DES MOINES — Many thousands of deer hunters will be combing Iowa’s fields and forests this weekend as the first of two shotgun seasons will open Saturday.

Tyler Harms, a wildlife biometrician with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, expects it to be a busy weekend and he reminds hunters to wear their blaze orange, follow the regulations, and report their harvest. “We’ll have about 40,000 or so hunters in the field during both seasons,” Harms says. “These seasons are also when we see the highest amount of deer harvested in the state. About 60,000 deer will be harvested here in the next few weeks in December.”

Harms predicts the deer harvested this month won’t fluctuate too much from 2018’s numbers. “We’ll be at least steady or similar to last year, maybe a slight increase this year, just because we’re seeing a slight increasing trend in our deer population statewide, but we’re still well within our population goal,” Harms says. “I would anticipate a very similar to slightly higher harvest.”

Mother Nature has a lot to do with those numbers and Harms notes this weekend’s forecast is for drier, warmer weather. “If you remember from last year, the first weekend of December, we had some pretty nasty weather statewide. It was really wet and snowy and cold,” Harms says. “It made hunting very challenging and we saw a pretty big decline in the harvest during that season but then the harvest rebounded in the second shotgun season when the weather cooperated a little bit more.”

The first shotgun season runs December 7th through the 11th, with the second season running December 14th through the 22nd.