Iowa's deer population wasn't always so abundant, said Larry Stone, author of "Whitetail: Treasure, Trophy or Trouble?"

"By the beginning of the 20th century, they were almost non-existent," he said. "In the 1930s you were lucky if you saw one deer in your lifetime."

In fact, renowned wildlife biologist Adlo Leopold predicted in 1933 that the only way Iowa's deer population would rebound was to protect them in a sanctuary.

The decimation of the turn-of-the-century deer population was due primarily to farming, harsh winters and unregulated hunting. In 1933, the Iowa Legislature overhauled how the State took care of it environment. These measures led to the creation of state parks, county conservation offices and , ultimately, better habitats for deer.

The deer population took off faster than anyone expected, and 20 years after those first efforts the first hunting season opened to cull the burgeoning population.

But, even then, the deer population was drastically lower than today. In 1953, an estimated 13,000 of the animals made their home in Iowa. Today that number is close to 470,000. A report by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources notes that if left unchecked, the deer population could double in as little as three years.

--- Laura Reeder

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