Hunting Baiting Regulations: Do's and Don'ts
Prohibited Baiting Practices
In the context of hunting regulations, the use of bait—defined as grain or other feed deliberately placed or scattered to lure deer or turkeys—is strictly illegal. Hunting areas remain classified as baited for a duration of 10 days following the complete removal of the bait. It's important to note that a hunter is held accountable for violations if they harvest or attempt to harvest deer or turkey using bait when there is knowledge, or reasonable grounds for knowledge, that the area has been baited.
Furthermore, it is unlawful to distribute bait in a manner that could result in another individual breaching this rule. On conservation grounds, the use of mineral and salt blocks as attractants is also forbidden. The rules become even more stringent within Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Zones, where additional regulations come into play.
Acceptable Baiting Exceptions
While strict prohibitions are in place, certain exceptions do exist. Scents that mimic natural deer attractants—such as doe urine, apple, acorn, and persimmon—are permissible, as long as they aren’t combined with grains or other food products. This strategy can be employed in the arena of deer hunting to entice the animals without breaching baiting restrictions.
Though mineral blocks on their own, including those composed of salt, are not categorized as bait, hunters need to be aware that mineral blocks containing any grain or food additives are not allowed. The stance on mineral and salt blocks being unacceptable on conservation grounds remains unaltered.
Legalities also extend to the hunting over a harvested crop field. While this practice is permitted, any subsequent addition of grain or other crops like apples to the field post-harvest is considered illegal. However, practices referred to as manipulating crops—for instance, mowing down or flattening crops—are not treated as baiting and are thus lawful practices for hunting deer and turkeys.
Hunting Limits and Antler Restrictions
Understanding Permit and Seasonal Limits
When preparing for a hunt, it's essential to refer to your permit and the specific hunting season to determine the applicable limits of the game. Additionally, it's imperative to verify if antler point restrictions are in place for the area you aim to hunt; such regulations are implemented to manage deer populations and often vary by location.
Antlered Deer Harvest Regulations
For those targeting antlered deer, there are definitive constraints to consider:
- Throughout both the archery and firearms deer hunting seasons, a hunter is allowed to harvest a maximum of two antlered deer, collectively.
- During the archery season, before the commencement of the November portion of the firearms deer hunting season, archery hunters are capped at one antlered deer.
- Practitioners of firearms deer hunting are similarly restricted to taking only one antlered deer during the entire firearms season, including all combined portions.
Managed Hunt Exceptions
There is an exception for participants in managed hunts. If you are selected for a managed hunt, the number of antlered deer you can harvest is dictated by the specific regulations of that hunt. Significantly, deer taken during these managed hunts do not contribute to the standard limits associated with the firearms or archery seasons. This allowance facilitates targeted wildlife management objectives without affecting a hunter's general season quota.
These regulations ensure sustainable hunting practices and promote the health and balance of deer populations. Hunters are expected to practice due diligence in understanding and complying with these limits to avoid violations and contribute to the responsible stewardship of wildlife resources.
Understanding Chronic Wasting Disease Hunting Zones
Hunters who pursue game in specific Missouri counties need to be aware of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Zones, areas where regulations are in place to manage and contain this neurological ailment affecting deer populations. The counties impacted by these regulations include Adair, Barry, Barton, Bollinger, Caldwell, Camden, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, Dallas, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Grundy, Hickory, Howell, Jasper, Jefferson, Knox, Laclede, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Madison, McDonald, Mercer, Montgomery, Oregon, Ozark, Pemiscot, Perry, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, Ray, Ripley, Schuyler, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Vernon, Warren, and Washington.
If your hunting plans include these areas, it is critical to educate yourself on the enhanced measures and best practices established to reduce the risk of CWD spread. This includes specific carcass handling and transportation procedures, restrictions on feeding and baiting deer, mandatory sampling during certain periods, and more. By following these guidelines, hunters can play an instrumental role in the monitoring and management efforts to keep Missouri's deer herds healthy and mitigate the impact of Chronic Wasting Disease.
Guidelines for Assisting Youth Hunters
Accompanying Youth During Firearms Season
Adults aiding youth hunters throughout the designated youth portions of firearms deer season are granted a specific exemption. Such adults are not required to hold a deer hunting permit while performing a mentor role. However, there are essential criteria that these adults must meet:
- They must be a minimum of 18 years of age, ensuring that a responsible adult is in the accompanying position.
- It's necessary for the adult to have completed a hunter education certification, confirming they possess the knowledge to guide a youth hunter safely and responsibly.
- Alternatively, adults born before January 1, 1967, are exempt from the hunter education requirement, as this demographic is grandfathered in under past regulations.
Mentor Requirements Outside of Youth Firearms Season
Outside of these youth-specific dates, the requirements for mentors or adults assisting in hunting activities change. During all other hunting periods, these individuals must adhere to standard regulations:
- Mentors are mandated to carry a valid hunting permit for the specific season they are participating in, or they must qualify for an exemption. The permit ensures that the mentor is a legally recognized participant in the hunting activity.
- Notably, for deer and turkey hunting scenarios, the mentor's permit may be either filled or unfilled—providing flexibility for experienced hunters to guide novices irrespective of their current success in the season. This allows for an experienced hunter to continue mentoring even after they have reached their own hunting limit, further supporting the development of novice hunters.
The assistance provided by mentors to less experienced hunters, especially youth, is a critical component in the promotion of safe and ethical hunting practices. These regulations are tailored to encourage experienced hunters to impart their knowledge while ensuring that all participants engage in hunting activities within the legal framework designed to safeguard both the hunters and game populations.
Guidelines for Tree Stand Use on Conservation Department Areas
When it comes to setting up tree stands on Conservation Department lands, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts need to observe crucial timeframes and identification protocols. Portable tree stands can be installed and utilized strictly within the period starting September 1st and ending January 31st. For accountability and to comply with regulations, any stand that is left unattended within these areas must have clear labeling. This tag should be made of durable material showcasing the user's full name and address, or instead, their Conservation identification number.
Furthermore, to minimize harm to the natural habitat, there is a prohibition against employing nails, screw-in steps, or any material that may cause damage to the trees. As the end of the designated timeframe approaches, it is mandatory for all tree stands to be dismantled and removed from the conservation areas by or on January 31st, ensuring that no equipment is left behind past this date. These rules help maintain the integrity of the conservation areas while still allowing for the responsible use of tree stands during hunting season.
Game Retrieval and Responsibility
Successful hunters have a legal and ethical obligation regarding the retrieval of game. In the event that a hunter kills or injures a deer, they are required to exert reasonable effort to locate and retrieve the animal and ensure it is accounted for within their seasonal hunting limit. The mandate to retrieve extends to the responsible use of the game, where abandoning or wasting commonly edible portions is strictly prohibited.
Notably, while hunters must pursue reasonable retrieval efforts, this directive does not grant any right to trespass on private property. Hunters must secure permission if the retrieval of game necessitates entering private lands. These regulations are designed to uphold the principles of fair chase, ensure sustainable wildlife management, and respect landowner rights, all of which contribute to a responsible and ethical hunting community.
Use of Dogs to Hunt and Recover Game
Using dogs to recover game does not authorize trespass.
Read regulations on hunting with dogs.
Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP) Rules
Special Regulations on MRAP Areas
The Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP) offers unique outdoor experiences, but it is critical to adhere to the specific rules that govern these areas. These regulations are in place to maintain the integrity and purpose of the program, which aims to increase public access to private land for wildlife-dependent recreation.
Daily Removal of Tree Stands
One key rule for hunters on MRAP areas is the requirement to remove tree stands at the end of each day's hunt. This rule contrasts with regulations on other conservation lands, where tree stands may often be left in place for the duration of certain seasons. Daily removal serves multiple purposes:
- It helps to minimize the environmental impact on the land.
- It prevents the unauthorized use of equipment by other individuals.
- It aligns with the private aspect of the MRAP areas to ensure that land remains in the condition it was found.
Responsibility to Know and Follow Posted Rules
As a hunter utilizing an MRAP area, the responsibility falls on you to be aware of and comply with all rules associated with the particular site you are using. Typically, rules for MRAP areas are conspicuously posted at the area for easy access. It is crucial to read and understand these rules before engaging in any hunting activities. Doing so will ensure that you are in full compliance with the program's standards, which may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Adhering to specific area restrictions.
- Following any special procedures or reporting requirements.
- Respecting the duration and type of activities permitted on the land.
Adherence to MRAP area rules protects your privilege to access these lands and ensures that the program can continue providing recreational opportunities to the public while respecting the rights of private landowners. The MRAP guidelines are designed to foster a cooperative relationship between landowners, hunters, and the Missouri Department of Conservation to promote conservation-oriented recreation on private lands.
Proper Disposal of Deer Carcasses
Disposing of deer remains in water bodies is a violation of wildlife conservation laws. Hunters are explicitly prohibited from depositing a deer carcass or any part thereof into a range of natural water sources, including wells, springs, brooks, branches, creeks, streams, ponds, or lakes. This regulation safeguards aquatic ecosystems from contamination and prevents the potential spread of diseases, ensuring the well-being of the environment and supporting the integrity of water resources. Responsible disposal of game remnants is a key aspect of ethical hunting practices.
Regulations for Possession and Sale of Game
Documentation for Possession
When it comes to managing harvested wildlife, specifically deer and turkeys, a well-documented chain of possession is essential. Once the animals are properly checked, they may be possessed by any individual, provided the wildlife is accompanied by a label. This label must include the taker's full name, address, the date of harvest, and the Telecheck confirmation number—a unique identifier obtained upon reporting the harvest to the state's wildlife management system. The Telecheck confirmation number must remain with the carcass until it undergoes processing by a meat processor.
Commercial Processing and Claiming
Deer that are left with commercial processors or at cold storage facilities need to be claimed by the owner. The deadline for this is May 1 of the year following the hunting season during which the animal was taken.
Sale of Deer Parts and Documentation
Parts of legally obtained deer, such as heads, antlers, hides, and feet, are permissible for sale by the individual who harvested the animal. The seller is required to provide a bill of sale for all transactions involving these parts. The bill of sale should clearly state the seller's full name and address, the species and quantity of parts sold, as well as the full name and address of the buyer. In the case of deer heads or antlers still attached to the skull plate, the buyer must keep a dated bill of sale as long as the said items are in their possession.
For those who encounter deer carcasses with antlers still attached to the skull plate, taking possession of the antlers is allowed under the condition that they report the find to a conservation agent within 24 hours. After reporting, they will receive authorization to legally possess the antlers.
Separate permissions are not required for individuals looking to possess, purchase, or sell naturally shed antlers that have already been detached from the skull plate.
For comprehensive insights on general regulations such as gifting, possessing, storing, and selling wildlife, interested parties are encouraged to consult the applicable wildlife regulatory documents. These regulations help ensure that the process from harvest to table is conducted responsibly, ethically, and in alignment with conservation principles.
Regulations for Antlerless Deer Permits
Utilization during Archery Season
Archery antlerless permits are exclusively available for hunters participating in the archery deer season. These permits are valid in counties where the harvest of antlerless deer is permitted. Hunters must verify that the county they plan to hunt in is open for antlerless deer hunting with an archery permit, as certain counties may have restrictions based on wildlife management objectives.
Use during Firearms Deer Season
Firearms antlerless permits broaden the opportunities for deer hunters during the firearms deer season. Holders of these permits are allowed to hunt antlerless deer throughout all portions of the firearms season – including the main and any special sessions that may be designated for firearms hunting.
Firearms Hunting Restrictions in Certain Areas
Despite the allowance to use firearms antlerless permits throughout the firearms deer season, it's important to note that some areas may be closed to firearms hunting during the antlerless portion of the season. These closures may occur for various reasons, such as ensuring safety in high-traffic public areas or managing deer populations more conservatively in specific locations. Before planning a hunt, individuals should review local regulations and restrictions to ensure compliance with area-specific guidelines regarding antlerless deer hunting.
These permit regulations for antlerless deer are designed to manage deer populations effectively, allowing for sustainable hunting practices while supporting the ecological balance within Missouri's diverse habitats. Hunters must stay informed and abide by these guidelines to contribute to responsible wildlife management and to continue enjoying the privileges that come with deer hunting.
How Many Archery Antlerless Permits Can You Fill?
Hunters may purchase and fill any number of Archery Antlerless Deer Hunting Permits during the archery deer season in all counties except Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid, and Pemiscot counties.
Counties in brown: Hunters can use any number of archery antlerless deer permits.
How Many Firearms Antlerless Permits Can You Fill?
Each county has a limit on the number of antlerless permits you may fill.
Firearms Antlerless Deer Permit Limits by County
No Permit Usage
In select counties during the 2023-24 deer season, restrictions are in place that bar hunters from using firearms antlerless deer permits. Specifically, in Atchison, Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid, and Pemiscot counties, which are designated in white on the permit map, hunters are not permitted to fill any firearms antlerless permits.
Single Permit Limit
For those hunting in counties colored brown on the map, there is an allowance to fill one firearms antlerless deer permit. This limitation applies to Andrew, Butler, Carter, Holt, Iron, Nodaway, Reynolds, Scott, Stoddard, and Wayne counties for the said season.
Two Permit Limit
In counties indicated by the tan color on the map, hunters have the opportunity to fill up to two firearms antlerless permits. The counties with this provision include Bollinger, Buchanan, Clinton, Dade, DeKalb, Dent, Douglas, Lawrence, Madison, Maries, Newton, Phelps, Shannon, and Texas for the 2023-24 deer season.
Four Permit Limit
A more generous allowance is given to areas depicted in blue on the map, where hunters may fill as many as four firearms antlerless permits. The extensive list of counties with this privilege includes: Adair, Audrain, Barry, Barton, Bates, Benton, Boone, Caldwell, Callaway, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Carroll, Cass, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Clay, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dallas, Daviess, Franklin, Gasconade, Gentry, Greene, Grundy, Harrison, Henry, Hickory, Howard, Howell, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Laclede, Lafayette, Lewis, Lincoln, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Marion, McDonald, Mercer, Miller, Moniteau, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Oregon, Osage, Ozark, Perry, Pettis, Pike, Platte, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, Ralls, Randolph, Ray, Ripley, Saline, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Vernon, Warren, Washington, Webster, Worth, and Wright counties.
These permit allowances are set to manage deer populations effectively and sustainably across Missouri. Hunters should refer to the official firearms antlerless permits map to confirm the current regulations for their specific hunting locations.
Resident Landowner Antlerless Deer Permits Allocation
Eligibility and Usage for Resident Landowners
Resident landowners who possess a minimum of 75 acres within a single county or 75 continuous acres crossing a county boundary are eligible for no-cost Resident Landowner Firearms Antlerless Deer Hunting Permits. This benefit also extends to all immediate household members who are 6 years of age and older, allowing them to harvest additional antlerless deer.
Landowner Permit Distribution by County
The number of antlerless deer hunting permits available to eligible resident landowners and their immediate household varies by county:
One Permit Allocation (Brown Counties): Resident landowners in brown-designated counties on the provided map: Andrew, Atchison, Butler, Carter, Dunklin, Holt, Iron, Mississippi, New Madrid, Nodaway, Pemiscot, Scott, Stoddard, and Wayne are each entitled to receive one firearm antlerless deer hunting permit.
Two Permits Allocation (Blue Counties): In blue-designated counties, qualifying resident landowners and their immediate household members age 6 or older may each obtain two firearms antlerless deer hunting permits. This applies to a larger list of counties which includes, but is not limited to, Adair, Barry, Boone, Buchanan, Caldwell, Callaway, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Cass, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clay, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dallas, Daviess, Dent, Douglas, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Grundy, Harrison, Henry, Hickory, Howell, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Laclede, and many others.
For a complete and detailed overview of specific permit numbers and counties, consult the provided Resident Landowner Firearms Antlerless Permit Numbers Map.
It's important that resident landowners adhere to the distribution guidelines when filling their permits and are responsible for knowing which county their land is situated in to comply with the permit allocation. These regulated permit distributions are established to manage wildlife populations sustainably across varying counties while providing landowners and their families with opportunities for harvesting deer.
What are Antler-Point Restrictions?
In Missouri counties with antler restrictions, an antlered deer must have at least four points on one side to be taken.
Hunters who are 15 years or younger on Sept. 15 of the current year are exempt from the antler-point restriction during the archery deer season and all portions of the firearms deer season.
How to Count Antler Points
Each of the following counts as a point:
- The end of the main beam
- An antler point, if it is at least 1 inch long
- Any broken tine that is at least 1 inch long
- The brow tine, if it is at least 1 inch long
Tines, main beams and brow tines all count as a point if they are at least 1-inch long. A buck with seven points is a legal deer in counties with antler-point restrictions.
Counties With a 4 Antler-Point Minimum
These counties require that bucks you harvest have at least four antler points on one side of their rack. This rule applies to both the archery and firearms deer hunting seasons. It does not apply to hunters who are 15 years or younger on Sept. 15 of the current year during the archery deer season and all portions of the firearms deer season.
- Boone (does not apply within the city limits of Columbia)
- Cass (applies to part of county. See Kansas City Urban Zone)
- Platte (applies to part of county. See Kansas City Urban Zone)
Does, button bucks and bucks with spikes less than 3 inches are legal to take on Antlerless or Any-Deer Permits; but for deer management, it is better to take does.
Protected deer include all antlered deer (defined as having at least one antler 3 inches or longer) that do not have a minimum of at least four points on one side.
Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone Protocols
CWD Zone Composition for 2023-24 Seasons
The Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Zone is delineated to encompass counties within approximately 10 miles of confirmed CWD cases. For the 2023-24 deer hunting seasons, the CWD Management Zone incorporates several counties: Adair, Barry, Barton, Bollinger, Caldwell, Camden, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, Dallas, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Grundy, Hickory, Howell, Jasper, Jefferson, Knox, Laclede, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Madison, McDonald, Mercer, Montgomery, Oregon, Ozark, Pemiscot, Perry, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, Ray, Ripley, Schuyler, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Vernon, Warren, and Washington.
Mandatory CWD Sampling on Nov. 11-12, 2023
Any harvested deer within designated CWD Management Zone counties on November 11 or 12, 2023, must be presented for sampling at a CWD station on the day of harvest. Hunters are to adhere to carcass transportation rules when heading to sampling stations.
Special CWD Zone Regulations
- Deer from within the CWD Zone must be checked via Telecheck before leaving the harvest county.
- Transporting deer parts with the spinal column or brain is restricted to within 48 hours post-exit and must be taken to an MDC-approved location, such as a licensed processor or taxidermist, or a CWD sampling site. On the specified November dates, this rule is superseded by the mandatory day-of-harvest sampling requirement.
- Unrestricted movement is allowed for:
- Wrapped or boned-out meat
- Meat portions without spinal column or head
- Cleaned hides
- Detached antlers or cleaned skull plates
- Taxidermy products
A general ban is imposed on using grain, salt products, minerals, or other consumable attractants for deer within CWD Management Zone counties. Exceptions apply to feed within 100 feet of a residence or building, feed inaccessible to deer, standard agricultural/forestry practices, and authorized management efforts.
Antler-Point Restriction Removal
The MDC has lifted the antler-point requirement to discourage protecting younger bucks which have a higher likelihood of dispersal and disease transmission.
Bringing in Harvested Deer from Out of State
For out-of-state harvested deer, elk, moose, or caribou, Missouri only permits entry of specific parts mirroring the CWD Zone transport rules. Additionally, a head with cape may enter if delivered to a licensed taxidermist within 48 hours.
Contribution to CWD Mitigation
Surveillance implies CWD is not widespread in Missouri, and proactive measures can curb its spread. Hunters and landowners can assist by following regulations, safely disposing of carcasses, reporting ill deer, and participating in voluntary CWD testing beyond opening weekend. These collective efforts aim to maintain the health of Missouri's deer population and ecosystem.
Hunter Orange Safety Requirements
Mandatory Hunter Orange Usage
To enhance safety in the field, hunter orange is required in several specific hunting scenarios. If you are participating in the following, be sure to don hunter orange:
- Hunting any game during firearms deer season.
- Hunting elk or accompanying an elk hunter in the firearms portion of the elk season.
- Hunting black bear or accompanying a bear hunter.
- Hunting in an area conducting a managed firearm deer hunt.
- Mentoring another hunter during firearms deer season or in a managed firearms deer hunt area.
For compliance, you must wear a hunter-orange hat and a hunter-orange shirt, vest, or coat, visible from all directions. Note: Camouflage orange does not meet this requirement.
Exemptions from Wearing Hunter Orange
Under certain circumstances, hunter orange is not mandated:
- Hunting migratory game birds.
- Archery hunting within municipalities where firearms discharge is banned.
- Hunting on federal/state lands exclusively designated for archery deer hunting.
- Using an archery permit during the alternative methods portion of deer season.
- Archery or small game hunting during the closed counties' antlerless or CWD portions.
- Hunting small game or furbearers during the alternative methods portion of deer season.
- Hunting small game or furbearers during the firearms portion of the elk season.
The hunter orange safety guidelines are there to promote hunter visibility and prevent accidents, so adherence to these rules is crucial during specified hunting seasons and conditions.