Hunting is extremely popular in Missouri. In just about any rural area in our state, you'll hear just about constant talk about hunting from about September to January. The same goes for turkey in April and May, and to a lesser extent during various small game seasons. Huntitng is very important to a lot of people in Missouri. But ask the average hunter about how you can hunt succesfully without owning land or leasing land, and many people won't have a good answer. It's true that the vast majority of Missouri hunters use private land, but that doesn't mean that this is a necessity for any hunter. Missouri has millions of acres of public land, and most of it allows hunting. Sure, you might have to abide by some special regulations, but you can generally expect quality, well managed hunting for a variety of species.

You might ask why I jumped to the public land issue right away. I chose to do that, quite simply, because this website is designed primarily for the average outdoorsmen. Many sportsmen aren't flush with cash, and the idea of spending money on land or private land access is a major deterrent. One of the main points of the hunting portion of this website is to give you hunting options that are affordable to the average hunter, and that generally means public land. We will outline public land hunting opportunities throughout the state. But we will also include articles about special tactics, techniques, and other specifics that you need to know to be a successful Missouri hunter.

Hunting the Ozarks-Hunting Missouri Conservation Areas-Missouri Deer Hunting Basics-Also visit Missouri Public Deer Hunting-Northern Missouri MDC Hunting Areas

Hunting the Ozarks

Hunting the Ozarks is an endeavor that will bring you beauty, tranquility, sore legs, and occasionally the thought that your efforts might be better concentrated elsewhere. In fact, the greatest concentrations of game are not found in the Ozarks region of Missouri for a few reasons.

First, the terrain does not support huge deer populations. There are most certainly deer populations, and the educated deer/turkey hunter can most certainly find deer/turkey and harvest them. But you will never confuse the Ozarks of Missouri with the deer densities and size averages of northern reaches of the state. The vast majority of hunting areas in the Ozarks are the "big woods." Deer subsist on acorns and other forage from this environment and that does not include much in the way of agricultural fattening stations like those found up north.

Turkey do find the Ozarks to be much more sustaining of densities comparable to other Missouri regions. However, the same limiting factors do affect turkeys to an extent.

A couple of other Ozark traditions that cannot be overlooked also affect deer and turkey numbers. Those include the fact that many folks consider open season to be when their family needs food, as well as the often used and highly illegal tactic of driving deer with dogs. If you hunt public land in the Ozarks for long, you will experience this first hand. It is a shame that the Ozarks hill people do not police these activities more on their own, because we know of numerous hunters who have given up on the area because of it. This hurts tourism from hunters in the Fall after the Ozark Rivers have lost the "aluminum hatch" from the silly St. Louis and Kansas City crowds.

There are some good small game and upland bird options in the Ozarks. First, the area is a squirrel hunters paradise. Vast stands of oak cover the area as timber harvesting has been reduced to a more sustainable level. Squirrel hunters can do quite well here usuing the traditional methods by shotgun or .22 rifle.

Rabbit hunting is a bit more difficult to find. The big woods nature of the area leaves limited habitat throughout the Ozarks, but areas can be located.

Deer hunting the Ozarks has some real advantages. Because of the terrain and the perception that the deer hunting isn't so great, the deer hunter looking for peace and solitude will find it in spades in the Ozarks.

Also, the deer hunter looking for public land on which to hunt will not do better than the Ozarks. There are hundreds of Missouri Department of Conservation Areas as well as vast tracts of the Mark Twain National Forest. Some of the MDC properties are in the 10's of thousands of acres in size.

Whether deer hunting or turkey hunting the Ozarks, scouting is a must. These areas are hard to navigate and our experiences have been that Google Earth scouting have only been a minimal first step. It's too difficult with the resolution available in these remote areas to differentiate between clearcuts and fields or between varieties of tree species. These are all things you need to discern for proper deer habitat.

Turkey hunting needs good scouting as well, but we have discovered that it's a bit easier to do our scouting more quickly here. The numbers are high enough where the time required is a bit less intensive to figure out where turkeys are generally found and their habits.

We began this article being somewhat pessimistic in tone about hunting the Ozarks. We love the area and hunt it regularly. It's just not easy and there are plenty of reasons you should look elsewhere. We feel should you decide to hunt the region you will find it a satisfying experience whether you harvest game or not.

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Hunting Northern Missouri Conservation Areas

It is a commonly accepted idea that as of this time (2011), the best Missouri whitetail deer hunting is found in Northern Missouri. Statistics do in fact bare this out. What comes with this however, is the reality that finding private ground to hunt on for free or even at a reasonable cost, is becoming increasingly difficult. There are MDC Conservation Areas that might be options.

When we think of whitetail deer hunting in Missouri, we are really talking about a number of different hunting seasons. There are archery seasons, urban seasons, muzzleloader seasons, regular firearm season, antlerless season, and undoubtedly several we are not thinking of. Knowing about the current offering of seasons, and the type of hunting you have the capability to do, will go far in the guiding of your decisions on where to hunt deer. This is because due to hunting pressure concerns, habitat limitations, and other factors, many of the conservation areas in Northern Missouri are guided by special restrictions for deer hunting.

For example, we used to hunt Union Ridge Conservation Area which is located just northwest of Kirksville. The area was heavily hunted during the regular firearms season, but not bad for antlerless season. However, one year the decision was made to close the area for the antlerless season. So, the area you find and perhaps enjoy and find success on, might not be available the next year. It's important to be flexible.

One way to be flexible is to increase the methods by which you hunt. Archery methods for example will greatly enhance the length of time you can hunt deer in Missouri. Additionally, during the archery season you will find far less in the way of pressure and competition from other hunters. To the point of this article, you will also find that far more of the conservation areas are open to archery hunting than for firearm or even muzzleloader.

If deer hunting is not your thing, with a bit of research, you can really find some outstanding upland game hunting. There are areas with quail, pheasant, rabbits, squirrel, turkey, predator, and waterfowl hunting. One excellent resource is our Missouri Conservation Area Research Page.

A final wrod of caution...don't assume the regs will be the same each year you return to a conservation area. Always check MDC Regs for the latest on the area you wish to visit. Missouri conservation area are an unbelievable resource for Missouri hunters and other outdoors folks. We hope this article assist you in getting out and enjoying hunting in Northern Missouri.

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