Iowa is in the peak of hunting activity with pheasant, deer, and turkey seasons open, and, beginning Nov. 3, the furbearer season opens, putting tens of thousands of hunters in the field.
With all those hunters pursuing a variety of quarry in different settings at odd hours, safety is an important part of the equation.
“We want hunters to be safe out there with the way they handle their firearms, how they interact in the field and by wearing blaze orange, beyond the minimum that is required,” said Steve Dermand with the DNR’s law enforcement bureau. “Hunters should be cognizant of other hunting parties in the field, especially if something doesn’t look right, like a lack of blaze orange or if they shot a hen pheasant.”
Dermand coordinates the Turn in Poachers hotline for the DNR and while poaching is a year round activity, 80 percent of the calls come in this time each year.
Dermand said the TIP line receives 250 to 300 reports each year and state conservation officers receive additional reports directly. Of those cases, 15 to 20 percent result in an officer writing a ticket.
“Timeliness of reporting is number one. The longer you wait, the less likely we are to make a case,” he said. “The illegal deer hanging in the shed today could be gone tomorrow.”
The TIP number 1-800-532-2020 is a 24 automated system that guides callers to the local officer. The online reporting at www.iowadnr.gov/tip will send the report directly to the local officer. Dermand encourages hunters to program their conservation officer’s phone number into their phone for the county where they are hunting.
“We need as much detail as possible about what happened that will give us something to work with,” he said.
Descriptions of the vehicle [color, make, model, type, license plate, if there was a toolbox or topper, any logo on the vehicle, if the muffler was loud], person involved, location, time of day, number of individuals and activity witnessed. He said to make note of any suspicious vehicles driving back and forth in rural areas or any other activity that just doesn’t look right.
“Poachers are game thieves stealing from hunters who follow the law and are doing it right,” Dermand said.
In cases where officers investigate and write a ticket, the individual who reported the violations can be eligible for a reward.