Pheasant hunting in Iowa
2019-20 Hunting, Trapping and Migratory Game Bird Regulations

This is not a complete set of hunting, fishing and trapping laws but contains the information you are most likely to need to safely participate in these outdoor activities.

2019-20 Regulations, Hunting, Trapping and Migratory Game Bird, Full Book**
Season Dates, Upland Game Hunting Regulations, Migratory Game Bird Seasons & Limits, Deer Hunting Regulations, Fall Turkey Regulations, Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations, Nonresident Spring Turkey Hunting Information, Sunrise-Sunset Table


** Regulations Correction
The printed version of the 2019-20 Iowa Hunting, Trapping and Migratory Game Bird Regulations omitted the language from a new state law that allows hunters with a nonabulatory deer license to hunt during any open season until the license is filled, using the method of take allowed for that season. The error was discovered too late for the print edition. It has been corrected in the online copy (page 40).


August Roadside Survey

Each year the Iowa Department of Natural Resources uses a roadside survey to assess its upland game populations. The August Roadside Survey, as it is called, is conducted on sunny calm, mornings, with a heavy dew on the grass, between August 1st-15th of each year with results posted in September. Most upland wildlife, particularly pheasants, hate to be wet. On mornings with a heavy dew, hen pheasants bring their broods to the roadsides to dry off before they begin feeding. This natural tendency allows the birds to be counted and reproduction can be evaluated by counting the number of broods seen and their size.

Survey routes are 30 miles long and are entirely on gravel roads. When conditions are favorable, Iowa DNR biologists and conservation officers drive their assigned routes, at 10-15 mph, and count all the pheasants, quail, partridge, rabbits, and jackrabbits seen. In all, there are 210-30 mile routes driven (6,300 miles) every August to assess Iowa’s upland game populations. Most counties have 2 routes, and the information from all of these routes is condensed to produce the Iowa 2019 Small Game Distribution Map.


2019 August Roadside Survey Map
Shows the current information on ring-necked pheasants, along with comparisons to the previous year's survey.

2019 August Roadside Survey Report
The full report is also provided online for individuals who would like to see more detailed and long-term trend information.


Iowa's Upland Game Hunting

Pheasants, quail, cottontail rabbits, and squirrels are Iowa's most popular upland game species. The Upland Wildlife Research Unit monitors yearly harvest and populations, as well as providing information to landowners and hunters. 

Small Game Licenses can be obtained from license agents throughout the state or purchased online. There is a convenience fee applied to all online purchases.


+ Upland Game, Life History Information
+ Habitat Programs for Landowners
+ Pheasants, Factsheets
+ Must I wear blaze orange to hunt small game?
+ How do I transport pheasants in Iowa
+ Is Non-toxic shot required to hunt small game?
+ Must I have a plug in my gun to hunt small game?
+ Raising and releasing pheasants in Iowa
+ Dog Training and Trialing
+ Where can I find guide services in Iowa?
+ Finding licensed hunting/shooting preserves
+ Where are Iowa’s public hunting areas?
+ Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields
+ Shot a pheasant or quail with a leg band?
+ Places to stay within Iowa
+ Where do I find dove information?
Hunting News


How to Remove A Dog From a Trap
YouTube: South Dakota GFP

How to Remove A Dog From a Snare
YouTube: South Dakota GFP

Small Game and Upland Seasons

We work hard to keep our calendar current, but always refer to the hunting regulation booklet for official, legal season dates.



Continuous Open: Groundhog, pigeon and coyote (for trapping dates, see calendar above).
Continuous Closed: Rabbit (jack).



They Gotta' Have Cover

This video premiered at the
2014 Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa.
"They Gotta' Have Cover" Factsheet


They Gotta' Have Cover Three Iowa farmers rap about the pheasant habitat they’ve created to shelter and feed pheasant throughout the year.

It’s a quick tutorial: Grass 10 to 12 inches high is needed for nesting cover; flowering native plants attract insects which provide the protein hatchlings need for growth; and food plots that provide seed and cover during the winter months.