Great Places to Hunt Rabbits on Public Land in Missouri
To locate good rabbit hunting in Missouri or anywhere for that matter, a little knowledge of good habitat is in order. We will provide some specific locations, distributed around the state, but we encourage the reader to possess some basic knowledge so they can expand the possibilities, and perhaps find local areas besides the ones we have listed.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, "Good, well distributed protective cover is the most critical element for the development of a good rabbit population. With modern, intensive farming, cover is the one element that is most often lacking." Consequently, the kind of habitat you are looking for is places where brushpiles, briars, and other forms of cover are found not just here and there, but across a sizeable acreage area. These structures allow rabbits to nest and to find food close to a place where they can find shelter and safety from predators.
One thing to keep in mind is that some field that might appear to be great rabbit habitat and suppliers of good rabbit forage may not actually be so. According to the MDC, old fields which have grown into dense, stagnant stands of grass are about as uninviting to rabbits as are the large fields of cool-season grasses. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, "Rabbits will feed on grasses, clover, wheat, garden crops, alfalfa, corn, and soybeans, but will sometimes switch to more woody foods in the winter."
So, as you look through our suggestions, and then get out in the field, keep these basics in mind and you can key into the best portions of the areas suggested, or perhaps even find some spots of your own on public or private land. Keep in mind, with regard to private land, landowners are far more likely to grant hunting access as they are for deer or turkey hunting. In fact, it is possible that with good behavior in the field, the relationship you develop with the landowner might yield an invitation or permission to hunt deer or turkey.
West Central Missouri Rabbit Hunting (Kansas City Area)
J. N. Turkey Kearn Memorial Wildlife Area (Johnson County 1674 acres):
J.N. "Turkey" Kearn Memorial Wildlife Area is in Johnson and Pettis counties. J.N."Turkey" Kearn, who delighted many people with his humor and knowledge of local history, lived on this land in harmony with its natural beauty. In 1976, he donated 1,479 acres to the Conservation Department with the wish that the bounty of wildlife his ancestors spoke of when they first settled here be restored and preserved for future generations. The Department purchased an additional 195 acres, bringing the area to its present size of 1,674 acres.
The area features a great variety of habitat types, including wooden hills, bottomlands, crop fields, and native grass fields. Two fishing lakes, covering nine and 25 acres, respectively, were built in 2000. The area contains several small ponds and one two-acre pond, and Muddy Creek crosses the northwest corner of the area.
Management of the area focuses on providing habitat for upland wildlife species, including deer, turkey, rabbits, squirrels, doves, and songbirds. Prairie chickens are also sometimes seen here.
Settle's Ford Conservation Area (Cass County 6765 acres):
This area contains 2,500 acres of opportunistic wetlands (no pumping capability) as well as old fields, cropland, and forest. Facilities/features: disabled user waterfowl blind, six fishable ponds (six acres total), and five permanent streams.
Northwest Missouri Rabbit Hunting
Bilby Ranch Lake (Nodaway County 5110 acres):
This area contains grassland, cropland, old fields, and some forest. Facilities/features: boat ramp, fishing dock, fish cleaning station, Bilby Ranch Lake (110 acres), and many small fishing ponds.
Emmett and Leah Seat Memorial (Gentry County 3479 acres):
This area is a mixture of old field, grasslands, cropland, and woodland habitats. The area features primitive camping, an archery range, 16 fishable ponds (totalling 13 acres), and a permanent stream (Little Muddy Creek). The area is managed primarily for bobwhite quail and associated species.
Northcentral Missouri Rabbit Hunting
Union Ridge Conservation Area (Sullivan County and others 7981 acres):
About three-fourths of the area is forest or woodland, and the rest is savanna, old fields, wetlands and cropland. Facilities/features: boat ramp, primitive camping, fishable lake (11 acres), three permanent streams (Spring Creek, Dry Branch Creek, Jobs Creek), and an intermittent stream (Lick Creek). Portions of the area are located in Adair, Putnam and Sullivan Counties.
Fountain Grove Conservation Area (Livingston County 7154 acres):
This area contains large wetlands and forest tracts in addition to cropland, grassland, and old fields. Facilities/features: boat ramps, picnic areas, and waterfowl blinds. In addition, there are three major bodies of water: Che-Ru Lake, Bittern Marsh, and Jo Shelby Lake. There are also three permanent streams: Grand River, Parsons Creek, and Locust Creek.
Northeast Missouri Rabbit Hunting
Hunnewell Lake Conservation Area (Shelby County 1905 acres):
This is a lake, cropland, forest and old fields area. Facilities/features: fishing boats at no cost, fishing dock, primitive camping, fish hatchery, picnic areas, fishing jetty and Hunnewell Lake (228 acres).
Rebel's Cove Conservation Area (Putnam County 4225 acres):
Contains forest, grassland, old fields, cropland and wetlands. Facilities/features: boat ramps, a pavilion, fishable ponds, an intermittent stream (Coon Creek) and a permanent stream (Chariton River). Mobility impaired hunter access is also available for those with special hunting needs. This area can be reserved by special use permit through the area manager.
Central Missouri Rabbit Hunting
Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area (Boone County 4429 acres):
This area, which borders Katy Trail State Park, contains cropland, forest, wetlands, and smaller tracts of savanna and glades. Facilities/features: viewing blind, waterfowl blind, and two permanent streams (Missouri River, Perche Creek).
Saline Valley Conservation Area (Miller County-4893 acres):
This area is mostly forest. Facilities/features: a few fishable ponds and five permanent streams (Jack Buster Creek, Big Saline Creek, Little Saline Creek, Jim Henry Creek, and the Osage River).
Ozarks Missouri Region Rabbit Hunting
John Alva Fuson, MD Conservation Area (Wright County -1534 acres):
This area is approximately 85 percent forested. The remainder of the tract is open land divided by several small pastures and creek bottom fields.
Gist Ranch Conservation Area (Texas County 11240 acres):
This area is predominantly forest with glades, savanna, and old fields. Facilities/features: primitive camping and two intermittent streams (Peters Creek, Sanders Branch).
Southeast Missouri Rabbit Hunting
This area contains 2,400 acres of wetland in addition to forest and some cropland. Facilities/features: four boat ramps, boat rentals, boat dock, primitive camping, six fishing jetties, and lake (1,800 acres).
Maintz Wildlife Preserve (Cape Girardeau County 804 acres):
This area features many small fields with sections of woodland, cropland, and old fields all managed for early successional habitat. Facilities/features: primitive camping, archery range, and five fishable ponds (12 acres).
East Central Missouri Rabbit Hunting (Vicinity of St. Louis Region)
August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area (St. Charles County 6987 acres):
This 6,987-acre area contains 3,000 acres of forest in addition to grassland, cropland, old fields, prairie, and wetlands. Facilities/features: boat rentals, picnic areas, pavilion, hiking trails, 43 fishing jetties, fishing docks, staffed firearms range, archery range, five viewing blinds, and a visitor center. The area also has 32 fishable lakes and ponds totaling 550 acres.
William R. Logan Conservation Area (Lincoln County 1798 acres):
William R. Logan Conservation Area is in Lincoln County, five miles north of Silex. The 1,798-acre area includes 1,417 acres of timber, 350 acres of open fields, 29 acres of lakes/ponds, and a creek.
Southwest Missouri Rabbit Hunting
Bois D'Arc Conservation Area (Greene County 3172 acres):
Cropland, old fields, forest, grassland, and some wetlands. Facilities/features: staffed firearms range, archery range, dove blind, and numerous fishing ponds (4.5 acres total).
Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area (Lawrence County 4361 acres):
This area contains old fields, grassland, cropland, woodlands, savanna, prairie, and wetlands. Facilities/features: a fishing jetty, fishable lakes and a permanent stream (Spring River).
INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE SUPPLIED BY MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION. CHECK ALL REGS PRIOR TO HUNTING AT MDC.MO.GOV.