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Let's go hunting

Let's Go Hunting

Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that maintains the health and abundance of game species and the balance of our natural resources.  Hunters play an important role in managing wildlife and it is their excise tax dollars paid through the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and hunting licenses and fees that pay for the majority of wildlife management by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Pittman-Robertson creates a direct link between those that hunt and participate in the shooting sports and the resources needed to expand and enhance opportunities to hunt and shoot. Known as the North American model of wildlife conservation, this user pays public benefit model is extremely successful because sportsmen and women and the industries that serve them have always been willing to pay extra to enhance, expand and protect America’s hunting, shooting and conservation heritage.

Pittman and Robertson Facts

For information on the types of hunter education options available or to search for an upcoming class visit:  www.iowadnr.gov/huntered

Iowa law requires that anyone born after January 1, 1972 must be certified in hunter education before they are eligible to purchase an Iowa hunting license. The minimum number of hours to complete the class is 10. Typically there is no charge for the course unless lunch is furnished or room rental is required. Iowa recognizes hunter education certificates issued by another state and some foreign nations.

A person who is 11 years old or older may enroll in a course, but those who are 11 and successfully complete the course shall be issued a certificate which becomes valid on that person's 12th birthday. Iowa residents under the age of 12 can be issued a deer or turkey license; however, a licensed adult hunter must accompany each youth hunter. If the certificate is lost, a replacement certificate may be obtained from any license vendor during regular business hours.

Classes are typically held from March 1 - November 15 each year. Our courses are taught by volunteer instructors who are hunters so there are very few classes that take place after November 15. 

This license allows hunters age 16 and older to bypass the hunter education requirement for purchasing a hunting license while they hunt under the direct supervision of a licensed hunter. They may purchase the apprentice hunting license up to two times without having completed hunter education. Both the resident and nonresident licenses include the hunting and habitat fee.  

Customer Fee to Purchase: Resident License- $35.00 Nonresident License- $144.00 Purchase your apprentice hunting license here.

Other Requirements to be Aware of:

  • If the apprentice hunter is a minor, the person must be accompanied and aided while hunting by a mentor who is the person's parent or guardian or is accompanied and aided by any other competent adult mentor with the consent of the minor's parent or guardian. If the apprentice hunter is not a minor, the apprentice hunter must be accompanied and aided while hunting by a competent adult mentor.
  • The mentor and the apprentice hunter must have valid hunting licenses that include the wildlife habitat fee and that is valid for the same seasons to hunt game.
  • A resident mentor and a resident apprentice hunter must also purchase deer hunting licenses and tags to hunt deer and wild turkey hunting licenses and tags to hunt wild turkey. Deer hunting licenses and tags purchased by a resident mentor and a resident apprentice hunter must be valid for the same seasons and zones. When hunting wild turkey a resident mentor having a license valid for one of the spring wild turkey hunting seasons may accompany and aid a resident apprentice hunter who has a valid wild turkey hunting license for any of the spring seasons as provided by rule. When hunting wild turkey in the fall, a resident mentor and a resident apprentice hunter must each have a fall wild turkey hunting license valid for the current year. A transportation tag issued to a resident apprentice hunter shall not be used to tag a deer or wild turkey taken by another person.
  • A nonresident apprentice hunter is not entitled to purchase a deer hunting license to hunt deer or a wild turkey hunting license to hunt wild turkey or to participate in a hunt for deer or wild turkey.
  • While hunting, the apprentice hunter must be under the direct supervision of the mentor. For the purposes of this subsection, "direct supervision" means the mentor must maintain constant direction and control of the apprentice hunter and stay within a distance from the apprentice hunter that enables the mentor to give uninterrupted, unaided visual and auditory communications to the apprentice hunter. There must be one licensed mentor in direct supervision of each apprentice hunter.
  • A hunting license with an apprentice hunter designation issued pursuant to this section is valid from the date issued to January 10 of the succeeding calendar year for which it is issued. A hunting license with an apprentice hunter designation shall contain the address, signature, and a general description of the licensee.

The Iowa DNR has created a hunting atlas for you to view public hunting locations across the state.  It is an interactive map that shows ALL lands (Wildlife Management Areas, State Forests, County Conservation Board Management Areas, Army Corps of Engineers, Habitat and Access Program and some U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges) open to public hunting in the state, totaling over 721,806 acres.  The Hunting Atlas also gives basic information about those areas such as: acres, general habitat description, expected species and links to more information and maps, if available. It will also tell a user what hunting zones any area of the state falls into. Check it out to help you plan your next hunt!

Iowa Hunting Atlas

The Department offers several public shooting ranges across the state offer hunters a place to practice shooting safely and conveniently. 

Iowa DNR Shooting Ranges

If you ask life-long hunters to describe their favorite outdoor adventure, you will find that they typically recall a family member or friend taking them hunting for the first time. This type of mentorship is very common among avid hunters, but unfortunately, the absence of this opportunity becomes a barrier for some. Conservation organizations, county conservation boards, and the Iowa DNR have partnered to offer mentored hunts and learn to hunt programs for all ages. These hunts and programs are offered throughout the year at various locations across the state.

Click here to find an upcoming mentored or learn to hunt, trap, or shoot opportunities!

Learn to Hunt  Partnering with nonprofit organizations, the Iowa DNR offers many different workshops on how to hunt, trap, and shoot. Workshops range from Turkey Field Dressing, Waterfowl Calling, Decoy Placement, Equipment and Gear, and Patterning your Shotgun.

Field to Fork


Field to Fork is a learn-to-hunt program for adults who are new to hunting in general or have little experience hunting the game featured in the workshop. Workshops featuring deer hunting, turkey hunting and waterfowl hunting are offered throughout the year. 

Locations for 2020 Programs:  Ames and Waterloo

The 2020 programs were conducted in partnership with the Iowa DNR, Pheasants Forever, Ames Ikes, JAX Ames Outdoor Gear, Double Lung Archery, and Story County Conservation Board.  

For information on programs in 2021, check back in May 2021.


Field PostSearching for sportsman events in your area? FieldPost.com consolidates local and national conservation, hunting, fishing, shooting, and sporting dog events such as banquets, shows, tournaments, seminars, habitat days, target shoots, courses, conventions and much more! Stay informed with FieldPost.com, The Sportsman Event Site!

It’s always more fun and safe to hunt with other people. These partner organizations are a great place to find help, with several programs and events to coach new hunters. Or contact the Hunter Education staff at the DNR for assistance.

Our Partners:

logo link to powderhook.com

Only certain species of animals can legally be hunted in Iowa and each species has a specified hunting season and regulations that accompany it.  As a good hunter, it is important to know as much as possible about the species you are hunting before you go out.

Hunting Season Dates  Hunting Licenses and Laws 

Deer Hunting

Migratory Game Birds

Upland Game Hunting

Wild Turkey

Trapping & Fur Harvesting


Check out these additional videos before you head to the field! Hunter Education Videos

Interested in hunting but want to learn a bit more?  Check out our recommended reading list:

Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner, Lily Raff McCaulou

Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time, Georgia Pellegrini

The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian's Hunt for Sustenance, Tovar Cerulli

The Beginner's Guide to Hunting Deer for Food, Jackson Landers

Gut It. Cut It. Cook It. The Deer Hunter's Guide to Processing & Preparing Venison, Eric Fromm & Al Cambronne

 Hunting For Food: Guide to Harvesting, Field Dressing, and Cooking Wild Game, Jenny Nguyen & Rick Wheatley

Confessions of an Eco-Redneck, Steve Chapple

Last Stories of the Old Duck Hunters, Gordon MacQuarrie

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, Michael Pollan

Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv

Hunt S.A.F.E. to Prevent Firearm Incidents

Project Child SafeProper firearm storage is the number one way to prevent firearm incidents.  With this in mind Iowa Department of Natural Resources is working with the National Shooting Sports Foundation to remind hunters that “The Hunt Isn’t Over Until You Are S.A.F.E.” 

S.A.F.E. stands for Store firearms responsibly, Always practice firearm safety, Focus on your responsibilities as a firearm owner, and Education is key to preventing incidents. Project ChildSafe emphasizes safely securing firearms when they are not in use as the #1 way to prevent firearm incidents. 

The hunting season is a time of year when a lot of firearms are in use and in transport, so we urge hunters to remember what they can do to prevent firearm incidents in the field, at the range, at home and everywhere in between. 

To complement Iowa’s hunter education program and provide you with additional resources on proper firearm storage and safety, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, as part of its Project ChildSafe program, has made several resources available, which can be found on www.iowadnr.gov/learntohunt and www.projectchildsafe.com, including:

The idea is to help everyone hunt responsibly, return home safe, and securely store their unloaded firearms. Together we can help prevent firearm incidents.

Ten Rules of Safe Firearms Handling

  1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction
  2. Firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use
  3. Don’t rely on your gun’s “safety”
  4. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it
  5. Use correct ammunition
  6. If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, handle with care!
  7. Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting
  8. Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting
  9. Don’t alter or modify your gun, and have guns serviced regularly
  10. Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using

For more basic firearms safety tips, visit: https://www.nssf.org/safety/rules-firearms-safety/

Learn to Hunt Online Video Series

Check out the free Learn to Hunt Iowa Online Video Series for your next step to getting out in the hunting field!

Let's Go Hunting

If you already enjoy hunting and want to introduce someone, or if YOU are new to hunting, here are some tools to help get started.

Let's Go Hunting partners