It's autumn. The leaves are falling, and the days are cool and crisp. It's the time of year when the thoughts of men and women across the country turn to … deer hunting in the Show-Me State. And why not? It's one of the top 10 places to hunt whitetail in the U.S.
One of the main attractions for hunting in Missouri is the abundant public lands open to the sport and one of the best – if not the best – conservation programs in the country, all funded by a designated sales tax voted in by the people of the Show-Me State.
While we are still facing the COVID-19 pandemic, hunting is the perfect social-distancing activity. With our chilly fall weather or as camouflage, you may be already planning on a face covering – but if you are sharing transportation or a blind with someone not living in your household, it's definitely a good idea to wear a mask this year.
Whether you're new to the sport or a seasoned hunter, coming from out-of-state or hunting near to home, here is the 411 on the 2021 Missouri deer season.
Dates: November 13-23 with an antlerless portion Dec. 4-12. Youth seasons (you can be no older than age 15 on opening day of the early youth portion) are Oct. 30-Oct. 31 and Nov. 26-28. These dates apply to firearms hunting only. See MDC website for seasons for Archery and Firearms/Alternative Methods
Hours: half hour before sunrise to half hour after sunset
Regulations: All deer must be checked by telephone or on the Internet by 10 p.m. on the day you harvested the deer. You can transport unchecked deer within the state as long as the transportation tag is attached to the leg.
Permits and Limits: The required Firearms Any-Deer Hunting Permit allows you one antlered or antlerless deer. Check the MDC website for antler point restrictions (applicable in some counties). In addition to that permit, you can buy as many antlerless deer permits as you want. However, some counties do limit the number available.
Wearing hunter orange is required when you are hunting any species of game during firearms deer season. Some limited exceptions are allowed.
One of the very best parts of deer hunting in Missouri is eating what you harvest. But with the generous limits, some hunters can end up with an embarrassment of riches. That's where the Share the Harvest program to feed the hungry comes in. If you have an extra deer, just take it to an approved processing plant (list found on the MDC website) and tell them how much meat you want to donate. Often the processing fees are covered in part or in full by sponsors, and hungry families gratefully line up at food pantries for this otherwise-rare offering of high-quality protein.
If venison isn't your thing … Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Missouri's fall firearms turkey season runs Oct. 1-Oct. 31 and archery season runs Sept. 15-Nov. 12 and Nov. 24-Jan. 15.
And if your taste runs to duck or goose, waterfowl seasons run Sept. 11-Apr. 30, depending on species and region.
Check the Missouri Department of Conservation website for details on all hunting seasons.
Be sure to enhance your hunting experience in the Show-Me State with the Missouri Department of Conservation's free app: Mo Hunting. Purchase and store your permits, telecheck your deer or turkey and track your success from year to year.