Bear: Regulations

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Methods

Seasons, permits, and species have specific rules governing the type of firearm, bow, atlatl, and slingshot which may be used to hunt. Review the information in those areas before hunting.

Fully automatic weapons are prohibited for all hunting.

Firearm restrictions during deer firearms season

During the November and antlerless portions, other wildlife may be hunted only with a shotgun and shot not larger than No. 4 or a .22 or smaller caliber rimfire rifle. This does not apply to waterfowl hunters, trappers, or to landowners on their land.

If you are hunting furbearers during daylight hours during firearms deer season, only deer hunting methods may be used.

Firearm restrictions during elk firearms portion

During the firearms portion of the elk hunting season in open counties, other wildlife may be hunted only with a shotgun and shot not larger than No. 4 or a .22 or smaller caliber rimfire rifle. This does not apply to waterfowl hunters, trappers, or to landowners on their land.

Poisons, tranquilizing drugs, chemicals, and explosives

Poisons, tranquilizing drugs, chemicals, and explosives may not be used to take wildlife.

Motor driven transportation

Motor driven transportation may not be used to take, drive or molest wildlife.

A motorboat may be used to hunt wildlife, except bear, deer and elk, if the motor is shut off and the boat’s forward progress has stopped.

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs)

It is illegal for anyone (except landowners and lessees on land they own or lease and certain agricultural workers) to drive all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in Missouri’s streams and rivers unless the ATV is on a crossing that is part of the highway system. Violators could lose their fishing and hunting privileges.

With limited exceptions, all-terrain vehicle use is prohibited on conservation areas. Other vehicles are restricted to graveled and paved roads and established parking areas, unless otherwise posted.

Artificial lights

Artificial lights may be used to hunt:

  • bullfrogs
  • green frogs
  • raccoons and other furbearing animals when treed with the aid of dogs
  • coyotes from February 1 – March 31 in conjunction with other legal hunting method

Landowners may use artificial lights on their property, but while doing so may not be in possession of — or be in the company of someone who possesses — a firearm, bow, or other implement used to take wildlife.

Artificial lights may not be used to search for, spot, illuminate, harass, or disturb other wildlife than the above.

Night Vision and Thermal Imagery

You may not possess night vision or thermal imagery equipment while carrying a firearm, bow, or other implement used to take wildlife, except:

  • To take coyotes from February 1 – March 31 in conjunction with other legal hunting methods
  • For the purposes of killing feral swine by landowners or their authorized representatives on the landowner’s property
  • With written authorization of an agent of the department

Calls

Mouth and hand calls may be used any time.

Electronic calls or electronically activated calls may be used to pursue and take crows and furbearers. They may also be used to take light geese during the Conservation Order. Electronic calls may not be used with artificial light or night-vision equipment, except when hunting coyotes from February 1 – March 31 in conjunction with other legal hunting methods.

Dogs

Dogs may be used in hunting wildlife -- except bear, deer, elk, turkey, muskrat, mink, river otter, and beaver. Learn more about the rules for hunting with dogs.

During a hunt

Furbearer dens or nests

The dens or nests of furbearers shall not be molested or destroyed.

Hunter orange

For your safety, you are urged to wear hunter orange whenever you are hunting. You are required to wear hunter orange at certain times and locations. Learn more about the hunter orange rules.

Hunting near flood waters or fire

Wildlife, except waterfowl, may not be pursued or taken while trapped or surrounded by floodwaters or while fleeing from floodwaters or fire.

Hunting and trapping on public roadways

You may not take any wildlife from or across a public roadway with a firearm, bow or crossbow. A Conibear-type trap may be used adjacent to public roadways only if set underwater in permanent waters.

After a successful hunt

Excessive waste

It is illegal to intentionally leave or abandon any portion of any wildlife that is commonly used as human food.

Possessing, transporting, and storing wildlife

You must keep any wildlife you take separate or identifiable from that of any other hunter.

You can possess and transport wildlife as part of your personal baggage. It may be stored at your home, camp, place of lodging or in a commercial establishment.

Proper labeling

When storing bear, deer, elk, and turkey, it must have the hunter's:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Date taken
  • Telecheck confirmation number

When storing wildlife other than bear, deer, elk, or turkey, it must have the hunter’s:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Permit number
  • Species
  • Date it was placed in storage

When transporting wildlife other than bear, deer, elk, or turkey, it must have the hunter’s:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Permit number
  • Date it was taken

Buying and selling pelts, feathers, and other parts

Unless federal regulations prohibit, you may buy, sell or barter legally obtained:

  • feathers
  • squirrel pelts
  • rabbit pelts
  • groundhog pelts
  • turkey bones
  • turkey heads
  • turkey feet
  • deer heads (except those acquired with a disposition form)
  • elk heads (except those acquired with a disposition form)
  • deer and elk antlers
  • deer and elk hides
  • deer and elk feet
  • NOTE: Regardless of the state of harvest, black bear gallbladders may not be bought, sold, offered for sale, transferred, or given away. Extracted black bear gallbladders may not be transported into or within Missouri.

They must be accompanied by a bill of sale showing:

  • the seller’s full name, address
  • the number and species of the parts
  • the full name and address of the buyer

Wildlife and wildlife parts, after mounting or tanning, also may be bought and sold.

People who receive or purchase deer or elk heads or antlers attached to the skull plate must keep the bill of sale as long as the heads or antlers are in their possession. The bill of sale must include the transaction date and a signed statement from the sellers attesting that the deer or elk heads and antlers were, to their knowledge, taken legally.

Giving away wildlife

You may give wildlife (excluding bear gall bladders) to another person, but it will continue to be a part of your daily limit for the day when taken. Wildlife received as a gift will be included in the possession limit of the person you give it to.

Bear, deer, elk, and turkey must be properly labeled as outlined above.

All other wildlife being given away must be labeled with:

  • your full name
  • address
  • permit number
  • species
  • date taken
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Search Places to Go for conservation area-specific information before hunting.

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All hunters should treat the outdoors with respect and follow ethical hunting practices. These include:

  • If you hunt on private land, be sure to obtain permission from the landowner and respect his or her property as if it were your own. Scout the area you plan to hunt so you know where the boundaries, houses, roads, fences and livestock are located on the property.
  • If you do not kill your game instantly, make every effort to find the wounded animal. Permission is required to enter private land.
  • Clean and care for your game properly.
  • Pick up all litter, including spent ammunition. Leaving an area better than the way you found it is a sign of thanks for the privilege of hunting.
  • Report observed violations of the law to a conservation agent or local sheriff as soon as possible.
  • If you are involved in a firearms-related accident, the law requires that you identify yourself and render assistance; failure to do so is a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Develop your skills and knowledge, and share them with others.
  • Know and obey all wildlife laws.
  • Know and follow the rules of gun safety.
  • Respect the rights of hunters, non-hunters and landowners.
  • Make every effort to retrieve and use all game.
  • Respect the land and all wildlife.
  • Be sensitive to others when displaying harvested game.
  • Remember, hunting is not a competitive sport.
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Hunters may use dogs to take and retrieve game, but there are restrictions by species, times, and locations.

When Dogs are Illegal to Use

Dogs are prohibited when hunting deer, elk, and turkey.

Dogs can not be used to harvest muskrat, mink, river otter, and beaver. 

Dogs are prohibited when hunting furbearers (badger, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, opossum, raccoon, and striped skunk) during daylight hours from Nov.1 through the close of the November portion of the firearms deer season and in counties that have an antlerless portion of the deer season.

Dogs are prohibited when hunting squirrels and rabbits during daylight hours of the November portion of the firearms deer season in the following counties:

  • Butler
  • Carter
  • Dent
  • Iron
  • Madison
  • Oregon
  • Reynolds
  • Ripley
  • Shannon
  • Wayne

Dogs are prohibited when hunting squirrels, rabbits, and furbearers (badger, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, opossum, raccoon, and striped skunk) during daylight hours during the firearms portion of the elk hunting season in the following counties:

  • Carter
  • Reynolds
  • Shannon

Dogs must wear ID

While hunting, all dogs, except for those used by waterfowl and game bird hunters, must wear a collar with the owner’s full name and address, Conservation Number or complete telephone number.

Training Dogs

During training, dogs may chase but not take wildlife that can be hunted with dogs. You will need a hunting permit appropriate for the wildlife or exception when training dogs that are chasing wildlife.

Only a pistol with blank ammunition may be used during daylight hours to train dogs during closed seasons.

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Season Dates/Quota Closure Status

Oct. 18–27, 2021, or until the harvest quota is reached in each Black Bear Management Zone (BMZ). You are required to call 800-668-4045 prior to hunting each day to determine if the harvest quota has been met. This line will be updated no later than midnight on each day of the black bear hunting season. Harvest numbers will be assessed daily after 10 p.m. Should a harvest quota be reached, the season will close for that BMZ on the following day. The director of the Conservation Department may close hunting early within a BMZ if harvest reaches 80 percent of the quota. If the harvest quota is met or the director closes the season for the BMZ in which you are hunting, you may not harvest a black bear.

Black Bear Management Zones

Bear Management Zones

Black bear hunting is allowed south of the Missouri River in three Black Bear Management Zones (BMZs). You may hunt only in the BMZ specified on your permit.

BMZ 1

The portion of Missouri west of a line running north from the Arkansas border on U.S. Highway 63 to U.S. Highway 60; west on U.S. Highway 60 to MO-360; west on MO-360 to Interstate 44; west on Interstate 44 to the Oklahoma border

BMZ 2

The portion of Missouri east of a line running north from the Arkansas border on U.S. Highway 63 to Interstate 44; east on Interstate 44 to State Highway 47; north on State Highway 47 to the Missouri River; east along the Missouri River to the Illinois border

BMZ 3

The portion of Missouri south of a line running east from the Kansas border along the Missouri River to State Highway 47; south on State Highway 47 to Interstate 44; west on Interstate 44 to U.S. Highway 63; south on U.S. Highway 63 to U.S. Highway 60; west on U.S. Highway 60 to MO-360; west on MO-360 to Interstate 44; west on Interstate 44 to the Oklahoma border

Shooting Hours

One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset

Limits

One black bear of either sex (see additional restrictions under Harvest Quota and Bears Eligible for Harvest, below):

Harvest Quota

You are required to call 800-668-4045 prior to hunting each day to determine if the harvest quota has been met. This line will be updated no later than midnight on each day of the black bear hunting season.

Harvest numbers will be assessed daily after 10 p.m. Should a harvest quota be reached, the season will close for that BMZ on the following day.

The director of the Conservation Department may close hunting early within a BMZ if harvest reaches 80 percent of the quota.

If the harvest quota is met or the director closes the season for the BMZ in which you are hunting, you may not harvest a black bear.

Bears Eligible for Harvest

Only lone black bears may be harvested. You may not harvest a bear that is with one or more other bears, including female bears with cubs.

Black bears that have taken refuge in a den may not be harvested or harassed.

Allowed

  • Centerfire rifles or handguns using expanding-type bullets such as lead or copper
  • Shotguns with slugs only
  • Air-powered guns, .40 caliber or larger, charged only from an external high-compression power source (external hand pump, air tank, or air compressor)
  • Muzzleloading or cap-and-ball firearms, .40 caliber or larger and capable of firing only a single projectile at one discharge. In-lines and scopes are allowed.
  • Multiple-barreled muzzleloading or cap-and-ball firearms and/or muzzleloading or cap-and-ball handguns, including revolvers, .40 caliber or larger, are allowed and may be carried in addition to a muzzleloading or cap-and-ball rifle.
  • Longbows, compound bows, and recurve bows. Hand-held string-releasing devices, illuminated sights, scopes, and quickpoint sights are allowed.
  • Crossbows

Prohibited

  • Self-loading firearms with capacity of more than 11 cartridges in magazine and chamber combined. Some exceptions apply. See 3 CSR 10-7.900 of the Wildlife Code of Missouri.
  • Ammunition propelling more than one projectile at a single discharge (such as buckshot)
  • Full hard metal case projectiles
  • Fully automatic firearms
  • Dogs
  • Bait: Using bait to hunt black bears is illegal. Bait is defined as any type of food that is placed or scattered in an attempt to attract bears to the area. Bait includes — but is not limited to — grain, livestock feed, bird food, pet food, food produced for human consumption, and concentrated food powder. Scents and minerals, including salt, are not bait; mineral blocks with food additives are bait. Note: Salt products and minerals are prohibited year-round within Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone counties. For additional information, see the Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, which is available in July at MDC offices, permit vendors, and online.
  • An area is considered baited for 10 days following complete removal of bait. You are in violation of baiting if you take or attempt to take a black bear with the aid of bait, when you know or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited. It is illegal to place bait in a way that causes other hunters to be in violation of the baiting rule.
  • Electronic calls or electronically activated calls
  • Artificial lights, night vision equipment, thermal imagery equipment, or telemetry equipment
  • Hunting bears while they are in a stream or other body of water
  • Hunting from a boat with a motor attached
  • Hunting from a motor-driven land conveyance or aircraft
  • Additional methods may be prohibited by local ordinances.

Assisting Other Hunters

Adults who accompany youth hunters ages 11–15 do not need a black bear hunting permit. The adult must be 18 or older and be hunter-education certified or born before January 1, 1967. At all other times during the black bear hunting season, a filled or unfilled Resident Black Bear Hunting Permit is required to assist others in taking bears. A permit is not required to accompany a hunter as long as the accompanying individual does not assist in any manner in the taking of bears.

Retrieval of Game

If you kill or injure a bear, you must make a reasonable effort to retrieve and include the animal in your season limit. However, this does not authorize trespass.

Wanton Waste

It is illegal to intentionally leave or abandon any portion of any wildlife that is commonly used as human food.

Black Bear Hunting on Conservation Areas

Many conservation areas offer opportunities to hunt black bears. More information coming soon.

Tree Stands on Conservation Areas

Portable tree stands may be placed only between Sept. 1 and Jan. 31 on Conservation Department areas. Unattended stands must be plainly labeled with your full name and address, or Conservation Number. You may not use nails, screw-in steps, or any material that would damage the tree. Tree stands must be removed before Feb. 1.

Portable Blinds on Conservation Areas

Portable blinds are permitted on conservation areas, but they must be removed from the area daily and may not be left unattended between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. It is recommended that blinds be labeled with the contact information of the owner and hunter-orange be displayed on the exterior of the blind to aid other hunters in locating and avoiding the blind.

Giving Away Game

You may give your harvested bear (excluding the gall bladder) to another person, but the bear counts toward your season limit. Bears that are given away must be labeled with the takers full name, address, date taken, and Telecheck confirmation number.

Possession, Storage, and Sale

Properly checked bears may be possessed by anyone if labeled with the takers full name, address, date taken, and Telecheck confirmation number. The Telecheck confirmation number must remain attached to the carcass until a meat processor begins working on the animal.

Bears left at commercial processing or cold storage plants must be claimed by May 1 following the season taken.

Legally taken wildlife and wildlife parts, after mounting or tanning, may be bought and sold. A bill of sale is required and must include the sellers full name, address, and the number and species of these parts, and the full name and address of the purchaser. The bill of sale shall be retained by the purchaser while these parts are in his/her possession.

Black Bear Gallbladders

Regardless of the state of harvest, black bear gallbladders may not be bought, sold, offered for sale, transferred, or given away. Extracted black bear gallbladders may not be transported into or within Missouri.

Premolar Tooth Submission

If you successfully harvest a black bear, you are required to submit a premolar tooth within 10 days of harvest.