Northeast Iowa Deer Hunting

Northeast Iowa

Many think of Iowa as only flat farmland, but there are many rugged areas. In fact, all of the best public hunting land in the state looks like this – too rugged to plow! Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

With the amount of public hunting land available in northeast Iowa, the whole area has become a bowhunting destination. This article is going to focus on the largest blocks of state land, though some of the smaller areas also produce good action. In general, the deer numbers throughout the area are down from their peak in 1991, but still exist in huntable numbers.

The terrain throughout northeast Iowa is some of the most rugged in the state. Hunting pressure is relatively high near access points, but drops off rapidly once you put a high bluff or ridge between yourself and the parking area. In each area listed, you will be able to find isolation if that is your goal. Most areas have few, if any deer hunters during the middle of the week. Terrain-related deer travel patterns predominate, and trophy buck potential in all of these areas is fair to good.

Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge

Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge comprises 200,000 acres of bottomland timber, sloughs, backwaters and main channel located primarily in Allamakee and Clayton counties. Very few locals bowhunt the bottoms. The best spots require boat access, dramatically limiting hunting pressure. Your only problem is avoiding duck hunters. Look for funnels created by high ground between backwater sloughs. Overall, deer numbers are fair, but trophy potential can be good. Lansing has a motel and is a good place to stay when hunting the refuge.

Yellow River Forest

Yellow River Forest is made up of three blocks totaling nearly 7,900 acres of big timber interspersed with pockets of open upland cover. Though permission to hunt private land surrounding the forest is tough to come by, you might get the nod to cross it when seeking isolated portions of the forest. Yellow River has a campground, but the nearest motels are in Harper's Ferry and Waukon.

French Creek and Lansing Wildlife Areas

French Creek and Lansing Wildlife Areas add up to roughly 3,300 acres of deer habitat. Numbers and trophy buck potential are both average, but this is some of the prettiest country you'll ever hunt. The town of Lansing is a good base of operation when hunting these two areas.

Upper Iowa Accesses

Upper Iowa Accesses are located primarily in Winneshiek County and total just over 3,300 acres. This rugged country overlooks the scenic Upper Iowa River, and offers beautiful vistas. Decorah is the closest town with accommodations.

Sny Magill and Bloody Run Creek

Sny Magill and Bloody Run Creek in Clayton County offer a combined total of nearly 2,200 acres of rough ground and timber. There are spots where you can get away from other deer hunters, but these two areas have fairly good access. MacGregor is a quaint river town and offers the handiest motels.

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