Whitetail Deer: Herd Management

The management plan for the Iowa whitetail deer herd is designed to maintain a stable population while providing the maximum amount of quality recreation for hunters. Accomplishing this goal is achieved by monitoring deer population trends and regulating hunting to provide proper harvest.

The size of the deer herd must be regulated to prevent excessive crop damage and loss of revenue by landowners as well as starvation of the whitetail deer. This can be accomplished best by allowing hunting seasons that provide both quality recreation and control of animal numbers. Harvest manipulation is the primary tool for managing deer in Iowa. The most important requirement for a sound harvest strategy is a good knowledge of annual whitetail deer population trends on a regional basis. Population trends are determined from changes in the number of deer reported killed in traffic accidents, winter aerial counts, spring spotlight surveys, as well as computer simulation models.

To aid in determining if hunting seasons are meeting management goals, harvest results are tabulated from information provided by hunters on post-season report cards. These hunter report cards provide estimates of the number of deer harvested, hunter effort, hunter success rates, sex ratio and crippling rate.

The return of the whitetail deer as a major game species in Iowa is a tribute to good landowner attitude and progressive management as well as research and enforcement programs. Wishes For Wildlife Foundation participates in an annual fly over its properties to literally count the deer. The responsibility for the future of deer in Iowa depends upon the preservation of critical timber habitat, cooperation of hunters and landowners, legislative support and continued professional management of the resource.