In Brief

By MDC | May 1, 2023
From Missouri Conservationist: May 2023

Apply for Elk and Bear Hunting

Online permit applications open May 1, drawings occur July 1

MDC is offering 400 permits for the harvest of a maximum of 40 black bears during the 2023 Missouri black bear hunting season this fall, Oct. 16–25.

MDC also is offering five permits to hunt bull elk in Missouri this fall — one permit designated for a qualifying landowner that owns property in Carter, Reynolds, or Shannon counties and the remaining permits for the general public. The elk archery portion will run Oct. 21–29, and the elk firearms portion will run Dec. 9–17. The five permits, valid for both portions, will be for bull elk with at least one antler 6 inches or greater in length.

Only Missouri residents at least 11 years of age by the first day of the hunt for which they are applying are eligible to apply for bear and elk permits during the application period of May 1–31. All permits will be assigned through a random drawing.

For more information on elk and elk hunting in Missouri, visit

Learn more about black bears and bear hunting in Missouri at

Apply for bear and elk hunting permits May 1–31 online at, through MDC’s free MO Hunting app, through a permit vendor, or by calling 800-392-4115. Results of the bear and elk permits random drawings will be available online by July 1.

Get Hooked on Fishing

Want some free fun that gets family and friends outside in nature? Get hooked on fishing with MDC’s Free Fishing Days June 10 and 11. During Free Fishing Days, which are the Saturday and Sunday following the first Monday in June each year, anyone can fish in the Show-Me State without a fishing permit, trout permit, or trout park daily tag.

Other fishing regulations remain in effect during this time, such as limits on size and number of fish an angler may keep. Special permits may still be required at some county, city, or private fishing areas. Trespass laws remain in effect on private property.

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to fish, and Free Fishing Days encourages people to sample our state’s abundant fishing opportunities. Missouri has more than a million acres of surface water, and most of it provides great fishing. More than 200 different fish species are found in Missouri, with more than 20 of them being game fish for the state’s more than 1.1 million anglers.

For more information on Missouri fishing regulations, fish identification, and more, get a copy of the 2023 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations, available at conservation offices and where permits are sold or online at

Be Bear Aware

Black bears are an exciting part of Missouri’s natural history, and they’re making a comeback in the southern part of the state. MDC encourages you to Be Bear Aware to stay safe in bear country and keep our bears wild.

Never feed a bear! Feeding bears makes them lose their natural fear of humans and teaches them to see humans as food providers. They will learn to go to places such as homes, campsites, and neighborhoods to look for food, instead of staying in the forest. A bear that has gotten used to getting food from humans may become aggressive and dangerous. When this happens, the bear has to be destroyed. Learn how to Be Bear Aware at

Thank You for Sharing the Harvest

MDC and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) thank the thousands of Missouri deer hunters who donated 235,169 pounds of venison to the state’s Share the Harvest program this past deer season, including 4,936 whole deer. MDC and CFM also thank the participating meat processors throughout the state who grind the donated deer meat into ready-to-use packages, and the many sponsors who financially support the program.

The donated deer meat goes to local food banks and food pantries to help feed hungry Missourians all around the state. Meat-processing fees are covered entirely or in part by numerous local sponsors, along with statewide sponsors that include Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shops, Feeding Missouri, and MDC.

Share the Harvest is coordinated by MDC and CFM and has been helping feed hungry Missourians for more than 30 years. Since the program was started in 1992, it has provided nearly 5 million pounds of lean, healthy venison to help feed hungry Missourians. To get Share the Harvest venison, contact local food banks or food pantries.

For more information on Share the Harvest, visit CFM at

Migratory Game Bird and Waterfowl Seasons

The Missouri Conservation Commission approved recommendations at its March meeting for the upcoming 2023 migratory game bird hunting seasons and 2023–2024 waterfowl-hunting seasons.

2023 Migratory Game Bird Hunting

Mourning Doves, Eurasian Collared Doves, and White-Winged Doves
  • Season: Sept. 1–Nov. 29
  • Limits: 15 daily and 45 in possession combined total for all three species
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
Sora and Virginia Rails
  • Season: Sept. 1–Nov. 9
  • Limits: 25 daily and 75 in possession combined for both species
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
Wilson’s (Common) Snipe
  • Season: Sept. 1–Dec. 16
  • Limits: 8 daily and 24 in possession
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
American Woodcock
  • Season: Oct. 15–Nov. 28
  • Limits: 3 daily and 9 in possession
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

2023–2024 Waterfowl Hunting

  • Season: Sept. 9–24
  • Limits: 6 daily and 18 in possession
  • Hours: Sunrise to sunset
  • Season:
  • North Zone: Oct. 28–Dec. 26
  • Middle Zone: Nov. 4–12 and Nov. 18–Jan. 7, 2024
  • South Zone: Nov. 23–26 and Dec. 7–Jan. 31, 2024
  • Bag Limit: 6 ducks daily with species restrictions of:
  • 4 mallards (no more than 2 females)
  • 3 wood ducks
  • 2 black ducks
  • 2 canvasbacks
  • 2 hooded mergansers
  • 2 redheads
  • 2 scaup for first 45 days
  • and 1 scaup for last 15 days
  • 1 mottled duck
  • 1 pintail
  • Possession Limit: Three times the daily bag or 18 total, varies by species
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
  • Season: Same as duck season dates in the respective zones
  • Limits: 15 daily and 45 in possession
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
Canada Geese and Brant
  • Season: Oct. 7–15 and Nov. 11–Feb. 6, 2024
  • Limits: 3 Canada geese and brant in aggregate daily, 9 in possession
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
Snow Geese (White and Blue Phases) and Ross’s Geese
  • Season: Nov. 11–Feb. 6, 2024
  • Limits: 20 blue, snow, or Ross’s geese daily with no possession limit
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
White-Fronted Geese
  • Season: Nov. 11–Feb. 6, 2024
  • Limits: 2 daily and 6 in possession
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
Light Goose Conservation Order
  • Season: Feb. 7, 2024–April 30, 2024
  • Limits: No daily or possession limits
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset
  • Methods: For the taking of blue, snow, and Ross’s geese during the Conservation Order, hunters may use shotguns capable of holding more than three shells and recorded or electronically amplified bird calls or sounds or imitations of bird calls or sounds.
Youth Hunting Days
  • North Zone: Oct. 21–22
  • Middle Zone: Oct. 21–22
  • South Zone: Nov. 18–19
  • Limits:  Limits for ducks, geese, and coots are the same as during regular seasons
  • Hours: Same as during regular waterfowl season
  • Requirements: Any person 15 years of age or younger may participate in youth waterfowl hunting days without permit provided they are in the immediate presence of an adult 18 years of age or older. If the youth hunter is not certified in hunter education, the adult must have the required permits and have in his or her possession proof of hunter education unless exempt. The adult may not hunt ducks but may participate in other seasons that are open on youth hunting days.

For more information on migratory bird and waterfowl hunting, visit MDC online at, or get MDC’s Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest 2023–2024, available beginning in July at conservation offices and where hunting permits are sold.

Agent Advice
Statistics Elements

Logan Brawley
Shannon County
Conservation Agent


The Ozark National Scenic Riverway, including the Current and Jacks Fork rivers, will soon see an increase in floating activity. Before you join them, be prepared for a day in the sun by packing plenty of water and sun protection. Treat your vessel like a boat and have a personal flotation device for each passenger. Make sure children always wear life jackets. Let someone know your float plan and what time you plan to leave and return. Know where you are going, if it is public or private, and the rules that govern the area. A good place to start is the MO Outdoors app, available for download in Android or iPhone platforms at

Species of Conservation Concern

Western Chicken Turtles

The western chicken turtle is a state endangered species that is being considered for federal listing. Western chicken turtles range from southeastern Missouri, south to Louisiana, and west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma. This semi-aquatic turtle spends most of its life wandering and overwintering on the hardwood forest floor. In the spring, they are found in shallow, still to slow-moving wetlands, such as river sloughs, oxbow lakes, temporary wetlands, and swamps. Historically, they were found in numerous southeastern Missouri counties but now only occur at two sites. This is the rarest species of turtles in Missouri.


Why It’s Imperiled

Western chicken turtles have declined mainly due to the elimination of their habitat, especially the draining of wetlands needed for foraging and mating in the spring and bottomland forest needed during summer movement and overwintering.

MDC Restoration Efforts

Ongoing efforts to restore populations of this rare turtle include protection and management of the few remaining high-quality bottomland forests and associated wetlands. Continued survey efforts, such as trapping of wetlands and collection of water to detect their presence via DNA, are required to better understand their status and distribution. Also, propagation efforts to collect eggs for captive-rearing

and future releases is progressing.

What Can You Do?

Protecting the remaining wetlands and bottomland forests, as well as constructing wetlands and planting trees, will help to ensure this turtle remains part of Missouri’s biodiversity. This species is rarely seen, so if you do encounter one, please snap a photograph and send it to

What is it?

Bald Cypress Seed Cone

Bald cypress trees occur in swamps, sloughs, and wet bottomland forests. A large tree, bald cypress can grow up to 130 feet tall. Its fruit, which ripen from October through November, are 1-inch round cones. The cones, green changing to purple, are tightly closed with shield-shaped scales that open at maturity to release seeds.


Also In This Issue

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler