MDC suspends current river gauge requirements impacting spring turkey hunting in portions of southeast Missouri

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) announces it will suspend enforcement of the existing Thebes, Ill., and Cairo, Ill., river gauge requirements located within Zones 1 and 2 in Scott and Mississippi counties for both the youth and regular 2021 spring turkey hunting seasons.  

According to the Wildlife Code of Missouri, wildlife, except waterfowl, cannot be pursued or taken when river levels exceed specified limits on local river gauges in certain flood-prone areas in southeast Missouri during spring turkey and fall deer and turkey seasons.  

However, on March 26 the Missouri Conservation Commission granted final approval of Code changes that raise the river levels for Zones 1 and 2 along the Mississippi River in southeast Missouri, which would close hunting due to flooding. The river level for Zone 1 in Scott County has been raised from 33 to 35 feet, and the river level for Zone 2 in Mississippi County from 41 to 43 feet.

The amended rule will be published in the State Code of Regulations on May 31, with an effective date of June 30, 2021. Suspending enforcement of the existing regulation ensures the intent of the rule change is applied during the 2021 spring turkey hunting seasons.

According to MDC, river levels which exceed the newly-approved limits of 35 feet on the Thebes gauge and 43 feet on the Cairo gauge will close 2021 spring turkey hunting seasons in Zones 1 and 2, respectively and these levels will be enforced. All other season dates and limits will continue to apply.

The spring turkey hunting season starts with a youth-only weekend April 10 and 11 followed by the regular spring season April 19 through May 9. For more information about spring turkey hunting, visit MDC’s website at For more information on river levels, visit