Turkey Hunting in Iowa

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  • B
  • 120,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 200,000

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

Iowa instituted an effort to reintroduce wild turkeys back in 1966. Since then, birds have expanded across the state. Some 120,000 gobblers and hens roam here now, down a bit from several years back. 

How and Where to Hunt

It can be expensive for a nonresident who must lottery draw a tag to turkey hunt in Iowa, and that for a single bird. For instance, if you are unsuccessful in the drawing, you'll be assigned one preference point at a cost of $60.50. An additional preference point will be assigned each year you apply but are denied a license. Leftover limited quota licenses are sometimes available for respective seasons. 

Residents of the state can purchase two turkey tags.

As state land goes, there are roughly 356,000 acres of direct-access possibility. The Loess Hills (11,000 acres/four units) along the Missouri River; Shimek State Forest (9,000 acres) in southeast Iowa, are a few examples. Still, the state ranks near the bottom nationally in available public property.

Permission from a farmer on a chunk of agricultural land is what you want. If an out-of-stater’s willing to knock on a few doors, establish relationships and give it some effort, some Iowa landowners are still willing to grant spring hunting permission – and at no cost.

Despite high nonresident license fees and lack of public ground, Iowa still has some of the best turkey hunting in the nation. Recent kill data (2020 season) had 14,671 birds taken.

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.

On one trip and licensed to do it, I turkey hunted both sides of the Missouri/Iowa border with friends (who had private land permissions), and with success. Fact is, I'm looking at those thick beards on my wall right now.

Are you a two-season turkey hunter? Look elsewhere for Midwest opportunities. Only Iowa residents can hunt fall flocks.

– Steve Hickoff 

Iowa Turkey Hunting (c) Tes Randle Jolly photo

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