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Ground Zero: Iowa's Record Bucks

Ground Zero: Iowa's Record Bucks

Bank on Iowa’s southern tier of counties for your best shot at bringing home a trophy whitetail.

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Check out this video to learn how to manage your small track of land to bag your trophy buck.

AND NOW THIS …

Iowa Habitat and Access Program South-Central Iowa

In 2011 the Iowa Department of Natural Resources began a pilot program known as IHAP, or the Iowa Habitat and Access Program. Like similar programs currently in place throughout much of the Midwest and elsewhere, IHAP uses a combination of hunter dollars via habitat stamps fees, along with federal farm bill monies (Voluntary Public Access – Habitat Incentive Program) to compensate, educate and provide hands-on land management assistance to private landowners. In return, landowners open their property, with restrictions and requirements, to the general hunting public. A win-win for all, most would agree.

Seven years in, the IHAP program remains in its infancy; however, participation by landowners, as well as use by the hunting public increases, albeit slightly, annually. As a condition for enrollment into the program, properties must be a minimum of 40 acres and “… have adequate or the potential for adequate wildlife habitat.” Once the land is enrolled in the program, a private land biologist reviews and evaluates the property and determines what improvements might be necessary. Typically, IHAP incentive payments received by the landowner from the IDNR are sufficient to cover the cost of any environmental improvements.

What’s this mean to deer hunters? It means additional opportunity in the form of private ground that doesn’t require the traditional hurdles and hoops in terms of access. Unfortunately, not all of Iowa’s 99 counties carry lands under agreement; however, south-central Iowa does have some 3,282 acres currently enrolled, including lands in Decatur (410 acres), Clarke (1,440), Wayne (890), and Lucas (542) counties. To the west, neighboring Union County supports an additional three tracts that total 513 acres, while to the south of Union and along the Missouri state line, Ringgold County offers up another five tracts enrolled, or 1,100 acres.

As one might suspect, the environmental makeup of the IHAP acreages vary, with many being a mix of hardwoods, reverting pasture, grasslands or set-aside/former CRP, and shallow wetland. Again, what’s this mean to deer hunters? Perfect habitat, with the potential for low or limited hunting pressure throughout the whole of the season. A complete list of current IHAP enrollments, including an interactive map of each property, can be found at iowadnr.gov/places-to-hunt-shoot.

Good hunting!




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