Since the first settlers reached Missouri, our state has been a hunter’s paradise, especially during the fall and winter months. Whether you’re up a tree waiting for a whitetail or hunkered down in the brush, giddy about a trophy gobbler, chances are you’ll have a happy and successful hunt in the Show-Me State.
While deer and turkey get most of the attention during Missouri’s fall and winter hunting seasons, other game – including dove, duck, Canada geese, pheasant and quail – can be harvested, too. Also, there are trapping seasons for rabbit, bobcat, coyote and otter, to name a few.
The folks at the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) have a wealth of resources for you to explore as you plan your Missouri hunting trip. Best of all, they’re willing to share them.
The first thing to do is familiarize yourself with various hunting rules, so you know what’s in season and when.
From there, you have abundant choices of public lands on which to hunt. Let’s take a quick look at five areas where hunting is allowed during the fall and winter months.
Bluffwoods Conservation Area, 12 miles south of St. Joseph, is a great stop for those interested in hunting deer, turkey and squirrel. Learn more about the area here. After your day of hunting, be sure to explore St. Joseph’s popular restaurants and take advantage of their many lodging options. If you’re someone who likes to plan ahead, have dinner at the J.C. Wyatt House , the city’s No. 1 ranked restaurant on Trip Advisor; it’s an experience you won’t forget.
Across the state in northeast Missouri – a haven for big bucks – Sugar Creek Conservation Area, 10 miles south of Kirksville, covers nearly 2,600 acres and has good populations of deer and turkey. Full details area available here. If you wrap up the day early (because you’ve been successful, of course) visit the Adair County Historical Society Museum to learn a about the region. Among their exhibits is a cannonball that struck the courthouse during the 1862 Civil War Battle of Kirksville.
In central Missouri, the nearly 7,800-acre Lead Mine Conservation Area, 15 minutes east of Tunas, offers abundant hunting options. Along with deer and turkey, the area is open for quail, rabbit and squirrel hunting. Also, there’s a shooting range (not staffed) to help ensure your aim is true. Portions of this conservation area are about 15 minutes north of Bennett Spring State Park, which offers overnight lodging and on-site dining (the dining hall is open various hours seasonally, so call ahead or check the website to verify hours).
A half-hour's drive south from Nevada, in the rolling Ozark hills of southwest Missouri, Bushwhacker Lake Conservation Area covers nearly 4,800 acres. It is an ideal spot for those hunting deer, turkey, dove, quail, rabbit and squirrel. If the hunting doesn’t go your way, take your binoculars and a camera, as you’re likely to spot a wide variety of birds, including short-eared owls and the growing population of prairie chickens for which this area is noted. Learn more about the area here.
If your hunting expedition includes time in southeast Missouri, enjoy the beautiful drive down Route 19 as you venture toward Eminence and, three miles to the south, the Rocky Creek Conservation Area. This outdoor expanse, which covers some 38,000 acres, offers deer, dove, quail, squirrel, rabbit and turkey hunting. The area is open for camping. A spectacular portion of the Ozark Trail and a small section of Current River pass through this region. Also, check the five-mile Pine Oak Woodland Driving Tour. Get full details on the area from MDC’s website.
Only interested in deer hunting? Here’s the full list of conservation areas where deer hunting is permitted in Missouri. If you prefer the thrill of turkey hunting, this list is for you.
Missouri is fortunate to have so many outdoor opportunities for fall hunting. Again, it’s important you know Missouri’s rules and regulations – and follow safe-hunting procedures – when venturing into the outdoors. Remember, you aren’t the only ones out there.
Continue to explore the Missouri Department of Conservation website for hunting rules and regulations, and use VisitMO.com to help you find places to stay, sites to see and restaurants to satisfy all tastes.