Hunters stepping into the field this weekend will provide a preview of deer hunting prospects during Iowa’s December shotgun seasons. The November season–the Friday, Saturday and Sunday following Thanksgiving and only on private property —is to reduce the number of antlerless deer, helping the state reduce herd numbers to mid to late 1990s levels.

Heading into the opener, there were plenty of tags available in the 41 counties which will be open. That may be an indication that hunters are seeing fewer deer from their bow stands or on scouting trips. As of midday Tuesday, only Polk County–of those counties offering the November hunt–was even close to selling out its antlerless tags. Sales of those tags began November 12 and continue until they are gone.

“Hunters report seeing fewer deer, notably in eastern and southeast Iowa, where deer numbers are at or close to management goals,” notes Tom Litchfield, DNR deer research biologist. “I would estimate that–over all seasons—the harvest will be down 5-6 percent this year.”

Hunters last year reported harvesting 127,094 deer across all seasons, down about 7 percent from 2009-10.

The region open for the November antlerless hunt is primarily the southern three tiers of Iowa counties. It also includes the four most northeastern counties, as well as into the Loess Hills region in the west and a belt of four counties across south central Iowa.

Shotguns, handguns, muzzleloaders and bows may be used; though most hunters out in the November season utilize shotguns; a preview in many cases of what they’d see the next weekend as the first of Iowa’s two shotgun seasons gets underway. Hunters need to remember there will still be camouflaged bowhunters in the woods and hunt accordingly and the licenses are not valid for public ground.

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