MISSOURI PUBLIC LAND HUNTING RESOURCES
Missouri has a ton of options for the hunter looking for opportunities to hunt deer, turkey, rabbits, upland game and birds, and more...all on public land. There is a stigma attached by some to the notion of hunting these lands - it's kind of like, that's where the hunters who cannot afford to hunt private land go. Well, that's both right and wrong.
There are some, maybe a lot, of hunters who hunt this land because that is what they can afford. There are also some hunters who hunt this land because it is what they want to do. Sure, if you go fifty yards off a trail or road in a Missouri Conservation Area on opening day of the whitetail deer season, you will encounter the proverbial pumpkin patch of blaze orange.
But, with a bit of work both in planning and then working to get back off the beaten path, regardless of the species for which you wish to hunt, you can achieve a very high quality hunting experience. You can be in a place with abundant game, as well as abundant beauty.
My son and I just returned from a weekend of Ozark region deer hunting where we saw deer in abundance and not a single hunter. We needed to go less than one mile off a road to do this. At the end of the day, by choice, we did not harvest an animal, and left the "mountain" we were on into a sea of a red and beautiful sunset before us and a full moon behind. As we visited, we reflected on the blessings we can enjoy on Missouri Public Land, and the experiences we have shared on it.
The information that follows is provided to help you find these kinds of places and experiences for yourself.
Below are links to pages with detailed information on hunting conservation areas in counties that begin with those letters. You will find info on size of the area, species that are presesnt, and the numbers in which they can be found. Many also have links to maps of the areas.:
Researching Places to Hunt on Missouri Public Land
Researching places to hunt on public land in Missouri can take awhile. This information is put together to help the Missouri hunter looking for public hunting land to simplify and shorten that process. Essentially there are two main options for hunting on public land in Missouri. One option is conservation department land.
Researching Places to Hunt on Missouri Department of Conservation Lands
The MDC manages nearly 1,000 parcels of land in Missouri as conservation areas. These parcels of public land are managed for a variety of useages, but most do have hunting priveleges. The main species that are hunted on Missouri conservation area lands are whitetail deer, squirrel, waterfowl, turkey, rabbits, quail, doves, and pheasants.
When you are planning and organizing a trip, you usually will have a general area in mind as well as a species you would like to hunt. So, what we have done is organized our Conservation Department databases by counties. For each county, all of the available conservation areas are listed along with an MDC estimate of relative hunting prospects for each species of animal I mentioned above. There is a link to each individual conservation area as well as a link to a county map for that county showing the location of all the conservation areas in the county.
Beacuse of the number of counties, we could not fit them all on one page. Therefore the conservation areas are separated as A-C, D-L, M-P, and R-W. It should be noted that not all conservation areas offer hunting and also, many conservation areas have special regulations. Therefore, before heading off to one of these areas, click on the link and make certain the regs allow for the type of hunting you will be doing.
Researching Missouri Places to Hunt Using Google Earth
Another option, and I might add a pretty great one, is to do your research using Google Earth. There is at least one file you will need to download (that is assuming you have GE installed already on your computer)and then you will have overlays of most if not all of the Missouri Conservation Areas. The specific instructions are found on our Researching Missouri Public Hunting Land Using Google Earth page.
Researching Hunting on Missouri USFS Land and Other Federally Own Land
Missouri is also blessed with a fairly abundant amount of federally managed land. Most of the federal land that is available for hunting is in the Mark Twain National Forest. We have given a synopsis of the major deer hunting options in the Mark Twain Forest at Mark Twain Deer Hunting.
Finally, let me encourage you not to be discouraged if you have no access to hunt private land. For the hunter willing to do the scouting and research, there is plenty of Missouri public land hunting available for deer, turkey, pheasant, squirrel and rabbit, quail, dove, and more. All you have to do is put in the work to find it. An added challenge to hunting these areas is that due to the fact they are public, you must be flexible. We have hunted areas for several years, only to find that suddenly there were too many hunters for our liking. So, we begin our research process once more. That is essentially how this information got put together for you. We hope you find it helpful!