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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.