Image: ImageBy_Rich Waite_IA

Check out the latest info for Iowa. Image by Rich Waite

Season Dates (2023):

Bow season spans Oct. 1 to Dec. 1. It reopens Dec. 18 and runs through Jan. 10. Gun season runs Dec. 2 through 6 and Dec. 9 through 17. Early muzzleloader season is Oct. 14 through 22. Late muzzleloader season is Dec. 18 to Jan. 10. Youth season is Sept. 16 to Oct. 1. Check the Iowa DNR WEBSITE to confirm.

The Grade: B

Iowa’s deer hunting is really good. We aren’t simply grading the quantity of big deer, though. Antler Nation takes into account all aspects, including expensive tags, steep preference points and the fact it takes most nonresidents three to four years to draw.

“The biggest change for the upcoming 2023-2024 deer hunting season is the addition of main-beam length reporting in harvest registration of antlered deer,” said Jace Elliott, state deer biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “This change was made to provide our department with information on the age structure of our buck harvest in Iowa. Hunters who register antlered bucks will be required to simply select whether each antler is less than 14 inches, or 14 inches and greater. Using data from over 1,000 bucks sampled across the state of Iowa, a 14-inch main beam is a threshold that can be used to determine whether bucks are yearlings (1.5 years old) or 2.5-plus years old based on whether the main beams are below or above 14 inches, respectively.”

Unfortunately, Iowa is all too familiar with disease. Four counties were added to the chronic wasting disease zone. As a result, hunters can obtain additional antlerless licenses in these areas. On top of that, the state has dealt with epizootic hemorrhagic disease numerous times in the past decade. Southern counties were hit hard in 2019, and isolated events occurred in 2020 and 2021.

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On the upside, the Hawkeye State is still considered the land of opportunity for those aspiring to put a big one on the wall. It’s a magical place. It also has the ever-popular Help Us Stop Hunger program, which is one of the most notable venison donation programs in the nation. Plus, gun hunters are now able to use straight-wall cartridges during the gun seasons.

“I anticipate harvest will be fairly similar to last year, considering our stable to slightly increasing population trend statewide,” said Tyler Harms, biometrician with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “I’m most curious to see what happens with the number of licenses issued. Last year, we saw a 6% increase in licenses purchased, which is the largest increase we’ve seen since 2005. This drastic increase was likely the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and people having more time, interest, and opportunity to hunt. It will be interesting to see what happens this year. As with any year, however, weather has a significant influence on harvest and on the number of licenses purchased, so we always hope for Mother Nature to be somewhat reasonable during the hunting season.”

Overall, hunters still enjoy a lot of good things here. It gets another B this year.

Antler Nation Knowledge:

Unlike many places, Iowa hunters throughout the state enjoy good odds of tagging a really good deer. But there are two obvious hotbeds: southern and eastern Iowa. Southern counties such as Appanoose, Marion, Monroe, Van Buren, and Warren have solid reputations. Unfortunately, these are also some of the areas hit hardest by recent bouts with EHD. In the eastern region, Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Jackson, Jones, Linn, and Winneshiek counties crank out a lot of deer. Don’t overlook other Iowa counties, though. Just because they don’t rank as well doesn’t mean they don’t produce. Looking at Iowa, practically the entire state lights up with record-book entries.

See also  .308 Winchester for Elk Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Elk Hunt Hunting Calibers 04 Apr, 2020 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors Is the .308 Winchester a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for elk hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the .308 Winchester is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest elk. As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the elk, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the elk in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on. [Click Here to Shop .308 Winchester Ammo]What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a elk in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically. Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the .308 Winchester within the ideal range of suitable calibers for elk hunting?” our answer is: Yes, the .308 Winchester is A GOOD CHOICE for elk hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table. Assumption Value Caliber .308 Winchester Animal Species Elk Muzzle Energy 2620 foot-pounds Animal Weight 720 lbs Shot Distance 200 yardsWhat is the average muzzle energy for a .308 Winchester? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a .308 Winchester round is approximately 2620 foot-pounds. What is the average weight of an adult male elk? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male elk is approximately 720 lbs. [Click Here to Shop .308 Winchester Ammo]What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in elk hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for elk to be approximately 200 yards. What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the .308 Winchester. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the elk being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.Various calibersA common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions. Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether .308 Winchester is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest elk - and to this question, the response again is yes, the .308 Winchester is A GOOD CHOICE for elk hunting. [Click Here to Shop .308 Winchester Ammo]This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below. Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting elk to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment

“While most of the hotspots from previous years remain, we are seeing a steadily increasing deer population in north-central Iowa, which is great because we’ve been working to allow the population to recover in this area of Iowa for several years,” Harms said. “Hunters are reporting increased deer numbers throughout much of north-central Iowa, so I anticipate increased harvest opportunity this year.”

Examining the Iowa DNR website reveals public ground is evenly distributed THROUGHOUT THE STATE. There are no concentrated pockets. State forests make up the largest percentage of opportunities. However, there are additional options, including U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, wildlife management areas and some federal ground.

Also, don’t overlook the IOWA HABITAT AND ACCESS PROGRAM (IHAP). It offers more than 20,000 acres of private land open to all hunters. Many of these are smaller tracts of land but still harbor good hunting opportunities. The key is to hunt these as soon as they enter the program. When people learn of them, hunting pressure quickly follows.

The Iowa DNR also makes planning easy and does a great job tracking the deer harvest and offering detailed information to the public. Use its online databases to observe HISTORICAL AND REAL-TIME HARVEST REPORTS, as well as quota limits for SPECIFIC AREAS. These tools can help you plan your next out-of-state Iowa deer hunt.

“Compared to most other Midwestern states, Iowa is unique in that only about 5% of the state is forested,” Elliott said. “The remaining natural landscape consists of upland prairies, pothole wetlands, and early successional cover. While most deer hunters look for big sections of forest to hunt, white-tailed deer are a generalist species that can thrive in a diversity of land cover types. Iowa is a place where hunters can find great luck by getting creative and hunting often-overlooked areas, using ground set-ups.”

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>