Urban Deer Hunting

Missouri’s metropolitan areas are a complex mix of municipal and county governments, each with its own jurisdiction and set of laws. Some of these governments allow the use of hunting equipment such as firearms, crossbows, and bows within their boundaries. Others do not. With a little research and hard work, metro hunters can successfully find a close-to-home hunting spot.

Where to find local ordinances

Before hunting in an urban area, search the Web for that city's local ordinances, which are usually found in the weapons section of a city’s municipal code. Key words to look for are discharging a firearm or projectile weapon, hunting, bow and arrow, archery or crossbow.

If you have questions about an ordinance, contact the city's police department. Also, individual neighborhoods may have rules regarding hunting activity within a subdivision. Check with the neighborhood board of trustees for rules that may restrict the use of hunting equipment.

When allowed, most cities limit hunting methods to archery only. In some areas, however, certain firearms methods (such as muzzleloaders) may also be allowed, but sometimes with restrictions on lot size or acreage.

If you live in a community with abundant deer but local ordinances prohibit the use of hunting equipment, let your city officials know that you would like the ordinances to be changed. Missouri Department of Conservation staff are available to assist city leaders in drafting an ordinance to allow for the use of hunting equipment.

Urban Zones portion of firearms deer season

The Urban Zones portion of the firearms deer season allows for the harvest of antlerless deer in areas where deer numbers need to be reduced. However, the use of hunting equipment may be restricted or prohibited on some public and private lands. The Urban Zones portion does not give hunters free rein to hunt wherever or however they want. You must abide by all local ordinances regarding use of hunting equipment and trespass.

Where to hunt?

A number of special managed deer hunts are held in urban areas on state, county, and city properties where deer densities are high. In addition, a small number of special managed hunts for youth and persons with disabilities are administered locally. See the annual Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet for details.

Finding a hunting spot on private land is somewhat more difficult. It takes determination and a lot of leg work. You must find and then convince complete strangers to allow you to hunt on their property. Knock on doors, talk to friends or relatives, ask around at local community meetings or civic clubs, visit local hardware stores and restaurants, and visit places that may receive deer damage such as orchards, farms, and tree nurseries.

Don't trespass

Remember — purchasing a hunting permit does not give you the right to trespass. Trespassing is one of the biggest complaints from landowners regarding hunters. The best rule of thumb is this: if you don’t own it or do not have permission from the person who does own it, you shouldn’t be there. This also includes retrieving your deer if it crosses property lines. If an injured or dead deer that you have shot has entered another person’s property, contact your local conservation agent to aid you in retrieving your deer.

Tips for hunting on private land

  • Purchase your own liability insurance so the landowner won’t be responsible for accidents.
  • Get bow-hunter-education certified. Show you care about improving your knowledge and skills.
  • Offer to help maintain the property.
  • Share the venison you harvested with the property owner.
  • Take does if the landowner is worried about deer damage.
  • Don’t invite friends to hunt if you haven’t asked the landowner.

When hunting in an urban area

  • Remember, your actions may influence another’s perception of hunting and of other hunters.
  • Be ethical, limit your shooting yardage, don’t trespass, and treat the land and the landowner with the utmost respect.
  • Be discreet and mindful of where you place your tree stand and where you park. Cover your deer with a tarp when hauling it from your stand to your vehicle.
  • Clean your deer in an appropriate place and bury the gut pile.
  • Carry written permission from the landowner while you are hunting.
  • If other neighborhood activities — such as children playing or a gathering next door — are going on nearby, be ready and willing to pack up and go home. You can try again another day.

Hunting on conservation areas in the Urban Zones

The primary goal of the Urban Zones portion of the firearms deer season is to reduce deer numbers in areas of overabundance. That is why only antlerless deer may be taken. Only a few conservation areas lie within the boundaries of the urban zones. Because public areas typically receive heavy hunting pressure, comparatively few deer may be present on these areas. As a result, special restrictions may be in effect, or the area may be closed to deer hunting during the Urban Zones portion. See the annual Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet for details.

Key Messages: 

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.

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