Shotgun deer season good for Dubuque taxidermist - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Shotgun deer season good for Dubuque taxidermist

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Tom's Taxidermy is busiest during deer hunting season Tom's Taxidermy is busiest during deer hunting season
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Saturday marked the start of the first of Iowa's two shotgun deer hunting seasons.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources predicted more than 80,000 hunters would take to the state's woods and fields on opening weekend. The DNR said the two seasons' 14 total days account for more than half of all the deer harvested annually in Iowa.

For Dubuque taxidermist Tom Pregler, it's the busiest time of year for his Tom's Taxidermy business.

"I'll be down here til midnight or later every night," Pregler said Sunday, standing in the middle of his work area, below the garage of his Dubuque home.

"Now shotgun season rolls around, so I'll be going like crazy here for, oh, the next month, probably," he said. "They'll be coming in steady. I'll get several deer a night, probably, starting late-, mid-week and then through the weekend."

Pregler said he mounts an average of between 100 and 125 deer annually, more than half of which, he said, come from gun season.

"This is a child's or a youngster's first deer," he said, holding up a small rack. "I get to mount that, and they'll be able to look at that for the rest of their life."

With hunters of all ages, safety is of the utmost importance. In 2010, there were 15 deer hunting-related incidents, according to the Iowa DNR. Four of them were self-inflicted, and two of them were fatal.

Already this shotgun season, the Iowa DNR said, two men were injured Saturday. According to the DNR, a 25-year-old man was injured in Lucas County when a deer ran through his hunting group. A 12-gauge slug passed through the deer and into his leg. He's expected to be okay.

In Page County, a hunter's gun became tangled in bags and went off, hitting him in the foot. He's also expected to recover.

"We always say, there's no deer out there worth getting somebody hurt for," Pregler said.

For him, the business stems from a lifelong love and family tradition of hunting.

"My father taught me and my brothers," Pregler said.

That's partly why he invests eight to 10 hours per deer and runs this business in his time outside his full-time job.

He said he sees everything from a kid's first deer to the, "deer of a lifetime that people shoot. I love to see it and the excitement and they tell the stories and it's awesome."

Pregler said pace of business during hunting season, "limits my hunting life substantially. I have to pick and choose when I can go."

However, he said, it helps pay for family vacations and those now-occasionally hunting trips.

Like last hunting season, the Iowa DNR will be collecting and testing tissue samples from harvested deer to check for Chronic Wasting Disease. That's a fatal disease affecting elk, deer and moose, and it has shown up in every state bordering Iowa.

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