Missouri Deer Season – What You Need to Know

From Jefferson City to St Charles, Missouri Deer Season is an annual event in which licensed hunters in the state of Missouri can legally hunt and harvest white-tailed deer within specific dates set by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). The season typically begins in the fall, usually in late September or early October, and runs until mid-January.

Deer hunting is a popular activity in Missouri counties, with an estimated 500,000 hunters participating in the sport each year. Missouri’s large deer population and diverse hunting terrain make it an attractive destination for hunters from across the country.

Missouri Deer Season. Deer hunting with a bow.

Missouri Deer Season – What to Know

As with Missouri duck hunting, there are several things you should know before you head out.

Before participating in the Missouri Deer Season, hunters have special regulations to follow and must obtain a valid hunting permit from the MDC. The permits are issued based on a lottery system, with applicants required to submit their applications by a specific deadline. Successful applicants are then issued a permit that specifies the date and location of their hunt.

The Missouri Deer Season is divided into several different segments, each with its own specific dates and regulations. The archery season, for example, typically begins in late September and runs until mid-November. During this time, hunters are permitted to compound bows and crossbows to take down deer.

MDC and Conservation Federation of Missouri

The firearms season usually begins in mid-November and lasts for a few days, during which hunters are allowed to use firearms to hunt deer. The MDC also offers special youth hunting days, as well as special antlerless seasons, which are designed to help control the deer population.

During the Missouri Deer Season, hunters are required to follow strict regulations set by the MDC to ensure the safety of both the hunters and the deer population. For example, hunters must wear fluorescent orange clothing while hunting to make them visible to other hunters in the area. They are also required to report any deer they harvest to the MDC, which helps the agency track the state’s deer population and make informed decisions about future hunting seasons.

One important aspect of Missouri Deer Season is the conservation efforts undertaken by the MDC offices to ensure the health and sustainability of the deer population or deer numbers. The MDC and Conservation Federation of Missouri closely monitors the deer population through regular surveys and other data collection methods from open counties. This information is used to set quotas for each hunting season, with the goal of maintaining a healthy and sustainable population of deer.

In addition to setting quotas, the MDC also works to improve deer habitats through land management and other conservation efforts. This includes managing forests and grasslands to provide ideal deer habitats, as well as planting food plots to help sustain the deer population during the winter months.

The Missouri Deer Season is a highly regulated and popular event that provides licensed hunters with the opportunity to hunt and harvest white-tailed deer. The season is designed to be both safe and sustainable, with strict regulations in place to ensure the health and well-being of the deer population. Through conservation efforts and responsible hunting practices, the MDC is able to maintain a healthy and thriving deer population in Missouri.

Top 5 Places to Hunt Deer in Missouri

whitetail deer

Missouri is known for its large and thriving deer population, making it a popular destination for hunters from across the country. Here are five of the top places to hunt deer in Missouri:

Mark Twain National Forest

Located in southern Missouri, Mark Twain National Forest is a vast area covering over 1.5 million acres of prime hunting land. The forest features a diverse mix of hardwood and pine forests, as well as numerous streams and rivers that provide excellent deer habitats. Hunters can take advantage of the abundant hunting opportunities offered by the forest, including archery, firearms, and muzzleloader seasons.

The Mark Twain National Forest is 1.5 hours from St. Louis and 2 hours from Columbia.

Peabody Conservation Area

The Peabody Conservation Area is a 3,000-acre property located in central Missouri. The area features a mix of fields, forests, and wetlands, making it an ideal habitat for deer. The conservation area offers both archery and firearms hunting, as well as special youth hunting days.

Peabody Conservation Area is 1 hour and 15 minutes from Kansas City.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways

The Ozark National Scenic Riverways is a 80,000-acre park located in southern Missouri, along the Current and Jacks Fork rivers. The park features a variety of habitats, including forests, glades, and riverbanks, which provide ideal hunting grounds for deer. Hunters can take advantage of both archery and firearms hunting during the designated seasons.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways is 2.5 hours from Branson and 2 hours and 45 minutes from St. Louis.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is a 2,273-acre park located in central Missouri. The park features a variety of terrain, including forests, glades, and streams, which provide excellent deer habitats. The park offers archery, firearms, and muzzleloader hunting opportunities, as well as special youth hunting days.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is just outside Columbia, 2 hours from Kansas City, and 2.5 hours from Ste. Genevieve.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge is a 21,000-acre refuge located in southeastern Missouri. The refuge features a mix of wetlands, forests, and grasslands, which provide ideal deer habitats. Hunters can take advantage of both archery and firearms hunting during the designated seasons, as well as special youth hunting days.

The Mingo National Wildlife Refuge is 1.5 hours from St. Francois, 2.5 from St. Charles, and 2.5 hours from St. Clair.

Missouri offers a diverse range of hunting opportunities for deer hunters, close to St. Louis and in many other areas, from vast national forests to smaller conservation areas and state parks.

Theabove five locations provide excellent hunting grounds for deer, with a variety of habitats and hunting options to choose from.

Deer Tags in Missouri

Properly tagging deer during Missouri deer season is essential to ensure that the hunt is conducted legally and ethically. Tagging is a requirement for all harvested deer in Missouri, and it is necessary to properly identify the animal and to ensure that the harvest is reported to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).

Here are some guidelines for properly tagging deer during Missouri deer season:

  1. Obtain the Correct Tag – Before you can legally harvest a deer in Missouri, you must have a valid hunting permit and tag. Each tag is specific to the hunter, and it must be in your possession while you are hunting. It is important to know that you must purchase your deer permit and tag before you go hunting, and you cannot purchase them after you have harvested a deer.
  2. Properly Identify the Deer – Once you have harvested a deer, you must ensure that it is properly identified. If you are hunting with a firearm, it is important to check the deer heads and deer’s antlers to determine its sex. If the deer has antlers, it is likely a male. If the deer does not have antlers, it is likely a female. It is essential to make sure that the correct gender is identified, as this will affect the type of tag that you use.
  3. Attach the Tag – Once you have properly identified the deer, it is time to attach the tag. The tag should be attached to the deer’s ear or antler, and it should be securely fastened so that it cannot be lost. If you are hunting with a firearm, it is important to attach the tag to the deer’s antler or head so that it is visible from a distance.
  4. Record the Harvest – After you have attached the tag, it is important to record the harvest of antlered bucks and does. You can do this by calling the MDC’s toll-free number, going online, or using the MDC’s mobile app. You will need to provide information about the deer, including its sex, location, and the tag number that you used. It is important to report the harvest as soon as possible after the deer has been tagged.
  5. Transporting the Deer – If you plan to transport the deer, it is important to keep the tag attached to the deer. If the deer is processed by a commercial processor, the tag must remain with the deer until it is processed. It is also important to keep the harvest report number that you received when you reported the harvest.

Properly tagging deer is essential to ensure that the hunt is conducted legally and ethically. Failure to properly tag a deer can result in fines and penalties, and it can also affect the conservation efforts of the MDC. By following these guidelines, hunters can ensure that they are hunting responsibly and that they are doing their part to maintain a healthy and thriving deer population in Missouri.

Hunting License in Missouri

A Missouri hunting license is a requirement for all hunters in Missouri, regardless of their age or experience level. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) issues hunting licenses, and they are available for purchase online, by phone, or at various retail locations throughout the state.

There are several different types of hunting licenses available in Missouri, depending on the hunter’s age, residency status, and hunting method. Here are the most common types of hunting licenses in Missouri:

  1. Resident Hunting License – This license is available to Missouri residents only, and it is required for all residents who plan to hunt any game species in the state.
  2. Non-Resident Hunting License – This license is required for all non-residents who plan to hunt any game species in Missouri. Non-residents may choose from a variety of hunting licenses, including an annual hunting license or a short-term hunting license.
  3. Youth Hunting License – This license is available to youth hunters who are Missouri residents and under the age of 16, and it allows them to hunt all game species except deer and turkey.
  4. Disability Hunting Permit – This permit is available to Missouri residents with a permanent disability, and it allows them to hunt all game species.
  5. Lifetime Hunting Permit – This permit is available to Missouri residents, and it allows them to hunt all game species for the rest of their life. The cost of the permit is determined by the age of the permit holder.

In addition to the hunting license, hunters in Missouri must also purchase a deer permit and tag to hunt deer. These permits and tags are specific to the hunter, and they must be purchased before hunting.

It is important to note that hunting without a valid license is illegal in Missouri and can result in fines and penalties. By purchasing a hunting license and following all hunting regulations, hunters can ensure that they are hunting legally and ethically in Missouri.

Antlerless Permits

The antlerless portion of firearms deer season takes place from October 6, 2023 – October 8, 2023 and December 2, 2023 – December 10, 2023. Hunting must take plae from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

In addition to regular deer permits, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) also issues antlerless permits for antlerless deer, which allow hunters to take female deer during the designated antlerless season. The goal of antlerless permits is to help manage the deer population and maintain a healthy balance between deer and their habitat.

Antlerless permits are available for purchase in addition to regular deer permits, and hunters may purchase up to two antlerless permits per year. In Missouri counties with antler restrictions, an antlered deer must have at least four points on one side to be taken.

For hunters who are 15 years or younger on Sept. 15, 2022, they are exempt from the antler-point restriction during the archery deer season and all portions of the firearms deer season.

It is important to note that antlerless permits have specific season dates and locations, and hunters should refer to the MDC website for more information before purchasing a permit.

Obtaining a hunting license is a necessary step for anyone planning to hunt in Missouri. With a variety of license options available, hunters can choose the license that best fits their needs and experience level. By obtaining a hunting license and following all hunting regulations, hunters can enjoy a safe and successful hunting season in Missouri.

Deer Hunting Guidelines to consider

deer hunting

Tree Stands

Tree stands are what most hunters use for whitetail deer, whether gun or bow hunting. Elevating your position not only improves your field of vision, but also significantly reduces your chances of being spotted by deer. An elevated position, also allows you to see and shoot further.

The use of tree stands, a popular tool for hunters in Missouri, as they offer an elevated vantage point and can help hunters remain undetected by game. When using a tree stand, it is important to follow safety guidelines to prevent accidents.

This includes making sure that the tree stand is secure and stable, using a safety harness while climbing and sitting in the stand, and checking all equipment for damage before each use.

Additionally, it is important to always identify your target and know what lies beyond it before taking a shot. By following these guidelines, hunters can safely and successfully use tree stands during deer season in Missouri.

Top 5 things to remember about deer season in Missouri

archery hunter

Missouri is a popular destination for hunters looking to pursue white-tailed deer, but it is important to remember that hunting regulations vary by state and season. Here are the top five things to remember about deer season in Missouri:

  1. Know the Dates – Just like Turkey season runs April to May in Missouri, deer season in Missouri runs from September to January, with different hunting methods available during specific times. It is important to check the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website to ensure that you are hunting legally and within the correct dates.
  2. Get the Appropriate Permit – Before you can legally hunt deer in Missouri, you must have a valid hunting permit and tag. The type of permit and tag required will depend on your age, residency status, and hunting method. Make sure to purchase your permit and tag before you go hunting.
  3. Follow Safety Guidelines – Hunting can be a dangerous activity, and it is important to follow safety guidelines to prevent accidents. Always wear appropriate hunting gear, such as blaze orange, and make sure to identify your target before shooting.
  4. Practice Ethical Hunting – Hunting is a privilege, and it is important to practice ethical hunting. This means making sure to only take shots that are likely to result in a clean kill and to properly tag and report all harvested deer.
  5. Respect Private Property – Missouri has a mix of public and private land available for hunting, and it is important to respect private property. Always obtain permission from landowners before hunting on their property, and make sure to follow any additional rules they may have.

Deer season in Missouri can be a rewarding and exciting experience for hunters, but it is important to remember these top five things to ensure a safe, legal, and ethical hunt. By following these guidelines, hunters can enjoy a successful hunting season while doing their part to maintain a healthy and thriving deer population in Missouri.

Deer Hunting in Missouri Must-Have Items

  • Thermacell MR300 Portable Mosquito Repeller Includes 12 Hours of long lasting refills. No spray, no DEET, no open flame.
  • Deer corn is highly consumed and well received by whitetails in almost every habitat, but it’s also one of the cheapest options for hunters. Cabela’s Evolved Habitats Dirt Bag Camo Corn Deer Attractant is the best out there.
  • Deer Attractant such as Black Widow Deer Lure Branch Butter Licking Branch Gel, Doe Urine Deer Attractant that is made of 100% pure doe urine, or Scent Sticks Deer Attractant.
  • Binoculars, especially 8x42s, can be incredibly useful in the whitetail woods, helping you see your prey — and even their predators — before they see you. The Vortex® Diamondback® HD Binoculars from Bass Pro Shops are fast to get on target, and comfortable to hold for extended periods
  • Outdoor Edge Butcher Max 11-Piece Game Processing Set from Cabela’s is designed to offer everything you need to field dress and prepare your harvest. The set includes a 2.6″ caping knife, 4.4″ gut-hook skinner, 5.5″ boning/fillet knife, 7.5″ butcher knife, 10″ wood/bone saw, flexible cutting board, ribcage spreader, game cleaning gloves, and a two-stage carbide/ceramic sharpener.
  • Outdoor First Aid Kit This kit is designed for the outdoors. You hope you’ll never have to use but will never regret packing it with your hunting gear.

With proper permits and adherence to hunting regulations, hunters can enjoy a successful and rewarding Missouri deer hunting experience.

You may also enjoy our article on the Best Duck Hunting in Missouri.

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