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Turkey Hunting in Iowa



120,000 to 140,000 (NWTF estimate)

Wild Turkey Population


Turkey Subspecies


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

Image: MW_eastern_8

Photo by Paul Tessier

Iowa instituted an effort to reintroduce turkeys in 1966. Since then, birds have expanded across the state. About 120,000 to 140,000 turkeys roam here now, according to the latest NWTF estimate.

Hunting Iowa 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 is 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. Hunters there shot more than 14,000 turkeys during Spring 2023.

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