Iowa Deer Hunting for Non-Residents: Understanding the Iowa Deer Draw

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Update: The 2023 Iowa deer draw is now closed for nonresidents. If you missed it you can start tracking draw deadlines for free with OnPoint – never miss an application. Available on Web (beta mode), Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Iowa Deer Draw for Nonresidents

Iowa is renowned for its exceptional deer hunting opportunities, particularly its whitetail population and the potential for trophy bucks. In this article, we will dive into the Iowa Deer Draw system and provide you with a comprehensive understanding of how non-residents can secure a deer tag to hunt in Iowa. Read on to learn about Iowa whitetail, deer preference points, nonresident deer tags, hunting licenses, and other essential information.

How do I get a non-resident deer license in Iowa?

Non-residents can obtain an Iowa nonresident deer tag by successfully participating in the nonresident draw. The draw determines the allocation of deer tags to non-resident hunters. If selected, the non-resident hunter will be awarded a deer tag, granting them the opportunity to hunt deer in Iowa. Applications are handled through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

How does the Iowa non-resident deer draw work?

The Iowa Deer Draw is a lottery system that allocates a limited number of deer tags to non-resident hunters. The draw uses a preference point system, with tags being allocated to those with the highest point number.

Iowa typically issues 6,000 general deer licenses and receives over 10,000 applications. These are divided between 10 hunting zones, and draw odds are based on the specific zone applied to. The Iowa zones are shown below.

iowa deer units

Gun and archery applications are performed as part of the same drawing and taken from the same pool of available tags. Archery tags are capped at 35% of the total nonresident tag allocation.

Iowa tag quantity

How do deer preference points work for non-residents?

Applicants earn Iowa deer preference points if they apply for the draw and are unsuccessful, or elect to purchase points directly without an accompanying application. Hunters who are unsuccessful will automatically be charged for a preference point.

Purchasing a point costs $60.50. No license is required to purchase a point only. Points accrue over the years. Upon successful draw application, preference points are reset to zero. Preference points do not apply to antlerless-only licenses, only to the standard general deer license.

When is the 2023 deer draw?

The draw normally opens in early May and closes in early June. Dates for the 2023 Iowa non-resident deer draw are below. You can add this draw and others to you OnPoint calendar to never miss an application.

Online Application OpensMay 6th, 2023
Deadline to ApplyJune 4th, 2023
Draw Results PostedJune 16th, 2023

What are the required licenses and permits for Iowa non-resident deer hunting?

In addition to the Non-Resident Whitetail or Either-Species/Either-Sex Deer Permit, non-residents must also purchase a hunting license and pay the Iowa Habitat Fee.

Hunters must provide proof of hunter’s education before submitting an application. If this is your first year applying, please get this started early as it must be validated before you are able to apply.

Hunters who are required to have Hunter Education Certification will need to provide proof by sending an image of your Hunter Education Certification card to

How much is a non-resident deer tag in Iowa?

For the 2023 hunting season, a non-resident general deer license is $498 and the required general hunting license is $131. A Habitat Fee of $15 is also required.

General Deer License$498.00
Anntlerless Deer$266.50
Hunting License$131.00
Habitat Fee$15.00

Iowa Deer Hunting FAQ

Can a non resident buy a deer tag over the counter in Iowa?2023-05-15T20:06:37+00:00

No, non-residents cannot purchase an Iowa deer tag over the counter. The only way for non-residents to obtain a deer tag  in Iowa is through the draw.

About the Author: Danny

Danny is an avid outdoorsman and hunter. He got into western big game hunting in 2016 and has been hooked ever since. He began hunting as a child in the bluff country of Western Wisconsin.

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