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.
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
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.
General Fishing Rules and Methods
Allowed fishing methods
You may take fish by pole and line, trotline, throwline, limb line, bank line and jug line. Ice fishing tackle, or tip-ups, are considered a pole-and-line method.
These methods are accepted for catching all species of fish, although additional restrictions may apply to specific fishing areas.
Game fish not hooked in the mouth or jaw must be returned to the water unharmed immediately, except paddlefish legally taken during the paddlefish snagging season. Game fish include:
- goggle-eye (commonly known as Ozark bass, rock bass, and shadow bass)
- northern pike
- muskellunge, tiger muskie, and muskie pike hybrid
- chain pickerel
- grass pickerel
- all species of catfish except bullheads
- all species of black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted)
- paddlefish (spoonbill)
- all species of crappie
- white bass, yellow bass, and striped bass
- shovelnose sturgeon.
Allowed alternate methods
You may use permitted alternate methods in designated waters to take certain species, including paddlefish (snagging/grabbing methods only) and nongame fish. Nongame fish include
- green sunfish
- all other species other than those defined as game fish or listed as endangered.
Permitted alternate methods for nongame fish include:
- underwater spearfishing
All of the above methods of taking fish are considered sport fishing methods.
Number of poles and hooks
If you use more than three poles (or two poles on the Mississippi River) at any one time, the additional poles must be labeled with your full name and address or Conservation Number. Regardless of the method or number of poles, you may not use more than a total of 33 hooks at any one time; except on the Mississippi River the maximum is 50 hooks at one time. If fishing on the Mississippi River and on other Missouri waters at the same time, no more than 50 hooks may be used and not more than 33 on waters other than the Mississippi.
Hooks on trotlines must be staged at least 2 feet apart. Hooks on any type of line, as well as the line itself, must be attended every 24 hours or removed.
Prohibited fishing methods
No one may use any explosive, poison, chemical or electrical equipment to kill or stupefy fish. Such material or equipment may not be possessed on waters of the state or adjacent banks.
Spearguns may not be possessed on unimpounded waters or adjacent banks, and spears may not be propelled by explosives.
It also is illegal to attempt to take fish by hand, with or without a hook, and to intentionally leave or abandon any commonly edible portion of any fish.
Only live-bait traps are allowed
Fish traps, including slat and wire ones, may not be possessed on waters in Missouri or on adjacent banks. However, live-bait traps are allowed.
Labels required on traps and lines
You must place a tag of a durable material with your full name and address or your Conservation Number on live-bait traps, trotlines, throwlines, limb lines, bank lines, jug lines and live boxes.
Use of Lights
As an aid to fishing methods, an artificial light may be used only above the water surface. However, while fishing by pole and line only, underwater lights may be used to attract fish. Underwater lights also may be used when bowfishing on lakes, ponds and other impoundments.
Live Bait Regulations
Live Bait Species
Live bait includes crayfish, freshwater shrimp, southern leopard frogs, plains leopard frogs, cricket frogs, and nongame fish. Bullfrogs and green frogs taken under season limits and methods also may be used as bait.
- Common carp, grass carp, bighead carp and silver carp may not be used as live bait but may be used as dead or cut bait.
- Live bait taken from public waters of Missouri may not be sold or transported to other states.
- Game fish or their parts may not be used as bait.
- Live bait may be taken by trap, dip net, throw net, pole and line or seine.
- Live-bait traps must have a throat opening not more than 1-1/2 inches in any dimension, and must be labeled with the user’s full name and address, or Conservation Number.
- Traps must be removed if they cannot be checked at least once every 24 hours.
- Seines must not be more than 20 feet long and 4 feet deep, with a mesh of not more than 1/2 inch bar measure.
- Live bait, except fish, may be taken by hand.
- Crayfish also may be taken by trap with an opening not to exceed 1-1/2 inches by 18 inches.
- All bluegill, green sunfish and bullheads more than 5 inches long and other species of nongame fish more than 12 inches long must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught by any of the methods listed above except pole and line. The daily limits for nongame fish apply to the large fish taken by pole and line.
- There is no length limit on bighead carp, common carp, gizzard shad, goldfish, grass carp and silver carp when used as bait.
Live bait may be taken throughout the year.
- A combined total of 150 crayfish, freshwater shrimp and non-game fish.
- 5 each of southern leopard frog, plains leopard frog and cricket frog.
- A combined total of 8 bullfrogs and green frogs. Bullfrogs and green frogs may be taken only from sunset June 30 through Oct. 31.
- Any number of goldfish and bighead, common, grass and silver carp.
- Any number of live bait, when purchased or obtained from a source other than the waters of the state or a licensed commercial fisherman; must be species on the Approved Aquatic Species List and angler must carry a dated receipt for the bait.
Other Species That May be Used as Bait
- Nongame fish of any size, except bowfin, if taken according to the non-game methods and seasons.
- Mussels and clams legally taken by sport fish methods.
Possession and Length Limits
Daily and Possession Limits
You may possess no more than the daily limit of any given species while you are on waters, or on the banks of waters, where daily limits for those species apply. Any species taken into actual possession, unless released unharmed immediately after being caught, shall continue to be included in the daily limit of the taker for the day.
Where only catch-and-release fishing is allowed, fish must be returned unharmed immediately to the water after being caught.
The possession limit is twice the statewide daily limit. Fish you take and possess must be kept separate or distinctly identifiable from fish taken by another person. If you are away from your catch, the device holding the fish must be plainly labeled with your full name and address.
Length Limit Definitions
Many fish species and fishing areas have length limits.
A minimum length limit means that fish below a designated length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught.
A slot length limit or protected length range means that fish within a designated length range must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught.
A maximum length limit means that fish above a designated length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught.
Regardless of where taken, fish that are not of a legal length cannot be possessed on the waters or banks where length limits apply. The head and tail must remain attached to the fish while you are fishing on waters where length limits apply.
Learn how to measure fish correctly.
Possessing, transporting, and storing fish
The fish you catch in Missouri, or elsewhere, may be possessed and transported as your personal baggage, if you have the required permit. Fish may be stored, preserved or refrigerated only at your home, camp, place of lodging or in a commercial establishment. Stored fish must be labeled with your full name, address, permit number, species of fish and the date placed in storage. Fish taken in another state by methods not permitted in Missouri may not be possessed on waters of the state.