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Eastern Iowa - Public land
Hi all. I have a job interview tomorrow for a position that will put me in the Clinton or Davenport area if I end up getting an offer and decide to take it. Anybody have any info about the quality of the public land deer hunting around there? I've hunted Iowa before, but only in the Western/Loess Hills State Forest. Thanks!!
I’m not familiar with what the public hunting is like in the Clinton/Davenport areas, Roger, but there is some very good deer hunting in the eastern, NE & SE parts of the state. Getting access to some private is tough, but not impossible. Knocking on doors, especially this time of year, can yield some positive results.
I’ve scouted and researched all the public in Eastern Iowa. It was in my five state work area so we could have moved there. Looked at homes too. IMO the only ones with serious trophy potential are perhaps some of the islands or difficult access by the river. I did not scout those. But if you moved there you’d be close to lots of great public not far South in zones 5 & 6 fer sure.
Moved to Davenport back in 07. That fall I was completely blown away by how over hunted the public land was. Still remember my very first hunt. It was in October, got all set up and some doe start moving through and I thought to myself this is awesome. I'm into deer on my very first sit. As the deer got closer I realized something was wrong. All three were walking through the woods looking up into the trees. They didn't come close to me but it convinced me to find somewhere else to hunt. Never hunted public land on the east side again. Just to many people live all along the Mississippi to find any good spots to unless you get lucky.
Iowa is not known for "public" hunting land.
Roger Roger’s: Life changing decision moving your family from Hawaii to Iowa. Won’t you miss the Feral hog hunting? Good luck.
t-roy, zim, and scrappy, thank you very much for the input. I appreciate it. Scrappy, did you ever try boat access to some of those islands like zim talked about? I'm thinking there has to be some, relatively unpressured, giants living on those.
Justpassin, are you serious? I've spent a fair amount of time hunting public land in Indiana (originally from there), and the loess hills state forest in Iowa (where I've also hunted in the past) is about 100x better than any Indiana public I've set foot on.
Charlie, no, thanks.
I think the davenport/ scott county area specifically might have enough people that pressure might be an issue with public. I dont want to get too specific but i think you might have better luck as you get farther away from the population centers.
Good Private land is getting harder and harder to access every year and lots of local guys mive to public when they lose their spots.
That said, knock on the right door and you might get in, as already mentioned by T-roy. If youve got kids take them with when you ask. That softens hearts at times.
Roger I never saw using a boat as a good idea cause I never saw any of those islands isolated enough to make it worth the effort.
I'd knock on the T-Roy fella's door. I bet he has some good hunting.
At Davenport range.
At Davenport range.
I live in Clinton now & drive N. near Dubuque to bowhunt. I'm 45 min from Davenport. Up around the Yellow river state forest Bout 3 hrs or so from Clinton) is where they allow the most Doe tags (like 3000+). That might say a little about that areas Deer population. Davenport/quad cities area has inner city bowhunts & some of these spots sport some bruisers. BUT, gotta tag a Doe or more b/4 getting a inner city buck tag. Usually not that hard to do. Davenport also has a great Club with indoor & outdoor shooting facilities. Davenport Valley Archers. These towns are right on the Mississippi river & you can practically walk into Illinois in 20 min.. I can.. If you search the DNR site & make a list of the Public I'm sure you will find something worth while. Stay away from the larger towns/cities if possible & look for Archery only spots. Gook luck IF you move. If you go to my Facebook page Iowa archery/bowhunting tournaments you can find all the archery events going on in & around the state + bordering states & National events. Free to join, no chat, no selling, just where to shoot & more.
Thank you for the info Patdel and Ahunter76 and JohnMC lol, I bet! I really do appreciate the input very much. For those of you in the area, my interview was with Quad cities nuclear plant. Do you guys happen to work there or know anyone who does?
Some of the smaller public tracts are lightly hunted. I know guys that hunt public and kill P&Y bucks most years. One guy focused on small islands that were hard for a walker to get too.
I only know of the Cordova Nuke plant (Illinois). My son is Union worker construction & he does the Nuke turn around (what ever it is called). He's going to Chicago area soon & then Byron after that. 30 days, 12 hour days NO days off.. I think he's only did Cordova once in recent years. Like Ollie says, smaller public can be honey holes. I know of one not far away & I am not sharing as I have never seen another bowhunter there. Good luck if you move... Loess Hills is an awesome area & I have friends that bowhunt it that live out there. They tag some awesome bucks.
JohnMc said “knock on that T-roy fella’s front door”
Yep, good idea. I asked him to take me and we’re going snipe hunting as soon as it warms up and the skeeters get thick……
Ahunter 76, that's a beautiful photo. Yeah, that plant in Cordova is the one I'm talking about. I would just commute from the Iowa side for many reasons haha. Thanks again to everyone for providing info here and in PMs. The kindness and generosity of Bowsite members gives me hope that the good culture and morals of this country are still in tact. And yes, I do love the Loess Hills, here is a pic of my 2019 Loess Hills State Forest buck. Iowa definitely has something special.
Father/son 2021 Loess Hills. That young man took a bruiser last year that makes these look like babies (he's 17)
Atta-boy Matt. Good luck in Iowa.
How’d the job interview go, Roger???
I think it went well. There would be a couple more steps before I get an offer. Still undecided if I will accept though, for a few reasons. 1. In 2016 they announced that they planned to close the plant in 2018 due to losing money every year. Currently it can only stay open with huge subsidies from the state of Illinois. 2. For the first 6 months I would have to live in a hotel in Braidwood for training and would only get 1 vacation day per quarter during that period, so I would completely miss this years deer season (job starts in June). 3. There's a very good possibility I would have to work night shift for the first couple years, and I would go back to only 2 weeks of vacation time.
I currently work at Cummins in Columbus and have 9 years in there, which means that I get my 4th week of vacation next year, would be tough resetting that. I also make pretty good money there, even though the raises have been no where even close to keeping up with inflation the last couple of years. In case some of you are wondering, my real name is Matt Finney. I didn't use my actual name when I registered because I was banned from bowsite about a decade ago. I was worried that if I used my actual name, that I wouldn't be allowed to register. I apologize if I have upset anyone about that. I have also applied for some other jobs around the Des Moines area, and I would also be open to working in Omaha/Council bluffs, as that is about an hour from where I have hunted Iowa public in the past. Again, my apologies for not using my real name and location originally. There's a very good chance I will end up accepting a job at that power plant if they end up making an offer, the money is good, and the people I talked to during the interview said they are quite confident the plant will operate for many years to come. I may just have to bite the bullet on missing this year's deer season, working night shift, and going back to only 2 week vacation. Definitely my dream to live in Iowa. We'll see. Thanks again to everyone providing their input.
don't undersell the value of vacation
Or the value of an Iowa resident deer tag (every year)
Sometimes, you have to take a step or two backwards to get to where you want to go. Good luck with whatever you decide, Roger.
Nights usually would allow you to hunt every day either morning or evening, I did it for 30 years and managed to hunt 75 to 100 times per year. I would take the job
Iowa Booner...thats a good point. One of the must successful guys i know works 2nd shift. He can hunt every morning without taking anytime off. Its obviously working for him.
Your right in that sweet spot of also hunting Wi and Illinois with just a short drive.
Yes, it does seem like an optimum location for someone who loves to hunt whitetails. Just imagine how many people live in that area and don't hunt at all, what a waste. It'd be like living on Okeechobee and not bass fishing haha.
If you move there in June there may be 6 months or a year to be eligible to resident hunt. I know that’s how some states work you may want to look into it.
Iowa requires you to establish residency for 90 days before being eligible to obtain a hunting/fishing license.
And after the 90 days you put in the paperwork and it takes at least 30 days to be approved. Do it as soon as you can
Good to know. I have another interview with Matheson out of Des Moines on Monday. Do you guys think a public land hunter would be better off in the Des Moines area? I'm still waiting to hear back from the nuke plant.
I would choose Des Moines over the quadcities for sure. I'm assuming the public land around the city would be just as crowded but you would be closer to some good public hunting grounds. I will not elaborate any further on that.
At this point in my life, they’d have to increase my pay 300% before I’d take less time off. Especially a 10 day cut of vacation.
As a W2 employee, you won’t get wealthy. So the perks that the job offers would have to be considered compensation by me. Not sure if that’s how you feel so, I just wanted to put it in another perspective for you.
I hope whatever you find the best compromise, it works out for you.
Less than 3% of Iowa's land is public, that is what I was referring to. 47th lowest of the 50 states.
Well I just accepted a job offer from Matheson. I was able to negotiate an extra week of vacation, so while it won't match the 4 weeks I would be getting next year if I stayed with Cummins, I will get 3 weeks, which is what I've had for the last 4 years. I reckon you can't have everything, I think it will ultimately be worth it to live in a better location. Question for you all who are familiar with the Des Moines area. Where would be your ideal living location if you love deer hunting and bass fishing, but would like to stay within an 1h 10min of Grimes? Again I thank you all for your input. Bowsite is truly one of the most valuable resources on the internet!
Good luck! Visited Des Moines last spring for Track Meet and was impressed how nice the city was. Very clean.
Can’t help you on the deer, though!
Have A Daughter that lives in DesMoines. I go out & shoot the Iowa Games in Ames in July. The bowhunters I know out there hunt S. about an hour of DesMoines (few). Good Luck inyour move.
You made a good choice with the Des Moines area! I lived in Davenport for 30 years & had to travel 3+ hours for good hunting. Now retired we’re 30 minutes south of DSM & loving it here!