RURAL IOWA – An estimated 60,000 hunters will be heading to the timber in the next few weeks as Iowa’s archery deer season gets underway Oct. 1.
Forest wildlife research biologist Jim Coffey with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said hunters who spend time on preseason scouting should improve their chance for success later this fall.
“Deer are habitual animals – their traditional trails now will be traditional trails later this fall and with all the rain over much of the state hunters have the opportunity to see the deer trails in the mud,” he said. “Even though food is plentiful now, hunters should still pattern the food sources and bedding areas.”
One food source deer will likely key on is acorns from white oak trees and Coffey said the white oaks in southern Iowa had an excellent crop this year.
“Once you identify hunting areas, take advantage of the leaves being on the trees, knowing that once the leaves fall it will look a lot different to both hunters and the deer. It’s that time in the stand observing nature, seeing what makes the squirrels start barking or what it means when blue jays are calling that improves your skills as a hunter,” Coffey said. “Check your shooting lanes from both the ground and from the tree stand because it will look a lot different depending your angle.”
Coffey also advised hunters to inspect their tree stand and safety harness before heading out.
“Make sure to check the straps and tighten the bolts on the tree stand and try on the safety harness to make sure it still fits. If it’s worn out or no longer fits, get it replaced. No one wants their hunt to end because they fell out of a tree stand,” he said.
Part of preseason scouting includes preparing for a successful harvest. If planning to hunt in early October, or anytime the temperature is warm, hunters should bring large chunks of ice to put in the deer cavity to cool the meat. Freezing gallon milk jugs with water is a method often used by hunters. Then, get it to the locker as soon as possible.
Bow hunters harvested an estimated 23,000 deer in 2017. Iowa’s archery deer season is Oct. 1 to Nov. 30 and Dec. 17 to Jan. 10, 2019. Hunters who harvest a deer are required by law to report it by midnight of the day after the deer is recovered. Harvest may be reported online at www.iowadnr.gov, by phone at the toll-free number printed on the harvest report tag or through a license vendor during their regular business hours.
Tree stand accidents can happen to deer hunters regardless of skill level or experience and result in serious injury or even death. Unfortunately, in nearly every case, these incidents were preventable.
To help prevent injuries, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with Tree Stand Safety Awareness, is encouraging hunters to practice the ABC’s of Tree Stand Safety.
Always remove and inspect your equipment
Buckle on your full-body harness
Connect to the tree before your feet leave the ground
“Hunters should take tree stand safety seriously, every time you hunt from, hang, or move a tree stand. By performing these three simple steps, tree stand users can virtually eliminate their risk of falling to the ground as the majority of falls occur outside the stand,” said Megan Wisecup, hunter education administrator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Nationally, the estimated number of falls from tree stands requiring emergency room visits decreased by 28 percent in 2017. In Iowa last year, there were four tree stand incidents and all resulted in injury.
“That’s a significant, positive move on the tree stand injury prevention front but we still have room for improvement,” Wisecup said.