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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 23, 2014

Deer hunting season starts Saturday

By DIANE VANCE | Dec 06, 2013

Iowa’s first shotgun deer hunting season opens Saturday and runs through Wednesday.

Deer tags are sold at the county recorder’s office and Jefferson County Recorder Kelly Spees said buying tags has been a steady business in the past week.

Jefferson County began with 2,150 anterless deer tags available and as of Friday morning, 1,693 are still available. The recorder’s office is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and has hunting licenses, deer tags and hunting books while supplies last, available.

Statewide, nearly 13,200 first shotgun season deer licenses have been sold. An estimated 40,000 second shotgun season licenses will be sold for Dec. 14-22.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that all deer taken must be reported using the harvest reporting system by midnight the day after the deer is recovered.

Reporting the harvest is required by law. Hunters will be checked for compliance.

For hunters with Internet access, the online harvest reporting is the easiest way to register the deer. Hunters can report their deer online at www.iowadnr.gov, by calling the toll free reporting number 1-800-771-4692 or at any license vendor.

Accurately reporting the harvest is an important part of Iowa’s deer management program and plays a vital role in managing deer populations and future hunting opportunities, according to the DNR.

Hunters who enjoy the sport but not eating the venison, Iowa’s popular deer donation program Help Us Stop Hunger is entering into its second decade as a tool connecting hunters, lockers and hungry Iowans.

The program is pretty simple, according to the DNR. Hunters contact a participating locker before bringing in a whole, field-dressed deer, and once at the locker, they fill out a donation card. The locker processes the deer into two-pound packages of ground meat. The Food Bank of Iowa then coordinates collecting the valuable protein and distributes it to local food pantries.

“Iowa deer hunters do an excellent job of using available doe tags to reduce the deer herd which simultaneously provides a needed high protein product to the Food Bank of Iowa,” said Jim Coffey, who coordinates the HUSH program for the Iowa DNR Wildlife Bureau.

Iowa’s HUSH program is considered a major success nationally and Coffey is often contacted by other states looking to replicate it.

Since its inception, Iowa hunters have donated more than 56,000 deer to the program. Donations peaked at about 8,000 deer in 2007.

The 5,281 deer donated by hunters in 2012 resulted in 800,000 meals being provided to needy Iowa families.

“The steady decline in donations parallels the decline in the size of the deer herd,” Coffey said. “As the herd size is reduced, hunters should work with their local landowners to harvest the number of deer that is acceptable and if they are not seeing the number of deer that they expect, it may be time to pass up on taking the extra doe.”

Regionally, these meat lockers are participating in Iowa’s HUSH program to accept donated deer: Packwood Locker & Meats, Brighton Locker, Crawford Meat Plant Inc. in Wayland, Milton Locker and Kauffman’s Custom Butchering in Bloomfield.

For the statewide list of all 89 lockers participating in HUSH, go online to www.iowahush.com.

The DNR also reminds hunters to brush up on safe hunting practices.

Hunting is allowed from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset.

Basic firearm rules are pretty straight forward: always point the muzzle in a safe direction; treat every firearm as though it were loaded; unload the firearm and open the action, especially when crossing obstacles, until you are ready to shoot; keep the barrel clear and choose the proper ammunition.

“Our deer hunting tradition is shared with our friends and our family,” said Megan Wisecup, hunter education administrator for the Iowa DNR. “Practicing safe hunting techniques is important to make sure we all get home at the end of the day.”

An estimated 140,000 hunters are expected to take to the timber during Iowa’s two shotgun deer seasons and Wisecup said self inflicted injuries and property damage continue to be prominent.

“Those incidents could be avoided by simply following the basic rules of firearm safety and ensuring there is a safe backdrop prior to taking a shot,” she said.

“Hunters tend to get fixated on their target and when a deer is running, they forget about their surroundings. Look beyond your target and clearly identify the target before taking the shot,” Wisecup said. “You must be certain you have a clear, safe shot. Never point your firearm at anything you do not want to shoot.”

That advice can help to prevent self inflicted wounds as well.

Wisecup encouraged hunters to wear plenty of blaze orange and to discuss the hunting plan with everyone in the group.

“You want to be seen from all sides in the woods,” she said. “It is also important to discuss the hunting plan that will outline the role for each person and where they will be during the hunt. Plan your hunt and hunt your plan. It is critical to communicate with your hunting partners to ensure everyone knows where each other is at all times.”

In 2012, there were nine deer hunting related incidents in Iowa: five personal injuries and four property damage. There were no deer hunting fatalities in 2012.

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