DNR adds main beam antler length to harvest reporting requirements

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DNR_Hunting News

Aug. 2, 2023

DNR adds main beam antler length to harvest reporting requirements

main beam measurement

Beginning this year, Iowa deer hunters who harvest a buck will have an additional piece of information to report as part of the harvest reporting requirement – the length of the main antler beam. 

Specifically, if the main beam length is below or above 14 inches, not the exact length.

What’s significant about 14 inches as related to main antler beams?

“We (Iowa Department of Natural Resources) partnered with Iowa State University on a study that recorded age and antler measurements of over 1,000 Iowa bucks,” said Jace Elliott, state deer biologist with the Iowa DNR. “For roughly 95 percent of the deer measured, deer with antler beams less than 14 inches were one-and-a-half-year’s old or younger, and deer antler beams 14 inches and over were two-and-a-half-year’s old or older.”

He said this information will provide age structure to the DNR’s population models and produce a better overall picture of Iowa’s deer herd.  

“This is similar to reporting spur length on the turkey harvest reporting. It’s a little more information on our deer herd that we haven’t collected in the past,” he said. “The data is not intended to be used for additional regulations, like antler point restrictions.” 

Hunters will notice the back of the deer tag has been redesigned to include a seven-inch ruler to help measure the main beams. This new tag will be showing up in the fall as license sales agents deplete their previous supplies.