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The Whole Non-Resident Tag Drama

I have told many of you about The Iowa Bowhunters Association, the lobbying group against almost all non-resident deer hunting and outfitting in the state of Iowa. "Why is it so hard to get tags?" They have the louder and bigger voice. It is what it is. Yet, The Iowa legislature knows that there are opportunities for hunters, both residents and non-residents, here in Iowa. Below the small italicized text is from a post published by the organization to Iowa resident bowhunters, which has now spread via social media and private networking. My input is in orange within. Please take a look at what is on the table for Iowa deer hunting.

"This legislative session is turning into a run away train. We need everyone to get involved and contact their legislators." - Iowa Bowhunters Association

Legislative Update

Week 7

The first procedural deadline of the 2023 Session of the Iowa Legislature arrives at the close of business on Friday. The so-called "First Funnel" is the date by which policy bills must be approved by a standing committee in its house of origin to remain eligible for further consideration that year. With that being said, the IBA may be sending additional messages this week on important legislation. Each piece of legislation below is linked so that you can read the current legislation. Legislation in bold text is newly introduced legislation. With all three branches of government controlled by the Republican party, all legislation sponsored by a Republican legislator will move quickly. It's imperative that you contact legislators. Always be polite and respectful.

SSB1184 – Pertains to Depredation Tags (O)

Subcommittee: Zumbach, Celsi, and De Witt

Sponsored by the Natural Resource Committee and Sen. Sweeney

SF383 – Adds Physical Therapist to the list as to who OK's disability permit. (O)

Allows a Physical therapist along with a doctor to decide who will receive a disabled crossbow permit

Sponsored by Sen. Sweeney – District 27 – Hardin Co.

SSB1184 - This is not a huge deal. No matter the restriction or guideline, it will always be fudged. I think crossbows are a great tool for those who are unable to adequately use their upper body to draw back a bow to shoot. Physical therapists can be much cheaper and easier to get seen by than a doctor, so this seems like an efficient maneuver within reason. Of course, there are bad apples everywhere who will exploit it. It is what it is, but I see no issue with this.

SJR8 – Constitutional Amendment right to hunt, fish, trap and harvest wildlife (S)

Subcommittee recommended passage

HF322 – Transferable deer tags to landowners (O)

Two free tags to the landowner, then they may sell to the highest bidder.

Sponsored by Rep. Hora - District 92 - Washington Co.

This is a huge plus for landowners, and I have no problem with this. This will allow me to bid for some extra tags to further build a quality outfitter operation without being limited to 10-15 clients a year. If that number of clients increase, I will need more leases and help with management. Such will require more capital funds to operate, par for the course, so nothing abnormal or negative here... as long as the landowners do not poach while also selling their tags!

SF363 (formerly SF277)– NR family member deer tags (O)

Nonresident Family Members Deer Tags (A) - This bill creates a special deer hunting license available to certain nonresident family members. The bill allows a nonresident who is a family member of a resident to purchase a nonresident family member deer hunting license for a fee that is one-half the fee of a nonresident deer hunting license established by the Natural Resource Commission by rule. A nonresident may only use a nonresident family member hunting license while hunting with a resident who is a family member of the nonresident Sponsored by Sen. Klimesh - District 32 - Winneshiek Co.

Subcommittee: Driscoll, Trone Garriott, and Zumbach

This is one I can see being the biggest issue. I know a lot of non-resident family members want deer tags, but I think they should be restricted to their own family's land. This would require a Landowner Tag element being applied. If the in-state resident family member does not have land, so be it. Go through the general deer tag lottery like everyone else!

SF255 – Nonresident deer tags to outfitters – (O)

Sponsored by Sen. Green (Boone)

The bill requires the Natural Resources Committee to reserve 500 of the nonresident antlered or any sex deer hunting licenses for nonresidents who have made a reservation with an outfitter, as defined in the bill, that is currently registered as a business entity with the secretary of state and has maintained registration since prior to July 1, 2022. Referred to Natural Resources

This is the best thing I have seen in years! This could easily provide me with an average of 5 to 10 tags a year. I have a business entity registered through the state, so MDLO would apply! If this changes, our rates will definitely decrease as we will be able to make hunting more affordable for non-residents. My prices are as high as I need them to be, but I would love to bring them down because I can entertain some additional hunters each year. It is my job to balance it out while promoting quality low hunting pressure - something we can definitely do well!

SF138 - Airbows (O) - This bill provides that an airbow is a legal method of take during any deer hunting season in which any firearm is a legal method of take.

Approved by subcommittee with an amendment

This is pretty cool! I've seen them, but I have never fired one. If the weapon system is restrictive like a compound bow or muzzleloader (one shot mode), it is not an advancement that will kill more deer like a .300 Win Mag would be! Ha!

SF208 – (formerly SF175) Second Chance Bow Tags (O) -

This bill allows a person who was unsuccessful in taking a deer during a bow season while using a bow season deer hunting license, to use the license and unfilled tag during the late muzzleloader season or the January antlerless deer hunting season that follows the bow season for which the license and tag were valid. A person hunting pursuant to the bill is authorized to hunt using a crossbow during the January antlerless deer hunting season.

We would need to see if this would be restricted to only residents or both residents and non-residents. Currently, unused bow tags can be used in late muzzleloader season with archery equipment because there is a late archery split. This reads as if it would allow bow tags to be fill with a muzzleloader... which would be a huge win for my clients if unable to fill their tag during the early bow split. Yet, balance would be needed as I do have late muzzleloader hunters anyway. We will see how this goes...

SF42 - Increases nonresident tag quota from 6,000 to 7,500 (O)

Sponsored by Sen. Klimesh (District 32)

The bill increases the number of nonresidents any sex deer tags from the current 6,000 to 7,500. The bill requires NRC to use a random draw process that is weighted to favor applicants with the most preference points to assign nonresident antlered or any sex deer hunting licenses until all available nonresident antlered or any sex deer hunting licenses have been issued. The bill also provides that when a nonresident uses the antlerless deer only deer hunting license and tag that the nonresident is required to purchase with an antlered or any sex deer hunting license to take an antlerless deer in a zone that is above the population goal determined by NRC, then NRC will assign one preference point to the nonresident.

Subcommittee: Driscoll, Bennett, and Rozenboom

Another huge plus for deer hunting for Iowa non-residents and quality outfitters. More tags! Less wait! An extra 1500 tags per the state would equate out to 15 more tags per county on average. Considering the density of the tags in Southern Iowa, this is more likely to be 50-100 tags per zone at least! Better draw odds, more tags, wow! What an improvement while not going overboard. I applaud them for adding the preference point value for harvesting a doe. We may have to shoot some does!!!


HF - House File HSB - House Study Bill SF - Senate File SSB - Senate Study Bill

(O) – Oppose

(S) – Support

(M)- Monitoring; watching the bill closely for any changes that may occur

(NR)- Not registered; our lobbyist has not declared our position

Session Timeline:

January 9 - First day of session

Feb. 10 - Final day for individual Senator and Representative requests for bill and joint resolution drafts to the Legislative Services Agency (Senate Rule 27 and House Rule 29)

March 3 - Final date for Senate bills and join resolutions to be reported out of originating committees

March 13-17 - Chambers considers their own bills & unfinished business

March 31 - Bills must be out of the second chamber's committees

April 3-7 - Chambers consider other chamber's bills

April 10 - Limited debate on Ways, Apropos, etc. (Joint Rule 20)

April 28 - Final scheduled Day of Session

PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I am excited to see if this legislation passes knowing there are some residents who are so fixed in their small-minded ways to consider the value this brings to the state of Iowa and our deer hunting culture. Thanks for reading everyone!


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Tyler Heatwole
Tyler Heatwole
Jul 05, 2023

Can a non resident be an outfitter just to up there odds of getting a tag? I think you will see more outfitters in iowa if this happens and it will drive the prices of leases up like it has every where else.


Your comments reflect your clients and most out of state bowhunters. Iowa Bowhunting Association has monopolized it's power via the legislature for years Definitely a more common sense approach as we have been cheated for years. Myself and my friends don't consider Iowa a friendly state to out of state hunter's. We love the people but the politics have soured our desire to hunt in Iowa. Thanks for being that voice for those who have no voice.

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