Missouri is a bird hunter’s paradise. With its diverse geography and varied habitats, the state offers plenty of opportunities for hunters to pursue a wide range of bird species. From the grassy plains of the west to the forested hills of the Ozarks in the south, Missouri’s terrain is rich with game birds, including quail, pheasant, wild turkey, dove, and waterfowl. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to bird hunting in Missouri, including tips on where to hunt, what gear to use, and the best times to hunt.
Bird Hunting Regulations in Missouri
Before heading out to hunt birds in Missouri, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the state’s hunting regulations. These regulations are put in place to ensure the safety of hunters and the conservation of wildlife populations. In Missouri, hunters must have a valid hunting license and appropriate permits for the bird species they wish to hunt. It’s also crucial to be aware of bag limits, which are the maximum number of birds hunters can take during a single day or season.
Best Places to Hunt in Missouri
Missouri offers a range of public and private lands for bird hunting. Here are three of the best places to hunt birds in the state:
Missouri Grasslands Conservation Area
The Missouri Grasslands Conservation Area is located in the southwestern part of the state and offers over 22,000 acres of prime bird hunting land. This area is known for its quail and pheasant populations, but hunters can also find dove, turkey, and waterfowl here.
Four Rivers Conservation Area
Located in the central part of the state, the Four Rivers Conservation Area is a popular destination for bird hunters. This area offers over 5,000 acres of public hunting land and is known for its healthy populations of quail, pheasant, and turkey.
Mingo National Wildlife Refuge
The Mingo National Wildlife Refuge is located in the southeastern part of the state and offers over 21,000 acres of prime bird hunting land. This area is known for its waterfowl populations, including ducks and geese, but hunters can also find quail, pheasant, and turkey here.
Game Bird Species in Missouri
Missouri is home to a variety of game bird species that are popular among hunters. With tons of farmland, river bottoms and tall grass prairies, Missouri has some good upland bird hunting. It’s common knowledge that Bobwhite quail have been struggling in most areas, but quail hunting remains strong in Missouri. Pheasant hunting can be good in northern Missouri, and woodcock and dove hunting can be really good as well. The Mississippi flyway is estimated to have as much as 40 percent of ALL waterfowl during migration season. Tens of thousands of birds pass through Missouri every year. Add to that the fact that Missouri recently surpassed Texas as the fifth largest producer org rice, and you have a recipe for some incredible duck and goose hunting! Here are some of the most common species you’ll find in the state:
- Quail: Quail hunting is a popular pastime in Missouri. The state is home to two species of quail, the Northern Bobwhite and the Scaled Quail. These birds prefer grasslands and agricultural fields and are typically hunted with dogs. Quail hunting is best in the fall, during the months of October, November, and December.
- Pheasant: Pheasant hunting is also popular in Missouri, particularly in the western part of the state. The state’s pheasant population has been steadily increasing in recent years, making it a great place to hunt these beautiful birds. Pheasant hunting season typically runs from November to January.
- Wild Turkey: Missouri is known for its healthy turkey population, and the state offers both spring and fall turkey hunting seasons. The Eastern wild turkey is the most common species found in the state. Spring turkey hunting season runs from late April to early May, while fall season runs from early October to early November.
- Dove: Dove hunting is popular in Missouri, and the state offers a 70-day season that typically runs from early September to late November. Mourning doves are the most common species found in the state, and hunters can often find them in agricultural fields and near water sources.
- Waterfowl: Missouri is a popular destination for waterfowl hunting, particularly in the Mississippi and Missouri River floodplains. The state offers both duck and goose hunting, with seasons running from late October to late January. Hunters can expect to find a variety of species, including mallards, wood ducks, teal, and Canada geese.
When to Hunt Birds in Missouri
The bird hunting seasons in Missouri vary depending on the species. Here are the general times when each species can be hunted:
- Quail: Quail hunting season in Missouri typically runs from November 1st to January 15th. Hunters should be aware that the daily bag limit for quail is 8, and the possession limit is 16.
- Pheasant: Pheasant hunting season in Missouri typically runs from November 1st to January 15th. Hunters should be aware that the daily bag limit for pheasants is 2, and the possession limit is 4.
- Turkey: Turkey hunting season in Missouri varies depending on the type of turkey being hunted. Spring turkey hunting season typically runs from late April to early May, while fall turkey hunting season typically runs from early October to early November. Hunters should be aware that the daily bag limit for turkeys is 1, and the possession limit is 2.
- Dove: Dove hunting season in Missouri typically runs from September 1st to November 29th. Hunters should be aware that the daily bag limit for doves is 15, and the possession limit is 45.
- Waterfowl: Waterfowl hunting season in Missouri varies depending on the species. The general duck and goose hunting season typically runs from late October to late January. Hunters should be aware that the daily bag limit for ducks is 6, with species-specific limits, and the possession limit is 18. The daily bag limit for geese is 3, with species-specific limits, and the possession limit is 9.
- Dog Training: You may train your dog for bird hunting in Missouri on conservation areas that allow for dog training. The dog training permit costs $20. Any pheasant, exotic partridge, or quail used must be legally obtained and captive-reared.
Here are some frequently asked questions about bird hunting in Missouri:
- Do I need a license to hunt birds in Missouri? Yes, all hunters are required to have a valid Missouri hunting license, as well as any required permits for specific species.
- Are there any restrictions on the type of shotgun I can use for bird hunting in Missouri? No, as long as your shotgun is not fully automatic and has a magazine capacity of no more than three shells, it is legal to use for bird hunting in Missouri.
- Can I hunt birds on public lands in Missouri? Yes, there are a number of public lands in Missouri that are open to hunting. However, hunters should be sure to familiarize themselves with the specific regulations and restrictions for each area before hunting.
- Is it legal to use bait when hunting birds in Missouri? No, it is illegal to use bait when hunting any species of bird in Missouri.
- Can I hunt birds at night in Missouri? No, it is illegal to hunt any species of bird at night in Missouri.
- Are there any bag limits for bird hunting in Missouri? Yes, there are bag limits for each species of bird, as well as possession limits. It’s important for hunters to familiarize themselves with these limits to ensure they are in compliance with state regulations.
- Can I hunt with a falcon or other bird of prey in Missouri? Yes, falconry is legal in Missouri, and hunters must have a valid falconry permit to hunt with a bird of prey.
- Can I hunt on Sundays in Missouri? Yes, it is legal to hunt on Sundays in Missouri for most species of game, including birds. However, there may be some exceptions for specific areas or species, so hunters should check with the Missouri Department of Conservation for specific regulations.
- Do I need to wear hunter orange when bird hunting in Missouri? It is not required, but it is strongly recommended that hunters wear hunter orange for safety reasons, particularly when hunting on public lands.
- Can I hunt birds with a crossbow in Missouri? No, it is illegal to hunt birds with a crossbow in Missouri. Only shotguns and certain types of archery equipment are legal for bird hunting.
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