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, landowners on their land, or to elk hunters during the firearms portion of the elk season.
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, landowners on their land, or to deer hunters during the antlerless portion of the firearms deer season. .
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.
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.
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
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.
- The homes, nests or dens of furbearers must not be molested or destroyed.
- No person shall accept payment for furbearers taken by another.
- Wildlife held in traps, snares, or cable restraint devices may be killed or removed only by the user.
- Bobcats and otters or their pelts must be delivered to an agent of the Conservation Department for registration or tagging before selling, transferring, tanning or mounting by April 10. Tagged bobcats, otters or their pelts may be possessed by the taker throughout the year and may be sold only to licensed taxidermists, tanners or fur dealers. It is illegal to purchase or sell untagged bobcats, otters or their pelts. Tagging tip: To make it easier to tag a pelt without damaging it, put a pencil or stick through the upper lip and eye socket before freezing the skin. The tag can be easily placed in those holes when the pelt is registered.
- Restrictions on possession do not apply to tanned pelts, mounted specimens or manufactured products.
- Skinned carcasses of legally taken furbearers may be sold throughout the year.
Special-Use Permit Required to Trap on Conservation Areas
Trapping with dog-proof style and other traps is allowed on many conservation areas. A Special Use Permit is required and these must be applied for at least 30 days before trapping begins. Contact the area manager at the regional office to see what opportunities are available in your area.
- May be placed and set for furbearers at 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 15 and must be removed by midnight of the last day of trapping season
- Must have smooth or rubber jaws only, and may include foot-hold, Conibear, or other killing-type, foot-enclosing-type, cage-type, colony traps with openings no greater than 6 inches in height and 6 inches wide, snares set underwater only, and cable restraint devices.
- Must be plainly labeled on durable material with the user’s full name and address or Conservation Number.
- Wildlife must be removed or released from traps daily, except for colony and killing-type traps, which must be checked every 48 hours.
- May not be set in paths made or used by people or domestic animals. Killing-type traps may not be set along public roadways, except underwater in permanent waters. Within communities having 10,000 or more inhabitants, only cage-type or foot-enclosing-type traps may be set within 150 feet of any residence or occupied building
- May be used in conjunction with electronic calls
Conibear or Killing-type traps must comply with the following:
- With a jaw spread greater than 5 inches, may be set underwater, but not in any dry land set
- With a jaw spread not greater than 8 inches, may be set 6 feet or more above ground level in buildings
Snares must comply with the following:
- Be set underwater
- Have a loop 15 inches or less in diameter when set
- Have a stop device that prevents the snare from closing to less than 2 1/2 inches in diameter
- Be made with cable that is between 5/64 inch and 1/8 inch in diameter
- Have a mechanical lock and anchor swivel
Cable Restraint Regulations
When used correctly, cable restraint devices hold animals alive and allow trappers to release non-target animals unharmed. The devices can be used to take furbearers from November 15 through January 31.
Cable restraint devices MUST:
- Be made of stranded steel cable, not greater than 5 feet long (not including extension, with a diameter of not less than 5/64 inch and equipped with a commercially manufactured breakaway rated at 350 pounds or less, a relaxing-type lock, a stop device that prevents it from closing to less than 2 1/2 inches in diameter, and an anchor swivel. Note: Compression-type chokes and other mechanically powered springs are prohibited.
- Have a loop size of 12 inches diameter or smaller when set
- Have the bottom of the cable loop set at least 6 inches or greater above the ground
- Be anchored solidly or staked in a location not allowing entanglement
- Be checked daily.
Cable restraint devices must NOT be:
- Capable of extending to within 12 inches of a fence
- Set using a drag
- Set with a kill-pole
- Used within 150 feet of any dwelling or driveway leading to a dwelling.
Note: Trappers may not possess live coyotes, red fox, and gray fox after March 15.
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 black bear or accompanying a black bear hunter.
- 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 archery or small game hunting in a county that is closed during the antlerless portion.
- 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.