Turkey Hunting in Iowa

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  • B
  • 150,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 219,798

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • $56.50

    Includes small game license, resident turkey permit and required habitat stamp fee.

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • $225

    Includes small game license, non-resident turkey permit and required habitat stamp fee.

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

Some might say Iowa deserves an A. That's likely going to come from resident hunters.

Others might give it a B, even a C, depending on whether they can afford it.

It hasn’t had a real winter in years, so survival rates have been good. Couple this with some good hatches, and there are plenty of gobblers to be found.

The bad news, unfortunately, and the reason for the lower grade, is two-fold. Iowa ranks 49th out of the 50 states in terms of public hunting ground.

There are roughly 356,000 acres of possibility – The Loess Hills (11,000 acres/four units) along the Missouri River; Shimek State Forest (9,000 acres) in southeast Iowa, for example – but, obvious by the 49th position ranking, not much.

And it's expensive for a non-resident who must lottery draw a tag to turkey hunt in Iowa, and that for a single bird.

Despite high license fees and a lack of public ground, Iowa still has some of the best turkey hunting in the nation.

If an out-of-stater’s willing to knock on a few doors, establish relationships and give it some effort, many Iowa landowners are still willing to grant spring hunting permission – and at no cost.

Recent population estimates have dropped in the last several years though, from 220,000 to 150,000 (the latter number is based on recent National Wild Turkey Federation data).

According to M.D. Johnson who co-contributed to this report, Iowa’s birds are healthy.

“Season 1 gobblers will stretch the 25-pound mark," he said. "I’ve watched two monstrous longbeards hit the dirt over the years – one weighing 28.3 pounds, and the second at 27.2 pounds, with my personal best being 26.6 pounds. They’re out there and in good numbers.”

As I've mentioned in the Missouri Turkey Hunting Nation post . . .

Northern Missouri toms can be bruisers, comparable to those found in neighboring Iowa. And these birds feel pressure from some of the best turkey hunters in the country.

Gobblers might go shut-mouthed, like anywhere.

Then again, sometimes it all works out.

In fact, on one trip, and licensed to do it, I turkey hunted both sides of the Missouri/Iowa border (with success). Fact is, I'm looking at the beards on my wall right now . . .

Fun Fact: But not if you're from out of state. Are you a two-season turkey hunter? Look elsewhere for Midwest opportunities. Only Iowa residents can hunt fall flocks.

– Steve Hickoff and M.D. Johnson

Iowa Turkey Hunting (c) Tes Randle Jolly photo

Iowa Turkey Hunting Regulations

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