Bowhunters Provide Valuable Data on Wildlife

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BOONE – The Iowa bowhunter observation survey is setting the groundwork to track population trends by establishing baseline data for deer, turkeys, and selected furbearers across the state. The survey, in its fourth year, was designed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Iowa State University.

The purpose of the survey is to determine the value of bowhunter observation data as a supplement to other deer data collected by the DNR and to develop a long-term database of selected furbearer data to monitor and evaluate population trends. Bowhunters were asked to record the number of antlered deer, antlerless deer, unknown deer, badgers, bobcats, coyotes, gray fox, house cats, opossum, raccoons, red fox, river otters, striped skunks and wild turkeys while hunting.

Methods used by bowhunters are ideal for viewing most wildlife species in their natural surroundings and bowhunters typically spend a large amount of time in bow stands. Participation in this survey is restricted to avid bowhunters, which was defined as those who have obtained a bow license for three consecutive years.

“Not only do avid bowhunters hunt often, but they also have the most experience in selecting good stand locations, controlling or masking human scent, using camouflage, identifying animals correctly and returning surveys,” said Steve Roberts, biometrician with the Iowa DNR.

Bowhunters averaged 14 hunting trips during the 61 day hunting season and provided nearly 123,700 hours of total observation time. The number of hunters who participated in the survey increased 85 percent in 2007, totaling nearly 2,500. A statewide total of 8,991 bowhunters were selected for participation.

“The volume of information provided by the bowhunters could never be duplicated by the staff of biologists, technicians, and conservation officers of the Iowa DNR,” Roberts said. “Their contribution clearly demonstrates their interest in the conservation and management of Iowa’s wildlife.”

To view the survey results, go to, then click on Hunting and Wildlife in the column on the left, then on 07 Bowhunter Survey * pdf.

For more information, contact Steve Roberts at 515-432-2823.