – they’ve been breaking up for a bit now – and we’re getting some good bucks on film. One’s in the 160s, and there’s two in the high 150s.”

Those bucks, Hart said, were filmed in Washington County, where he’s seeing “tons of does,” despite all the bad press about Iowa’s deer herd having gone to hell in a hand-basket in recent years. “Around Jones County, there are still good pockets of deer. Overall, I’d say the population here locally is down over the long-term, but up slightly from 2013. Even from 2012.”

Iowa has experienced an unseasonably cool summer and early fall in 2014, with temperatures dipping into the 40s in August, and new record-low high temperature of just 54 degrees recorded in Des Moines on September 12. The National Weather Service issued frost advisories for approximate half the Hawkeye State for the following day. If these cool temperatures continue, corn harvest might be delayed a bit to well into October or even the early parts of November-- good news for deer, bad for many deer hunters. A couple of recent squirrel hunting forays have shown mast abundance to be spotty; excellent in some places, almost lacking in others.

Hart speaks positively, however, of the upcoming season, despite all of Iowa’s recent and seemingly radical whitetail regulatory changes. “I’m very optimistic,” he told me. “It will be another good one here in Iowa.”