Rules changed this year for Iowa deer hunting

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Hunters accustomed to being able to get “any deer” tags might be caught by surprise when they discover those tags are available in limited supply this year.

Hunters had been allowed to purchase “any deer” early muzzleloader tags since 2006 and still be eligible for an “antlerless” shotgun tag for December shotgun season.  That means you could still hunt both seasons. 

But not any more.

“Hunters purchasing early-season muzzleloader licenses won’t be hunting during the shotgun season, on the antlerless-only tags,” said DNR deer research biologist Tom Litchfield. 

The looser deer tag rules were put in place to help bring down Iowa’s deer numbers.  Now that the deer numbers are down to the statewide objective, the previous restrictions are reinstated.

The number of county-specific antlerless tags is also being reduced.

“Hunters still can purchase one any-deer gun season tag and fill in with various combinations, using the 119,000 available antlerless tags for the seasons they are hunting…while they last,” according to the Iowa DNR website.  “Those county quotas, though, may be filled sooner. Iowa’s south central and southeastern two tiers of counties still have strong antlerless allotments.”

Reduced-fee tags are available across the seasons for land owners or tenants.  Another option is to watch for opportunities to hut in various urban, park or special hunting zones.

The Thanksgiving weekend antlerless season is also eliminated this year and the late January season ends a week early.