Sorry Bugs, it's wabbit season, err I mean rabbit season; opening up this weekend in Iowa. And trust me, we've got cottontails to spare across the state. My gardens' strawberries and cabbage know this.

Credit: Holcy

According to a press release from the Iowa DNR, our states thriving rabbit population will be a welcome site for hunters. The south-central region boasts the best rabbit numbers, with an unchanged count from last year, promising a rewarding experience for both seasoned and novice hunters. Hunters should explore brushy areas adjacent to crop fields in mornings or evenings, either individually or with friends. The sport requires minimal investment and yields lean, delicious meat often considered a culinary delicacy.

Credit: Iowa DNR
Credit: Iowa DNR

At the same time, Iowa offers a squirrel hunting season from September 2nd to January 31st of 2024. The Ehlers family had squirrel hunting down when I was a kid and I took my first squirrel with an old Daisy pellet gun. Squirrel hunting is cost-effective and exciting for entry level hunters. "Old timers" can also brush up on their woodsman skills, while teaching the next generation responsible firearm use. Squirrels are found in abundant numbers and provide ample chances for success. New hunters can benefit from the dynamic woodland experience, while experienced hunters can revisit their youthful pursuit. Safety-conscious hunters are encouraged to always wear blaze orange attire during the activity. Once you've bagged your limit, get to cooking. We use to slow roast them in cream of mushroom soup.

Grey squirrel yawning
Credit: Dgwildlife
Sorry Buddy, you're tasty in gravy.

“One beauty of squirrel hunting is if you mess up and spook a squirrel there is usually another one just down the ridge, this provides lots of opportunities for success. Experienced hunters often say that they haven’t hunted squirrels since they were a kid. Well, this is the year to be a kid again. Get yourself outside chasing squirrels and bring someone new to hunting along. Squirrels are definitely an underutilized resource.”

-Jim Coffey, forest wildlife biologist, Iowa DNR

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The abundant squirrel and rabbit populations provide valuable opportunities to refine hunting skills, which can be applied to other hunting pursuits. As a bonus, early morning squirrel hunts aid in avoiding daytime heat. Iowa's online hunting atlas guides hunters to over 600,000 acres of public land, and the Iowa Habitat and Access Program offers access to private lands, further enriching the hunting experience. Early season hunts will also help you scope out the area for future deer pheasant, and turkey hunts.

Red Squirrel Leaking Sap in Spring
Credit: impr2003

Cottontail rabbit season runs September 2nd to February 28th of 2024. The daily limit is 10 rabbits with a possession limit of 20. Jackrabbit season is closed. While wearing blaze orange clothing is not required to hunt rabbits, it is recommended. Shooting hours for rabbits is sunrise to sunset. Squirrel season is September 2nd to January 31st of 2024, with a daily bag limit of six total or combination of red fox squirrels or eastern grey squirrels and a possession limit of 12. Fox squirrels are generally found in more open pasture timber and woodlots whereas grey squirrels tend to be in more mature timber. There is no restriction on shooting hours.

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Stacker analyzed data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine which states have the most registered hunters. Read on to see how your state ranks on Stacker’s list.

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