Conservation

Hunting


Two of Polk County Conservation Board’s areas are open to hunting. Most of Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt is available to hunt all game. A portion of Jester Park along Saylorville Lake is open to waterfowl hunting only. All state and federal hunting laws apply.

Waterfowl Blinds

Polk County Conservation Board initiated a controlled waterfowl hunting program at the Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt in 1973. Each year, the program allows the reservation of up to 12 hunting blinds per day. Up to four people are allowed per blind. Hunting is allowed Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from legal opening time until 1 p.m. The controlled program runs from the start of the early duck season through November 30 yearly. Blinds are located adjacent to waters that are part of a five hundred acre refuge. The program has been very popular with central Iowa hunters. The County’s operation is the only program of its kind still operating in the state. It has been popular for older hunters who find it difficult to wade in many public marshes, but can walk to individual blinds over dry land at Chichaqua. The layout of the area, access to the blinds, and the need for no boats make it more attractive. Accommodations are available for hunters with accessibility challenges.

Waterfowl hunting blinds at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt can be reserved by calling the Chichaqua office at (515) 967-2596 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The twelve blinds are located in both marsh and woodland settings. Daily reservations are $30 per hunting blind. Chichaqua is a half hour northeast of Des Moines near Elkhart and Bondurant.

Non-Toxic Shot

Non-toxic shot (non-lead) is required of shotgun hunters on all Polk County Conservation Board land. The only exceptions include deer and turkeys. Lead shot may still be used at the designated trap range at Chichaqua. This new policy brings the Polk County Conservation Board in line with current regulations on many state and federally-owned Waterfowl Production Areas.

Controlled Bowhunt

The Polk County Conservation Board issues special use permits allowing bowhunters to participate in a controlled bowhunt for antlerless deer at several Polk County Conservation Board parks.

Special use permits will be issued for Brown’s Woods, Four Mile Creek Greenbelt, Jester Park, Mally’s Park, Sycamore Trails, Thomas Mitchell Park, and Yellow Banks Park. The bowhunt is limited to antlerless deer only, and will take place from from September 19, 2020 - January 24 2021.


This controlled bowhunt is being held in response to continued growth in the urban deer population that has resulted in damage to natural vegetation, increased deer/vehicle collisions, and damage to private landscaping. Urban deer populations can double every 3 to 4 years if left unchecked.



To participate in this program hunters must do the following:

  • Pass an approved bowhunter safety education course
  • Pass an archery proficiency test
  • Apply with PCCB for a special use permit
  • Meet with the Conservation Board Ranger to review rules of the hunt and the boundaries of the special hunting areas
  • Purchase a special anterless deer license (Zone 48).

Contact the following organizations and people to locate other places to hunt:

Des Moines Parks and Recreation Mike Gaul 515-248-6329
West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Dave Sadler 515-222-3444
City of Johnston Jim Sanders 515-727-7760
City of Urbandale Holly Pickett 515-278-3910
Polk County Conservation Board Charlie Finch 515-250-1031
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Coty Thompson 515-276-4656 ext 6508
Walnut Woods State Park Tim Gedler 515-285-4502
City of Clive Jeff Theilen/Joel Pasco 515-238-0648/515-210-7581
City of Pleasant Hill Rick Courcier 515-208-8214
City of Polk City Trace Kendig 515-984-6565

What is the Urban Bowhunt Program

In 1996, the Polk County Deer Task Force was formed to study the impact of the growing deer population in Polk County and make recommendations to local citizens and governments. Approximately 20 men and women make up the Task Force and represent various city, state, and county governments, as well as civic and community organizations.

Committee members conducted aerial surveys of the urban deer populations, tagged and/or radio collared deer to monitor geographic dispersion and mortality, erected deer exclosures to study the effect of browsing on natural vegetation, and studied 10 possible deer management options for the Polk County region.

Resulting from this research came a request to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for a special "deer management zone" that allows additional deer (antlerless only) to be harvested in the western two-thirds of Polk County.

Why are we Concerned?

When deer populations exceed 20 deer per square mile, overbrowsing of the natural vegetation can lead to destruction of the forest understory, including wildflowers and woody vegetation. Without this native vegetative habitat, songbirds and many other species of wildlife may not be able to remain in the area.

Deer browsing on shrubbery and flowers in yards can destroy overnight what a homeowner spent a great deal of time and money to plant. Deer browsing can also damage agricultural crops and other commercially-grown vegetation, such as Christmas trees.

Deer-vehicle collisions have increased by two-thirds in Polk County during the last 20 years. In addition to the personal injuries that result, the cost of repairing and replacing motor vehicles involved in collisions is high.

What If We Do Nothing?

The population of the white-tailed deer in certain areas of Polk County has already reached a point where natural areas are being damaged and biodiversity threatened. The negative impact on people of deer-vehicle collisions and destruction of landscaping increases as deer populations grow.

If left unchecked, deer populations can double every three to four years. The Polk County Deer Task Force believes that management plans must be put in place to control, and in some areas reduce, the size of the deer herd in urban and suburban areas of Polk County. At the same time, the Deer Task Force will actively work to educate the citizens of Polk County on ways of minimizing potential problems caused by deer.

The alternative of "doing nothing" and allowing deer herds to grow unchecked is not acceptable for it would lead to increasingly negative consequences for our natural areas and for the people of Polk County.

The Polk County Deer Task Force is committed to maintaining and preserving the white-tailed deer population in Polk County at ecologically-acceptable levels.

Controlled Bowhunt Hunter Requirements

This fall, special use permits allowing bowhunters to participate in a controlled bowhunt for antlerless deer will be issued by the organizations listed at the bottom of this information.

The bowhunt is limited to antlerless deer only, and will take place from September 19, 2020 - January 24, 2021 (each organization may adjust this season). This bowhunt is being held in response to continued growth in urban deer population that has resulted in damage to natural vegetation, increased deer/vehicle collisions, and damage to private landscaping. Urban deer populations can double every 3 to 4 years if left unchecked.

To participate in this program, potential hunters must do the following:

  • Pass an approved "one-time" International Bowhunter Education Foundation (I.B.E.F.) bowhunter safety education course.
  • Pass an annual National Field Archery Association (N.F.A.A.) archery proficiency test. This test will consist of shooting 20 arrows—10 from 20 yards and 10 from 15 yards—at a full-sized 3-D deer target. Hunters must score 80% or better in the vital target area to pass. 
  • Apply with each respective organization for a special use permit.
  • Meet with a representative from the organization to review the rules of the hunt and the boundaries of the special hunting areas.
  • Purchase a special Polk County antlerless deer license for each harvest. (the regular bow hunting license is not valid within the deer management zone)

Bowhunter Safety Education Courses are available online by visiting http://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting/HunterSafetyEducation/BowHunterEducation.aspx.

Archery Proficiency Testing is available to those hunters who wish to become certified for the upcoming season by calling Archery Field and Sports at 515-265-6500.

The following organizations offer hunting locations through the Urban Deer Bowhunt program. Each organization must be contacted separately to receive their respective special use permit and obtain permission to hunt:

Des Moines Parks and Recreation Mike Gaul 515-248-6329
West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Dave Sadler 515-222-3444
City of Johnston Jim Sanders 515-727-7760
City of Urbandale Holly Pickett 515-278-3910
Polk County Conservation Board Charlie Finch 515-250-1037
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Coty Thompson 515-276-4656 ext 6508
Walnut Woods State Park Tim Gedler 515-285-4502
City of Clive Jeff Theilen/Joel Pasco 515-238-0648/515-210-7581
City of Pleasant Hill Rick Courcier 515-208-8214
City of Polk City Trace Kendig 515-984-6565