Missouri Deer Hunting
Hunting Missouri Whitetail
Missouri deer hunting is amongst the best in the nation, but conditions vary widely across the state. Very generally, densities and size are greater north of the Missouri River. Consequently, the firearm season sees much greater density of hunting pressure in these areas as well. There are some outstanding hunting opportunities south of the Missouri River, and there are vast tracts of public land. In northern Missouri, public land is much harder to find.
Hunting Northern Missouri
Along with the gradual growth of the reputation of northern Missouri to produce trophy whitetails, finding land on which to hunt has become progressively more competitive. The odds of knocking on doors to find private land to hunt are pretty low. If you are coming from out of state, you better plan to hunt public land, start working on a private lease, or plan to hire an outfitter with private land access. Here is a link to some of the fishing and hunting outfitters in Missouri.
Links of Interest:
If you plan to hunt whitetails in northern Missouri on public land do your research. There are some sizeable conservation areas, but they are hunted heavily and/or are restricted greatly with regulations. Having said all of this, especially on opening weekend, there are some nice deer harvested across the conservation areas of northern Missouri. So how can you find place to hunt on public land?
Start with our Missouri Public Land Hunting Page. Once you have looked at this page, you will see the tool we have made for searching for land to hunt by Missouri county. The key for hunting the rifle season is to find a conservation area large enough to get at least a quarter mile from trails or roads.
Statistically, few hunters range this far or further from a road or trail. Obviously, if you can get out there and scout ahead it will be to your advantage. Another tool you will want to use is our Scouting using Google Earth page. Make sure that you are double checking as you go that your area is open to deer hunting during the season you wish to hunt.
Hunting the archery seasons, or even alternative methods or antlerless seasons in northern Missouri is a different ballgame. You will almost certainly see a marked dropoff with regard to hunting pressure during these seasons. Keep in mind, that especially during antlerless season, hunting regulations vary greatly from Conservation Area to Conservation Area. Also, these regulations change from year to year. Therefore, as we have stated so many times before, you must check with MDC before heading out.
One last thing I want to mention with regard to hunting northern Missouri, especially in the November firearms portion of the season. It is fairly imperative that you know ehere you will set up before you head out on the first day you will hunt. Your best bet is a climbing tree stand, but fixed stands are an option (be prepared to have it stolen as we have experienced at Thomas Hill Conservation Area), or even setting up on the ground in a really advantageous position. Once you are set up, be patient and stay put all day. Two factors prompt this advice. Things can get a little crazy in these areas as hunters move around, and though very rare is the case that a hunter is mistakingly shot (statistically, you are in far greater danger driving to and from your hunting area), you are better off up in a tree. Perhaps a better or more positive aspect to this, is that as hunters move, they bump deer all over the woods. The patient and disciplined hunter can reap the rewards of this activity by staying in their stand.
Hunting Southern Missouri
Whitetails in Missouri are fewer and run smaller than do the deer of northern parts of the state. In no way is this an admonition to avoid this part of the state. For many hunters, us included, the beauty of the Missouri Ozarks, coupled with the drastic difference in hunting pressure, is a good enough tradeoff to get them south of the Missouri River. For the firearm season, as a general rule, antlerless season is not an option as most areas are closed to this portion of the season.
The combination of various tracts of Mark Twain National Forest and vast tracts of Conservation Areas, many in the tens of thousands of acres, give hunters room to spread out. For the hunter who can scout before the season begins, there are plenty of deer and lots of great habitat. The major difference is that by-and-large, hunting in southern Missouri is big woods hunting, where northern Missouri is more about the agricultural food sources avilable to deer. Knowing your trees, understanding how deer relate to the rough terrain of the Ozarks, and being in good physical condition are big assets.
Our Missouri Public Land page is again the place to start. Pair it up with the Google Earth Scouting page, and you are off to a good start. Additionally, take a look at the Hunting Mark Twain National Forest page if that will be an option for you.