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Iowa's natural resources plates include the state bird and flower, pheasant, eagle, buck and a Brook trout. Support conservation in Iowa by buying a natural resource plate for your vehicle.
Natural Resource Plates
Experience Iowa's natural beauty and all the fun our state parks offer. Make your online reservation for state park cabins, camping sites, shelters and lodges.
Support conservation in Iowa by buying a natural resource plate for your vehicle.
Natural Resource Plates
Iowa DNR Customer Service
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Iowa Hunting Regulations
Hunting Season Dates
2020 Small Game Distribution Map
2020 August Roadside Survey Map
2020 August Roadside Survey Report
Contact Your Local Conservation Officer
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.
Bobwhite Quail Life History Information
Ring-necked Pheasant Life History Information
The Ring-necked Pheasant in Iowa - Farris 1977
What We Know About Nesting
Effects of Weather and Habitat on Pheasant Survival
What We Know About Weather
Effect of Hunting Seasons on Populations
Pheasant Hunting Fact Sheet
What You Need To Wear
Iowa law 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, shirt or coveralls. Upland game birds include: pheasant, quail, gray partridge and ruffed grouse in Iowa.
Having clothing that can hold up to the abrasive nature of the native grasses in which birds can be found is key.
The five basic clothing items you need to get started are:
- Blaze Orange Hat or Cap
- Blaze Orange Bird Vest
- Brush Pants, Chaps, or Carhartt Style Pants
- Long Sleeved Shirt, Jacket or Sweatshirt
- Sturdy Boots
Firearm and Ammunition Selection
When choosing a firearm for pheasant hunting, the best advice we can give is to buy a gun that is light and with the least amount of recoil. For most people, this would be a 20 gauge, semi-automatic shotgun.
As for ammunition, the recommendation is to use a 1 oz. load of #4 or #6 lead shot, with a 1,300 feet/second velocity or a 1 oz. load of #2 or #4 steel shot, with a 1,300 feet/second velocity.
TIP: The lighter the shotgun, the heavier the load (ammunition), the faster the speed/velocity (ammunition), the more sever the recoil will be when a shot is taken.
Alternative Ammunition (Non-Toxic Shot)
Alternative ammunition 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 alternative ammunition is required.
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 685,000 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
Iowa Habitat and Access Program (IHAP)
Licensed Shooting Preserves
Several shooting ranges across the state offer hunters a place to practice shooting safely and conveniently.
Iowa Shooting Ranges
There are numerous strategies for hunting pheasant, but we recommend walking and flushing. To hunt pheasants by this method, all hunters in the party walk in a straight line down a field. This ensures that all hunters are aware of the location of members in their hunting party. Make sure you identify your target and know what is beyond your target before you pull the trigger.
Each hunters needs to ensure that they only take shots within their zone of fire (see illustration to the left). When hunting with dogs, they work in front of the group. It is important to remember to avoid low shots as well so that your canine companion is not accidentally struck.
Tips for a Safe Hunt
Getting Started: Pheasants Forever's Guide for Beginners
Where to Hunt: Public Access Available to Pheasant Hunters
Hunter Safety & Ethics: Always Be Safe & Be an Ethical Hunter
How to Clean a Pheasant
Note: A pheasant foot, fully feathered wing, or fully feathered head is required to be attached to transport a pheasant.
Pheasant Nuggets - Iowa Game Wardens' Cookbook
Slice pheasant breast into strips about 1/4-inch thick. Dip in beaten egg and roll in cracker crumbs. Fry in hot melted butter until brown.
Pheasant and Dumplings - Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail - Upland Birds and Small Game From Field to Feast (Hank Shaw)
Toss all the broth ingredients into a large stockpot, cover with a least 2 quarts of water (you can save any extra broth for later) and bring to a strong simmer, about 200˚F if you're checking. Drop the heat to below a simmer-look for lots of steaming and just a few bubbles on the surface - and let everything cook for 20 minutes. Fish out the pheasant and remove the breast meat. Shred it, then set it aside in the refrigerator and return the rest of the pheasant to the pot. Cook for as long as it takes for the meat to want to fall off the leg bones, from 45 minutes for a pen-raised bird to 21/2 hours for an old rooster.
When the pheasant is done, gently remove it from the broth and let it cool enought to handle. Pick all the meat off the bones, being sure to remove all those nasty tendons in the pheasant's legs. Put the meat into the bowl with the breast meat.
Strain the broth. Put a fine-meshed strainer that has a paper towel set inside it over a large bowl or pot. Pour the stock through this. You might need to change paper towels halfway through if it gets too gunked up. Pour the broth into a pot, and set it on low heat.
To make the stew, heat the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Saute the carrot, celery, and parsnip for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often. You don't want the veggies to brown. Add the flour and stir to combine. Everything in the pot will seize up, but that's OK. Drop the heat to medium-low and cook, stiring often, until the flour turns the color of coffee with cream. Add the vermouth and stir well, then start adding the broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until it looks silky. It should take 6 to 8 cups.
Add the pheasant meat and bring this to a simmer. Cook gently until the veggies are soft, about 30 minutes.
While the stew is simmering, make the dumpling dough. Mix together all the dry ingredients, then add the melted butter and the milk. Stir just to combine-do not overwork the dough.
Drop the dough by the teaspoonful into the simmering stew. When all the dough is in, cover the pot and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. It is very important that the stew not boil during this time, or your dumplings will get tough.
At 15 minutes, uncover the pot and add the peas and parsley, stirring gently to combine. Let this cook a minute or two, then turn off the heat. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, then the heavy cream. Serve at once.
How to Field Dress and Prepare Game Birds (Outdoor Life)
How to Field Dress a Pheasant (Colorado Parks & Wildlife)
What you need to know before you go!
Special Youth Season
Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.
Pheasants Forever in Iowa
Find a Pheasants Forever Chapter Near You