Iowa Whitetail Suggestions

fackelberry

Active Member
Aug 27, 2013
276
4
Wyoming
I am thinking about going to Iowa in 2018 to hunt whitetail. I have been one of those point "hoarders" for a long time. Was waiting for a good time to go and figured i better get points so i can draw whatever tag in whatever area i decided to hunt in. With that being said i have 6 points for deer, and its time to burn them. I am looking for zones to hunt and any info on them. I havnt decided if i want to try public land and do it myself, or go with an outfitter on leases and pay for a hunt. Im open to any of the seasons, but i would almost think the December shotgun/muzzleloader hunts would be best as i would be done hunting in my home state of Wyoming by then. I would like to find a hunt, either public or leased where i would have a decent opportunity at a 150" buck. Not saying i wouldnt shoot a smaller one, but ive always thought Iowa would of been the place for me to shoot my biggest whitetail. Well as luck would have it, I shot a 176 gross 7x8 whitetail in Wyoming last year. I know asking for an opportunity for a bigger one is unreal mostly. Before i shot the 176" buck, my biggest is 149" and i always wanted to try for a bigger one. So im still going with the original 150" or bigger goal. Just like everyone else says, im not looking for anyones secret spot or honey holes. Just any helpful info on areas or outfitters they might recommend. Or any private landowners who charge trespass fees to hunt their land. I would be willing to swap info on Wyoming hunting and areas for the same info in Iowa. PM me if you dont want to publicly talk about areas or info. Thanks.
 

go_deep

Veteran member
Nov 30, 2014
2,550
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Wyoming
I know some guys that hunt the south eastern corner along the Missouri border on public land, archery season. All 3 tag out each year, everyone sees 150"+ bucks every year, honestly I'd say they average about 140-145" in the last 15 year's. For a first time, and not knowing the area, you may want to look into a trespass, but line up some public close to hunt also.
 

Prerylyon

Veteran member
Apr 25, 2016
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Cedar Rapids, IA
We moved to Iowa 14 yrs ago. As a hunter, you would think I'd be all over the white tail hunting, but I quickly got down on it as it was very difficult to apply the still hunting techniques I enjoy so much that I learned in the larger tracts of public lands in PA mountains and northwoods of northern New England.

The public parcels in IA, for the most part are small when compared to many other states, both east and west. Randy Newberg did a DIY episode during the 2nd shotgun season on public land here in IA and he ate tag soup. I've been there a few times myself! Its hard to fill a tag when the deer are all on the other side of the fence.

My best luck has been during the early and late muzzy seasons. Unfortunately, the early muzzloader is only for residents and is limited to several thousand tags statewide. I was able to see and get close to some real bruisers during early muzzy.

Archery is on at the same time and I honestly feel the regs favor that method of take here in IA. The archery season is long and is the only legal means to hunt deer at the peak of the rut. The deer are as stupid as they get during the rut and it seems most of my friends who are serious deer hunters spend 2 weeks of November with their bows in a tree stand. I would do it, but I'm just more of a rifle/gun hunter, besides, at this point in the game, I just don't have the bandwidth to get serious with the bow. Its on my to do list. 😉

The shotgun seasons are busy and the deer get skittish fast. Oddly, if you can get on a big enough piece of public, you can find 'sanctuaries' where some of the deer will ride out the party hunting on adjacent private lands and farms. Most all the public land out here is off limits to trucks or ATVs, like most places, if they have to walk in more than a mile to drag a buck out, they'll balk.

If it was me, I would do archery and plan on at least 7 days in November. After that, the late muzzy season would be my next pick. Also, I would hunt from a stand or, best yet several of them. I won't say still hunting can't seal the deal out here, but unless you have a large piece of land to play with, its just plain hard. I'd get a stand up on a wind favorable corridor near an alfalfa or turnip patch. There are often food plots on the public lands. Also, realize there are county lands open to hunting. For some reason, they don't always show up on the DNR website, but most of the county tourism websites have names and locations of these parcels. Bear in mind, late muzzy can expose you to brutal winter conditions. Not necessarily rocky mountain heavy snow and days of wind, but a blizzard is not out of the question and it ain't no fun when its 20 below and an Alberta clipper is frolicking across the prairie. Good luck! We def have a lot of deer, and some real fatties to boot!😉

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337Z using Tapatalk
 
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Zim

Very Active Member
Feb 28, 2011
728
46
LaPorte, IN
6 Points? You wasted $100 because you can draw any NR tag in the state with 4. The NR gun seasons are post-rut low demand and you can draw any one with 1 point. If you do public I'd recommend scouting 1-4 weeks in February.

I have a good chance of drawing this year, but I've been going since 1990 so know the public quite well. Even so, I just returned from scouting 3 days each the last two weekends.
 
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Fink

Veteran member
Apr 7, 2011
1,961
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West Side, MoMo
6 Points? You wasted $100 because you can draw any NR tag in the state with 4. The NR gun seasons are post-rut low demand and you can draw any one with 1 point. If you do public I'd recommend scouting 1-4 weeks in February.
Jesus man.. Maybe he wasn't ready to go yet...

If you're considering public, I'd probably shy away from the later seasons like the muzzy hunt. For one, you'll need to be hunting food at that time, and while there may be some ag on public, the vast majority of the good ag will be on private, and so will the deer. Secondly, that muzzy hunt is the last hunt they do, so that public has cycled through archery, early muzzy and 2 shotgun seasons. Deer on public are going to be pretty hard to find after that.
If I was going to hunt public, I'm with Prerylon, and would pick 7-10 days in mid November, and bow hunt. If you can lock down access on a farm set up to hunt deer late, that would be a great option as well. For me though, whitetail hunting means hunting early November with a bow.. The woods are beautiful, it's not miserably cold, and the bucks are going nuts.
 

Zim

Very Active Member
Feb 28, 2011
728
46
LaPorte, IN
Doesn't matter if he was ready to go or not, just stating mathematical facts. And interesting, as I've been hunting Iowa since 1990 yet never heard of anyone that saved more than 4 points, because there is no need to.

fackelberry, do you bowhunt?
 

fackelberry

Active Member
Aug 27, 2013
276
4
Wyoming
Well i actually only burned 50 bucks as i quit buying high dollar preference points when they went up to 50 bucks apiece. I havnt bought points for a long time but i always check the DNR website to make sure i still have 6. I was hoping to have more points in Iowa than any non-resident and was thinking if Iowa ever opened one of those no hunting game preserve parks for a few lucky hunters, i would be able to get the tag! HAHA. And yes Zim, I knew it only took 4 points for the best tag in the state but i already had 6 so that was another reason i quit buying them awhile ago. Plus if they ever decided to cut tags like Wyoming and had point creep, I would be one of those "lucky" ones with max points. Yes, I also bowhunt. I was leaning towards the archery tag and it has a longer season. My work schedule is a 4x4, 4 days working and then have 4 days off! I figured that would help because i could drive over alot to scout or hunt and then when the rut kicks in full swing i only have to take 4 days vacation to have 12 days off in a row. I think i can drive to most places in Iowa in 12 hours from where i live in Wyoming so not to bad. And Zim, im guessing you say to scout in February because the bucks drop their antlers there and you know where they live? Just asking because out here in Wyoming most bucks dont live where they drop their antlers on the winter ranges, they travel a long ways to where you hunt them. I know most deer in Iowa stay pretty much in the same place all year, they may travel a few miles in the rut im assuming looking for does but dont migrate like the deer out west. Thanks for some recommendations on the hunting, I will probably go with the archery hunt as the season is longer and may be better weather. I still have a whole year to think about it and get more info. If anyone else has any ideas for me to think about im all ears. Thanks fellas.
 

Fink

Veteran member
Apr 7, 2011
1,961
195
West Side, MoMo
Scout in February, because the woods has yet to start green up, and all of last fall's sign will still be available, from the most used trails, to good rub lines. Bedding areas are more visible, trails used to access fields are more visible, you might find a shed... And, there's no ticks, lol.
With the woods still bare, you can really see the lay of the land better.. Most of your treestand hunting out here is done over good funnels and saddles, all that becomes more apparent in a naked woodlot.
 

fackelberry

Active Member
Aug 27, 2013
276
4
Wyoming
Ok Fink, gotcha. Ya i forget that it will be full of leaves and bushes in summertime. So would it be safe to say that if i can walk in a mile or more with a tree stand and hunt the timbered ridges next to croplands for 7-10 days in a row there would be less hunter pressure and perhaps more deer sightings and opportunities? I will walk farther than most to have less hunting pressure. Im used to it here in Wyoming and i assume walking or hiking in Iowa would be easier to do because of elevation and flatter terrain?
 

Work2hunt

Veteran member
Mar 2, 2013
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St. Louis, MO
Jesus man.. Maybe he wasn't ready to go yet...
My thoughts exactly. Life gets in the way....hard to say why he build 6 points. I recently burnt 11 points on a unit that I knew did not require them. But, I kept buying because I did not want to lose my points until life allowed me to complete that particular hunt.

I can not help you with Iowa whitetail hunting. However, I am an avid whitetail hunter in the Midwest and would be more than happy to help you with any questions you have. Feel free to PM. As has been noted, if you are going DIY on public or private, now is the best time to scout. You can see where last falls action was before the new green-up hides it all.
 

Fink

Veteran member
Apr 7, 2011
1,961
195
West Side, MoMo
I think you'll struggle to find public ground where you can walk a mile, and still be a mile away from roads. Whitetail hunters as a whole, are pretty lazy... But most of the public ground is very small, especially when compared to what you're used to. Most will be 1,000 acres or less, and will be well roaded.
 

Fink

Veteran member
Apr 7, 2011
1,961
195
West Side, MoMo
I sent you a PM.. But had another thought.... Missouri has OTC whitetail tags, tons of public, even right on the border of Iowa. Even some of the very best public land in the state is rarely used during archery season. Those same public spots are a madhouse during the gun season.. Come to Missouri, hunt basically the same deer, south of the imaginary Iowa line, for about half the price, on unmolested public land... then go scout some potential Iowa spots before you go back home!
 

Zim

Very Active Member
Feb 28, 2011
728
46
LaPorte, IN
Ya I hike way back in too but as mentioned about 1/2 mile is the furthest you are going to find. And even then there's often some ATV two-track in from the adjoining private so it doesn't help too much. Hell last weekend I was in 1/2 mile and ran into fresh ATV tracks and a pile of dead crows, then two ladies riding their horses on same unmarked trails. Still with only 2,100 NR bow tags it really eliminates the hard core NR army like Illinois has. Our corrupt politicians dole out 16K+ which has destroyed our public land quality.

Your actual hunting will take place when you scout. It's just the killing part in November. So it's definitely worth a full one week scouting vacation for Febr. 2018 due to your distance. That is my suggestion. And pre-scout via aerials/topos in preparation.
 
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fackelberry

Active Member
Aug 27, 2013
276
4
Wyoming
Maybe i will have to make a trip over in February or early March next year. Ya Fink i may have to look into that hunt also soon, would be nice to just buy a tag and go hunting. I understand to Zim. I have hiked way back in supposedly walk in areas or public that isnt supposed to have motorized anything, i sit down to glass and wouldnt you know you see a guy or guys on 4 wheelers making there way through down timber creating all kinds of racket. Then when you walk out and run into them on the road they say they didnt see anything or there is no game around. Makes me mad, wish the forest service or land managers would patrol more DURING hunting seasons as thats when 90% of the people go offroading and break the law.
 

HuskyMusky

Veteran member
Nov 29, 2011
1,252
124
IL
What is the rule in Iowa as far as losing points?

depending bow vs gun will affect points needed, although I've taken the bow tag as soon as I could draw it, but most states I know of are 2 years without applying you'll lose your points that 3rd year...

also with point creep, I guess it depends on the state.


as to Iowa, I think almost anywhere in the state can produce a big boy, just like IL etc... 1 county can vary wildly, as it's more how each farm/property is individually managed.
 

fackelberry

Active Member
Aug 27, 2013
276
4
Wyoming
I don't know for sure if and when Iowa may take points away, i thought i read awhile back it might be ten years of no activity as in purchasing a point or putting in for a tag. I should check on that again, hate to lose my points. But i did check on mine a month ago and it still shows i have all mine. I am seriously considering a bow tag next year to use my points, just need to narrow it down to which zone will give me a quality hunt with not alot of pressure and a chance to shoot a buck. I will do alot more research this winter for sure.
 

Don K

Very Active Member
Sep 10, 2011
666
22
Northern Illinois
From the Iowa DNR site

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 an General deer/Antlerless-only combination license, your preference point(s) will be eliminated.

As of right now you do not loose any points if you do not apply
 

fackelberry

Active Member
Aug 27, 2013
276
4
Wyoming
Thanks for the info Don, Ya i didn't want to loose 6 points. But thinking real hard about getting archery tag next year and using my points up.
 

mallardsx2

Veteran member
Jul 8, 2015
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From the Iowa DNR site

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 an General deer/Antlerless-only combination license, your preference point(s) will be eliminated.

As of right now you do not loose any points if you do not apply
I called a few days ago and got the same response from a human.

I am 2 points ahead of my wife and father in law. So I am going to hang out until they catch up. Then we will apply as a group.

If anyone has hunted the public land, I would like to talk about the hunting pressure that exists. I am not asking what unit your in I just want to know what the pressure is like in general in Iowa on public ground.

Feel free to PM me if you would prefer.

Thanks in advance.