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
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.
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.
Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Hunting Regulations
Only shotguns, 10 gauge or smaller, are allowed for hunting migratory game birds.
If a shotgun can hold more than three shells, it must be plugged with a one-piece filler that cannot be removed without disassembling the gun.
You can't use a sink box or anything else that conceals you below the surface of the water.
Hunting from a motor vehicle, including aircraft, is not allowed. Paraplegics and persons missing one or both legs are exempted from this regulation.
Motorized vehicles, including aircraft, or motor boats or sailboats may not be used to round up migratory birds.
You can't hunt from a motorboat or sailboat unless the motor is off or sails furled.
Decoys and calls
Live decoys are prohibited. All tame or captive ducks and geese must be removed 10 days prior to hunting. All tame or captive ducks and geese must be kept where migratory waterfowl cannot see them and their calls are quieted.
Recorded or amplified bird calls or amplified imitations of bird calls are not allowed.
You can't bait your hunting area. All bait must be removed 10 days prior to hunting.
Hunting over freshly planted food plots is prohibited.
Possession and Transportation
All hunters must make a reasonable effort to retrieve any bird killed or crippled while hunting. The bird must be in the hunter's custody until it is brought back to the hunter's lodging or a taxidermist.
Opening Day Of A Season
On the opening day of the season, no person shall possess any freshly killed migratory game birds in excess of the daily bag limit.
Field Possession Limit
No person shall have more than the daily bag limit of migratory game birds, tagged or not tagged, at or between the place where taken and either (a) one’s automobile or principal means of land transportation; or (b) one’s personal abode or temporary or transient place of lodging; or (c) a migratory bird preservation facility; or (d) a post office; or (e) a common carrier facility.
All hunters must tag migratory birds before giving the bird to another person for processing, storage, or for taxidermy. The tag will have the hunter's address, number and species of birds, and the date the birds were killed, and be signed by the hunter.
All birds must be tagged before the hunter gives the birds as a gift, or are transported by another person. If the birds are mailed or shipped, the box must have the tagging information.
Species Identification Requirement
All waterfowl must have the head or one fully-feathered wing attached while the bird is in transit to the hunter's home or taxidermist.
Youth Waterfowl Regulations
Each year, there are two youth-only waterfowl hunting days in each zone for ducks, geese and coots. Youth hunters must be:
- age 15 or younger
- accompanied by an adult 18 years old or older who is not allowed to hunt ducks but who can participate in other open seasons.
No permits are required for youth hunters. If the youth possesses a valid hunter-education certificate card, the accompanying adult does not need a permit or hunter-ed certification. However, if the youth is not hunter-ed certified, the accompanying adult must be hunter-ed certified unless they were born before Jan. 1, 1967, and possess a Missouri permit to hunt small game or be exempt.
Shooting hours and limits are the same as the regular duck, goose, and coot seasons.
Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Permit and Stamp Requirements
To pursue, take, possess, and transport ducks, coots, and geese in Missouri, except during the Conservation Order, you must possess and carry all three of the items listed below, unless exempt.
To pursue you doves, rails, snipe, and woodcock in Missouri you must posses and carry the first two items listed below, unless exempt.
1) a Missouri permit to hunt small game is required of:
- Missouri residents age 16 through 64
- Nonresidents age 16 and older
An annual permit is available to residents for $10 and to nonresidents for $80 from any permit vendor. A daily permit is also available to nonresidents from any permit vendor for $11 per day.
Exemption: Missouri resident landowners hunting on their own land do not need a Missouri small game hunting permit, but the Migratory Bird Hunting Permit and Duck Stamp are required (see below).
2) Missouri Migratory Bird Hunting Permit is required of:
- Residents and nonresidents age 16 and over.
This permit is available for $6 from any permit vendor. Purchase of this permit satisfies requirements for Migratory Game Bird Harvest Registration.
3) Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp is required of: Residents and nonresidents age 16 and over. To be valid, the federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (duck stamp) must be signed in ink across the face.
Stamps are available for $25 at some U.S. Post Offices, MDC regional offices, nature centers, and visitor’s centers, but not at permit vendors or waterfowl hunting conservation areas.
Duck stamps are also available online at the Buy e-Permits link below or at Missouri permit vendors. The electronic duck stamp, or e-Stamp, allows customers to purchase the Federal Duck Stamp online and use it immediately. The e-Stamp costs $28.50 and is valid for 45 days from the date of purchase. Within that time, a physical duck stamp will be mailed to the customer. After 45 days, the customer must carry their Federal Duck Stamp while hunting. Retail vendors will still be able to process e-Stamp transactions for hunters.
Permit Requirements for Hunters Younger Than 16
Resident and nonresident hunters age 15 and younger are not required to purchase any permits to hunt ducks, coots or geese in Missouri. However, they must have in their possession a valid Hunter Education Certificate Card while hunting or be in the immediate presence of an adult age 18 or older who possesses a Missouri small game hunting permit and is hunter education certified or born before Jan. 1, 1967.
Permit Requirement for Light-Goose Conservation Order
During the Conservation Order residents and nonresidents age 16 and older only need a Conservation Order Permit to chase, pursue and take snow, blue and Ross’s geese. This permit costs $5 for residents and $40 for nonresidents. Hunters with either a Resident Lifetime Conservation Partner Permit or a Resident Lifetime Small Game Hunting Permit do not need to purchase a Conservation Order Permit to hunt light geese during the Conservation Order.
Hunters 15 years old and younger do not need a Conservation Order Permit, but must possess a valid hunter-education certificate card or hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed adult 18 years old or older who is hunter-education certified or was born before January 1, 1967.
Note: A Missouri small game hunting permit, Missouri Migratory Bird Hunting Permit and Federal Duck Stamp are not required during the Conservation Order.
Nontoxic Shot Regulations
When is Nontoxic shot required?
- All waterfowl hunting (ducks, geese, teal, and coots)
- Hunting dove, rails, snipe, and woodcock on public areas with nontoxic shot requirement posted.
- Hunting with a shotgun (including dove, turkey, quail, rabbit, squirrel) on thirty-seven conservation areas.
Waterfowl hunters in Missouri have used nontoxic shot since 1991. This requirement has been shown to reduce the incidences of lead poisoning in wildlife.
Approved types of nontoxic shot
These shot types have been approved as nontoxic by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (as of January 2019):
- Copper-clad iron
- Corrosion-inhibited copper (CIC)
- Iron (steel)
- Tungsten-bronze (two types)
Use or possession of lead shot is prohibited for all hunting with a shotgun on the following conservation areas:
- Aspinwall Bend
- Black Island
- Bob Brown
- Church Farm
- Columbia Bottom
- Cooley Lake
- Coon Island
- Deroin Bend
- Diana Bend
- Duck Creek
- Eagle Bluffs
- Franklin Island
- Frost Island
- Fountain Grove
- Four Rivers
- Grand Pass
- B. K. Leach Memorial
- Little Bean Marsh
- Little River
- Lower Hamburg Bend
- Marais Temps Clair
- Nodaway Valley
- Otter Slough
- Ralph and Martha Perry
- Platte Falls
- Plowboy Bend
- Rose Pond
- Rush Bottoms
- Settle’s Ford
- Ted Shanks
- Ten Mile Pond
- Wolf Creek Bend
Use or possession of lead shot for hunting doves is prohibited on the following conservation areas:
- Bilby Ranch Lake
- Bois D’Arc
- August A . Busch
- Crowley’s Ridge
- Harmony Mission Lake
- Lamine River
- William R . Logan
- Maintz Wildlife Preserve
- Pacific Palisades
- Guy B . Park
- Pony Express Lake
- James A . Reed Memorial Wildlife Area
- Robert E . Talbot
- Truman Reservoir Management Lands (Bethlehem)
- Weldon Spring
- Whetstone Creek
- White (William G . and Erma Parke) Memorial Wildlife Area
Nontoxic shot is safer for wildlife and people
Lead is poisonous to both people and wildlife. Research shows that doves, waterfowl, and many other species of birds can suffer from lead poisoning after consuming lead pellets from spent shotgun shells. Lead poisoning can be fatal to birds and other wildlife, including bald eagles that feed on waterfowl with lead shot in the carcasses.
Additional Woodcock Regulations
Nontoxic shot required on posted public areas and conservation areas.
- Shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, unless plugged
- Hunting from a motor vehicle or motorboat
- Using live birds as decoys
- Using recorded or amplified calls
Birds must be tagged (with the taker's signature, address, total number and species of birds, and the date that the birds were killed), if left any place other than the hunter's home.