Pheasant and Small Game Hunting

Licenses can be obtained from license agents throughout the state, purchased online or through the Telephone Ordering System (1-800-367-1188). There is a convenience fee applied to all online purchases and for purchases made using the telephone ordering system.

People born after January 1, 1972 must have a valid hunter safety certificate from Iowa or their home state to purchase a hunting license.

Hunting and Trapping Regulations
Season Dates, Upland Game Hunting Regulations, Deer Hunting Regulations, Fall Turkey Regulations, Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations, Nonresident Spring Turkey Hunting Information, Sunrise-Sunset Table

Frequently Asked Questions about Small Game Hunting

Must I wear blaze orange to hunt small game in Iowa?

Iowa requires upland game bird hunters to wear at least one of the following articles of visible, external apparel, of which at least 50% of the surface area is solid blaze orange in color: hat, cap, vest, coat, jacket, sweatshirt, sweater, shirt or coveralls.

When does Pheasant hunting season open?
According to Iowa Code - Iowa's pheasant season always opens the last Saturday in October and runs thru Jan 10th.

How do I obtain a copy of the small game distribution map?
The Game Distribution Map is available online or contact the Iowa DNR, Wallace State Office Building, Des Moines, IA 50319-0034 or call 515-725-8200.

What are the requirements for transporting pheasants in Iowa?
Individuals cannot transport a pheasant within the state without a FOOT or FULLY FEATHERED WING, or FULLY FEATHERED HEAD attached to the carcass.

Does Iowa have any special regulations or permits when bringing hunting dogs into the state?

Dog owners are required to carry proof of vaccination against standard canine diseases.

Is Non-toxic shot required to hunt small game in Iowa?
Non-toxic shot is required to hunt all game animals (except deer and turkey) on selected public hunting areas in north-central and northwest Iowa. See the current hunting regulations booklet for a list of areas where non-toxic shot is required.

Must I have a plug in my gun to hunt small game in Iowa?

No, hunters are not required to have a plug to hunt small game.

Information on raising and releasing pheasants:

  • Game Breeder
  • Releasing pen-reared birds into the wild
    Except for pheasants, Iowa Code 481A.47 prohibits the release of fish and game into the wild.
  • Iowa code allows landowners/tenants to release pen-reared pheasants on their own land.
    Iowa Code 481A.6A Pen-reared pheasants release by landowners and tenants.
    1. As used in this section, "pen-reared pheasant" means a pheasant which originates from a captive population and which has been propagated and held by a hatchery.
    2. Notwithstanding section 481A.60, an owner or tenant of land may obtain pen-reared pheasants from a hatchery approved by the department, and raise or release the pen-reared pheasants on the owner's or tenant's land. A person shall not relocate a pen-reared pheasant to any other land.

      Approved hatcheries:
      Cedar River Pheasants – Nashua, Iowa

      Iowa Quail Farm – Janesville, Iowa

      Hoovers Hatchery, Inc. - Rudd, Iowa

      Murray McMurray Hatchery, Inc. - Webster City, Iowa

      Malloy Gamebirds - State Center, Iowa
      (641) 485-9053
    3. A person taking a pen-reared pheasant shall comply with all requirements provided in this chapter and chapter 483A.
      484B.15 Pen-reared pheasants -- exception.
      This chapter does not apply to an owner or tenant of land raising or releasing pen-reared pheasants on the owner's or tenant's land as provided in section 481A.6A, provided that a person taking a pen-reared pheasant complies with all requirements provided in chapters 481A and 483A.

Information on training dogs and field trial events:

Dog Training
You need to have a valid Hunting License and have paid the Habitat Fee to train a bird dog on game birds per Iowa Code 481A.56.

Pen-raised game birds may be used and shot in the training of bird dogs. Before any bird is released or used in the training of dogs, the bird must be banded with a band from the DNR. Contact the DNR at 515-725-8200,

Dogs are prohibited on all state-owned game management areas, between March 15 and July 15 of each year; except that dog training is permitted on designated training areas. Only a pistol, revolver or other gun shooting blank cartridges shall be used while training dogs during closed seasons. See section titled "Dog Restrictions" in the current hunting regulations.

Field Trial Events
Field and retriever meets are restricted to designated sites. A permit must be obtained from the DNR for field and retriever meets. The permit shall show the exact designated site of the meet and all dogs shall be confined to that site per Iowa Code 481A.22.

Visit the Iowa Special Events website to schedule a field trial event or view scheduled trials on public lands.

If you have a dog entered in a licensed field trial you do not need any type of Hunting License to participate in the event or to exercise your dog on the area on which the field trial is to be held during the 24-hour period preceding the trial. See section titled "Dog Restrictions" in the current hunting regulations.

Where can I find guide services in Iowa?
The IDNR does not regulate guides in Iowa. To locate guides in Iowa contact the local conservation officer or chamber of commerce in the county you intend to hunt.

Where can I find licensed hunting/shooting preserves in Iowa?
Obtain a copy of Iowa’s Licensed Shooting Preserves online or by writing the Iowa DNR, Wallace State Office Building, Des Moines, IA 50319-0034, or by calling 515-725-8200.

Where can I get information on Iowa’s public hunting areas?
View our online information under Places to Hunt & Shoot or contact the Iowa DNR by calling 515-725-8200.
Obtain a copy of the Iowa Sportsman’s Atlas online or by calling 800-568-8334.

Where can I find information on hotels/motels or bed and breakfast inns within Iowa?
Iowa Economic Development and Tourism at (515) 242-4707.

Can I hunt Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields and how can I locate CRP fields to hunt?
No individual may hunt CRP fields without the permission of the landowner. The IDNR does not maintain a list of CRP contracts in Iowa. The CRP is administered by the US Dept. of Agriculture, Farm Services Agency.

I shot a pheasant or quail with a leg band. What should I do with it?
If the band number starts with the letters FT, you can keep the band. Birds carrying a leg band starting with the letters FT are pen raised birds that were released at a dog field trial event. If the band number does not start with the letters FT, please contact the Iowa DNR, Wallace State Office Building, Des Moines, IA 50319-0034 or call 515-725-8200.