Turkey Hunting in Iowa



100,000 to 120,000

Wild Turkey Population


Turkey Subspecies

48,000 to 50,000

Number of Licenses Sold Annually


Turkey permit, $28.50; small-game license, $22; habitat stamp, $15

Cost of Resident License and Permit


Turkey permit, $119; small-game license, $131; habitat stamp, $15

Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

Iowa instituted an effort to reintroduce turkeys in 1966. Since then, birds have expanded across the state. About 100,000 to 120,000 turkeys roam here now.

It can be expensive for nonresidents, who must lottery draw a tag to turkey hunt in Iowa — for one bird. For example, if you're 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 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 in four units) along the Missouri River and Shimek State Forest (9,000 acres) in southeastern Iowa are 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 (2022 season) had 11,933 birds taken.

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

Iowa Turkey Hunting (c) Tes Randle Jolly photo

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