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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 are not legal, except for:
      • Physically handicapped hunters who have a special permit.
      • Residents 70 years of age and older who have an antlerless-only statewide crossbow deer license.

Centerfire Rifles: Centerfire rifles must be .24 caliber or larger.

Handguns:

  • Equipment
    • Centerfire handguns .357 caliber or larger, shooting straight wall 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.
    • 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.

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