General Hunting Regulations
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 may be used to hunt:
- 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
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.
During a hunt
Furbearer dens or nests
The dens or nests of furbearers shall not be molested or destroyed.
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
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.
When storing bear, deer, elk, and turkey, it must have the hunter's:
- Full name
- Date taken
- Telecheck confirmation number
When storing wildlife other than bear, deer, elk, or turkey, it must have the hunter’s:
- Full name
- Permit number
- Date it was placed in storage
When transporting wildlife other than bear, deer, elk, or turkey, it must have the hunter’s:
- Full name
- 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:
- 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
- permit number
- date taken
Conservation Area Regulations
Southeast Missouri Flood Map
During spring turkey and fall deer and turkey seasons, you cannot take wildlife, except waterfowl, when river levels exceed specified limits on local river gauges in certain flood-prone areas in southeast Missouri.
This map shows in real-time which areas are open or closed to hunting. Check it before heading out on your turkey or deer hunt.
For a complete listing of this rule, see 3 CSR 10-7.405 of the Wildlife Code of Missouri.
Numbers on the map refer to zones referenced in the regulation.
For a larger version of the map SE Regulatory Flood Zone
1: Scott County
No hunting (except waterfowl) during spring turkey or fall deer and turkey seasons when the Mississippi River is at or above 35 feet on the Thebes, IL gauge.
2: Mississippi County
No hunting (except waterfowl) during spring turkey or fall deer and turkey seasons when the Mississippi River is at or above 43feet on the Cairo, IL gauge.
3: New Madrid and Mississippi Counties
No hunting (except waterfowl) during spring turkey season when the Mississippi River is at or above 34 feet on the New Madrid, MO gauge.
3A: New Madrid and Mississippi Counties
No hunting (except waterfowl) during fall deer and turkey seasons when the Mississippi River is at or above 34 feet on the New Madrid, MO gauge.
3B: New Madrid and Mississippi Counties
No hunting (except waterfowl) during fall deer and turkey seasons when the Mississippi River is at or above 36 feet on the New Madrid, MO gauge.
3C: New Madrid and Mississippi Counties
No hunting (except waterfowl) during fall deer and turkey seasons when the Mississippi River is at or above 40 feet on the New Madrid, MO gauge.
4: Pemiscot County
No hunting (except waterfowl) during spring turkey or fall deer and turkey seasons when the Mississippi River is at or above 32 feet on the Caruthersville, MO gauge.
5A: Dunklin County
No hunting (except waterfowl) during spring turkey or fall deer and turkey seasons when the St. Francis River is at or above 21 feet on the St. Francis, AR gauge.
5B: Dunklin County
No hunting (except waterfowl) during spring turkey or fall deer and turkey seasons when the St. Francis River is at or above 15.5 feet on the Holly Island, AR gauge.
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.
Hunting With Dogs
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:
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:
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.
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.
Deer Hunting Regulations
Allowed hunting methods vary by season
Allowed hunting methods vary by season. Be sure to view season information and the General Hunting Regulations before you hunt.
Hunter orange is required during the firearms deer season. Read all the hunter-orange requirements before hunting.
Use of bait — which includes grain or other feed placed or scattered so as to attract deer or turkeys — while hunting is illegal.
An area is considered baited for 10 days after complete removal of the bait.
A hunter can be in violation if they take or attempt to take a deer or turkey by the aid of bait where the hunter knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited.
It is illegal to place bait in a way that causes others to be in violation of the baiting rule.
Mineral and salt blocks are not allowed on conservation areas.
Additional rules apply in the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Zones.
Doe urine and other scents, such as apple, acorn, and persimmon, may be used to attract deer while hunting, as long as the scents are not used on or with grain and other food products.
Mineral blocks, including salt, are not considered bait. However, mineral blocks that contain grain or other food additives are prohibited. Mineral and salt blocks are not allowed on conservation areas.
It is legal to hunt over a harvested crop field, but it is not legal to add grain or other crops, such as apples, to the field after it has been harvested.
Manipulating crops, such as mowing or knocking them down, is not considered baiting for deer and turkeys.
Check your permit and hunting season for information about limits. Also check to determine if antler point restrictions apply to the area where you are hunting.
Antlered deer limits
- You may take only two antlered deer during the archery and firearms deer hunting seasons combined.
- Archery hunters may take only one antlered deer before the November portion of firearms deer hunting season.
- Only one antlered deer may be taken during firearms deer hunting season (all portions combined).
- If you are drawn to participate in a managed hunt, you may take as many antlered deer as allowed at that specific hunt. Deer taken at a managed hunt do not count toward your firearms or archery season limits.
Chronic Wasting Disease
If you hunt in Adair, Barry, Camden, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Hickory, Howell, Jefferson, Knox, Laclede, Linn, Macon, McDonald, Mercer, Oregon, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington, you are in the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zones. Learn the best practices for harvesting deer in these counties.
Assisting other deer hunters
During the youth portions of firearms deer season, adults who accompany youth hunters do not need a deer hunting permit. The adult must be 18 or older and be hunter-education certified or born before January 1, 1967.
At all other times, mentors must possess a valid hunting permit for the appropriate season or be exempt. In the case of deer and turkey permits, the mentor’s permit can be filled or unfilled.
Tree stands placed on Conservation Department areas
Portable tree stands may be placed or used only between September 1 and January 31 on Conservation Department areas. Unattended stands must be plainly labeled on durable material 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 from the area before February 1.
Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program
Special rules apply on areas enrolled in the Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP). For example, on MRAP areas you must remove your tree stand when you leave each day. When hunting on an MRAP area, it is your responsibility to read and follow the rules that are posted at the area.
Retrieval of game
If you kill or injure a deer, you must make a reasonable effort to retrieve and include the animal in your season limit. However, this does not authorize trespass. It is illegal to leave or abandon commonly edible portions of game.
Use of dogs to hunt and recover game
Dogs may not be used to hunt deer. However, you may use leashed dogs to track and recover mortally wounded deer, provided you:
- Have exhausted other reasonable means of finding the animal,
- Contact a conservation agent,
- Do not possess firearms or bows during dog-tracking activities, and
- Maintain control of the leashed dog at all times.
Using dogs to recover game does not authorize trespass.
Read regulations on hunting with dogs.
Keep deer carcasses out of streams and lakes
It is illegal to place a deer carcass or any of its parts into any well, spring, brook, branch, creek, stream, pond, or lake.
Possession and sale
Properly checked deer and turkeys may be possessed by anyone if labeled with the taker’s 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.
Deer left at commercial processing or cold storage plants must be claimed by May 1 following the season taken.
Legally obtained deer heads, antlers, hides, and feet may be sold by the taker as long as the taker provides a bill of sale that shows:
- The taker’s full name and address,
- The species and number of parts, and
- The full name and address of the buyer.
For deer heads and/or antlers attached to skull plates, a dated bill of sale identifying the seller must be retained while the heads or antlers are in the buyer’s possession.
Any person who finds a dead deer with antlers still attached to the skull plate may take the antlers, but must report the find to a conservation agent within 24 hours to receive authorization to possess the antlers.
No authorization is needed to possess, buy, or sell shed antlers not attached to the skull plate.
Read general regulations about giving away, possessing, storing and selling wildlife.
Antlerless Deer Hunting County Restrictions
Archery antlerless permits can be used during the archery deer season in open counties. Firearm antlerless permits can be used during all portions of firearms deer season. However, some areas are closed to firearms hunting during the antlerless portion.
How many Archery Antlerless Permits can you fill?
Hunters may purchase and fill any number of Archery Antlerless Deer Hunting Permits during the archery deer season in all counties BUT: Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid, and Pemiscot counties.
Missouri counties (in orange) where any number of archery antlerless deer permits can be used.
How Many Firearms Antlerless Permits Can You Fill?
You may purchase as many antlerless permits as you want, but each county or county section has a limit on the number of antlerless permits you may fill. Resident landowners with at least 75 acres may harvest additional antlerless deer using no-cost Resident Landowner Firearms Antlerless Deer Hunting Permits.
Firearms Antlerless Permits Map
- Counties in white: During firearms season, antlerless deer may be taken only on an any-deer permit or a landowner antlerless deer hunting permit: Atchison, Butler, Carter, Dunklin, Iron, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Scott, and Wayne.
- Counties in brown: You may fill one firearms antlerless deer hunting permit in these counties or county sections during firearms deer season (all portions combined): Andrew, Bates, Bollinger, Buchanan, Caldwell, Clinton, DeKalb, Dent, Douglas, Gentry, Henry, Holt, Jasper, Madison, Maries, Nodaway, Phelps, Ray, Reynolds, Shannon, Stoddard, Texas, and VernonResident landowners with at least 75 acres may harvest additional antlerless deer using no-cost Resident Landowner Firearms Antlerless Deer Hunting Permits.
- Counties in blue: You may fill two firearms antlerless deer hunting permits in these counties or county sections during firearms deer season (all portions combined). Resident landowners with at least 75 acres may harvest additional antlerless deer using no-cost Resident Landowner Firearms Antlerless Deer Hunting Permits. Adair, Audrain, Barry, Barton, Benton, Boone, Callaway, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Carroll, Cass, Chariton, Christian, Cedar, Clark, Clay, Crawford, Cole, Cooper, Dade, Dallas, Daviess, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Grundy, Harrison, Hickory, Howard, Howell, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Laclede, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Marion, McDonald, Mercer, Miller, Moniteau, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Newton, Oregon, Osage, Ozark, Perry, Pettis, Pike, the portion of Platte County included in the Kansas City urban zone, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, Ralls, Randolph, Ripley, Saline, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, Washington, Webster, Worth, and Wright.
Antlerless Portion of the Firearms Season
Firearms hunting is allowed only in counties shaded blue or orange in the map below. Areas in white are closed to firearms hunting during the antlerless portion.
Firearms Antlerless Portion Map
Counties closed to firearms hunting during the antlerless portion: Andrew, Atchison, Butler, Carter, Dunklin, Holt, Iron, Mississippi, New Madrid, Nodaway, Pemiscot, Reynolds, Scott, Stoddard, and Wayne.
Antler Point Restrictions
What are antler point restrictions?
In Missouri counties with antler restrictions, an antlered deer must have at least four points on one side to be taken.
How to count antler points
Each of the following counts as a point:
- The end of the main beam
- An antler point, if it is at least 1 inch long
- Any broken tine that is at least 1 inch long
- The brow tine, if it is at least 1 inch long
Tines, main beams and brow tines all count as a point if they are at least 1-inch long. A buck with seven points is a legal deer in counties with antler-point restrictions.
Counties with a 4 antler point minimum
These counties require that bucks you harvest have at least four antler points on one side of their rack. This rule applies to both the archery and firearms deer hunting seasons. It does not apply to youth portions of the firearms deer season.
- Boone (does not apply within the city limits of Columbia)
- Cass (applies to part of county)
- Platte (applies to part of county)
Does, button bucks and bucks with spikes less than 3 inches are legal to take on Antlerless or Any-Deer Permits; but for deer management, it is better to take does.
Protected deer include all antlered deer (defined as having at least one antler 3 inches or longer) that do not have a minimum of at least four points on one side.
Chronic Wasting Disease Regulations
The CWD Management Zone includes counties within approximately 10 miles of CWD detections. Special regulations apply in these counties.
For the 2021–2022 deer seasons, the CWD Management Zone includes Adair, Barry, Camden, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Hickory, Howell, Jefferson, Knox, Laclede, Linn, Macon, McDonald, Mercer, Oregon, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington counties.
Fall 2021 Mandatory CWD Sampling
If you harvest a deer from counties in the CWD Management Zone during Nov. 13 or 14, 2021, you must take your deer — or just the head — on the day of harvest to a CWD sampling station. Hunters are reminded to follow new carcass transport regulations when traveling to CWD sampling stations.
Special Regulations for the CWD Management Zone
Carcass Movement Restrictions
- All deer harvested from CWD Management Zone counties must be Telechecked before any parts are transported out of the county of harvest.
- Hunters wishing to transport any part of the deer with the spinal column or brain present may only do so if within 48 hours of exiting the county if they deliver the carcass to a meat processor or the head to a taxidermist or an approved MDC CWD sampling site.
- The following parts may be transported out of CWD Management Zone counties without restriction:
- Meat that is cut and wrapped or that has been boned out
- Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached
- Hides from which all excess tissue has been removed
- Antlers or antlers attached to skull plates or skulls cleaned of all muscle and brain tissue
- Upper canine teeth
- Finished taxidermy products
Prohibition on feeding
Grain, salt products, minerals and other consumable products used to attract deer are prohibited year-round within CWD Management Zone counties. The following exceptions are allowed:
- Feed placed within 100 feet of any residence or occupied building
- Feed placed in a manner that excludes access by deer
- Feed and minerals used solely for normal agricultural, forest management, or wildlife food plot production practices
- Feed placed as part of a feral hog or CWD management effort authorized by the Conservation Department
Other Special Regulations for the CWD Management Zone
- Antler-Point Restriction: MDC has removed the antler-point restriction for CWD-Management-Zone counties. This was done so young bucks are no longer protected from harvest because young bucks can spread the disease to new areas as they search for territories and mates.
Bringing Harvested Deer or Other Cervids into Missouri
- For deer, elk, moose, or caribou harvested out of state, only the following parts may be brought into Missouri:
- meat that is cut and wrapped or that has been boned out
- quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached
- hides from which all excess tissue has been removed
- antlers attached to skull plates or skulls cleaned of all muscle and brain tissue
- upper canine teeth
- finished taxidermy products
- the head with the cape and not more than 6 inches of neck attached may be brought into Missouri only if taken to a licensed taxidermist within 48 hours of entry.
Hunters and Landowners Can Slow the Spread of CWD
Surveillance suggests that CWD is relatively rare in Missouri. There is hope that we can minimize the long-term impacts of the disease if we slow its spread. You can help by:
- Complying with CWD-related regulations.
- Properly disposing of deer carcasses in a permitted landfill or by burying carcasses on the property where they were harvested. (Transporting deer carcasses from the property where they were harvested and leaving them lay on the land introduces the greatest risk for disease spread.)
- Reporting sick deer to your local conservation agent or your regional Conservation Department office.
- Voluntarily testing deer harvested in the CWD Management Zone outside of opening weekend.
For your safety, you are urged to wear hunter orange whenever you are hunting.
When Hunter Orange is Required
You must wear hunter orange if:
- You are hunting any species of game during firearms deer season. Some exceptions are allowed. See below.
- You are hunting elk or accompanying an elk hunter during the firearms portion of the elk season.
- You are hunting on an area that is having a managed firearms deer hunt.
- You are serving as a mentor to another hunter during firearms deer season or on an area that is having a managed firearms deer hunt.
To satisfy this rule, you must wear both a hunter-orange hat and a hunter-orange shirt, vest, or coat. The hunter-orange color must be plainly visible from all sides. Camouflage orange does not satisfy this rule.
When Hunter Orange Is Not Required
You don’t have to wear hunter orange during firearms deer season, on an area that is having a managed firearms deer hunt, or during the firearms portion of the elk season if:
- You are hunting migratory game birds.
- You are archery hunting within municipal boundaries where the discharge of firearms is prohibited.
- You are hunting on federal or state land where deer hunting is restricted to archery methods.
- You are using an archery permit during the alternative methods portion.
- You are hunting in a county that is closed during the antlerless portions.
- You are hunting small game or furbearers during the alternative methods portion.
- You are hunting small game or furbearers during the firearms portion of the elk season.
Kansas City Deer Hunting Zone
Kansas City urban zone
- Portion of Platte County south of Hwy 92
- Portion of Cass County north of Route 2
- All portions of Clay and Jackson counties
Questions? Contact our regional office
Kansas City Region
12405 SE Ranson Road
Lee’s Summit, MO 64082