Course Outline

The legal methods of deer hunting are listed below by equipment. For more information about the seasons when each type of equipment is allowed, see Iowa’s hunting regulations.

Archery:

  • Equipment
    • Longbows, recurve bows, and compound bows that shoot broadhead arrows that are at least 18 inches long
    • Draw locks on compound bows
  • Restrictions
    • The arrow must not contain poison or any stupefying chemical.
    • The arrowhead tip must not have an explosive tip.

Crossbows:

  • Equipment
    • A bow mounted transversely on a stock or frame and designed to fire a bolt, arrow, or quarrel when the bow string is released
    • A mechanical trigger and working safety on the crossbow
  • Restrictions
    • Crossbow projectiles must be equipped with broadheads.
    • Crossbows are not legal except during the Late Muzzleloader season. The only exceptions are:
      • Physically handicapped hunters who have a special permit.
      • Residents 70 years of age and older who have an antlerless-only statewide crossbow deer license.
    • Crossbows equipped with pistol grips and designed to be fired with one hand are illegal for hunting deer or turkey.

Handguns:

  • Equipment
    • Centerfire handguns .357 caliber or larger, shooting straight-walled ammunition with an expanding-type bullet
    • Those centerfire cartridges that are listed as legal  in Iowa’s hunting regulations
  • Restrictions
    • The minimum barrel length must be at least 4" for all handguns.
    • Shoulder stock or long barrel modifications are not allowed during Late Muzzleloader season.
    • Hunters with an archery tag may not carry a handgun while hunting, unless they have an unfilled transportation tag for a season that allows handguns.
    • Hunters 16 years of age and younger may not use handguns.
    • Hunters 17 to 20 years of age may use a handgun only if they are accompanied by a parent, guardian, or spouse who is at least 21 years old.

Rifle Equipment:

  • Centerfire rifles .357 caliber or larger, shooting straight-walled ammunition with an expanding-type bullet where:
    • Straight-walled, centerfire, rimless cartridges have bullets that are from 0.357" to 0.500" in diameter and have a case length from 0.850" to 1.800"
    • Straight-walled, centerfire, rimmed cartridges have bullets that are from 0.357" to 0.500" in diameter and have a case length from 1.285" to 1.800"
  • Those centerfire cartridges that are listed as legal  in Iowa’s hunting regulations

Muzzleloaders:

  • Equipment
    • Flintlock or percussion cap muzzleloading rifles or muskets between .44 and .775 caliber shooting single projectiles
    • Muzzleloading pistols .44 caliber or larger with a minimum barrel length of 4 inches and no shoulder stock or long barrel modifications
    • In-line or disk-type muzzleloaders
    • Riflescopes
  • Restrictions
    • Muzzleloaders equipped with electronic ignition are not legal.

Shotgun Equipment:

  • 10-, 12-, 16-, and 20-gauge
  • Shoot only single slugs
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