Coyote Hunting in Iowa: Rules and Regulations

Coyote hunting in Iowa strike your fancy? Well, Iowa sits between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. It’s one colossal landscape of perfect coyote habitat; rolling plains and cornfields. While the State is coyote hunter friendly, you need to know a few rules and regulations. Check them out below, then update yourself before you make a stand.

Rules and regulations for coyotes hunting in Iowa
Coyote in a field. Photo Credit: Donnelly

Coyote hunting in Iowa is permitted all year, day and night. A license is required, bait piles are permitted, and electronic predator callers are allowed. In addition, at specific times and under the right conditions, infrared riflescopes are authorized.

Read on for more do and do not rules regarding coyote hunting in Iowa.

Related: Find your legendary stand location. Read this article.

Related: Learn the laws for hunting fox in Iowa.

Related: Check here for the laws for hunting bobcats in Iowa.

Rules and regulations for coyote hunting in Iowa

Coyote and groundhog may be hunted with either a Furharvester License or a Hunting License. Nonresident furharvesters wanting to purchase an Iowa nonresident Furharvester License may only do so if their state of residence sells a nonresident Furharvester/Trapping License to Iowa residents.


You cannot use a one or two-way mobile radio transmitter to communicate the location or direction of game or furbearing animals or coordinate other hunters’ movement.

Exceptions: Coyote hunters may use two-way radios, except during seasons of two shotgun deer.

Related: GARBAGE I WASTED MY MONEY ON? Check out my most expensive mistakes here.


While taking or attempting to take game or furbearing animals, you cannot abandon the injured animal without making a reasonable effort to retrieve it from the field. Additionally, you cannot leave a usable portion of the game or furbearing animal in the field. “Usable portion” in this instance means the following: 1) for game, that part of an animal that is customarily processed for consumption; and 2) for furbearing animals, the fur or hide of the animal.


A person having lawful possession of game or furbearing animals or pelts taken with a valid license by that person may hold, possess or store the game or furbearing animals or pelts in an amount that does not exceed the possession limit until the day before the first day of the next open season for that game or furbearing animal.

Related: What is my favorite night hunting scope? Read here to find out.

Weapon mounted lights only when hunting coyotes in Iowa.

Iowa allows night hunting of coyotes, but does not allow the use of artificial light. Coyote hunting at night is therefore limited to using the light of the moon, hunting animals on snow, or the use of rifle mounted night vision or thermal riflescopes.

Sights that project a light beam, including laser sights, are not legal for hunting. You cannot cast the rays of a spotlight, headlight, or other artificial light on a highway or in a field, woodland, or forest for spotting, locating, taking, or attempting to take or hunt a bird or animal, while having in possession or control, either singly or as one of a group of persons, any firearm, bow or other devices capable of killing or taking a bird or animal. This rule does not apply to hunting raccoons or other furbearing animals when they are treed with the aid of dogs.

A person may use an infrared light source for hunting coyotes as long as the infrared light source is mounted to the method of taking or to a scope mounted on the method of taking. HOWEVER, no person shall use an infrared light source for hunting coyotes during any established muzzleloader, bow, or shotgun deer hunting season.

Related: Can your read a coyote’s mind? Learn how to tell what a coyote’s about to do.

Hunting coyotes in Iowa from planes and snowmobiles is illegal.


A person shall not intentionally kill or wound, attempt to kill or wound or pursue any animal, fowl, or fish from or with an aircraft or drone in flight, or from or with any vehicles commonly known as snowmobiles. Drones are considered aircraft by the U.S. Federal Government.


The use of motor vehicles in all game management areas is restricted.

Iowa coyote hunting: Areas requiring nontoxic ammunition.


BENTON County, Iowa River Corridor;

BOONE County, Harrier Marsh WMA;

BUENA VISTA County, all land enrolled in IHAP, all state & federal areas;

CALHOUN County, South Twin Lake;

CERRO GORDO County, all land enrolled in IHAP, all state & federal areas;

CLAY County, all land enrolled in IHAP, all state & federal areas except the Ocheyedan WMA target shooting range;

DICKINSON County, all land enrolled in IHAP, all state & federal areas except the Spring Run WMA target shooting area;

EMMET County, all state & federal areas; FRANKLIN County, all state & federal areas; GREENE County, all land enrolled in IHAP, all

state & federal areas except for Rippey Access & North Raccoon River;

GUTHRIE County, McCord Pond, Lakin Slough & Bays Branch WMAs, excluding the target shooting range at Bays Branch WMA.

HAMILTON County, Little Wall Lake, Gordon Marsh & Bauer Slough WMAs;

HANCOCK County, all land enrolled in IHAP, all state & federal area;

HUMBOLDT County, all state & federal areas; IOWA County, Iowa River Corridor;

JASPER County, Chichaqua WMA; KOSSUTH County, all land enrolled in IHAP, all state & federal areas;

OSCEOLA County, all state & federal areas; PALO ALTO County, all land enrolled in IHAP, all state & federal areas;

POCAHONTAS County; all state & federal areas except Kalsow Prairie;

POLK County, Paul Errington Marsh WMA & Chichaqua WMAs;

SAC County, all state & federal areas except White Horse Access & Sac City Access;

STORY County, Colo Bog & Hendrickson Marsh; TAMA County, all land enrolled in IHAP & Iowa River Corridor;

WINNEBAGO County, all land enrolled in IHAP, all state & federal areas;

WORTH County, all state & federal areas; WRIGHT County, all land enrolled in IHAP, all state & federal areas.

Target shooting on these areas will also require the use of nontoxic shots.

Where to purchase an Iowa coyote hunting license.


The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is required to collect social security numbers from all persons obtaining a hunting, fishing, or other recreational licenses under section 252J.8 of the Code of Iowa and 42 U.S. Code 666(a)(13). Your social security number will serve as your principal identification number to determine your eligibility for licenses. It will be provided to enforcement agencies to establish, modify and enforce child support and tax obligations. It WILL NOT appear on your hunting or fishing license.


Iowa offers free annual hunting and fishing licenses and veteran lifetime hunting and fishing licenses to qualifying residents. For qualifications and special license applications, contact the DNR at 515-725- 8200.

Iowa Resident coyote hunting license regulations.


A NONRESIDENT is a person who is not a resident of Iowa. NOTE: Iowa residents who have previously hunted, fished, and or trapped as nonresidents are urged to plan ahead to obtain license privileges. The electronic licensing system for hunting, fishing, and trapping automatically identifies people who have previously obtained licenses as nonresidents. This law change was made to identify a growing problem in Iowa of nonresidents falsifying records to obtain (invalid) resident licenses illegally. Hunters, anglers and trappers who previously held a nonresident Iowa license but are now eligible for resident licenses need to fill out and return a form that can be accessed at Former non- residents are encouraged to do this as soon as possible as changes may take up to two weeks. License vendors CANNOT make this change at the point of sale and it cannot be done over the phone. For questions, contact the local conservation officer.

RESIDENT means a person who meets one of the following criteria.

1. Has physically resided in this state as the per- son’s principal and primary residence or domicile for a period of not less than 90 consecutive days immediately before applying for or purchasing a resident license, and has an Iowa driver’s license or non-operators ID. Factors to determine the domicile include, but are not limited to: place of employment, mailing (street) address, utility records, real estate records, vehicle registrations.

A person is not considered a resident under this paragraph if the person is residing in the state only for a special or temporary purpose including, but not limited to; engaging in hunting, fishing or trapping.

2. Is a full-time student at an accredited educational institution in Iowa and resides in Iowa while attending the educational institution, or is a full-time student under 25 years of age at an accredited educational institution outside the state as long as at least one parent or legal guardian maintains a principal and primary residence in Iowa.

3. Is a nonresident under 18 years of age with a parent who is a legal resident of Iowa.

4. Is a member of the armed forces of the United States who is serving on active duty and meets any of the following qualifications:

(1) Claims residency in this state and has filed

a state individual income tax return as a resident pursuant to chapter 422, division II, for the preceding tax year.

(2) Is stationed at a federal military installation in this state, or at a federal military installation contiguous to a county in this state, and is domiciled within this state.

(3) Is stationed at and resides or is domiciled within a federal military installation located contiguous to a county in this state.

Dual Residency Not Permitted: Unless you qualify under 2, 3 or 4 in the previous paragraph, a person shall not purchase or apply for any resident license or permit if that person has claimed residency in any other state or country.

Coyote hunting in Iowa: All accidents must be reported.


Anyone involved in a hunting accident involving a firearm, which results in a personal injury or property damage exceeding $100, must report the accident within 12 hours to the sheriff’s office in the county where the accident occurred, to the local conservation officer, or if neither are avail- able and it is between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. M-F, to the DNR in Des Moines at 515-725-8200.


Upon request, you must show your license, certificate or permit to any peace officer or the owner or person in lawful control of the land or water on which you are hunting or trap- ping. You must have in your possession either in license form or electronically, your license, certificate or permit.

Iowa: Hunter harassment laws protect coyote hunting too.


A person shall not interfere with the lawful hunting or trapping activities of another person where hunting or trapping is authorized by a custodian of public property or an owner or lessee of private property. Acts that could be considered as interfering, obstructing or harassing include, but are not limited to:

• intentionally placing oneself in a location

where human presence may affect the behavior of a furbearing animal, game bird or other game or the feasibility of killing or taking a furbearing animal, game bird or other game;

• intentionally creating a visual, audio, olfactory or physical stimulus for the purpose of affecting the behavior of a furbearing animal, game bird or other game;

• intentionally affecting the condition or alter- ing the placement of personal property used for the purpose of taking furbearing animals, birds or other game.

This rule does not prohibit a landowner, tenant or an employee of the landowner or tenant from performing normal agricultural operations or a law enforcement officer from performing official duties.

Prohibited hunting near buildings in Iowa.

You cannot discharge a firearm, or shoot

or attempt to shoot, a game or furbearing animal within 200 yards of a building inhabited by people or domestic livestock or a feedlot unless the owner or tenant has given consent to do so. Feedlot means a lot, yard or corral where live- stock is confined for the purpose of feeding and growth prior to slaughter. Pastures, hayfields or cropfields where animals are allowed to graze are not considered feedlots.

Public hunting areas protected in Iowa.

If a public hunting area was in place prior to the construction of an adjacent feedlot or building inhabited by people or livestock and such construction occurred on or after May 14, 2004, then consent is not required to shoot on the public hunting area or within 200 yards of the feedlot or building. This act protects existing uses of public hunting areas from infringements caused by new construction and development.

As used in this subsection, “public hunting area” means public lands or waters available for hunting by the public and identified as a public hunting area by the city, county, state or federal government.

“Hunting” means any pursuing, hunting, killing, trapping, snaring, netting, searching

for or shooting at, stalking or lying in wait for any game, animal, bird or fish protected by the state laws or rules adopted by the commission whether or not such animal is captured, killed or injured.

Coyote hunting in Iowa facts.

The coyote population is stretched across the state with the highest population in the west. Coyotes are generalist’s predators and can be found near large brushpiles, timber and grass fields, and in particular, mowed fields. 

An average of 15,000 Iowa hunters go after coyotes after January 10. That’s when most of Iowa’s hunting seasons close, and coyote hunting begins in earnest.

Coyote hunters need to be aware of the occasional wolf passing through the state. Wolves are protected in Iowa.

Updated coyote hunting in Iowa laws.

Check out the State’s hunting page for more info.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for

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