Whitetail Deer

A mature 9-point whitetail buck in the winter months. 

(Des Moines) -- Hunters in Iowa are gearing up for the state's most popular hunting season in a few weeks.

Iowa's shotgun deer season will attract more than 110,000 hunters to the woods over three weekends, with nearly 60,000 deer expected to be harvested. Richard Price is a conservation officer in Mills and West Pottawattamie counties. Price says the season means plenty of hunters all over the state will be out.

"It's one of our busiest hunting days of the year," said Price. "Usually, we start the first weekend of the month, which this year would be the first, but they have elected to start on December 7th. The first season runs December 7th-11th and second season is the December 14th-22nd."

Hunters are only allowed to hunt in one of the two seasons, while landowners using a landowner tag can hunt in both seasons. Many shotgun hunters hunt in parties to push deer. Price urges caution and basic safety when hunting in parties.

"The number one rule is to make sure you are highly visible," said Price. "At minimum in the state of Iowa, you have to have solid blaze orange with the minimum of a vest. We always suggest putting on as much blaze orange as you can get, because that is the color that the human eye sees the very best."

Price also encourages hunters to familiarize themselves with the area they are hunting to understand where residences, buildings, livestock or other animals may be.

"Before you pull the trigger on any kind of firearm, know what's beyond the target and know what the target is," said Price. "Do not shoot at things in the brush that you don't clearly see. Bullets, including slugs, ricochet, so make sure you have a good, clean shot, that you know exactly where the bullet is going to go and you know where you're hunting."

Hunters in Iowa are required to report any deer harvest by midnight on the day after it is tagged or before the deer is taken to a locker. Harvests can be reported on IowaDNR.gov, the Go Outdoors IA App or by calling the toll-free number listed on your deer tag.