Shot choice on public land in Iowa

Bob Peters

Active member
I was looking at the regulations and am familiar with MN rules, but is it common in Iowa to have WMAs be non-toxic? I saw some special lists. Also, if this is the case are the wma that are lead free clearly marked with signage? If I end up making the trip I will do more research, but figured I'd ask here first.
 
I always have an ample supple of 2 3/4" lead with 1 1/4oz of 5 shot and 2 3/4" bismuth with 1 1/4oz of 4 shot. That way I'm covered for public, private, and waterfowl. Bismuth 4s are about the same as lead 5s in pellet count/energy and both shells run about 1350fps. The lead patterns better and the pellets perform better on the bird (bismuth deforms and fractures sometimes) but the bismuth puts the birds down much better than steel on long shots. I also have to run shells that my dad's and sometimes my 1100 will cycle without fail. High speed steel shells and the 'magnum' pheasant loads cause major cycling issues in the 1100s so I skip those altogether.
 

John Singer

Active member

Here you go:​

IOWA​

Iowa prohibits any shot shells containing shot of any size other than number 2 or 3 nontoxic shot or number 4, 5, 6, 7 ½, or 8 lead or nontoxic shot on person while hunting wild turkey. (See IOWA ADMIN. CODE 571-98.2(483A); IOWA ADMIN. CODE 571-99.8 (481A)).
Iowa prohibits any target shooters using shotguns with lead shot that discharges over water. (See IOWA ADMIN. CODE 571-51.3(481A)).
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources offers education programs on alternatives to lead ammunition.

THE FOLLOWING IOWA WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREAS REQUIRE NONTOXIC SHOT FOR ALL HUNTING [EXCLUDING DEER AND WILD TURKEY]:​

Benton County, Iowa River Corridor; Boone County, Harrier Marsh WMA; Buena Vista County, all state and federal areas; Calhoun County, South Twin Lake, Cerro Gordo County, all state and federal areas; Clay County, all state and federal areas except the Ocheyedan WMA target shooting range; Dickinson County, all state and federal areas except the Spring Run WMA target shooting area; Emmet County, all state and federal areas; Franklin County, all state and federal areas; Greene County, all state and federal areas except Rippey Access and McMahon Access; Guthrie County, McCord Pond, Lakin Slough and Bays Branch WMAs, excluding the target shooting range at Bays Branch WMA. Also, Hamilton County, Little Wall Lake, Gordon Marsh and Bauer Slough WMAs; Hancock County, all state and federal areas; Humboldt County, all state and federal areas; Iowa County, Iowa River Corridor, Jasper County, Chichaqua Wildlife Management Area; Kossuth County, all state and federal areas; Osceola County, all state and federal areas; Palo Alto County, all state and federal areas; Pocahontas County; all state and federal areas except Kalsow Prairie; Polk County, Paul Errington Marsh WMA and Chichaqua WMAs; Sac County, all state and federal areas except White Horse
Access and Sac City Access; Story County, Colo Bog and Hendrickson Marsh; Tama County, Iowa River Corridor; Winnebago County, all state and federal areas; Worth County, all state and federal areas; and Wright County, all state and federal areas. Target shooting on these areas will also require the use of nontoxic shot.
 
27 counties are WMA/WPA non-tox. Appear to be most of the good pheasant counties or at least all the ones I hunt.
Ditches are not so I have purposely been using my stashes of lead ditch hunting before it too is illegal and Im left with a lot of unusable ammo.
 

Bob Peters

Active member
I talked to the game warden this year and he pretty much told me all NW iowa public land is non-tox. When I asked him why he said that even state WMAs got a lot of assistance from the federal level(I'm assuming for initial purchase). Either way in Iowa I just stick to non-lead shells.
 

John Singer

Active member
The people who do not hunt WPAs and other public lands because of nontoxic shot requirements make for less pressure on those lands.

I switched completely to nontoxic shot for a variety of reasons several years ago and never looked back.
 

Munster927

Active member
I've been slowly switching over shells to non toxic too. But I've been shooting more 6s and 7.5s so non toxic in that size can be tough to find. After doing quail hunting I've learned I can shoot alot of pheasants with smaller shot. But I run pointers so I get relatively close shots.
 

John Singer

Active member
#4 and #5 steel are reasonable substitutes for #6 and #7.5 lead.

Personal experience has shown #5 steel to be effective on sharptail grouse and #6 is very effective for grouse and woodcock.

For pheasants, I have used steel in sizes from #4 to #2. However, I do prefer bismuth shot in sizes #6, #5, and #4.

Pheasants are tough and can run off when wounded. Bismuth shot seems more effective than steel and is easier on the teeth.
 
I find 3" steel shells in 3 or 4 shot to work quite well and sometimes seemingly better than 2 3/4 lead 4 or 5 shot.
I use Federal Back Cloud.
 
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