Deer making their home in Clay County need only worry about moving vehicles now. Hunting season across most of the northern half of the state of Iowa concluded at 5:22 p.m. Thursday night.
"They need to get the doe population down," Clay County Conservation Director Dan Heissel said. "Seventy percent of does have twins. Ten percent can have triplets. You can see how the deer population could explode."
Heissel added, "We don't have the deer population they have further south. They have more water and timber areas down there. We have more of an agriculture emphasis up here."
Success during the January antlerless season depends on finding where deer are feeding, and upon the weather. Cold weather will spur the deer to feed more heavily, so hunters are encouraged to browse lines and food plots that will be attractive.
Hunting is lucrative to the economy of the county hosting the hunters.
"The economic impact is about $400 an acre per hunter when you figure licenses, shells, motels, food," Heissel shared.
In 2012, unofficially, 475 deer were killed in Clay County, second locally only to 622 in Cherokee.
Heissel encouraged hunting enthusiasts to avoid the temptation to continue the practice outside of the approved southern counties. Locally, illegal and out-of-season hunting comes with a stiff price.
"If someone here wants to hunt the last season, they should call and check with the counties where it is allowed to see how many licenses they have left," Heissel said.
In northwest Iowa, the conservation director noted the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has increased its enforcement, and the public at large has been reporting illegal activity at a greater rate.
"It's over $1,500 a deer, depending on the size," Heissel said, regarding fines. "If someone poaches a buck over a 150 class, it's a $10,000 fine and they can have their hunting privileges revoked. And all equipment used in the commission of the crime may be confiscated."
Last year, 81 percent of the 8,300 deer reported during the January antlerless season were does. To avoid harvesting a shed-antlered buck, hunters should pass up shots at lone deer and wait for deer traveling in groups of does and fawns.
Party hunting is legal and firearm hunters must wear blaze orange. Shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns, and bows are legal options in all open counties. Centerfire rifles (.24 caliber or larger) are legal in the 21 counties in the southern two tiers of the state.
In January, bucks may be found traveling together in bachelor groups of two to four animals, but these groups will usually consist of only adult deer. If a small group of adult deer contains even one antlered buck, then the group is typically all bucks. But, if the group contains fawns, it is likely composed of does and fawns. Patience and binoculars are especially useful for identifying the type of deer.
Hunters are encouraged to work with landowners to determine if deer are at desirable levels, and to base decisions on how they use the remaining antlerless tags on local herd conditions to avoid over-harvesting deer where they hunt.
Hunters may observe the added effect of this year's EHD outbreak as areas south of I-80 and in counties bordering the Missouri River had higher incidents of the disease. Counties open during the January antlerless season are within that region.
Hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. The January antlerless season closes Jan. 20.
Deer must be reported using the harvest reporting system by midnight the day after the deer is tagged. Hunters accurately reporting their harvest is an important component of Iowa's deer management program and future hunting opportunities. Hunters may report their harvest at www.iowadnr.gov, by calling 1-800-771-4692 or at any license vendor.
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