Last updated: 6th May 2023
Hunting in Missouri offers outdoor enthusiasts a diverse and rewarding experience with its vast public lands, abundant wildlife, and varied game species.
Whether you’re pursuing white-tailed deer, wild turkey, waterfowl, or small game, Missouri provides a rich hunting heritage and ample opportunities for hunters of all skill levels.
This guide offers an overview of hunting in Missouri, including information on popular game species, hunting seasons, license requirements, and key regulations to help you plan a successful and enjoyable hunting adventure in the Show-Me State.
Table of Contents
Hunting seasons in Missouri aim to provide ample hunting opportunities while ensuring the long-term sustainability of wildlife resources. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MCD) handles any hunting-related regulations in the state.
Here’s the rundown of the general Missouri hunting seasons:
|Deer||Archery Hunting: Mid-September to mid-January|
Firearms Hunting: Late October to early January
|Elk||Late October for a week|
|Bear||Mid- to Late October|
|Turkey||Fall Archery: Mid-September to mid-November & Late November to mid-January |
Fall Firearms: Whole of October
Spring: Mid-April to early May
|Coots & Ducks||North Zone: Late October to late December|
South Zone: Late November to late January
Middle Zone: Early October to early January
|Upland Bird Game||Dove: Early September to late November|
Pheasant: Early November to mid-January
Quail: Early November to Mid-January
|Small Game||Groundhog: Early May to mid-December|
Rabbit: Early October to mid-February
Squirrel: Late May to mid-February
Fox: Mid-November to January
Raccoon: August to mid-October & Mid-November to February
Note: Always check the Missouri Department of Conservation for more up-to-date information before going afield!
What To Hunt in Missouri
Missouri is home to various popular game species, attracting hunters from within and beyond. With its diverse landscape, these game species got a healthy environment to grow and enlarge their populations.
Here are the popular game huntings available in Missouri.
With a healthy and thriving population, white-tailed deer are among Missouri’s most sought-after game species. The state offers B-grade deer hunting opportunities for every hunter. The only downfall is the sizeable hunting pressure.
Hunters can pursue deer during various seasons using different methods. That includes firearm and archery season.
For legal deer hunting, every hunter must have a hunting permit for their specific season on top of their state hunting license.
- Only Antlerless Deer Archery: $7.00 (Residents); $25.00 (Nonresident)
- Only Antlerless Deer Firearms: $7.00 (Residents); $25.00 (Nonresident)
- Any Deer Firearms: $17.00 (Residents); $265.00 (Nonresident)
- Any Deer Firearms: $17.00 (Residents); $265.00 (Nonresident)
Missouri requires hunters to tag their harvested deer and report the harvest properly. Hunters can do this on the MO hunting app using the Telecheck system.
Managed Deer Hunts
The MDC offers managed deer hunts on certain public lands and conservation areas throughout Missouri. These hunts promote and provide a high-quality hunting experience while maintaining a sustainable deer population.
Managed deer hunts often have limited permits available, and hunters must apply through a lottery system for a chance to participate. Some managed hunts are specifically for youth, disabled hunters, or archery hunters.
Wild Turkey Hunting
Missouri’s wild turkey population is thriving, with an estimated population of around 300,000 birds. The state has a rich history of wild turkey restoration efforts, which have successfully increased the turkey population over the years.
As a result, Missouri has become a sought-after destination for turkey hunters from around the country.
Wild turkeys inhabit various habitats across Missouri, including forests, grasslands, and agricultural fields. Hunters can find the birds throughout the state, but their population is more concentrated in the Ozark region.
Aside from the state hunting license, turkey hunters must also have season- and method-specific permits. This regulation applies to both resident and nonresident hunters.
Draw-Based Permit Hunting
In Missouri, certain hunting opportunities are managed through a lottery system to ensure a sustainable harvest and to prevent overharvesting or overcrowding.
This system is for specific game species or hunting areas where a limited number of permits are available.
Missouri’s limited black bear hunting season reflects the state’s effort to manage its growing black bear population while ensuring sustainable hunting practices. The MDC has implemented quota-based black bear hunting to ensure a sustainable harvest.
The quota represents a predetermined number of bears that can be harvested during the season, which may vary yearly based on population size and management goals. Once the season reaches the quota, the hunting will be closed.
To participate in Missouri’s limited black bear hunting season, hunters must obtain a special black bear hunting permit through a lottery system. The application period runs throughout May, and the result will be available on July 1.
Hunting opportunities primarily exist in the southern part of the state, where the bear population mainly resides. The Mark Twain National Forest and surrounding conservation areas are potential hunting locations for black bears.
Elk hunting in Missouri is a relatively new opportunity, as the state has been working on restoring its elk population over the past few years. The MDC has been responsible for reintroducing elk to the state and managing their population, which has grown sufficiently to support a limited hunting season.
Like bear hunting, hunters must obtain an elk hunting permit through a lottery system. Applicants must pay a nonrefundable 10-dollar application fee to qualify. The application period runs throughout May, and the result will be available on July 1st.
Where to Hunt in Missouri
Missouri offers a diverse range of habitats and game species for hunters to pursue. With numerous public hunting lands, including state conservation areas, national forests, and wildlife management areas, there are plenty of destinations to choose from.
Mark Twain National Forest
Mark Twain National Forest in southern Missouri spans over 1.5 million acres and offers diverse hunting opportunities for various game species. With a mix of oak-hickory forests, meadows, and pine woodlands, the national forest provides a range of habitats for wildlife, making it a popular destination for hunters.
The forest is home to several game species, including:
- White-tailed deer
- Wild turkey
- Small game
August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area
The August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area is a 6,987-acre area near St. Louis, Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation manages the site and offers diverse habitats, including woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, and agricultural fields, which attract a variety of game species.
This conservation area is also home to various species like deer, turkey, waterfowl, and small game.
Big Buffalo Creek Conservation Area
Big Buffalo Creek Conservation Area is a 2,603-acre hunting area, providing diverse hunting opportunities in a scenic setting. The Missouri Department of Conservation manages the site and offers a mix of open woodlands, oak-hickory forests, meadows, and grasslands, attracting various game species.
This area is primarily famous for white-tailed deer and wild turkey hunting.
Grand Pass Conservation Area
Grand Pass Conservation Area is a 5,096-acre area located in north-central Missouri near the town of Malta Bend. This hunting area provides excellent waterfowl hunting opportunities in a managed wetland setting, making it a popular destination for waterfowl hunters.
Waterfowlers can spot a good significant number of ducks and geese in this conservation area.
In Missouri, MDC handles the issuance of hunting licenses. To legally hunt in the state, you must have the appropriate hunting license and permits based on the type of game you’re pursuing.
|Conservation Partner (Hunting & Fishing)||Youth (0-15): $550.00|
Age 16-29: $800.00
Age 30-39: $700.00
Age 40-59: $600.00
Age 60-64: $70.00
|Adult-Small Game Only||10-day: $40.00|
In addition to the hunting license, Missouri hunters need to obtain additional permits depending on the game species. Here is the rundown of the game permits and the prices available in Missouri:
|Deer Permit||Antlerless Deer: $7.00|
Any Deer: $17.00
|Antlerless Deer: $25.00|
Any Deer: $265.00
|Wild Turkey||Spring: $17.00|
Fall (Archery): $19.00
Fall (Firearm): $13.00
Fall (Archery): $195.00
Fall (Firearm): $130.00
|Black Bear Permit||$25.00||N/A|
|Conservation Order Permit||$5.00||$47.00|
|Federal Duck Stamp||$25.00||$25.00|
|Migratory Bird Hunting Permit||$6.00||$6.00|
Antler-Point Restrictions (APRs) are a deer management strategy employed by the MCD to protect young bucks and promote a more balanced age structure within the deer population.
By implementing APRs, the MDC aims to increase the number of older, larger-antlered bucks and improve overall deer herd health.
MCD does not implement this restriction throughout the state. They are only effective in selected countries that need strict management by the MCD.
Hunting in Missouri offers many opportunities for hunters to pursue different game species. It has diverse habitats for you to chase your game down.
By adhering to the regulations set forth by the MDC and practicing responsible hunting, you can contribute to conserving these resources and enjoy the rich hunting tradition in the Show-Me State.