IOWA — Hunters were busy Friday purchasing deer tags ahead of the bow hunting season in Iowa which opens Saturday.

An estimated 60,000 hunters will be heading to the timber as Iowa’s archery deer season gets underway Oct. 1, according to the DNR.

“Early season deer strategy is usually pretty straightforward—find the feeding areas and you’ll find the deer,” said Jace Elliott, deer research specialist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said in a release. “Acorns, which are high in both carbohydrates and fats, are becoming a major food source that hunters would be wise to target in the early archery season.”

Statewide, the acorn crop appears promising. Hunters should focus on species within the white oak family, which are typically among the first to drop their acorns. However, acorns of red oak species, which are slightly less preferred by deer due to a higher acid content, can still make up a sizable portion of a deer’s daily diet and should not be overlooked, the DNR reported.

With drier than average conditions during the growing season, many crop fields are on schedule for harvest early in the archery season. This will create more daytime deer activity in places archery hunters tend to target, such as timber stands and wooded edges, according to the DNR.

Deer will begin changing their daily behavior as the breeding season, or rut, approaches in late October and November.

The results of Iowa’s annual spring spotlight survey indicate the population has slightly increased over the last couple years, Elliott said, who coordinates the project. 

Bowhunters fall on the avid range of the participation scale. Based on the annual bowhunter survey, they go out an average of 13 trips per year and spend an average of 3-1/2 hours per trip. They tend to be more selective and harvest fewer does than other regular deer seasons, according to data complied by the DNR.

Farmers and hikers are encouraged to be vigilant as the hunting season gets underway. Light and dark geese season opened on September 24. Duck season is also underway through December 6. Pheasant season begins October 29.