The Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have joined forces to offer hunting opportunities in Missouri for a variety of game species, including deer, turkey, quail, and waterfowl, as well as small game such as squirrels and rabbits. Missouri hunting seasons vary depending on the species hunted; some seasons run concurrently while others overlap.
What Is A Hunting Season?
The term “hunting season” refers to the period of time during which it is legal to kill and eat a specific type of animal.
Depending on the type of animal, the environment and animal characteristics such as mating season, hunting seasons are determined. Wildlife biologists conduct population studies to determine the best times of year for hunting in each state.
This can be influenced by local laws, such as the fact that in some states, you cannot hunt on Sundays.
Generally speaking, however, the archery season for deer begins in late September or early October, followed by the firearms season in late October or November. In some states, the deer hunting season can last into the first two months of the year.
The spring months of April and May are popular times to go turkey hunting, but it is possible to go turkey hunting in the fall as well. Waterfowl hunting typically begins in late September or early October. During the fall, upland birds like grouse are frequently targeted for hunting.
Year-round hunting is common for pest animals like wild hogs and certain species of squirrel.
“Open season” and “closed season” are two terms you should be familiar with. An “open season” is a period of time during which a species can be legally hunted. When the population is at its highest and avoids peak breeding season, this is typically the time of year when it occurs.
The term “closed season” refers to the time of year when hunting is prohibited. Food shortages, extreme temperatures, and low populations are all possible reasons for a season’s closure.
Poaching, the act of hunting outside of a designated season, is a serious offense.
Missouri Hunting Regulations
All-terrain Vehicles (ATVs)
Except for those who own or lease land, no one can drive ATVs in Missouri’s streams and rivers unless they’re part of the state’s highway system. Agricultural workers are also exempt. Fishermen and hunters who break the law face losing their privileges.
All-terrain vehicle use is prohibited in conservation areas with a few exceptions. Unless otherwise stated, all other vehicles are restricted to paved and graveled roads and established parking areas.
The use of artificial lighting for hunting is permitted for:
- Green frogs and bullfrogs
- Fur-bearing animals like raccoons
- Coyotes between February 1 and March 31
Despite the fact that they may use artificial lights on their land, owners are not permitted to have nor be with someone who has a bow, firearm, or other tool intended to capture or kill wild animals.
Illuminating, harassing, or disturbing any other species of wildlife with artificial lights is prohibited.
Poisons, Tranquilizing Drugs, Chemicals, And Explosives
The use of poisons, tranquilizers, chemicals, and explosives to kill wildlife is prohibited.
Wildlife hunting with dogs is permitted except for bear, deer; elk; turkey; muskrat; mink; river otter; and beaver; all of which are prohibited.
Elk Firearms Portion
Elk hunting with firearms in open counties is restricted to shotguns and ammunition no larger than No. 4 or 0.22 or smaller caliber rifles during the firearms portion of the season. Waterfowl hunters, trappers, and landowners are exempt from this rule.
Deer Firearms Season
Only a shotgun or a rimfire rifle of a.22 or smaller caliber can be used to hunt other wildlife in November and the antlerless season. Hunters and trappers who use their land to hunt and trap waterfowl are exempt.
During the firearms deer season, you may only use deer hunting methods while hunting furbearers in the open air at any time of day or night.
Taking, driving, or molesting wildlife with a motorized vehicle is prohibited.
It is possible to hunt wildlife from a motorboat, except for bear, deer, and elk, as long as the motor is turned off and the boat is no longer moving forward.
When Are Missouri Hunting Seasons
Missouri has a variety of hunting seasons.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) divides the state into three regions: North, Central, and South. Hunting season dates vary by region but generally follow this pattern: North Region – September 1 to January 31; Central Region – September 1 to February 14; and South Region – October 15 to January 31. The exceptions are deer firearms seasons in some counties which run from November through December (except for the Northern Ozarks area), waterfowl season in Eastern Missouri which runs from October 15-January 31, and turkey statewide which is open during the months of April 16-May 25 with an extension on private lands only until June 10th.
During these time periods, hunters are permitted to take a variety of games including squirrels, rabbits, quail, pheasant, bobwhite quail, ducks, geese, coots, sandhill cranes, doves, and furbearers.
For a full list of restricted animals and seasons, you can visit the Missouri Department of Conservation website.
How To Get A Hunting License In Missouri
In order to hunt in Missouri, you must have a valid hunting license.
Licenses are available for purchase through the MDC website, at any license vendor, or from most major retailers that sell sporting goods.
There are a variety of licenses available depending on your age, residency status, and the type of game you are hunting.
Youth hunters, for example, can purchase a Resident Youth Hunting License which is valid for 365 days from the date of purchase and allows the hunter to take any game except deer with a rifle and turkey. The Adult Resident Hunting License is also valid for 365 days and allows the hunter to take all game with the exception of deer with a rifle.
Non-residents can purchase a Nonresident Hunting License which is valid for 14 consecutive days and allows the hunter to take all game except deer with a rifle.
What To Remember During And After Hunting
- You are not allowed to use a firearm, bow, or crossbow to take wildlife in a public street. The Conibear-type can only be utilized near public roadways if it is placed underwater in a permanent water source.
- Furbearers’ dens and nests must not be disturbed or destroyed.
- Any game you take must be kept separate and distinct from any other hunter’s. Wildlife can be owned and transported as personal property. You can keep it wherever you like: at home, in a tent, in a hotel, or in a business.
- Wildlife, with the exception of ducks, may not be pursued or taken if it is stranded or surrounded by floodwaters, or if it is fleeing floodwaters or a forest fire.
- The daily quota for animals (except bear gall bladders) does not change when given to another person. The recipient’s possession restriction will be increased if they receive wildlife as a gift.