The Shot Heard Round the 'County

Hunting season is upon us.

‘Tis the season…this one revealed at times by the sound of gunfire that pierces the quiet chill of late autumn mornings in Iowa. Shotgun season isn’t the first open hunting season however; in fact it comes after the rest. 

            According to “2018-2019 Iowa Hunting, Trapping & Migratory Game Bird Regulations” the first hunting season to open is a “Youth Season” and a “Disabled Hunter Season” from September 15-30, followed by the first archery season called the “Early Split” from October 1- November 30. The “Late Split” for archery is December 17- January 10, 2019. 

            Next in the deer season schedule are the muzzleloaders, and as Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Wes Gould stated that adding them to the calendar creates a bit of an overlap with the archery season. The “Early Muzzleloader” is from October 12-21, while the “Late Muzzle Loader” is from December 17- January 1, 2019. 

            This is certainly a time when Gould’s reminder of the “all orange” regulation is heeded. Speaking specifically of shotgun season, which comes next, Gould commented that an “orange hat is not enough” and wanted to remind hunters to dress all in orange to avoid accidents and safety issues.

            Shotgun season has almost become more about tradition than the prize. As hunters gather for the drive, they seem to gather for more than the objective of chasing deer to someone’s freezer. Nature around them, the ancient unity of the hunt, there’s something magic about it that makes hunters itch for the season to start. “Season 1” is from December 1-5 and “Season 2” is from December 8-16.

            Bird Hunting seasons overlap with deer seasons, beginning with Statewide Birds on September 1, followed by “Youth Waterfowl” on September 22. By September 29, the season is open for waterfowl like ducks and geese. Fall turkey hunting begins for archery only from October 1- Nov 30, with a second archery season from December 17- January 10, 2019. Gun season for turkeys is open from October 16- November 30.

            Trapping season opened November 3 and lasts until January 31, 2019. Tag requirements for trapping differ slightly than those for hunters. Not all animals harvested require a tag. For example, there is no limit on animals such as coons, opossums, badgers, red and gray foxes, minks, muskrats, weasels, beavers, or skunks. There is a limit of one on bobcats, and two for otters. 

            All hunting licenses “on sale dates” are from August 15 until the end date of that particular season. Other important reminders from the DNR include tag limits requirements, hunter conduct reminders for safety concerns, and even some information about where to hunt.

            Considering that nearly 98% of land in the state of Iowa is privately owned, Keokuk County residents are blessed to have public hunting areas. In addition to the Game Management Area 4 miles west of Hayesville known as “Hayesville Bend,” there are also 1309 acres of public hunting ground adjacent to Belva Deer Park. 


For more on this story and others, catch the November 21 edition of the News-Review.