Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for a tag?

To apply for a tag you must apply during the application dates listed above.  Go to the Iowa DNR website www.iowadnr.gov to fill out your application.  They provide a phone number and are happy to assist you with questions on the application.  Please check with me prior to applying to make sure you are applying for the correct season and zone.  We are in zone 4.

What are my chances of drawing a tag?

Some tags are much easier to draw than others.  Archery tags take the longest to draw here in Iowa.  A hunter normally has to have 2 preference points before they have a good chance at drawing an archery tag.  Therefore, on the 3rd year of applying you will most likely draw an archery tag.  However, Shotgun and Late Muzzleloader tags are much easier to draw.  A hunter has about a 60% chance to draw a shotgun or Late Muzzleloader tag the first year they apply.  With any preference points the hunter is almost guaranteed to draw.  So do not feel that it is too tough to draw an Iowa tag as they are easier to obtain than most think.

What is a preference point and how do I build them up to help my chances to draw a tag?

A preference point can be obtained in 2 different ways.  When you apply for your tag and if you do not draw you will be given a preference point.  When you draw a tag your preference points will then be turned back to Zero.  Another way to obtain a preference point is to buy one.  You must purchase your point during the application period that is listed at the top of this page.  A preference point is $50.  Buying a point is a good option for a hunter who is not sure what year he/she wants to book.  Buying points until the year you plan to apply is highly recommended.  That way your chances of drawing a tag for that year are much better.  You cannot buy a point and apply for a license the same year.  Also you can only apply for one season and zone per year.

What if I have to cancel my hunt or move my hunt back to a different year?

If a hunter must cancel their hunt, all deposits and/or payments to Southwest Iowa Outfitters, whether scheduled or non scheduled, are NON-REFUNDABLE. No exceptions.

Hunters who must reschedule their original booked hunt may do so. However, another deposit of $1000 will be due and the price of your hunt will be subject to the price for the next year.

What if I do not draw a tag, what happens with my full $1000 deposit?

If you do not draw do not worry.  Your deposit will be held as credit and you will be locked into your spot for when you do draw a tag.  You will also be locked into the pricing of the year you originally sent deposit.  So if prices go up after you send me the booking deposit do not worry as you will be locked into the price discussed on the day of booking. Not drawing a tag is not considered a cancellation, so you are locked into the prices that we originally booked you at.

What if I cannot pay my deposit on time?

Please keep in mind that this is a business.  If you do not have the money for the trip you may consider waiting to book when you do have the funds to book such a trip.  Your deposit is due within 1 month from the day that you verbally book your spot for a hunt with us.  A $100 late fee for each month that it is late will be enforced.  For example: If you book with me on May 15 you have until June 15 to make your initial deposit.  If your deposit is sent later than June 15 a $100 late fee will be added to the total cost of your hunt.  And so on and so on for each month after that.  If deposit is not received in due time your spot may be re-opened and then filled by someone else.  Keep in mind that we are a business and we have to pay bills too, this is a job.  Your ability and willingness to book and get deposits in on time are much appreciated.  If you have to set up a payment plan or negotiate payments you must do so at time of booking and it must be okayed by Southwest Iowa Outfitters.

(ATTENTION GROUPS) I booked with a group of hunters. I paid some of the other group members deposits and they cancelled at the last minute. What do I do now? And can their deposit credit toward my hunt?

If you pay for another group members deposit it is NOT transferable to your hunt if they cancel.  If you are the group leader or paying for fellow group members deposit it is your responsibility to make sure that all of the group members are serious about booking and plan to make the trip.  If they cancel their $1000 will not be refunded and will not credit toward any other group members hunt.  If this does happen you may look for other hunters to take their spot and join your group.  The $1000 can then transfer to the new group member.  Keep in mind that when you book with a certain amount of hunters I block out their spots so no one else can book.  Anyone who cancels is then a loss of money for us.  If they cancel and the group cannot find anyone else to take their spots then those spots will be open for other customers to book.  For example if you book 8 spots and show up at the lodge with 6 then the two vacant spots must still be paid for.  MAKE SURE ALL GROUP MEMBERS ARE SERIOUS ABOUT BOOKING AND HAVE THEM SEND THEIR OWN DEPOSIT.  OTHERWISE THE GROUP IS STUCK PAYING FOR THEIR SPOT DUE TO THEIR CANCELLATION IF THE SPOT IS NOT FILLED BY ANOTHER GROUP MEMBER!!!

What are my chances of harvesting a buck and how big of a buck should I expect?

Our success rates are 75%.  The average buck taken is 160 gross inches.  All of my non-successful customers have either had shots or could have taken animals 140 inches and bigger.  They either chose not to take that animal waiting on a bigger animal or missed, giving my customers 100% shot opportunity on quality animals.

Does Southwest Iowa Outfitters administer a trophy fee for bigger deer or penalties for smaller deer that are harvested?

We do not charge a trophy fee for bigger bucks that are taken.  I feel that the bigger of an animal you take the better!  A bigger animal taken helps my business and makes you the customer even happier with a successful hunt.  I do not believe in trophy fees.  You should not be charged for killing a great animal.  Gratuities are highly appreciated however.  I do have a minimum size of 130 gross inches.  If a hunter harvests an animal smaller than 130 a $1500 management fee will be enforced.  This fee is to promote harvest of bigger bucks and to keep customers from harvesting young deer that should not be harvested.  This only ensures that you and other hunters have the piece of mind that we are managing our deer herd to the fullest.  This also lets you know that you will continue to see and harvest big bucks with us in the future.

**Please note we are now offering a trophy hunt option on Cody and Cole’s personal hunting spots.  A trophy fee is enforced on those hunts. Contact Cole for information and pricing on trophy hunts.

What if I wound an animal? What happens with my hunt?

A wounded animal in considered a harvested animal.  We will assist you in looking for the animal and will search until all possibilities and avenues have been exhausted.  If the animal is not recovered the hunter may hunt another animal for $2500.  Then if that hunter then wounds another deer their hunt is over.  If you do not want to pay the fee to hunt another animal then your hunt for a buck is over.  You may then hunt a doe for $250.

What do I do with my meat or horns after harvest?

Most of our customers donate the meat back to us, especially if the customers are flying.  For those who want to take the meat home we can help skin and quarter the animal.  We have bags and plenty of freezer space here at the lodge to preserve your meat for the trip home.  Any customer who wishes to ship meat home will be in charge of that on their own accord.  As far as horns go we can help cape the animal.  We also have a local taxidermist that we recommend to our customers. You can see his work here at the lodge as he has done most of our personal trophies.

Do the owners hunt the properties I am hunting?

No, the owners (Cody and Cole) do not hunt the spots that you are hunting.  We save all of those spots for you the customer to make sure that you are hunting fresh stands.  We only allow 2 kills per farm per year to keep pressure to an absolute minimum, and quality to a maximum.  We do however also enjoy hunting.  We hunt 2500 personal acres so we can also have fresh stands and enjoy the sport of hunting together.  We save 9,000 fresh acres for our customers to hunt!

**Please note we are now offering Private Farm Hunts (Trophy Farm Hunts) on our personal properties.  A trophy fee is enforced on those hunts.  Click to see info and pricing on the Private Farm hunts.

Do I tip the guide (Cole) and the cook (Cody)?

Providing this service, in our eyes, is very similar to going to a nice restaurant to be served an exceptional meal.  For great service we all tip our waiters and waitresses.  We feel outfitting is very similar and gratuities show appreciation to the service that we are providing.  We also go on guided fishing and hunting trips.  We give gratuities to our guides to show how much we appreciate what they have done for us.  We know how much work is involved to create a great trip for a customer prior to, during, and after the hunt.  A gratuity of 10-20% of the total cost of your hunt is average here at Southwest Iowa Outfitters.  We appreciate any gratuities that we are offered as it lets us know that we are doing a good job.

What are the meals like and how are the accommodations at the lodge?

Our meals our great Midwest style, home cooked, meat and potato style meals.  We always cook a big steak with all the sides on the last night of the stay!  Our lodge has all of the amenities of home.  It is well kept and cleaned up daily.

If I am flying in, what airport works best and what kind of car should I rent.

Omaha is the closest airport and most of our customers fly there.  Car rentals are reasonable and only puts you about an hour and 15 minutes from the lodge.  Some hunters like to drive to and from their stands once they get to know the hunting area.  If that is the case we recommend renting a 4 wheel drive vehicle big enough to haul your gear.

If I harvest my buck may I utilize my antler-less tag and harvest a doe?

I do allow hunters to harvest a doe after they harvest their buck for $250.  Keep in mind that fuel, time, and effort is all the same to load, skin, and quarter out a doe as it is for a buck.  I have had customers in the past want to shoot a doe right away and that in turn messed up some opportunities at nice bucks.  You are here to harvest a nice buck, so once that is out of the way then you can make the decision if you want to harvest a doe.

If I harvest my buck may I hunt other game?

At times we offer pheasant/quail hunting as well as waterfowl hunting during the deer seasons.  It is not always available depending on bird populations and waterfowl migration.  Also depends if there are any other hunters in camp.  We want to be courteous to them and not foul up other hunting spots by chasing pheasants around.  This just depends and feel free to ask while in camp and I will let you know what the possibilities are.

What kind of terrain and landscape can I expect to hunt?

Here in Southwest Iowa we have a nice mix of rolling hills to river bottoms.  From crop fields, to crp grasslands, to wooded ditches and fence lines to heavy patches of timber.  We have a pretty diverse landscape and many of our customers say it is some of the neatest landscape they have ever hunted in.

What kind of weather can I expect on my hunt?

Here in Iowa you can expect weather from one extreme to the next.  It has been in the 80’s during bow season to -20 during the late gun seasons, and everything in between.  We do have heated blinds for when the weather gets really cold.  We normally have some snow cover during the shotgun and late muzzleloader seasons.  I would recommend bringing a lightweight set of clothing as well as heavy winter clothes.  Feel free to contact me prior to your hunt to get a weather report from me!  Otherwise as the hunter please be prepared with any clothing you will need for warm weather, cold weather, or rainy weather!

Should I site in my bow or gun before I hunt?

Yes, you will be required to site in before you are allowed to go to the field to hunt.  This is to ensure that you do not wound any animals or miss.  If you refuse to shoot you will not be allowed to hunt.

What is a penalty buck and how much do I pay if I harvest one?

Any buck (including button bucks and shed horn bucks) that gross scores under 130 inches is a penalty buck.  The management fee for a penalty buck is $1500.

Hunt Policies