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Take it for what is it, Iowa will never again be what it was in the 90's a and early 2000's. Honestly, without all that ground locked up currently it would have declined at a much faster rate. Look there's your positive to NRLO's. It certainly wasn't them who caused this drastic decline in population. Iowans would have screwed it up several years sooner if they owned that ground.......
Fletch--"You can't handle the truth" Jack Nicholson (A Few Good Men)
Hoosier - I don't think it is quite that simple IMO. While I totally agree that a huge percentage of the deer shot in this state are/were shot by residents, including nearly all of the "over harvest" that has occurred in the last several years. I also see the NRLO as a factor in "our" deer problem. I can think of several properties that I personally know of that were, or still are, owned by NR's. Whether it was because of tag restrictions and/or owner preferences, there were very few deer taken off of these properties over a period of several years. (Now before someone says that this is proof that a NR should get more tags in order to manage their land, etc,...keep in mind that I know of several NR's who would not have killed any more deer, or certainly not enough of them to have mattered, even if they could have. Right or wrong...there are certainly people who: A. Want more deer on their place no matter what. and/or B. Don't want to screw up the buck hunting by shooting does, etc. and/or C. Don't care about the neighbor's crops, gardens or bumpers. This is true for both NRLO's and RLO's, BUT IMO, true more often with NRLO's.) So, over a course of several years, some of these "sanctuaries" contributed heavily to the deer OVER population problem in many areas of the state. Once we were way over-populated, out comes the very high number of tags and then too many folks, almost all R's I agree, either didn't or wouldn't self restrict. (It is also true that NRLO's are by no means the ONLY factor that led to a deer population that was too large in the eyes of farmers, insurers, etc. But they were, or still are, a big factor.) So while it was largely R's pulling the trigger, the reason there were so many triggers to be pulled includes the NR's too. Some of the biggest direct conflicts I know of were between resident farmers and NRLO neighbors who wouldn't, or couldn't, shoot enough deer to keep the balance in the neighborhood. I do agree with you in that I suspect we will not see a return to the glory days we all experienced 3-10 years ago, I do hope we can bounce things back up to a way better place than what they are right now though. I believe we will have to have different regulations, lower harvest/fewer tags, to achieve that though. I think there are far too many hunters that will keep shooting until they are out of bullets or tags. As far as "Iowans screwing it up several years sooner if they owned the ground". Maybe, maybe not I say. Rewind 15+ years ago BEFORE there were many NRLO's OR resident LO's who also did not take enough deer off their properties in many successive years...and by and large the population was kept under control due to Iowan hunters pretty much having carte blanche access to probably 95% of the ground. Say what you will about deer drives and party shotgun hunters, but they are an effective way to keep the population in check...provided they can get on the props to do so. But IMO we were never in threat of a radical over population of deer as long as folks could get on all, or nearly all, of the ground during the December gun seasons. Restrict access considerably, for whatever reason, and now there is a whole new dynamic out there across a large part of our state. Just a few "off the top" thoughts... But seriously, I see multiple sides to this whole situation and I think if we are going to solve it, we have to understand it and this issue is many sided and complex. Too often IMO these discussions over focus on one element of the puzzle.
I know I'm one gopher you might want to hunt!
Not at all....I'm strictly a trophy hunter.
Seriously though, thats what frustrates me more than anything. Just because I dont think NRLO's should get tag perference does in no way whatsoever mean that I do not fully support the rights of NR's to hunt Iowa. I actually love seeing guys get excited about an opportunity that they dont get at home. Like I said, I have let some hunt my properties. A couple of them had the best hunts of their lives. Its all good until someone gets frustrated and makes it a personal attack. When that happens, I will respond. In the end, the true men will shake hands and have a beer. Maybe not a hug, but a beer is good.