Hunters reported harvesting nearly 94,000 deer during Iowa’s 2019-2020 hunting seasons, which is a decline from 2018-19, when hunters reported nearly 108,000 deer.
Wildlife experts say while there are a number of factors that likely contributed to the decline, the most prominent is the outbreak of hemorrhagic disease that killed thousands of deer across the state. It was the second largest outbreak of hemorrhagic disease in Iowa, behind only the 2012/13 outbreak, and the reduced harvest is consistent with that following the 2013 outbreak.
Tyler Harms, wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said one of the department’s best population survey tools is the bow hunter observation survey where bow hunters record the number of deer and other wildlife species they observe each day from their treestand. The survey is conducted from Oct. 1 through the opening of first shotgun season.
The Iowa DNR manages the deer herd to support a harvest of 100,000 to 120,000 deer that was based on the recommendations from the legislatively mandated deer advisory committee.