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Iowa’s rabbit season opens Sept. 1

The good news for Iowa’s cottontail rabbit hunters is that Iowa has a lot of rabbits with the southern third and the east central region of the state leading the way. The better news for hunters is Iowa’s cottontail rabbit season begins Sept. 1 statewide.

“It should be an outstanding year for rabbit hunting not only for experienced hunters, but for young or novice hunters who can learn necessary skills and make mistakes with little competition,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Iowa’s cottontail rabbit population estimates are included in the recently completed August roadside survey of upland wildlife species. Results will likely be published around the first week of September at

Last year, an estimated 24,000 hunters harvested 120,000 cottontail rabbits. The most popular way to hunt is with a shotgun walking brushy areas with grass next to crop fields in the morning or evening. It can be done individually or with a group of friends.

Rabbit hunting does not require a significant investment or high tech equipment, just a shotgun and clothes that blend in to the landscape. Rabbit is a lean, low fat meat and popular table fare considered a delicacy in many culinary circles. 

Southeast Iowa has become a rabbit hunting destination for hunters from Kentucky, North Carolina and other southern states who take repeated trips to the area each fall.

Cottontail rabbit season is Sept. 1 to Feb. 28, 2019. The daily limit is 10 rabbits with a possession limit of 20. Jackrabbit season is closed. While wearing blaze orange clothing is not required to hunt rabbits, it is recommended. The Iowa DNR has an interactive map of places to hunt at then click on places to hunt and shoot in the left column.