General Hunting Regulations


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

During the November and antlerless 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.

If you are hunting furbearers during daylight hours during firearms deer season, only deer hunting methods may be used.

Firearm restrictions during elk firearms portion

During the firearms portion of the elk hunting season in open counties, 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 and elk, 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.


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

During a hunt

Furbearer dens or nests

The dens or nests of furbearers shall not be molested or destroyed.

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.

Special regulations apply to deer or elk harvested in CWD zones.

Proper labeling

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

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

When storing wildlife other than deer, elk, 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, elk, 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 (except those acquired with a disposition form)
  • elk heads (except those acquired with a disposition form)
  • 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 or elk 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 or elk 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, elk, 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

Related Content

Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information (pdf, 5 MB)

Find out what's new with fall deer and turkey hunting regulations this year. Download the annually updated Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet.

Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information (pdf, 1 MB)

Read the booklet for regulations, permits, managed hunts, and more.

Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest (pdf, 2 MB)

Download the Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest

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, non-hunters 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.

Related Content

Hunter Education & Skills Training

Hunter education is required for firearms hunting in Missouri. Find opportunities near you.

Tree Stand Safety

Follow these safety tips to avoid getting hurt when you hunt from elevated tree stands.

Safe Deer Hunting

Browse tips for safe Missouri deer hunting using firearms or archery methods.

Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Permit and Stamp Requirements

To pursue, take, possess, and transport ducks, coots, and geese in Missouri, except during the Conservation Order, you must possess and carry the following, unless exempt:

1) a Missouri permit to hunt small game is required of:

  • Missouri residents age 16 through 64
  • Nonresidents age 16 and older

An annual permit is available to residents for $10 and to nonresidents for $80 from any permit vendor. A daily permit is also available to nonresidents from any permit vendor for $11 per day.

Exemption: Missouri resident landowners hunting on their own land do not need a Missouri small game hunting permit, but the Migratory Bird Hunting Permit and Duck Stamp are required (see below).

2) Missouri Migratory Bird Hunting Permit is required of:

  • Residents and nonresidents age 16 and over.

This permit is available for $6 from any permit vendor. Purchase of this permit satisfies requirements for Migratory Game Bird Harvest Registration.

3) Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp is required of: Residents and nonresidents age 16 and over. To be valid, the federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (duck stamp) must be signed in ink across the face.

Stamps are available for $25 at some U.S. Post Offices, MDC regional offices, nature centers, and visitor’s centers, but not at permit vendors or waterfowl hunting conservation areas.

Duck stamps are also available online at the Buy e-Permits link below or at Missouri permit vendors. The electronic duck stamp, or e-Stamp, allows customers to purchase the Federal Duck Stamp online and use it immediately. The e-Stamp costs $28.50 and is valid for 45 days from the date of purchase. Within that time, a physical duck stamp will be mailed to the customer. After 45 days, the customer must carry their Federal Duck Stamp while hunting. Retail vendors will still be able to process e-Stamp transactions for hunters.

Permit Requirements for Hunters Younger Than 16

Resident and nonresident hunters age 15 and younger are not required to purchase any permits to hunt ducks, coots or geese in Missouri. However, they must have in their possession a valid Hunter Education Certificate Card while hunting or be in the immediate presence of an adult age 18 or older who possesses a Missouri small game hunting permit and is hunter education certified or born before Jan. 1, 1967.

Permit Requirement for Light-Goose Conservation Order

During the Conservation Order residents and nonresidents age 16 and older only need a Conservation Order Permit to chase, pursue and take snow, blue and Ross’s geese. This permit costs $5 for residents and $40 for nonresidents. Hunters with either a Resident Lifetime Conservation Partner Permit or a Resident Lifetime Small Game Hunting Permit do not need to purchase a Conservation Order Permit to hunt light geese during the Conservation Order.

Hunters 15 years old and younger do not need a Conservation Order Permit, but must possess a valid hunter-education certificate card or hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed adult 18 years old or older who is hunter-education certified or was born before January 1, 1967.

Note: A Missouri small game hunting permit, Missouri Migratory Bird Hunting Permit and Federal Duck Stamp are not required during the Conservation Order.

Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Hunting Regulations

Hunting Methods


Only shotguns, 10 gauge or smaller, are allowed for hunting migratory game birds.

If a shotgun can hold more than three shells, it must be plugged with a one-piece filler that cannot be removed without disassembling the gun.

Concealment devices

You can't use a sink box or anything else that conceals you below the surface of the water.

Motorized transportation

Hunting from a motor vehicle, including aircraft, is not allowed. Paraplegics and persons missing one or both legs are exempted from this regulation.

Motorized vehicles, including aircraft, or motor boats or sailboats may not be used to round up migratory birds.

You can't hunt from a motorboat or sailboat unless the motor is off or sails furled.

Decoys and calls

Live decoys are prohibited. All tame or captive ducks and geese must be removed 10 days prior to hunting. All tame or captive ducks and geese must be kept where migratory waterfowl cannot see them and their calls are quieted.

Recorded or amplified bird calls or amplified imitations of bird calls are not allowed.


You can't bait your hunting area. All bait must be removed 10 days prior to hunting.

Hunting over freshly planted food plots is prohibited.

Possession and Transportation

Wanton Waste

All hunters must make a reasonable effort to retrieve any bird killed or crippled while hunting. The bird must be in the hunter's custody until it is brought back to the hunter's lodging or a taxidermist.

Opening Day Of A Season

On the opening day of the season, no person shall possess any freshly killed migratory game birds in excess of the daily bag limit.

Field Possession Limit

No person shall have more than the daily bag limit of migratory game birds, tagged or not tagged, at or between the place where taken and either (a) one’s automobile or principal means of land transportation; or (b) one’s personal abode or temporary or transient place of lodging; or (c) a migratory bird preservation facility; or (d) a post office; or (e) a common carrier facility.

Tagging Requirements

All hunters must tag migratory birds before giving the bird to another person for processing, storage, or for taxidermy. The tag will have the hunter's address, number and species of birds, and the date the birds were killed, and be signed by the hunter.

All birds must be tagged before the hunter gives the birds as a gift, or are transported by another person. If the birds are mailed or shipped, the box must have the tagging information.

Species Identification Requirement

All waterfowl must have the head or one fully-feathered wing attached while the bird is in transit to the hunter's home or taxidermist.

Youth Waterfowl Regulations

Each year, there are two youth-only waterfowl hunting days in each zone for ducks, geese and coots. Youth hunters must be:

  • age 15 or younger
  • accompanied by an adult 18 years old or older who is not allowed to hunt ducks but who can participate in other open seasons.

No permits are required for youth hunters. If the youth possesses a valid hunter-education certificate card, the accompanying adult does not need a permit or hunter-ed certification. However, if the youth is not hunter-ed certified, the accompanying adult must be hunter-ed certified unless they were born before Jan. 1, 1967, and possess a Missouri permit to hunt small game or be exempt.

Shooting hours and limits are the same as the regular duck, goose, and coot seasons.

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 thirty-seven conservation areas.

Waterfowl hunters in Missouri have used nontoxic shot since 1991. This requirement has been shown to reduce the incidences of lead poisoning in wildlife.

Approved types of nontoxic shot

These shot types have been approved as nontoxic by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (as of January 2019):

  • Bismuth-tin
  • Copper-clad iron
  • Corrosion-inhibited copper (CIC)
  • Iron (steel)
  • Iron-tungsten
  • Iron-tungsten-nickel
  • 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

All Hunting

Use or possession of lead shot is prohibited for all hunting with a shotgun on the following conservation areas:

  • Aspinwall Bend
  • Black Island
  • Bob Brown
  • Church Farm
  • Columbia Bottom
  • Cooley Lake
  • Coon Island
  • Corning
  • Deroin Bend
  • Diana Bend
  • Duck Creek
  • Eagle Bluffs
  • Franklin Island
  • Frost Island
  • Fountain Grove
  • Four Rivers
  • Grand Pass
  • B. K. Leach Memorial
  • Little Bean Marsh
  • Little River
  • Lower Hamburg Bend
  • Marais Temps Clair
  • Montrose
  • Nishnabotna
  • Nodaway Valley
  • Otter Slough
  • Ralph and Martha Perry
  • Platte Falls
  • Plowboy Bend
  • Rose Pond
  • Rush Bottoms
  • Schell-Osage
  • Settle’s Ford
  • Ted Shanks
  • Ten Mile Pond
  • Thurnau
  • Wolf Creek Bend

Dove Hunting

Use or possession of lead shot for hunting doves is prohibited on the following conservation areas:

  • Bilby Ranch Lake
  • Bois D’Arc
  • August A . Busch
  • Crowley’s Ridge
  • Davisdale
  • Harmony Mission Lake
  • Lamine River
  • William R . Logan
  • Maintz Wildlife Preserve
  • Pacific Palisades
  • Guy B . Park
  • Peabody
  • Pony Express Lake
  • James A . Reed Memorial Wildlife Area
  • Reform
  • Robert E . Talbot
  • Truman Reservoir Management Lands (Bethlehem)
  • Weldon Spring
  • Whetstone Creek
  • White (William G . and Erma Parke) Memorial Wildlife Area

Nontoxic shot is safer for wildlife and people

Lead is poisonous to both people and wildlife. Research shows that doves, waterfowl, and many other species of birds can suffer from lead poisoning after consuming lead pellets from spent shotgun shells. Lead poisoning can be fatal to birds and other wildlife, including bald eagles that feed on waterfowl with lead shot in the carcasses.

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, elk, 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 are prohibited when hunting squirrels, rabbits, and furbearers (badger, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, opossum, raccoon, and striped skunk) during daylight hours during the firearms portion of the elk hunting season in the following counties:

  • Carter
  • Reynolds
  • Shannon

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.

Conservation Area Regulations: Waterfowl

Search the Atlas for Conservation Area-specific information before hunting.

Search ATLAS for Open Hunting

Search ATLAS for Morning Draw

Check the Code

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

Cover of Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations

Waterfowl Hunting Digest Cover