One of the last official Republican functions that I attended, when I still had any hope for that party, was a county convention here in Iowa. To my surprise, the target of most of the ire from the assembled delegates was not Al Qaeda, illegal immigrants or even monogamous gays, it was Iowa’s deer herd. There was even a platform plank proposed to make a continuous open season for deer in Iowa. (I don’t think it made it onto the state platform though.)
The growing resentment for the horned pests is understandable. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) estimated a deer population of about 380,000 after the 2007 hunting season. That many deer cause massive damage to Iowa crops and massive headaches for Iowa drivers.
Statistics on DeerCrash.com show that there are usually 7,000 to over 8,000 deer-vehicle collisions in Iowa each year. The Iowa Department of Transportation reports that 12 people were killed in deer-related accidents in 2007, double the previous five-year average. According to data from State Farm Insurance, the number of deer-vehicle collisions in Iowa has risen 12.2 percent over the past five years. Iowans now have a one in 105 chance of hitting a deer every time they drive, the fourth highest likelihood in the nation behind West Virginia, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Besides all this, these animals taste great and their heads make attractive wall furnishings. Although I’ve never been deer hunting, even I can recognize the fact that if ever God made an animal crying out to be killed, eaten and stuffed, it is the Iowa whitetail!
Luckily, the Iowa DNR allows ample opportunities to hunt them. For deer, Iowa now has a youth season, a disabled hunter season, two archery seasons, two muzzleloader seasons, two shotgun seasons, two antlerless seasons and a nonresident holiday season. My problem comes with some of the regulations that the DNR places on deer hunters.
The most glaring one is the ban on “two-way mobile radio transmitters,” (which includes cell phones) during deer hunting. According to the DNR regs: “You cannot use a two-way mobile radio transmitter to communicate the location or direction of game or furbearing animals, or to coordinate the movement of other hunters.” [Emphasis added.] To me, this would seem to be a safety issue.
My wife and I can’t walk around Wal-mart without coordinating our efforts over the cell phone. It would seem that diverging groups of armed men walking about in the woods should be afforded the same level of coordination. One team in a hunting party should be able to find out EXACTLY where their other team is before they start shooting.
Perhaps the Iowa DNR should revisit some of its regulations. Some of them probably made sense when Iowa’s relatively small deer herd needed a “sporting chance” against hunters. Now deer are everywhere and hunting basically amounts to pest control, so its time for some of these rules to go, especially rules that place the safety of some soon-to-be-sausage over hunters. Hunting accidents are statistically rare in Iowa. Let’s keep it that way.