top of page
  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Iowa Hunting Regulations

Iowa has several types of game to offer hunters, including turkey, deer, pheasant, and some small game. Those who wish to hunt game in Iowa can buy permits and licenses in several ways, including in-person, telephonically, or online.

Hunting licenses and permits are available for both Iowa residents and non-residents. Successful hunters may report the game they harvested on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website.

Those interested in hunting game in Iowa need to know about the hunting regulations in play in the state. Tom Fowler Law Firm provides accurate and reliable information to the citizens of Iowa, and fight for those who have been involved in a hunting accident that was not their fault.

What Is Hunting?

What Is Hunting?

The act of seeking, advancing, and acquiring or killing wild animals is known as hunting. People often hunt game for recreational purposes, but hunting can be used to obtain useful animal products such as meat, hide, tusks, and horns.

Trophy hunting is a common reason why the game is hunted in Iowa, and animals are often hunted to remove them if they pose a threat to humans or domesticated animals. An example of this is wolf hunting.

Animals hunted recreationally are commonly referred to as a game and are typically birds and mammals. One who hunts game is known as a hunter or a huntsman, and a natural location used for hunting is referred to as a game reserve. Experienced hunters who help to organize hunts or manages the game reserve is called a gamekeeper.

Hunting in Iowa

Iowa, like most states in the United States, has regulations that hunters must follow. The capturing, entrapment, pursuing, shooting, stalking, killing, and ensnarement of fish, wildlife, and game that are protected by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is referred to as "hunting" in this regulation.

It also makes no difference if the game is injured or killed because of the activity. Hunting in Iowa involves common game such as deer, turkeys, pheasants, and several small game animals.

The state has helpful programs for those who wish to hunt game, and the Iowa Hunting and Access program, for example, encourages landowners in the state to grant hunting access on their land. Hunters can access private properties from the 1st of September to the 31st of May of the next year.

Deer Hunting

Deer hunting is popular in many areas of Iowa. These game animals are known to live in wooded areas of the state, but they can also survive in other kinds of habitats if they have enough cover. Brushes, grasslands, fence lines, and marshland areas are just a few examples of where deer are found in Iowa.

Turkey Hunting

Hunting for wild turkey is another popular activity in the state of Iowa. Turkeys are forest birds, and the most common species of turkey found in Iowa is the eastern wild turkey. These turkeys live in Iowa's oak forests and may also be seen along the yellow river forest in northeast Iowa, and the loess hills in western Iowa.

Pheasant Hunting

Pheasants are long-tailed birds native to Asia but commonly found in Iowa. The hunting of pheasants is popular in Iowa due to the state's large population of these game birds, particularly in northwest Iowa, and pheasant hunting activities in the state have been successful in recent years.

Coyote Hunting

Coyotes are a type of canine that is native to North America. They are widespread in the state, with a higher concentration in the western part of Iowa. These animals are not restricted to a single habitat, so they can be seen in grasslands, switchgrass, timberlands, and brush pile areas.

Fox Hunting

The gray and red fox are two of the most common fox species that can be found in Iowa, with the number of red foxes surpassing that of gray foxes. These red foxes can live in a variety of habitats. In Iowa, they are most likely to appear in wooded and grassland areas.

Quail Hunting

Quails are a type of edible bird commonly hunted recreationally in Iowa. The state's quail hunting is among the best in the country. They are often found from the south to the north of the state.

Duck Hunting

Ducks are commonly found in wetland areas of Iowa, far off from human settlements. Wildlife refuge areas are the best places in the state for duck hunting. These game animals live in shallow areas of bodies of water such as ponds and lakes.

Requirements for Licensed Hunting in Iowa

All hunters who wish to engage in hunting activities on licensed hunting preserves must acquire an Iowa hunting license, and pay the habitat fee, or the hunting preserve hunting license, which is only valid on certified preserves, and the habitat fee. Before a hunting license may be issued, proof of hunter education must be displayed.

Hunter Education Programs

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources helps to ensure the safety of hunters. It is also committed to preserving natural resources in the state by promoting good ethics and fair chase among hunters. The DNR also helps hunters to act responsibly and manages landowner connection through public hunter education, and the protection, recruitment, and preservation of hunters are critical to the continuation of the hunting tradition in Iowa.

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, to purchase a hunting license, any resident or nonresident born after January 1, 1972, must have completed an authorized hunter education program in Iowa or another US state.

If an applicant's hunter education certification is not on their customer record, they must display proof of hunter education when acquiring their license from a local vendor approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Non-resident youth under the age of 16 are exempt from completing a hunter education course.

The hunter education program is mandatory and is designed to introduce students to a variety of life-long skills that may be helpful for a variety of outdoor recreational activities and the Iowa knife laws. Students learn basic survival skills, and how to do first aid should they become injured while hunting.

Other skills taught include water safety, identifying wildlife, the fundamentals of wildlife management, firearms or archery safety, and hunting laws. Individual responsibility and outdoor ethics are also emphasized in hunter education, which is essential for those who wish to hunt in Iowa.

To enroll in a hunter education course, a person must be of a minimum age of 11 years old. However, those who are 11 and complete the course successfully are issued a certificate that is only valid from their 12th birthday.

Iowa residents under the age of 12 may obtain a turkey or deer hunting license. However, each young hunter must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter. If a hunter education certificate is misplaced, a replacement certificate can be acquired for $4.50.

Iowa Hunting Licenses

Before attempting to purchase a hunting license, it may be helpful to know who qualifies for a hunting license, as indicated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Residents Versus Non-residents

Both residents and non-residents may apply for a hunting license in the state of Iowa. The cost of this license is $19 and must be 16 and above to qualify.


A person who has resided in Iowa for at least 90 days is considered an Iowa resident. Residents include active-duty military personnel and full-time students who live in the state to attend college there.

If a resident wishes to hunt game in the state of Iowa, he or she must obtain a hunting license. The minimum age requirement for a hunting license is 16 and up. Residents between the ages of 16 and 64 must pay the Wildlife Habitat Fee before being issued a hunting license. Additional licenses may be required.


Those who are not residents of Iowa must still obtain an Iowa hunting license before hunting in the state. The Wildlife Habitat Fee also applies, and this license can only be issued to those 16 years and older.

Juniors and Seniors


Residents under the age of 16 are exempt from purchasing a hunting license or paying the Wildlife Habitat Fee. However, such individuals must be accompanied by a licensed hunter.

Non-residents under the age of 16 are required to have a non-resident hunting license for youth and can expect to pay the Wildlife Habitat Fee.


Iowa provides a free annual license to hunt for residents who are 65 years or older, and whose household income is less than the federal poverty line. Other licenses available for senior citizens include lifetime hunting and fur harvesting licenses.

Lifetime Hunting License

Seniors may obtain a lifetime hunting license. This license is available to senior citizens who want to participate in the Iowa hunting season. Once obtained, the license is valid for the rest of the senior citizen's lifetime and costs $52.5.

Lifetime Fur Harvester License

A lifetime license to harvest the fur of game animals may be obtained by senior citizens who want to participate in furbearer game. It gives them lifelong permission to harvest fur and costs $52.5.

Iowa Hunting Licenses for Other Groups of People

Disabled Persons

Species-specific and non-ambulatory licenses or permits are available to disabled Iowa residents. Furthermore, Iowa provides a free annual hunting license to those who are permanently disabled, are residents of the state, and whose household income falls below the federal poverty line.

Veterans and Military Personnel

Active-duty military personnel stationed in Iowa can buy a resident hunting license. Furthermore, while on leave, active-duty military members who are Iowa residents, but are stationed elsewhere, are not required to have a hunting license.

Residents who have served in the military, and have a service-connected disability, may be eligible for a Veteran Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License. This license is available to resident veterans who were captives during their service in the military.

Other Types of Hunting Licenses, Tags, or Stamps

Hunting and Habitat License

A hunting and habitat license is only available to residents of Iowa. It allows hunters to hunt trap game in the state. In terms of validity, there are two variations. A year-long license costs $30, while a license valid for three years costs $86.

Migratory Waterfowl

When hunting migratory waterfowl or ducks, all hunters aged 16 and up must acquire a Federal Duck Stamp. They are required to pay an additional Iowa Migratory Game Bird Fee. Furthermore, hunters must show proof of involvement in the Harvest Information Program (HIP).

Apprentice License

Before participating in any hunting season, Iowa residents who are apprentice hunters must obtain an apprentice hunter's license. The license also entitles them to entrap game animals and costs $30.

Fur Harvesting

Residents who hunt fur-bearing game require a fur harvester license before they may harvest fur from game animals. There are two types of fur harvester licenses, and hunters may obtain either one based on their age. The license for those over the age of 16 is $22.5, while the license for those under the age of 16 is $75.

Deer Hunting Licenses

Residents who only wish to participate in Iowa's deer hunting seasons may apply for a deer hunting license that costs $28.5. If a hunter wants to take antlerless deer, they must obtain a first antlerless deer hunting license that costs $28.5 or a second and final antlerless deer hunting license that costs $13.

Iowa Hunting License Validity

All hunting licenses are valid from the date of sale in one year until January 10th of the next year. Licenses are available from the first day of the year, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Hunting Accidents

If a hunter is involved in any type of accident while hunting that involves a deadly weapon, and the accident results in property damage or personal injury worth over $100, they are required to report the accident within 12 hours of its occurrence.

The incident must be reported to the sheriff's office of the relevant county in which it took place and any local conservation office. If both facilities are unavailable, the incident must be reported to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources if it occurs between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Those involved in an accident that was not their fault should contact Tom Fowler Law Firm, who can fight for their rights, and help them receive compensation.

Can Law Enforcement and Property Owners Request to See a Hunting License?

Whether hunting on private or public land, hunters must have a valid Iowa hunting license on their person. The license or valid permit, tag, and stamp must be shown to landowners and peace officers in charge of the land upon which a hunter is seeking game. This license may be in either electronic or physical form.

Communication While Hunting in Iowa

It is illegal to use a two-way device to direct hunters through communication while they are stalking the game, or to track their position and movement. Coyote hunting is an exception to this rule.

Additionally, falconers with a valid Iowa falconer permit may use a one-way transmitter to acquire free-flying birds. When using a hunting dog, a hunter may use a one-way mobile transmitter to recover the dog should it be lost.


Transporting Firearms

It is illegal to carry a gun in a vehicle on a highway in Iowa. However, there are exceptions to this rule. If the firearm is contained in a case and does not have ammunition and magazines attached. In addition, handguns must be transported unloaded in a closed container. Anyone in the vehicle should also be unable to access the handgun.

Muzzleloaders must be either unloaded or enclosed in a case. When the weapon's cap is not in the nipple, or the priming charge is not in the pan, a muzzleloader may be considered unloaded.

The Open Carry of Firearms

In Iowa, the open carry of firearms is allowed while hunting. The state law includes provisions for firearms that are legal for open carry in Iowa. However, a hunter must have a permit to carry a firearm while hunting in the state.

A hunting bow or archery equipment is not permitted for open carry while practicing bow hunting or archery. In this case, a hunter may conceal carry a firearm, but may not use it to hunt game during archery sessions.

Iowa has laws in place to prevent hunter harassment. These laws are there to protect hunting activities in the state, such as the harvesting of fur. These laws are as follows:

1. No one may purposefully use any kind of stimuli that can affect game animal behavior in an attempt to disrupt or harass legal hunting activities in Iowa.

2. People are not permitted to intentionally interfere with the likelihood of acquiring or killing a game by disrupting hunting activities, or harassing hunters who are lawfully engaged in hunting activity in the state.

3. Nobody is allowed to interfere with another person's fishing, hunting, or fur harvesting activities, so long as the area is authorized for these activities to take place and is either owned by or leased to the person.

4. People in the state should not cause intentional damage to personal property used for hunting.

5. No one may be present purposefully in any place where his or her presence is sure to impact the behavior of game animals, including those with fur, birds, wildlife, and aquatic animals.

The Possession of Imported Game in Iowa

People may legally possess game taken lawfully from other US states and imported lawfully into Iowa if they can prove that they were both lawfully acquired and imported. However, some exceptions to this rule apply to large game.

Can Game Be Left Behind If Injured or Killed?

It is illegal to abandon game animals that were injured while hunting without making any attempt to retrieve them. Hunters are prohibited from discarding any usable part of a game animal after having taken it. This regulation defines a usable portion of a game animal as the part that is often processed for food and includes the hide and fur of a certain game.

Are Hunters Allowed To Hunt Near Buildings?

It is illegal to fire, or attempt to fire, a gun for hunting game animals within 200 yards of a residential building or a building containing domestic livestock or feedlots. According to this regulation, a feedlot is a structure used to confine livestock and feed them until they reach slaughter size.

Exceptions to this rule are permitted if a hunter can obtain permission from the landowner or a leaseholder residing in the residential building.

Fishing Licenses in Iowa

Residents and non-residents who wish to engage in fishing activities in the state of Iowa must first obtain the appropriate fishing license.

Regular Fishing License

Both residents and non-residents of the state of Iowa must obtain a fishing license before fishing in any body of water in the state. This license costs $22 for Iowa residents and $48 for non-residents. Seniors who are 65 years of age or older may obtain a lifetime fishing license for $61.50.

Hunting and Fishing License

Residents may engage in both hunting and fishing activities in the state of Iowa with a hunting and fishing license that costs $55.


Angelfish are freshwater fish that originated in South America. They are often harvested as food. These fish can also be caught for recreational purposes and released back into the ocean. Those who wish to acquire angelfish through fishing activities in Iowa need an angular’s special fishing license. This license costs $62.

Trout Fishing License

Trout is a freshwater fish in the Salmon family often hunted for food purposes in Iowa. Those hoping to fish for trout must first obtain a trout fishing license that costs $14.50 for residents and $17.50 for non-residents.

Short-term Fishing Licenses

One Day Fishing License

Those who wish to fish in Iowa for one day may purchase a one day fishing license from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Residents pay a fee of $10.50 for this license, while non-residents are charged a fee of $12.

Three-day Fishing License

Three-day fishing licenses are available for non-residents only and cost $20.50.

Weeklong Fishing License

Seven-day fishing licenses are available for both residents and non-residents of Iowa. They cost $15.50 for residents and $37.50 for non-residents.

Where to Purchase a Fishing or Hunting License in Iowa

As mentioned before, a hunter can purchase a hunting license either telephonically, via online resources, by visiting an Iowa Department of Natural Resources facility, or a hunting license retailer.

The number to dial for telephonic purchases is 1-800-367-1188, and potential hunters can find the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website here.

Reporting a Successful Harvest to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Each turkey and or deer harvested in Iowa must be reported by all successful hunters to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The hunter whose name appears on the transportation tag must report the harvest. Only successful turkey and deer hunters are required to report their harvests.

Why Is Reporting Required?

Before harvest reporting, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources had a tradition of using postal surveys to evaluate deer and turkey harvests. However, these surveys were time-consuming and inconvenient, and they did not provide accurate information at a county level.

The harvest reporting system offers harvest information much more quickly and in greater detail, which results in more supportive deer and turkey population management.

What Information Must Be Reported?

1. The 9-digit number that appears on the tag must be reported.

2. Regarding harvested deer, the following information must be obtained:

  • The sex of the deer

  • Which county the deer was acquired

3. Concerning spring turkey, the following is to be reported:

  • The spur length

  • Which county the turkey was acquired

4. If a fall turkey is harvested the following information is required:

  • The beard length

  • Which county the turkey was harvested

Hunters may use online applications, text methods, or call their local hunting license agent to report a turkey or deer harvest.

Iowa Hunting Seasons

Iowa Hunting Seasons

Iowa hunting seasons vary for different game animals. Here is a list of some of the hunting seasons for deer and turkey in the state. Contact the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for more information on hunting in the state.

Iowa Hunting Seasons for Deer

• Disabled Iowa Hunting Seasons - 16 September to 4 October

• Youth Iowa Hunting Season - 19 September to 4 October

• Archery Iowa Hunting Seasons - 1 October to 4 December and 21 October to 10 January

• First Hunting Season for Regular Firearm - 5 December to 9 December

• Second Hunting Season for Regular Firearm - 12 December to 20 December

• Holiday Antlerless Iowa Hunting Seasons - 24 December to 2 January

• Early Muzzleloader Firearm Iowa Hunting Season - 17 October to 25 October

• Late Muzzleloader Firearm Season - 21 December to 10 January

Iowa Hunting Seasons for Turkey Hunting

• Bows and Firearm Fall Hunting Season - 12 October to 4 December

• Archery Fall Turkey Hunting Season- 1 October to 4 December and 21 December to 10 January

Need More Information? We Can Help!

Contact Tom Fowler Law to get more information about hunting regulations in place in the state of Iowa. Those needing help with other legal matters can contact the personal injury attorneys Tom Fowler’s legal practice for a free consultation.

23 views0 comments


bottom of page