For many whitetail-crazed hunters, it’s considered the holy grail of deer tags, and one of the most expensive and difficult to obtain in the entire country.
It’s a nonresident Iowa any-deer hunting license.
Only 6,000 any-sex tags are issued by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to nonresidents each year, with up to three times that number of hunters applying for the coveted permits. Another 4,500 antlerless-only tags are offered to nonresidents, but are not nearly as sought after.
Beyond that, successful nonresidents pay $551 for the opportunity to pursue one of Iowa’s legendary, corn-fed behemoth whitetails, compared to $89 for Iowa residents. The highest comparable permit price for an either-sex tag is Illinois—another state known for trophy deer—with a $410 nonresident deer license.
If you’ve ever applied for a nonresident Iowa deer tag and been rejected for multiple years running, you’re definitely not alone. But a little-known program operated by the Iowa DNR that allows some “special” deer hunters to move to the front of the line might raise your hackles.
As part of a program designed to help promote the state as “a top deer-hunting destination,” in 1998 Iowa quietly began offering no-waiting deer permits to celebrities—mostly entertainers, athletes and outdoors TV show hosts. Over the course of the program, folks like Toby Keith, Bo Jackson, Jeff Foxworthy, Ted Nugent, Aaron Tippin, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert have been permitted to move to the front of the line, without the need to draw a tag through the regular application process.
It begs the question: Does Iowa deer hunting even need to be promoted by allowing big-shots special privileges? Upon learning about the program, many hunters—even Iowa residents—don’t think so.
“I’m not sure how much more promoting we need for the state of Iowa,” Randy Taylor, president of the Iowa Bowhunters Association, told the "Des Moines Register" this week. “There is no deer hunter nationwide who doesn’t consider Iowa one of the trophy hot spots in the nation.”
Incidentally, the celebrities—as many as 75 each year—are required to pay the same $551 for their hunting tag as those who apply through the regular process.
What do you think about allowing celebrities special privileges?