Jackson Marsh wrote:James,
What was your overall impression of that part of Iowa? Worth the cost of the tag? Would you do it again or is buck quality similar to your areas in Wisco and Minnesota.
I thought I would put this in a separate thread. A lot of people look at hunting Iowa. Here are my thoughts for anyone researching the matter.
I had originally been dead set on hunting Zone 5 as it looks to have much thicker public and larger tracts. Ultimately I chose 9 due to the closer proximity.
To quickly answer your question directly JM. I shot a bigger deer last year off public marsh land in Minnesota that I consider to be a much much much worse area. So my quick answer is that I am honestly a little torn. A marsh that I am intimately familiar with, versus an out of state hunt where I have limited time and experience in scouting and hunting should be noted here. I for sure second guess if I punched my tag too quick for sure.
I put in 3 full days of out of season scouting and 2 days of in season scouting in October. Pretty minimal really. I got a number of really nice bucks on trail cameras on different Public parcels. The best being an awesome 150 class 8 point (I’ll get a photo posted) but the rest were 120-130s tens and eights. Certainly nothing even close to Boone or 160s. So in regard to my experience there I actually had bigger deer on camera back here at home in Wisconsin to chase. Not trying to say my cameras perfectly inventoried these parcels, but a good sampling. On one parcel I bet I had 20 different bucks on camera regularly but the best was a max 130” ten point.
Zone 9 Public is lagerly overly mature timber. I found it really difficult to find thick areas. Maybe folks have luck in wide open timber but it’s not what I prefer to hunt. Additionally everything seems to have DNR maintained 2 track trails that run everywhere. Getting far back into places is relatively easy. My good spots required lots of hill climbing and we’re almost always tucked up against private. Good accurate maps and my GPS were key in scouting. So I really thought Zone 9 was a little challenging that way. Compared to WI and MN marshes where thick cover comes easy.
I found hunter pressure to be really low. In one large tract I hunted there was one local and one out of stater on a probably 1500 acre parcel. I did see a hunter once from stand but that was it. On the other parcel I hunted where I killed my buck I only saw one truck and never saw or ran into him. Keep in mind this was prime rut too, but I did purposely avoid weekend days. I went down on a Monday.
Cost is up there for sure. I had $150 in 3 years of buying points. License is something like another $500-600. So you have probably $700-800 in just licensing. Then there is the gas, lodging and food for an out of state hunt.
If I didn’t live in a great whitetail state I would probably be a lot more blown away by Zone 9. One of the hunters plates where I shot my buck was from Florida. I really wanted to meet him to get his impressions. Would have liked to have known if he passed up bucks like I shot, had opportunities or was impressed and would have taken it as well. For those reasons I would HIGHLY recommend going with a couple of friends that share your same hunting goals. I would have enjoyed getting some feedback on quality of deer and hunts from others on the parcels I sat.
With all that said, based on my experience if a solo guy has a goal of a solid 130 class animal on public, it’s pretty doable in Zone 9 with minimal work. If you’re going into it thinking opportunities abound at 150+ class animals on public, I think your work is cut out for you and you’ll risk tag soup on a very expensive tag. Of course these animals and larger are done on public in Zone 9 every year. I would love to know what NR bowhunter success in 9 looks like.
Like most anywhere, I think everything changes with access to private. I was fortunate to get an introduction to a connection whom I will be able to hunt some private through next time. The caliber and consistency of deer they shoot off their private was pretty remarkable. Definitely better than the western Wisconsin private I am used to.
I know that Dewey and JM have put a lot more work and time into Zone 9 Public and should chime in as well.
I will be back for sure and now that I’ve proven a little success on a completely solo out of state public hunt I’ll probably raise my standards and be a little more fussy when I draw again in 3 years.