Iowa- Outfitter or DIY?

Muzzy48

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 29, 2020
Messages
37
Hey Roksliders! Need some advice/recommendations on an Iowa archery deer hunt. Can’t find much info here when searching.

For some background, I live in PA and currently have 4pts in Iowa. I have a few buddies obtaining pts too as we were all gonna go together and maybe get a lease or go guided. Over the yrs some forgot and now we are all over the place. I’ve been hunting out west for Elk the last 3yrs and got the itch bad now. Unfortunately, my brother is getting a new job so he won’t have enough vacation time to go in 2023. Our other hunting partner is 1pt shy for us to draw Wyoming tags so now we have to figure out other plans. Rather than go back to CO, I’m considering trying to draw a zone 5 or 6 Iowa archery tag to burn my pts and then go back to focusing hunting out west.

My dilemma is if i do go the Iowa route, should i do a DIY hunt or pay for an outfitter? My concerns with a DIY is crowding(/enough public land to get away/enjoy the hunt) and trophy quality on public after waiting 5yrs basically. On the flip side, I’d have better odds with an outfitter but pay a crazy fee to have a chance to shoot a trophy whitetail. Most hunts seem to be running $5000-$5500 when i could spend an extra $1000 and pay for a guided elk hunt and get 3x the meat if successful. Any suggestions or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

Jimbee

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Mar 16, 2020
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There's probably enough public ground in the NE corner of the state to have a decent hunt.
 

kybuck1

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Jan 31, 2021
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I'd say if you have time to pre scout a week or so then public may be a good option. However, if you are like me and getting one week planned off and on a tight schedule a reputable outfitter is probably worth it IMO.
 

SneakyThunderCat

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Dec 14, 2018
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543
What zone are you planning on hunting? It’s not out of the question to see a few 140-150 bucks on public in southern Iowa during the rut. There will be other people hunting, but you can definitely get away from them. If you’re in 4 or 5, I’d suggest you don’t even look at anything within an hour of Des Moines.


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Whip

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Nov 28, 2015
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473
Are you looking to bowhunt? Zones 5 & 6 aren't a lock with 4 points. You'd have a chance, but not guaranteed anymore. We're finally hunting zone 6 this year but it took 5 points to do it. Lots of people last year didn't draw with 4 including our group of 3.
 
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K98

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Sep 20, 2022
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We hunted with iowa missouri trophy hunts in 2018. Geoff will treat you right. We are booked for iowa hopefully next year but i have a feeling it will be in 2024. Iowa is flat awesome hunting. Good luck.
 

Yoder

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Jan 12, 2021
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432
I would rather kill a spike buck by myself on public land than kill a giant buck on private with an outfitter. I went on one guided hunt. I felt like I was a little kid again and my dad was setting me up in my stand for the day. I could see paying an outfitter for an elk hunt but not whitetails.
 

WI Shedhead

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Joined
Oct 9, 2012
Messages
107
You will run into people on public, but thier are places to get away. If you cannot get to the unit to scout before you draw the tag, give yourself 2 weeks in November and a chance at a 140” is very doable. And coming from pa you can do that hunt door to door for $2500. Be flexible and mobile. Good luck!!!!!
 
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Muzzy48

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Feb 29, 2020
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37
Im looking at zones 5 or 6. I know the draw odds favor 5 but I know there are tags being drawn so there’s at least a chance(or there was). I’m trying to figure out if there’s enough public land with enough access to enjoy a hunt no matter when i get drawn that my 7+ day hunt wouldn’t be ruined 6 of 7 days by people(hunters or not). Remember, i hunt PA so I know what crowding is. Haha.

As far as trophy potential, id be looking for a 160+ if i went guided and would be happy with a 140 or anything that got me excited on public. I understand I’d have to set my goals accordingly. I leased ground in Illinois for a few years before heading west. I learned real quick that it wasn’t what’s portrayed on TV that there’s a 150” behind every tree. Im not saying we didn’t see some nice ones but not what some might be inclined to believe. I enjoyed hunting there (some maybe from being able to do my own thing and create my own luck) but was spending more than I wanted for the quality of deer i was typically seeing.

For those who went guided, do you have recommendations(good or bad) of outfitters?

Thanks again. Appreciate it.
 

Rich M

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Jun 14, 2017
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Orlando
I have no suggestions just the comment that a guided hunt is a lot more relaxing than dealing w knuckleheads on public. $6,000 more relaxing ?? is up to you.
 

Trial153

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Joined
Oct 28, 2014
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7,706
Location
NY
I get a lease for the bow season when I draw an Iowa tag. Gives me plenty of time, space and opportunity. Too much invested in time and money for the limited public land Iowa has.
 

Scottyboy

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Dec 17, 2016
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881
Location
Minnesota
I get a lease for the bow season when I draw an Iowa tag. Gives me plenty of time, space and opportunity. Too much invested in time and money for the limited public land Iowa has.
Do you mind me asking where you find a lease? I know this is tribal knowledge sort of thing but when the tag is every 2-3-5++ years it might not be. PM welcomed of course 😁. (I’ll have “max points” for 2023 so any unit is in play)
 

Trackerbacker

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Feb 3, 2022
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Do you mind me asking where you find a lease? I know this is tribal knowledge sort of thing but when the tag is every 2-3-5++ years it might not be. PM welcomed of course 😁. (I’ll have “max points” for 2023 so any unit is in play)
There's a few hole in the wall spots ive hiked into during late november for a 2 day scout camp, that I wouldn't mind spending time scouting more of through the year. NE iowa

I know 2 other good spot that's guaranteed to get deer, good spot for an any sex. It's a bitch getting in to, hence no public pressure (it is public land), ones 100 yards of thickets over terrain, the other is 100 yards of thickets followed by 100 yards of cedar you might as well crawl through. southeast central iowa.

My good spot I ain't sharing, and my great spot ain't open anymore, but there's about 10 that if you put in some sweat equity (read: hoof it in a bit farther, past the farmers and the hicks) that would payoff well.

Here it's common to drag deer out, so that partially comes into play with how far the public goes in on public land. The other is some of the more aggressive terrain limiting ambitions.

If you're willing to scout, go DIY. If you want to show up and shoot, pay someone.

I try 2-3 spots a year (deer 1-2 tags and management seasons (not always opened, left over tag based in a few counties)), there's more land than you think, and less pressure farther in.

Helps to be a winter camper too.

Pressured 4 deer today just scouting in season. Deer 1 started today, I wanted to check pressure at a spot and it's surrounding area. I'll hit a different spot tomorrow, maybe get serious on Monday. No snow on the ground yet, I enjoy snow with my deer, so I'll be quite a bit more serious about where I go if the management is open (guaranteed snow), and what I'm going for.

Consider it, but ill head out for scout trip if you decide diy
 

Leaf Litter

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Joined
Sep 8, 2022
Messages
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Iowa resident here and if you want my honest opinion: Never pay a red-cent to deer hunt in this state. Deer hunting is too easy here to be worth paying an outfitter $5k. There's so much public land in Eastern Iowa and too many deer to hunt, no need to pay some do-nothing "outfitter" to hunt on flat land a few hundred yards from a road. Spend the extra $1k and go elk hunting where the money will be spent on an actual service.


Again, just one man's opinion.
 
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