Timberghost Iowa Whitetail Hunting FAQ

Where are you located in Iowa?

The Timberghost lodge is approximately 20 minutes north of Burlington, Iowa, in Mediapolis. We are located in Zone 6 in SE Iowa in Des Moines County and have lease ground in Des Moines, Henry and Lee counties.

What are average temperatures during the hunting season?

Iowa weather changes drastically due to fronts coming down from Canada, causing large temperature swings in short time frames--prepare for anything! Though temperatures in Iowa can range +/- ten degrees year over year, average temperatures during the Timberghost season are as follows:

  • September - 56-77 degrees
  • October - 44-65 degrees
  • November - 33-50 degrees
  • December - 21-36 degrees
How many people are in camp at one time?

The number of people at the lodge varies greatly throughout the season depending on group size, amount of free-range hunters, and non-hunting guests. Generally, there are 8-12 guests in the lodge on an average week.

Can I bring a non-hunting guest?

Non-hunting guests are welcome for an additional $250 per day.  They can choose to hunt with you or they are welcome to simply enjoy relaxing in camp while you are out hunting.

What is included in the price of a hunting package?

All hunt costs include food, lodging, drinks, field preparation, travel to and from your hunting areas, and guiding. Things that are not included but to keep in mind are a seven percent Iowa sales tax, shipping of meat, antlers, and cape, and gratuities for the staff if you choose to do so.

Do you have a place to donate the meat if I don’t take it?

Absolutely. We know that it is not always possible to take all the meat home from your harvest and, as you will find out, the chef loves to prepare one or two venison dishes a week. We also have many needy families in the area that benefit from any meat left behind.

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What is the difference between an Archery hunt and an Adventure hunt in the preserve?

Since any weapon is legal in the preserve, many Select and Trophy hunters choose to hunt with archery equipment rather than a gun. Because of this, we take archery hunters throughout the season. The primary difference in the Adventure hunt is that it takes place during the rut in November and is an archery-only trophy hunt with NO TROPHY FEES.  It is a fun time to be in the woods and we try to make sure there is no gun hunting during the Adventure weeks although sometimes we will have a Select hunter in camp to help accommodate scheduling, but the priority is placed on our archery hunters during those weeks.

What are legal weapons for Timberghost preserve hunts?

In the preserve, you can hunt with your weapon of choice. From rifles that shoot a thousand yards to homemade archery equipment, it is up to you to decide what will make your hunt enjoyable and challenging. 

What happens if I only wound a deer?

Most hunters don’t like to talk about it, but it happens. If a buck is wounded, we consider that to be your buck unless the guide feels it is a clean miss. We will do everything in our power and make every effort to make sure you get the opportunity to put your hands on him before the hunt is over. With our experienced crew, we have a great track record for most everyone ending their hunt with a smile.

What happens if I don’t see a buck I want to harvest?

It is very rare, but it does happen. We put a lot of time and effort into making sure you have the best opportunity possible and have some of the best guides in the country, but if you don’t have the opportunity to harvest a buck we will refund 50% of the hunt cost on Select hunts, and 75% of the hunt cost on Adventure and Trophy hunts.

Can I harvest more than one deer?

If tags are available, we do allow hunters the opportunity to take more than one buck, either an additional management buck or trophy depending on availability. The cost will vary depending on what you are looking for, but it is an option and the guides will let you know in advance what the additional cost would be to you.

Can I upgrade from a Select Hunt if I see a larger buck I want to harvest?

Select hunters can upgrade their hunt if they see a larger animal they want to harvest. Guides will price upgrades in the field based on age, score, and the look of the buck. Additional cost can be anywhere from $500 to $4,000 depending on how much of an upgrade you are looking for on your hunt. The guides will make sure you know the cost of an upgrade prior to pulling the trigger.

Do I have to have a guide with me in the preserve?

Yes. All hunts in the Timberghost preserve are fully guided. This is for the hunters’ benefit more than anything, as most people have never seen bucks like you will be seeing in the ranch. We want to make sure you harvest a mature buck both for your benefit as well as ours--to ensure we are not hurting ourselves in the future by harvesting a younger buck with great potential.  Some people are unsure about hunting with a guide, but ask any Timberghost hunter and they will quickly list their guide as one of the best parts of their hunting experience. Many clients stay in touch year-round with their new deer hunting friends.

Can I harvest any deer, or will my guide tell me some are off-limits?

You can harvest any deer, with one exception. In order to make sure hunters are taking mature deer, some bucks are off limits simply due to age. We see some incredible two and three-year-old deer, and part of the reason we are able to offer world-class hunting is due to our clients understanding and adhering to our management goals such as harvesting only mature deer. Thanks to the adherence of these guidelines by past clients, you can expect to enjoy high-quality hunting. In the same way, you are expected to adhere to the rules of only hunting mature deer so we can ensure incredible hunts for future clients.

How many deer are in the preserve?

The preserve is managed to maintain a higher-than-normal population and has an estimated natural breeding population of 700-800 whitetails running around doing what whitetail deer do.

Is it a natural breeding herd?

Our preserve herd is naturally breeding. It is not a buck-only preserve or a preserve with a wildly skewed sex ratio. It is an authentic, naturally reproducing herd. You will see deer of all ages and sizes during your hunt.

Timberghost bucks are known for their beautiful and impressive genetics. In order to continually improve on the herd’s genetic potential, we do manage a breeding operation outside of the preserve. There is really no other way to have animals of this quality without a great doe herd, and you can’t manage the doe herd without knowing their breeding. We release a large number of yearling bucks and does every year into the preserve in addition to what is born in the ranch so that we continue to improve the genetic potential in the ranch.

Do you have cheaper hunts?

We do have true management deer that are less expensive than a Select Hunt, but due to the genetics in the ranch, there are not enough of them to book hunts. Most of these deer are harvested as an additional harvest as a second deer or by a guest of one of our hunters. Many clients may book a hunt and bring a non-hunting guest that ends up harvesting an old management buck. As far as booking a hunt, the Select Hunt is our least expensive option to experience Timberghost.

More on Preserve Hunts

What are legal weapons for Free-Range hunts?

Varying free range hunt packages permit different weapons. Please see our Free Range Hunt page for more information.

What happens if I wound a deer on a Free Range hunt?

While it is an unfortunate part of hunting, this sometimes happens. If a deer is wounded, we will make every effort to recover that animal. You and your guide will discuss options for continuing the search based on the available information and past experiences of you both. We do realize that sometimes a recovery is simply not possible, and we appreciate the time and investment you make to hunt with us in Iowa.  If you draw blood but can’t recover your animal or no blood can be found, you may continue hunting.  If you do not pull the trigger again, we will assume the buck you shot at was a 140+ and refund $1,000.  If you shoot a second time, no refunds will be given regardless of age or score.  If a second buck is wounded the hunt is over and no refunds will be given.  

What happens if I don’t shoot a deer?

If you do not harvest or shoot at a buck during your trip we will refund $2,000 of your hunt cost.

How do you pick where I am hunting?

On the first night of camp, we draw cards to establish a pick rotation. Picks rotate each morning and afternoon. This system ensures that everyone has a chance to hunt where they want. Guides and hunters discuss the options, look over the trail camera photos on our most wanted board, and decide where they want to go for their pick. You will not be assigned a farm or stuck in the same stand for the week—we truly want you to see it all and have every opportunity to harvest a monster Iowa whitetail.

Can we hunt on foot or do you do drives?

We do not allow still hunting, nor do we do deer drives on our free range hunts. To ensure hunting is just as good for the next guy as it will be for you, we only stand hunt in order to keep the deer feeling comfortable and safe. We treat our properties like a sanctuary by using low-impact entrance and exit.

More on Free-Range Hunts

How to get a deer tag in Iowa?

Iowa is a preference point-based draw and only so many tags are awarded each year. The application period with the Iowa DNR is approximately from May 1 to June 1. Results of the draw are usually posted by the beginning to mid-July. Timberghost has absolutely NO CONTROL over who will or will not draw tags. This is a DNR-run system and we simply cannot guarantee that you will be drawn. However, we have a long history of helping hunters with the application process to get points and enter for a tag. Through this knowledge, we try to help determine the best way for successfully drawing a tag and the best way to plan for your hunt. It’s disappointing to plan for a hunt only to find out later that you did not draw. The best plan is to contact the office and let us help guide you through the application process so you know what to expect. Archery tags can take 4-5 years and Gun tags typically take two years to draw a license.

How much does it cost to draw an Iowa deer tag?

In May 2019, preference points cost $64.52 and a tag/license cost $660.55, including the DNR fees. These are purchased directly through the Iowa DNR during the application process. While we do not expect the prices to change, it is always a possibility and completely out of our control.

How long does it take to draw a tag in Iowa?

For gun hunters it is a two-year process where we get a preference point the first year and draw a tag the second. We have had 100% success on drawing tags for hunters with at least one preference point.

For archery hunters it take a little longer. We typically see about 50% of the applicants with 3 points drawing a tag (get preference points for 3 years and draw the 4th year). We have drawn 100% of past applicants that had at least 4 preference points.

All of that said, it can change at any time so please remember that past results do not guarantee future results and we will not know until the tags are drawn and results released.

Tag Request Information