Iowa DNR: Dove, teal, squirrel and rabbit seasons starting soon

Iowa DNR: Dove, teal, squirrel and rabbit seasons starting soon

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Iowa’s dove season begins Sept. 1

Iowa’s sunflower and wheat fields will be popular places on Sept. 1, when thousands of hunters slip into the standing flowers and field edges in the early morning darkness for the opening day of dove hunting season.

It doesn’t require expensive equipment to participate, only clothes that blend in to the background, a bucket and plenty of shells. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources includes a list of wildlife areas at where dove plots were planted. Hunters are strongly encouraged to scout their areas before the season opens.

Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa DNR, said hunters looking for Plan B may want to focus on private land where farmers impacted by the flooding did a preventive planting. They could also look for silage or hay fields, harvested small grain fields, grazed pastures or feedlots.

“It really comes down to scouting, getting out there and looking at the area. If you’re on a public area look to see if the dove fields got in, if it matured and got mowed. Then scout it a day or two ahead of the season to see if and how the doves are using it,” he said.

All dove hunters are required to register with the Harvest Information Program. It’s free and the information is used to help determine participation and harvest. Register by following the instructions at or by calling 855-242-3683.

Dove season is Sept. 1-Nov. 29. Shooting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to sunset. Daily bag limit is 15 (mourning or Eurasian collared) with a possession limit of 30. Hunters are reminded that their gun must be plugged to hold no more than three shells. If hunting public areas north of I-80, hunters should check to see if nontoxic shot is required.

Iowa’s teal hunting season begins Sept. 1

Iowa’s 16-day statewide teal-only hunting season begins Sept. 1 and all indicators are pointing toward hunters having a good year in Iowa.

“We likely had good production on our marshes this spring and our wetlands are in their normal late summer conditions,” said Orrin Jones, state waterfowl biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “Teal are an abundant species that is lightly harvested. It’s a fun species to hunt because they decoy fairly easily and often will make a few passes over the marsh, which makes it a good season to bring a young or novice hunter along.”

Jones suggested hunters prepare for the season by going through their equipment and replacing any that’s worn out or broken and spend some time scouting the areas they plan to hunt.

Because this is a teal-only hunting season, properly identifying teal is crucial.

“Set up in a place with good visibility and use the sun to your advantage either over your shoulder or at your back. Look closely to determine if it’s a teal and if you’re unsure, give them a pass – they’ll come around again,” Jones said.

The September teal season is a bonus season that does not count against the number of days available for the regular duck season. It has different shooting hours from regular duck season; shooting hours for teal season begins at sunrise and ends at sunset. Hunters are required to limit their gun to holding no more than three shells and must use nontoxic shot only. The daily bag limit is six teal with a possession limit of 18.

Federal Duck Stamp now available

New this year is the ability for hunters to purchase their federal duck stamp wherever they purchase their Iowa hunting and fishing licenses. Hunters will receive a temporary e-stamp that is valid for 45 days. The physical stamp will arrive in the mail.

Waterfowl hunters are required to purchase an Iowa migratory game bird fee and the federal duck stamp, in addition to having a valid Iowa hunting license and habitat fee, in order to hunt waterfowl.

Iowa’s rabbit, squirrel season opens Aug. 31

The good news for Iowa’s cottontail rabbit hunters is that Iowa has a strong population of rabbits, similar to last year, with only the east central part of the state seeing a decline in numbers. The better news for hunters is Iowa’s cottontail rabbit season begins Aug. 31 statewide.

Last year, an estimated 20,500 hunters harvested more than 123,000 cottontail rabbits. The most popular way to hunt is with a shotgun walking brushy areas with grass next to crop fields in the morning or evening. It can be done individually or with a group of friends.

Squirrel hunting

 Squirrel season starts on Aug. 31 this year.

Cottontail rabbit season is Aug. 31 to Feb. 28, 2020. The daily limit is 10 rabbits with a possession limit of 20. Jackrabbit season is closed. While wearing blaze orange clothing is not required to hunt rabbits, it is recommended. Shooting hours for rabbits is sunrise to sunset.

Iowa’s squirrel population generally follows the acorn production and last year saw good production statewide, with white oak and bur oak leading the way.

Squirrel season is Aug. 31 to Jan. 31, 2020, with a daily bag limit of six squirrels and a possession limit of 12. There is no restriction on shooting hours. Both the gray squirrel and the fox squirrel can be taken in Iowa.

Hunters looking for places to go rabbit or squirrel hunting should use Iowa’s online hunting atlas at, with more than 600,000 acres of public land that allows hunting.


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