The Iowa Department of the Natural Resources (DNR) has proposed a resident deer hunting rule for 2020-21 that would reestablish general deer licenses in seven counties and rescinds the January antlerless-deer-only season for all 99 counties. The rule would also adjust antlerless-deer license quotas in 23 counties, with a net increase of 125 tags. 

At the DNR’s Natural Resource Commission meeting last week, commissioners approved a plan to reestablish general deer hunting for all seasons in seven north central counties: Cerro Gordo, Franklin, Grundy, Hardin, Hancock, Winnebago and Worth. 

The plan would reestablish an early muzzleloader season in 20 northwest Iowa counties: Buena Vista, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Hamilton, Humboldt, Ida, Kossuth, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Plymouth, Sac, Sioux, Webster and Wright.

The deer populations have been steadily increasing in northwest Iowa, and the population is large enough to support the increased recreational opportunities, the DNR said.

Fewer deer harvested 

Also, the DNR is proposing to rescind the January antlerless-deer-only season for all counties. Due to a widespread outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) last summer in some 60 counties, particularly in central, south central, southeast and east central Iowa, deer numbers and the harvest were down in the state. The state’s total deer harvest last season was 93,964, a decrease of more than 12% compared with 107,857 the previous season. 

The DNR rules could modify the antlerless quotas in 23 counties. They would be increased in 11 counties: Clayton, Fayette, Floyd, Guthrie, Jackson, Jones, Lee, Mitchell, Tama, Washington, and Winneshiek. Quotas would be reduced in 12 counties: Adams, Bremer, Fremont, Jefferson, Montgomery, Page, Poweshiek, Ringgold, Taylor, Union, Wapello and Woodbury, to stabilize a healthy local population. 

Statewide, the overall propos­ed county quota change is  an increase of 125 antlerless tags.

Free landowner-tenant general deer licenses remain valid for taking deer of either sex only on eligible farm units in the season/seasons selected at the time the license is obtained.

Iowans can comment on the proposal through April 28. A public hearing will be held that day at 12 p.m. in the Fourth Floor Conference Room of the Wallace State Office Building, 502 East 9th St., Des Moines. Comments can also be mailed or emailed by April 28 to: Tyler Harms, Wildlife Biometrician, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wallace State Office Building, 502 East 9th St., Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0034, or

More information on the DNR’s proposed changes and other deer population trends can be found at