Scouting Iowa Public Land

Discussion in 'Bowhunting Talk' started by Justin, Apr 1, 2019.

  1. Justin

    Justin Administrator

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    So I went out to Iowa this past Saturday and put about 12 miles on these old legs. I ended up looking at Zone 9 (NE Iowa) mainly due to proximity to my lease in IL (1.5 hours) which will make it easier to bounce between both states and do some in-season scouting while not totally jeopardizing my ability to get some early season hunts in. Also, since I have 3 points I am virtually guaranteed a tag in this Zone, where I'm a 50/50 shot in some of the Southern zones simply due to the number of people who apply for them. My plan is to do some morning/mid-day scouting trips in early-mid October to look for fresh buck sign, and then bounce back over the river and hunt my IL lease in the evenings. That way I can enjoy the comfort of a food plot and a 500 yard walk to a pre-hung stand before the public hell begins. :lol:

    I've spent a significant amount of time using OnX to "virtually" scout a bunch of different public pieces in this zone and picked one that I felt like had a good balance of terrain features, food, and access. I arrived around 8 am on Saturday morning and scouted until roughly 4 pm. The WMA I walked is roughly 2,000 acres in size and I covered maybe 1/4 of it. Based on my scouting and the sheer size of this area I am going to go ahead and predict there's a couple of bucks in there I would happily run an arrow through. And realistically with about 10 days of total hunting time available in Iowa this fall there's more ground here than I can effectively cover. So I'm going to toss all my eggs in this basket and give 'er hell.

    Here's what I found.

    1. There were boot tracks almost everywhere I went. My assumption is shed hunters, turkey scouters and people like me who are looking for a spot to kill a deer come fall.
    2. In spite of the boot tracks, there was very little sign of any serious bowhunting going on. Not much in the way of trail markers, cut branches, climber marks, old scent wicks, etc. I've found much more sign on IL and WI public than I did in Iowa. Which I suppose was to be expected. I did find 3 stands left up since last fall - 2 ladders and 1 hang-on. 2 of the three were fresh and had been hunted from last fall. Only the hang-on was in an area I would hunt.
    3. The hills in NE Iowa are no joke. We've got some good terrain in NW IL where I hunt but it pales in comparison to some of the bluffs we walked. There was a lot of stuff too steep for me to get up or down without 50 lbs of gear on my back, so it will be interesting come October/November. I better hit the stair master extra hard between now and then.
    4. There's a lot of big, open timber which I'm not used to hunting. It was difficult at times to pinpoint good buck bedding as I would visit areas that looked promising on the topographic map only to find they were wide open and weren't holding any deer on them.
    5. Almost every time I found a good thicket it was torn up with buck sign, which was encouraging. The question is whether any of those bucks are still alive and will be there come fall.
    6. The majority of the best spots I found that I want to hunt are 1/2 to 1 mile from the parking areas. I will start here and see how things go. If I do not see the sign or deer I'm looking for, or run into too many other people, I will retreat to a couple of big-timber saddles I found that are 2.5 miles in from the parking area. If I see anyone back there I may shake their hand for being as insane as I am. I also my die trying to get a deer out if I do shoot one back there. :lol:
    That's all I've got for now. My Iowa scouting is done until October when I will return to get the lay of the land in terms of crop locations, pressure in parking areas and look for fresh buck sign.

    43C33128-80BC-454A-A2E1-8B6FDEF06387.JPG 79CDAC02-8DD3-4463-BBD6-ABF4465A91F4.JPG 57567131302__78A52A9E-BF2D-45AA-8A4E-CF9A7EE9D4CD.JPG IMG_7381.JPG
     
  2. Justin

    Justin Administrator

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    saddle.jpg
    Here's an example of one of the saddles I'll likely be sitting in during the peak of the rut. It's a killer of a walk to get back in there, but there are two big community scrapes right on top of this. I wish it was flipped the other way with the steeper slope to the south/east due to prevailing winds, but I'll have to make the best of it. If we get any South/Southeast/East winds this spot will be money.

    Also, is it legal to quarter and pack out a deer in Iowa? :lol:
     
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  3. SouthDakotaHunter

    SouthDakotaHunter Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Looks like a great weekend! I think half the fun of a hunt/trip like this is all the preparation, planning, scouting/e-scouting, thinking about it, etc. Looking forward to following your journey until season...
     
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  4. davidingle

    davidingle Weekend Warrior

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  5. virginiashadow

    virginiashadow Legendary Woodsman

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    Awesome Justin. Best of luck

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  6. Justin

    Justin Administrator

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    Seems like one of those gray areas that a CO may try to ticket you for if he's having a bad day, but it may not stand up in court if you pressed the matter. I do wonder what the ticket would be for in the event they gave you one? When you're 2 miles from the truck, by yourself, in the middle of bluff country, it makes no logical sense why you shouldn't be allowed to skin, quarter and pack out a deer. But then again, when has the law ever been logical?
     
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  7. davidingle

    davidingle Weekend Warrior

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    Probably an improper tagging ticket, seems to be the go-to for small violations like that. And its makes absolutely no sense, I don't know what they would be trying to prevent by not allowing it? You don't see people in (insert western state here) dragging deer even if they're a quarter mile from their truck, provided they hunt somewhere you can't take a vehicle into. I emailed the DNR to see what they have to say
     
  8. davidingle

    davidingle Weekend Warrior

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    Funny, on that thread on the other forum, the email that one of the guys got back said it was illegal. The email I got back said it is legal @Justin
    upload_2019-4-1_14-57-44.png
     
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  9. Justin

    Justin Administrator

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    I'm taking that as good enough!

    Now I just need to find a deer to kill, then kill it. First things first I suppose.
     
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  10. SharpEyeSam

    SharpEyeSam Legendary Woodsman

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    Awesome JZ! Looking forward to watching it all unfold.
     
  11. Wesley Lofton

    Wesley Lofton Die Hard Bowhunter

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    2 things. I know the CO for my area in SE Iowa. Quartering deer is frowned upon, and depending on the person may net you a fine. As for hanging stands on public land, it is technically illegal to cut branches, also you can not screw anything into the tree, be it steps or bow hangers. Now again, I know the CO here, and he isn’t too hard on that one if you cut a few branches and use a bow hanger but don’t leave it. But he will get you get you for screw in steps.


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  12. Justin

    Justin Administrator

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    I use the bow holder built into the platform of my Assault stand so no problem there. I may or may not screw a small hook in from time to time to hold my backpack. And definitely no screw-in steps. Lone Wolf sticks all the way.

    As for quartering the deer - I'll worry about that after I kill one. How far back I am will dictate the size of deer I'm willing to shoot. If I can find a 175 lbs, 180 incher that would be ideal.
     
  13. Wesley Lofton

    Wesley Lofton Die Hard Bowhunter

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    You kill one that big and need help dragging if you don’t quarter it, I’ll drive the 3 plus hrs to help drag, lol....


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  14. davidingle

    davidingle Weekend Warrior

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    So your CO says its illegal and can write a ticket for it but the state of Iowa DNR says its legal? I wish they would put this in writing somewhere..
     
  15. Wesley Lofton

    Wesley Lofton Die Hard Bowhunter

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    According to the reg book, which every co I’ve dealt with in my area over the years, will pull out and show you the rule. So being an out of stater and not knowing the co, my advice would be to follow it to a T... the guy in my area is pretty laid back and hunts, I have even hunted with him, so if he tells me quartering is something he would ticket for, I’d take it as being the way to read that rule. Sure you could take it to court and fight it and maybe win since it’s a gray area rule,but do you want to chance it and spend the time doing that?


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  16. Wesley Lofton

    Wesley Lofton Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Also to note, CO’s contact numbers are in the back of the reg book. Call who ever it is for the zone you want to hunt and see what he says. That’s the sure fire way to know.


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  17. davidingle

    davidingle Weekend Warrior

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    I’d like to see what he’d pull out of the reg book to write you up on it as long as you tagged and reported it before packing it out (that’s not sarcastic, if you can ask him what reg it’s against and let us know that’d be cool). However, I’ve dealt with the CO’s in central IA enough to know they’ll come after you for anything. Shoot I used to work at Jax in Ames and a kid got his picture posted up for his first deer and they went after him for not having a tag on in the picture even though the deer wasn’t gutted and it could’ve very well been within the 15 min you’re allowed. I don’t do anything unlawful but still avoid them if at all possible
     
  18. Wesley Lofton

    Wesley Lofton Die Hard Bowhunter

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    He said most commonly improper disposal of carcass, or wonton waste if what is usually considered edible meat is left behind , or improper tagging since technically transportation tag is supposed to be attached to leg. He went on to add he has never personally cited any one for it but knows there are some that will. He agrees it’s a dumb rule and a grey area, but it is enforced by some.


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  19. davidingle

    davidingle Weekend Warrior

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    Good to know. Thanks
     
  20. Mod-it

    Mod-it Weekend Warrior

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    We quarter stuff as needed here in Idaho quite often. We have to tag an animal immediately after recovery, but it doesn't have to be "reported" right away. What does that mean, they expect you to make a phone call? We don't have cell reception in a lot of public land areas here, especially in elk country. We have 10 days to call in or go online and fill out a "hunter harvest report". We can quarter as needed to get the meat out so that none is wasted. I bring a cordless sawsall to elk camp every year with a fine toothed metal cutting blade, worth its weight in gold when an elk is down in a heavily timbered draw. Evidence of sex, even if both bull/buck and cow/doe are open, must be left "naturally attached" to the carcass. The tag must be on the "whole carcass, the quartered meat, or with a portion of the deboned meat".
    We usually just put the tag on the quarter that has the "evidence of sex" left attached to it. We end up needing to quarter elk here and there (old logging roads save this sometimes), but a couple guys can drag a deer pretty easily so we rarely need to quarter a deer. If alone or in the bottom of a canyon then quartering is the fastest and easiest way. You won't visit many elk hunting camps where there isn't several pack frames present.
    The whole "can't quarter them to get them out" thing seems pretty counter-productive to making sure all the meat is salvaged in good condition. It doesn't take all that long for bone sour to start if the temps are very warm. What are they trying to prevent with this weird law? People getting unspoiled game meat? There must have been a few folks or groups pulling some kind of scam with quartering out more than one animal with just one tag, so naturally a knee-jerk law was made that does more harm than good.
    I would for sure talk with that specific area's game officer and plan according to what he says he enforces. One of those pull along two wheel carts may be a nice purchase for this hunting spot.
     

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