Deer Hunting in Missouri

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  • B
  • 1,500,000

    Est. Whitetail Population

  • 475,000

    No. Licenses Sold Annually

  • $17 and up

    A firearms any-deer permit is $17. An archery hunting permit is $19. Additional antlerless-only permits are $7.

    Resident hunting license and deer permit

  • $265

    A nonresident archery or firearm permit is $265 and additional antlerless-only permits are $25.

    Non-resident hunting license and deer permit

  • 205"

    Taken by Larry Gibson in Randolph County in 1971. The buck ranks No. 3 of all time.

    Record B&C Typical Stat

  • 541

    Total B&C Typical Entries

  • 333 7/8"

    Picked up in 1981 in St. Louis County, ranks No. 1 of all time.

    Record B&C Non-Typical Stat

  • 380

    Record B&C Non-Typical Entries

Melissa Bachman killed this Missouri beauty. Image courtesy of Melissa Bachman

Season Dates (2021):

Archery season is September 15 to November 12 and November 24 to January 15. The main firearms season is November 13-23. Alternative methods season is December 25 to January 4. The firearms antlerless-only season is December 4-12. Youth season is October 30-31 and November 26-28. Additional season dates apply. There are antler-point restrictions in some counties. Please check the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) website to confirm season dates.

The Grade: B

Missouri offers solid deer hunting, but it isn’t A-worthy. Hunting pressure is a sizable problem in certain regions. Factor in that it’s a two-buck state with a lot of hunters, and deer get skittish quickly. It has great potential, but competition is stiff for the best areas. It also has expanding chronic wasting disease (CWD) zones, which isn’t good.

“Chronic wasting disease has the potential to greatly affect Missouri’s deer herd,” said Jason L. Isabelle, cervid program supervisor and certified wildlife biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. “First detected in the free-ranging deer population in 2012, CWD has now been found in 18 Missouri counties. Evidence from some other states has shown that when CWD prevalence rates become high enough, the disease can cause deer populations to decline. The Missouri Department of Conservation has taken an aggressive CWD surveillance and management approach to protect the state’s deer herd by limiting disease spread and maintaining low prevalence in affected areas.”

Still, the Show-Me State racks up a good number of Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young whitetails each year. It’s also home of the enormous world-record nontypical. It was rightfully named the Missouri Monarch.

“Deer numbers across much of the state are near historic highs,” Isabelle said. “The lowest deer numbers are in extreme southeast Missouri and in the extreme northwest corner of the state. With the exception of these areas, harvest success elsewhere this fall should be very good given the increasing trend in deer numbers.

Antler Nation Knowledge:

Big deer are found throughout Missouri. However, if the goal is higher concentrations of top-end deer, look to the northern third of the state. Rich soils, varying timber, mixed grasslands, increased ag, and antler-point restrictions really benefit this portion of the state. An older buck age structure is the result. Generally, the closer to the Iowa border, the better the hunting. Adair, Clark, Harrison, Knox, Linn, Macon, Nodaway, Putnam, and Scotland are top contenders.

Several central counties produce solid numbers of Booners, too, including Boone, Callaway, Howard, Jackson, Lincoln, Pike, St. Charles, St. Louis, and Vernon. Though record deer aren’t as common in southern counties, and overall deer densities are lower, Greene, Phelps, and Pulaski counties produce solid stats for the region.

Public-land opportunities are in great supply. You’ll find large tracts of public land managed by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other agencies. Also, the MDC manages many conservation areas throughout the state. Many of these are weapon-specific. Some are even muzzleloader and archery or archery only.

There are new intra- and interstate carcass transportation regulations that take effect this year. This is aimed at slowing the spread of CWD. And fortunately for qualifying nonresident landowners, deer hunting permit prices are reduced.

Missouri Harvests

  • Keith Gill

    Washington, Missouri

  • Andrew Thornton

    Washington, Missouri

From the Realtree Trophy Den