Deer antlers

 With close to 2½ weeks left in Iowa's deer hunting season, preliminary data in the Hawkeye State show the overall harvest is slightly down this year.

Hunters in Iowa's second shotgun season, which ended Sunday, had until midnight Monday to report their harvests.

Between both shotgun seasons, hunters reported 2,610, or 5 percent, fewer deer than last year's seasons, according to Andrew Norton, biometrician and deer biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Norton also noted hunters purchased 2,118 fewer licenses, or tags, for the shotgun seasons this year compared to last year.

In total, hunters in Iowa have harvested 87,722 deer this year, which is about 4 percent fewer than last year's count at this time. Hunters harvested 105,401 deer throughout all of last year's seasons. 

"If conditions are good the rest of the season, I would imagine we will exceed 100,000 for the reported harvest, but I don't think we will exceed the reported harvest from last year," Norton said. 

In Illinois, hunters harvested about 8.5 percent fewer deer during the seven-day firearm season that ended Dec. 4, compared with last year.

Other deer hunts in Iowa include the concurrent muzzleloader and bow seasons which began Dec. 19 and continue through Jan. 10.

Norton said weather conditions and the perception of the number of antlered deer primarily influence harvest data. He expects the late muzzleloader season to be "really interesting."

"If the reduced harvest during the shotgun season was a function of weather, there should be more deer available to shoot during late muzzleloader," he said. "Alternatively, if the lower harvest is a result of fewer deer, then we would expect the late muzzleloader harvest to be lower, similar to the shotgun harvest."


Jack Cullen is a reporter uncovering offbeat stories about people and places in the Quad-City area.