You are very articulate!! Thanks for making your voice heard. This will help me with phrasing when speaking to lawmakers and hunters in the future.Here is what I sent - hopefully they’re hearing from a lot of us...
Good morning. I am writing to ask that you vote against both of the referenced bills. I grew up in Iowa, moved away for 11 years for work and have now been back in Iowa for about five. Having lived in Missouri and Wisconsin, I can say without reservation that deer hunting in Iowa is world-renowned for a reason. We need to leave our season structure, tag allocations, weapon options and non-resident tag processes unchanged. Looking at our neighbor to the east, we have seen how their changes have downgraded the quality of the deer herd in Illinois (once considered on par with Iowa) and we’re trending their direction if changes such as this are implemented.
There is a reason that celebrity hunters want a coveted Governor’s tag for our state (that doesn’t really need additional promotion) - we are the best in the world. If there is a change to consider, auction all of the Governor tags and create revenue for the DNR/State or non-profit organizations. The celebrities could easily afford the tag and most likely, their sponsors would pay for it.
To address the bills at hand, outfitters who run a successful business do not need tags allocated to them. They book and work with hunters who are going to draw a tag for the upcoming season. This bill will result in requests for additional non-resident tags, requests for non-resident landowners to receive tags and other changes that will hurt Iowa residents’ ability to access land and have a quality hunt. Additionally, this bill will result in more outfitters being formed and more land being leased for the outfitters’ business - again impacting the average Iowan’s access to land. Even if the proposal limits outfitters to those currently formed, we know that they will lobby to change that in short order. Out of state hunters do not overrun public land so this bill doesn’t help with that phantom problem either. Further, our non-resident tag preference point system is more favorable than most other highly desired states for big game. Again, it’s currently working well.
Hunting is already inching towards turning into a ‘rich person’s’ sport and that shouldn’t be the case - this bill will exacerbate that and further hurt land access for residents.
As it relates to the deer population management issue, please leave that to the DNR biologists and do not make changes to antlerless deer tags or the methods of take that are available. Although rifles are already (unfortunately) in play, we do not need changes to allow more calibers or rifles for doe management. This will further degrade the age structure of the deer herd that residents and non-residents alike come to Iowa to hunt and hurt overall population numbers. Long-term, there is a revenue impact here that will decrease non-resident interest and all of the tag and preference point fees. There is also a safety component too - Iowa’s topography is much more flat than other states who allow rifles. Regarding the fine decrease, that doesn’t make sense unless the intent is to encourage poaching - if anything, increase the fine to deter the behavior and cover the State’s cost in recovering the fine — and create more revenue for the State of Iowa.
Both of these bills are counterproductive to maintaining Iowa as a destination state for the long-term and more importantly, are bad for Iowa residents’ land access and quality hunting opportunities.
Please vote against these changes for your fellow Iowans.