Regulations

Turkey

General Hunting Regulations

Methods

Seasons, permits, and species have specific rules governing the type of firearm, bow, atlatl, and slingshot which may be used to hunt. Review the information in those areas before hunting.

Fully automatic weapons are prohibited for all hunting.

Firearm restrictions during deer firearms season

Except for the urban and alternative methods portions, other wildlife may be hunted only with a shotgun and shot not larger than No. 4 or a .22 or smaller caliber rimfire rifle. This does not apply to waterfowl hunters, trappers, or to landowners on their land.

Poisons, tranquilizing drugs, chemicals, and explosives

Poisons, tranquilizing drugs, chemicals, and explosives may not be used to take wildlife.

Motor driven transportation

Motor driven transportation may not be used to take, drive or molest wildlife.

A motorboat may be used to hunt wildlife, except deer, if the motor is shut off and the boat’s forward progress has stopped.

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs)

It is illegal for anyone (except landowners and lessees on land they own or lease and certain agricultural workers) to drive all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in Missouri’s streams and rivers unless the ATV is on a crossing that is part of the highway system. Violators could lose their fishing and hunting privileges.

With limited exceptions, all-terrain vehicle use is prohibited on conservation areas. Other vehicles are restricted to graveled and paved roads and established parking areas, unless otherwise posted.

Artificial lights

Artificial lights may be used to hunt:

  • bullfrogs
  • green frogs
  • raccoons and other furbearing animals when treed with the aid of dogs

Landowners and lessees may use artificial lights on their property, but while doing so may not be in possession of — or be in the company of someone who possesses — a firearm, bow, or other implement used to take wildlife.

Artificial lights may not be used to search for, spot, illuminate, harass, or disturb other wildlife than the above.

You may not possess night vision or thermal imagery equipment while carrying a firearm, bow, or other implement used to take wildlife.

Calls

Mouth and hand calls may be used any time.

Electronic calls or electronically activated calls may be used to pursue and take crows and furbearers. They may also be used to take light geese during the Conservation Order. Electronic calls may not be used with artificial light or night-vision equipment.

Dogs

Dogs may be used in hunting wildlife -- except deer, turkey, muskrat, mink, river otter, and beaver. Learn more about the rules for hunting with dogs.

During a hunt

Hunter orange

For your safety, you are urged to wear hunter orange whenever you are hunting. You are required to wear hunter orange at certain times and locations. Learn more about the hunter orange rules.

Hunting near flood waters or fire

Wildlife, except waterfowl, may not be pursued or taken while trapped or surrounded by floodwaters or while fleeing from floodwaters or fire.

Hunting and trapping on public roadways

You may not take any wildlife from or across a public roadway with a firearm, bow or crossbow. A Conibear-type trap may be used adjacent to public roadways only if set underwater in permanent waters.

After a successful hunt

Excessive waste

It is illegal to intentionally leave or abandon any portion of any wildlife that is commonly used as human food.

Possessing, transporting, and storing wildlife

You must keep any wildlife you take separate or identifiable from that of any other hunter.

You can possess and transport wildlife as part of your personal baggage. It may be stored at your home, camp, place of lodging or in a commercial establishment.

Proper labeling

When storing deer and turkey, it must have the hunter's:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Date taken
  • Telecheck confirmation number

When storing wildlife other than deer or turkey, it must have the hunter’s:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Permit number
  • Species
  • Date it was placed in storage

When transporting wildlife other than deer or turkey, it must have the hunter’s:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Permit number
  • Date it was taken

Buying and selling pelts, feathers, and other parts

Unless federal regulations prohibit, you may buy, sell or barter:

  • feathers
  • squirrel pelts
  • rabbit pelts
  • groundhog pelts
  • turkey bones
  • turkey heads
  • deer heads
  • antlers
  • hides
  • feet

They must be accompanied by a bill of sale showing:

  • the seller’s full name, address
  • the number and species of the parts
  • the full name and address of the buyer

Wildlife and wildlife parts, after mounting or tanning, also may be bought and sold.

People who receive or purchase deer heads or antlers attached to the skull plate must keep the bill of sale as long as the heads or antlers are in their possession. The bill of sale must include the transaction date and a signed statement from the sellers attesting that the deer heads and antlers were, to their knowledge, taken legally.

Giving away wildlife

You may give wildlife to another person, but it will continue to be a part of your daily limit for the day when taken. Wildlife received as a gift will be included in the possession limit of the person you give it to.

Deer and turkey must be properly labeled as outlined above.

All other wildlife being given away must be labeled with:

  • your full name
  • address
  • permit number
  • species
  • date taken

Turkey Hunting Regulations

Check permits and seasons for hunting dates and allowed methods

You can find dates, allowed methods and valid permits on the turkey hunting seasons section.

Assisting other turkey hunters

You must have a filled or unfilled turkey hunting permit to call turkeys for another hunter.

Baiting regulations

  • Use of bait - which includes grain or other feed placed or scattered as to attract turkeys – while hunting is illegal.
  • An area is considered baited for 10 days after complete removal of the bait.
  • A hunter can be in violation if they take or attempt to take a turkey by the aid of bait where the hunter knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited.
  • It is illegal to place bait in a way that causes others to be in violation of the baiting rule.
  • Mineral blocks, including salt, are not considered bait, but mineral blocks that contain grain or other food additives are prohibited.
  • It is legal to hunt over a harvested crop field, but it is illegal to add grain or other crops, such as apples, to the field after it has been harvested.
  • Manipulating crops, such as mowing or knocking them down, is not considered baiting for turkeys.

Voiding permits

Hunters who harvest a turkey must void their permit immediately by notching the month and day of harvest.

Tagging and checking

As long as you stay with your harvested turkey, you don't need to attach your notched permit to the bird, but you must keep your permit on hand. If you leave your turkey, you must attach your permit to the turkey's leg. Visit the Telecheck pages for more information on how to properly tag and check your bird. The Telecheck process varies slightly by season, see Fall Telecheck or Spring Telecheck.

Telecheck - Spring

If you harvest a turkey, you must log you harvest in Telecheck either online or by phone. No in-person checking stations are available.

You don't need to call Telecheck immediately after taking the game. You have until 10 p.m. on the day of harvest to check your turkey. You can transport unchecked game within the state as long as the transportation tag is attached to the leg. 

Telecheck with the MO Hunting app

Step 1: Select your notched permit from the list.
Step 2: Tap “Telecheck.”
Step 3: Follow the prompts on the screen.
Telecheck will upload a confirmation number to your mobile device.

Telecheck using a phone or internet

Step 1: Collect harvest information

You will be asked for the following information when you use Telecheck.

  1. Your Telecheck ID number (if you have more than one permit, be sure you give the number of the permit you want to use)
  2. County where turkey was taken
  3. Turkey type: Do you have a hen or gobbler?
  4. Spur length (gobblers only): Is the spur length shorter than 1 inch or longer than 1 inch?
  5. Beard length: Is the beard longer than 6 inches or shorter than 6 inches?

Step 2: Grab a pen, then call or log into Telecheck

Go online or use a phone to dial 1-800-314-6828, then follow the instructions. If you use the phone, speak clearly and slowly. You can call between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Step 3: Write the confirmation number on your permit

After you have provided the required information, you will receive an eight-digit confirmation number that verifies you have legally checked your game. Write this number on the permit.

You have now completed checking your game and can process your turkey.

Troubleshooting

The most common reason hunters are unable to complete their Telecheck is because of a poor cell phone reception. Wait until you are out of the woods and receive a clear, strong cell phone connection before placing your Telecheck call. Once you’ve attached the temporary transportation tag to your deer or turkey, you have until 10 p.m. on the day of harvest to check the animal.

How to tell a hen from a gobbler

How to tell gobbler from hen illustrations

Large size, black body and long beard are marks of the gobbler. Hens sometimes have beards, but color, size and behavior distinguish them from gobblers. Hens are smaller, brown birds with blue heads. Bearded hens produce young and help increase the turkey population. They should not be killed, but any turkey with a clearly visible beard is legal in Missouri. Hens without beards are illegal and must not be killed. The future of our wild turkey hunting depends on you.

Use your permit to measure length of beard and spur

2011 turkey permit illustrations

  • Your permit is 6 inches long.
  • The signature line on your permit is 2 inches long (1-inch mark in the middle).

How to measure spurs

turkey spur illustration

Spur length measurements help biologists keep track of the age structure of the adult population. Please accurately measure your turkey’s spur before Telechecking your turkey. If you don’t have a ruler, use the signature line of your permit, which is 2 inches long—with a 1-inch mark in the middle.

Start at the outside center from the point at which the spur protrudes from the leg scales, and measure to the tip of the spur. Juvenile gobblers have spurs less than ½ inch long and a beard less than 6 inches long.

Telecheck - Fall

All deer and turkey must be checked by telephone or on the Internet. No in-person checking stations are available.

You don't need to call Telecheck immediately after taking the game. You have until 10 p.m. on the day of harvest to check your deer or turkey.

After you’ve reported to Telecheck, your deer or turkey may be processed, stored, or transported by anyone as long as it is labeled with your full name, address, date taken, and Telecheck confirmation number. You may now transport your deer or turkey out of state.

Telecheck with the MO Hunting app

Step 1: Select your notched permit from the list.
Step 2: Tap “Telecheck.”
Step 3: Follow the prompts on the screen.
Telecheck will upload a confirmation number to your mobile device.

Telecheck using a phone or internet

Step 1: Collect the following information, which you will be asked when you use Telecheck.

If checking a turkey, you will need:

  1. Your Telecheck ID number (if you have more than one permit, be sure you give the number of the permit you want to use)
  2. County where turkey was taken
  3. Turkey type:
  • adult gobbler
  • adult hen
  • juvenile gobbler
  • juvenile hen

If checking a deer, you will need:

  1. Your Telecheck ID number (if you have more than one permit, be sure you give the number of the permit you want to use)
  2. County where deer was taken
  3. Deer type: doe, button buck, or antlered buck
  4. Count the total number of points 1 inch or longer. Record the harvest of a buck as 0 points if the buck has one of the following:
  • shed its antlers
  • small antlers with both beams shorter than 3 inches
  • broken antlers off less than 3 inches from their base

Note: If you harvested deer in Boone, Cass, Christian, Cole, Franklin, Jefferson or Platte counties, you will be asked: Did you harvest a deer within an urban zone?

Step 2: Grab a pen, then call or log into Telecheck

Go online to check your deer or turkey, or use a phone to dial 1-800-314-6828, then follow the instructions. If you use the phone, speak clearly and slowly. You can call between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Step 3: Write the confirmation number on your permit

After you have provided the required information, you will receive an eight-digit confirmation number that verifies you have legally checked your game. Write this number on the permit.

You have now completed checking your game and can process your deer or turkey.

Troubleshooting

The most common reason hunters are unable to complete their Telecheck is because of a poor cell phone reception. Wait until you are out of the woods and receive a clear, strong cell phone connection before placing your Telecheck call. Once you’ve notched the month and day of harvest on your permit, you have until 10 p.m. on the day of harvest to check the animal.

Hunter-Orange Requirement

For your safety, you are urged to wear hunter orange whenever you are hunting.

When Hunter Orange is Required

You must wear hunter orange if:

  • You are hunting any species of game during firearms deer season. Some exceptions are allowed. See below.
  • You are hunting on an area that is having a managed firearms deer hunt.
  • You are serving as a mentor to another hunter during firearms deer season or on an area that is having a managed firearms deer hunt.

To satisfy this rule, you must wear both a hunter-orange hat and a hunter-orange shirt, vest, or coat. The hunter-orange color must be plainly visible from all sides. Camouflage orange does not satisfy this rule.

When Hunter Orange Is Not Required

You don’t have to wear hunter orange during firearms deer season or on an area that is having a managed firearms deer hunt if:

  • You are hunting migratory game birds.
  • You are archery hunting within municipal boundaries where the discharge of firearms is prohibited.
  • You are hunting on federal or state land where deer hunting is restricted to archery or crossbow methods.
  • You are archery hunting during the alternative methods portion.
  • You are hunting in a county that is closed during the urban zones and antlerless portions.
  • You are hunting small game or furbearers during the alternative methods portion.

Nontoxic Shot Regulations

When is Nontoxic shot required?

  • All waterfowl hunting (ducks, geese, teal, and coots)
  • Hunting dove, rails, snipe, and woodcock on public areas with nontoxic shot requirement posted.
  • Hunting with a shotgun (including dove, turkey, quail, rabbit, squirrel) on twenty-one conservation areas.

Waterfowl hunters in Missouri have used nontoxic shot since 1991.

Approved types of nontoxic shot

These shot types have been approved as nontoxic by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (as of January 2014):

  • Bismuth-tin
  • Iron (steel)
  • Iron-tungsten
  • Iron-tungsten-nickel
  • Copper-clad iron
  • Tungsten-bronze (two types)
  • Tungsten-iron-copper-nickel
  • Tungsten-iron-polymer
  • Tungsten-matrix
  • Tungsten-polymer
  • Tungsten-tin-bismuth
  • Tungsten-tin-iron
  • Tungsten-tin-iron-nickel

Nontoxic shot is required on 21 Conservation Areas

Use or possession of lead shot is prohibited for hunting on the Conservation Areas listed below. These are larger wetlands where waterfowl and shorebirds concentrate in the fall and spring.

  • Bob Brown Conservation Area
  • Black Island Conservation Area
  • Columbia Bottom Conservation Area
  • Cooley Lake Conservation Area
  • Coon Island Conservation Area
  • Duck Creek Conservation Area
  • Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area
  • Fountain Grove Conservation Area
  • Four Rivers Conservation Area
  • Grand Pass Conservation Area
  • B. K. Leach Memorial Conservation Area
  • Little Bean Marsh Conservation Area
  • Little River Conservation Area
  • Marais Temps Clair Conservation Area
  • Montrose Conservation Area
  • Nodaway Valley Conservation Area
  • Otter Slough Conservation Area
  • Schell-Osage Conservation Area
  • Settle’s Ford Conservation Area
  • Ted Shanks Conservation Area
  • Ten Mile Pond Conservation Area

Nontoxic shot is safer for wildlife and people

The nontoxic shot regulation reduces incidence of lead shot ingestion, which is often fatal to all vertebrates, waterfowl, doves, and scavenging birds, like eagles, which feed on waterfowl with lead shot in the carcass. Mounting evidence points to lead poisoning occurring in more than 134 species, including amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Hunting with Dogs

Hunters may use dogs to take and retrieve game, but there are restrictions by species, times, and locations.

When Dogs are Illegal to Use

Dogs are prohibited when hunting deer and turkey.

Dogs can not be used to harvest muskrat, mink, river otter, and beaver. 

Dogs are prohibited when hunting furbearers (badger, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, opossum, raccoon, and striped skunk) during daylight hours from Nov.1 through the close of the November portion of the firearms deer season and in counties that have an antlerless portion of the deer season.

Dogs are prohibited when hunting squirrels and rabbits during daylight hours of the November portion of the firearms deer season in the following counties:

  • Butler
  • Carter
  • Dent
  • Iron
  • Madison
  • Oregon
  • Reynolds
  • Ripley
  • Shannon
  • Wayne

Dogs must wear ID

While hunting, all dogs, except for those used by waterfowl and game bird hunters, must wear a collar with the owner’s full name and address, Conservation Number or complete telephone number.

Training Dogs

During training, dogs may chase but not take wildlife that can be hunted with dogs. You will need a hunting permit appropriate for the wildlife or exception when training dogs that are chasing wildlife.

Only a pistol with blank ammunition may be used during daylight hours to train dogs during closed seasons.

Qualifications for Resident Landowner Permits

All deer and turkey hunters, including landowners and lessees, must have valid deer and/or turkey hunting permits. Resident landowners and lessees who meet the qualifications may obtain the no-cost resident landowner permits listed below.

Do I qualify for a landowner/lessee permit?

If you meet one of the conditions below, you can get no-cost resident landowner permits.

  • Any Missouri resident who owns at least 5 continuous acres, and his or her immediate household members age 6 or older. Note: Landowners do not need to live on their land to qualify for landowner permits; they must, however, be Missouri residents.
  • Any Missouri resident who leases and lives on at least 5 continuous acres owned by others, and his or her immediate household members age 6 or older. Note: Participation in a hunting lease alone does not qualify an individual for landowner permits.
  • Any Missouri resident who is a general partner of a partnership, an officer of a resident or foreign corporation, an officer or managing member of a resident limited liability company, or an officer of a benevolent association organized pursuant to Chapter 352 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri when the before-mentioned organization owns at least 5 continuous acres. In the case of corporate ownerships, all registered officers of a corporation can qualify, and they are not required to reside on the land. People who own stock in a corporation (shareholders) do not qualify.

Immediate household member is defined as anyone, related or unrelated, whose legal residence is the same as the qualifying landowner or lessee for at least the last 30 days. Family members whose legal residence is elsewhere do not qualify.

Which permits can I get?

Qualifying resident landowners and lessees who have at least 5 acres, and all members of their immediate household age 6 or older, may each receive:

  • One Resident Landowner Spring Turkey Hunting Permit
  • One Resident Landowner Fall Firearms Turkey Hunting Permit
  • One Resident Landowner Firearms Any-Deer Hunting Permit
  • One Resident Landowner Archer’s Hunting Permit
  • Two Resident Landowner Archery Antlerless Deer Hunting Permits depending upon county availability

Qualifying resident landowners and lessees who have 75 or more acres located in a single county or at least 75 continuous acres bisected by a county boundary, and all members of their immediate household age 6 or older, may each receive:

  • All of the landowner permits listed above
  • Resident Landowner Firearms Antlerless Deer Hunting Permits depending upon county availability
Map showing Resident Landowner Firearms Antlerless Deer Permits allowed
One permit allowed in blue counties. Two permits allowed in all other counties.
Missouri Department of Conservation

What do I need to apply?

  • Your Conservation ID number, Heritage Card number, Social Security number, or driver’s license number
  • The county or counties where your land is located
  • The number of acres you own or lease and reside on 

Note: Landowners may be required to submit proof of ownership if it cannot be verified through county plat books.

How do I obtain Landowner Permits?

You may obtain your no-cost resident landowner permits using any of the methods below.

  1. Over the counter from any permit vendor. Go early to avoid long lines. No surcharges will be assessed.
  2. Online anytime using the e-Permits System at mdc.mo.gov/epermits. Use your credit card to pay a $1 surcharge. Print your permit at home and have it in hand immediately.
  3. By telephone at 800-392-4115. Use your credit card to pay a $2 surcharge. Allow 10 days for delivery.

Are there special rules for landowners/lessees?

Qualifying landowners and lessees:

  • Must abide by season dates, methods, limits, and tagging/checking requirements.
  • Must use landowner permits only on their qualifying property. To hunt on other land, landowners and lessees must purchase regular permits.
  • May use their landowner permits to take deer on their land during archery deer season and all portions of the firearms season including the urban zones and antlerless portions (if their property is located in one of the open areas.
  • With 75 or more acres in more than one county must comply with landowner antlerless deer limits for each county.
  • May fill a Firearms Any-Deer Permit and a purchased any-deer permit. However, each hunter may take only one antlered deer during the firearms deer hunting season. Therefore, landowners and lessees who take an antlered deer on one any-deer permit must take an antlerless deer on the other any-deer permit. Deer taken on a managed deer hunting permit or in accordance with the archery deer hunting season do not count toward this limit.
  • May fill their no-cost landowner antlerless permits and also purchase and fill additional antlerless permits according to county limits.

Qualifications for Resident Permits

If you meet any of the conditions below, you can apply for hunting and fishing permits as a Missouri resident.

Have you lived in Missouri for at least 30 days?

Any person who does not claim resident privileges in another state or country, and whose actual residence and legal permanent home address are both in Missouri, and have been for at least 30 days before applying for the permit. Owning real estate or attending a Missouri school does not in itself make you a legal resident.

Are you military personnel, a veteran, or a federal employee?

All members of the U.S. armed forces stationed and residing in Missouri on permanent change of station status and immediate family members residing with them.

Any honorably discharged military veteran having a service-related disability of 60 percent or greater, or who was a prisoner of war during military service; must carry certified statement of eligibility from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs while hunting or purchasing permits.

Any member of the U.S. military currently assigned as a patient to a Warrior Transition Brigade, Warrior Transition Unit or a military medical center; must carry orders showing assignment to a Warrior Transition Brigade or Warrior Transition Unit, or admissions verification to a military medical center while hunting or purchasing permits.

Missouri residents employed by the United States in the District of Columbia or serving in the U.S. armed forces. (Immediate family members who reside with them also may purchase resident permits.)

Are you a student?

Nonresidents who are registered students attending a public or private secondary, post secondary, or vocational school in Missouri and who live in Missouri while attending school; must carry evidence of a Missouri residence and student status while hunting. Note: Nonresident students who qualify for resident permits must purchase them at Conservation Department offices.

Are you a Resident Legal Alien?

Immigrants who possess an I-551 Resident Alien Card and who do not claim resident privileges in another state or country, and whose actual residence and legal permanent home address are both in Missouri, and have been for at least 30 days before applying for the permit.

Hunter Ethics

All hunters should treat the outdoors with respect and follow ethical hunting practices. These include:

  • If you hunt on private land, be sure to obtain permission from the landowner and respect his or her property as if it were your own. Scout the area you plan to hunt so you know where the boundaries, houses, roads, fences and livestock are located on the property.
  • If you do not kill your game instantly, make every effort to find the wounded animal. Permission is required to enter private land.
  • Clean and care for your game properly.
  • Pick up all litter, including spent ammunition. Leaving an area better than the way you found it is a sign of thanks for the privilege of hunting.
  • Report observed violations of the law to a conservation agent or local sheriff as soon as possible.
  • If you are involved in a firearms-related accident, the law requires that you identify yourself and render assistance; failure to do so is a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Develop your skills and knowledge, and share them with others.
  • Know and obey all wildlife laws.
  • Know and follow the rules of gun safety.
  • Respect the rights of hunters, nonhunters and landowners.
  • Make every effort to retrieve and use all game.
  • Respect the land and all wildlife.
  • Be sensitive to others when displaying harvested game.
  • Remember, hunting is not a competitive sport.

Check the Code

This is NOT a legal document. Regulations are subject to revision during the current year.
Refer to the Wildlife Code.

Comment on Regulations

We welcome your comments on all our regulations. Learn more.

Cover of Fall Deer and Turkey Regulations and Information

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