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Iowa Deer Hunting
Contact Info
502 E. 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0034
ph 515-725-8200
App Deadlines
June 2
Results Posted
2023 : June 16
2022 : June 17
2021 : June 18
2020 : June 26
2019 : July 27

2024 Non-Resident Fees

$15.00 Habitat Fee Included
Hunting License (18 and older)
Hunting License (under age 18)
Deer License (refunded if unsuccessful)
Points Only (license not required)

Iowa Deer Hunting

The 2023 Iowa non-resident deer permit application information can be downloaded at Applications may be submitted before June 4, 2023.

Iowa Deer Hunting Applications

Applications for general deer/antlerless-only licenses will be accepted beginning at 6 a.m. CDT May 7th through June 4th. If applications have been sold in excess of the license quota or bow quota for any zone, a drawing will be held to determine which applicants receive licenses. Hunters will be emailed regarding their draw status prior to the excess sale. Draw status will not be provided over the phone. Licenses will be mailed to successful applicants in August. Refunds of license fees will be credited back to the applicant’s card.

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If any license quota for general deer/antlerless-only combination licenses has not been filled, the excess licenses will be sold first-come, first-served online beginning at 6 a.m. CDT on July 30th. Licenses will be sold until the quota has been filled or 10 days before the start of the respective season. To check the availability of excess or antlerless licenses, go to

Hunters may apply for general deer/antlerless-only combination licenses as individuals or groups of up to 15, with one member identified as the group leader. The group leader must apply first and state they are the group leader. Members of a group must apply separately, but each member must submit the group number that is given to the group leader when applying. If there is a drawing, all members of a group will be assigned the preference point(s) of the member with the fewest points. All members of a group will be accepted or rejected together in the drawing.

Details of the Iowa Deer Draw

There are no waiting periods for successful deer applicants in Iowa.

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Iowa Hunting Fees

Iowa accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or electronic check. Any license agent writing fees, administrative fees, internet application fees, and the mandatory $60.50 preference point fee are non-refundable. Additional fees are based on a percentage of total license cost at the time of application.

Age Restrictions

There is no minimum age requirement to apply or hunt in Iowa, but hunter education is required for those born after January 1, 1972. A licensed adult hunter must accompany each youth hunter under the age of 16.

Iowa Point Structure

Hunters unsuccessful in the general deer/antlerless-only combination license drawing will be given one preference point and assessed a mandatory, non-refundable $60.50 preference point fee. Preference points will not accrue in a year in which you fail to apply or purchase a preference point, but you will retain any preference points previously earned. Once you receive a general deer/antlerless-only combination license, your preference point(s) will be eliminated. However, you will not lose preference points by purchasing an optional antlerless-only license.

You may use your preference points in any zone or season the next time you apply. Preference points do not apply to antlerless-only licenses. The license drawing for general deer/antlerless-only combination licenses will be made from the pool of applicants with the most preference points and continue to pools with successively fewer preference points until quotas are filled or all applicants have received licenses.

Youth Information

There are no special seasons for non-resident youth hunters in Iowa. Non-residents under age 16 who hunt under direct supervision of their properly licensed parent or an adult do not need a hunting license.

Weapon Restrictions

Longbows, recurve bows, and compound bows shooting broadhead arrows are permitted. No explosive or chemical devices may be attached to the arrow or broadhead. There are no minimum draw weights for bows or minimum diameter for broadheads. Arrows must be at least 18" long.

Crossbows are not legal, except a physically handicapped person may obtain a permit from the DNR to use a crossbow. Applications are available at Click on “Licenses and Laws” and then on “License Applications,” or you can visit the DNR central office or any of the district offices or call the DNR at 515-725-8200. Residents 65 and older may obtain one antlerless-only statewide crossbow deer license. Hunters may not carry a handgun while hunting under an archery tag, unless they have an unfilled transportation tag for a season that allows handguns or a valid permit to carry.

Hunters may use 10, 12, 16, and 20-gauge shotguns shooting single slugs only.

Only muzzleloading rifles, muzzleloading muskets, muzzleloading pistols, and muzzleloading revolvers between .44 and .775 of an inch shooting a single projectile are permitted. Muzzleloaders equipped with electronic ignition are not allowed. In-line and disk-type muzzleloaders are allowed. Riflescopes may also be used.

Any pistol or revolver with a barrel length of at least 4" and firing straight wall or other centerfire ammunition propelling an expanding-type bullet with a maximum diameter of no less than .350 of an inch and no larger than .500 of an inch and with a published or calculated muzzle energy of 500 foot pounds or higher is legal for hunting deer during the pistol or revolver seasons. A person who is 20 years of age or younger shall not hunt deer with a pistol or revolver unless that person is accompanied by and under direct supervision throughout the hunt by a responsible person with a valid hunting license who is at least 21 years of age, with the consent of a parent, guardian, or spouse who is at least 21 years of age. The responsible person with a valid hunting license who is at least 21 years of age shall be responsible for the conveyance of the pistol or revolver while the pistol or revolver is not actively being used for hunting.

Rifles firing straight wall or other centerfire ammunition propelling an expanding-type bullet with a maximum diameter of no less than .350 of an inch and no larger than .500 of an inch and with a published or calculated muzzle energy of 500 foot pounds or higher is legal for hunting deer during the youth and disabled hunting season and first and second shotgun seasons.

Other Tag Opportunities

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Iowa will issue landowner tags to the actual landowners or tenants who meet certain criteria only. These tags are non-transferable. Iowa issues approximately 75 Governor’s type deer tags each year. Contact the Iowa DNR for information on how to obtain these special tags, or visit our website to see a list of available tags.

Search Our Database for Available Iowa Deer Hunts

If any license quota for the any deer/antlerless-only combination licenses has not been filled, the excess licenses will be sold first-come, first-served beginning at 6 a.m. on July 30, 2023.


Drawn deer tags are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. If unsuccessful, refunds for the license and tag fees will be credited back to the applicant’s credit card.

Harvest Reporting

Hunters who harvest a deer or wild turkey must report the harvest to the DNR by midnight on the day after it is tagged, before taking it to a locker or taxidermist, before processing it for consumption, or before transporting it out-of-state, whichever occurs first. The hunter whose name is on the transportation tag is responsible for making the report. If no animal is harvested, no report is necessary. Failure to report or reporting falsely may result in a misdemeanor citation and possible loss of hunting privileges.

The harvest reporting system will issue a confirmation number to the hunter that must be written on the Harvest Report Tag and attached to the leg of the animal.

Hunt Planning

The Iowa Public Hunting Atlas is an interactive map that provides a lot of information that is helpful when planning your hunt. This tool makes it easier for hunters to locate areas that are open to public hunting. You can find it at


Iowa hunting access consists primarily of state land, Habitat and Access Program (IHAP) lands, and Wildlife Management areas. All of these areas can be researched at

Comments From Our Staff

If you’re looking for an opportunity to hunt a giant whitetail buck at some point, there’s no question that Iowa should be on your bucket list. Their deer management strategy speaks for itself by consistently producing Boone and Crockett bucks throughout the state. The reality is that most of the biggest bucks will be harvested on the private land that encompasses 97% of the land area of the state. While this number may seem daunting to the self-guided hunter, the remaining 3% of land area represents more than 1 million acres, much of which is prime whitetail habitat. In short, there is something for every hunter in Iowa, but it is a true preference point state, so you cannot draw if you don’t have enough points.

Since the majority of land in Iowa is private, a lot of prime hunting real estate is tied up by outfitters. Like most true preference point draws, these outfitters are usually booked one to three years in advance because their upcoming clients know when they are going to have enough points to draw. As a result, we advise all of our members who want to book with an outfitter to do so well in advance of the year you want to hunt. Due to the fact that most of the state is private land, the landowner or outfitter who is in charge of managing the deer hunts on the property have a huge impact on the trophy potential on any given parcel of land. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to get an understanding of the management plan and how long it has been in place when you’re selecting an outfitter to book with. You can use our tables to confirm how many points are needed to draw the zone you want to hunt and then plan accordingly.

For the self-guided hunter, there are a plethora of great mapping tools that range from onXmaps to the state’s own excellent hunt planning website that outlines nearly 1.1 million acres of land that is accessible to the public. The size of these parcels ranges from a handful of acres to chunks of land that are more than 15,000 contiguous acres of rugged, remote country. Remember, when it comes to whitetails, it’s not necessary to have a lot of acreage to hunt, it’s more important to have the right acreage to hunt. Iowa’s hunt planning tools and harvest report data honestly give the ambitious self-guided hunter a pretty good head start on finding a property that will put you in the vicinity of a big buck. From there, like all hunting, a little luck and a lot of patience and persistence are the key to big whitetail bucks.

Iowa is a mandatory harvest reporting state, which means that their harvest data is incredibly reliable when it comes to hunt planning. On average, Iowa hunters harvest about 100,000 deer per year, and about half of those deer are bucks. Each year, Iowa provides a buck harvest per square mile chart that is organized by county. Although this chart doesn’t necessarily correlate to trophy potential, it is an interesting tool for hunters who want to plan a hunt where they want to see a lot of bucks. Unbelievably, a handful of counties actually report buck harvests in excess of two bucks per square mile. This chart, along with a lot of other great data, is available on Iowa’s website at

The great thing about Iowa is that your points do not expire or leave your account until you are successful in obtaining a tag. With that in mind, we recommend that if you want to hunt in Iowa, you should build 4-5 points now so that when you decide to hunt, you have enough points to draw any tag.