Though many hunters turn their noses up at the mere thought of hunting public land, for one reason or another, many hunters eventually have to look to public land to find land on which to hunt. Fortunately for Missouri hunters, as well as those visiting the Show-Me-State to hunt, there are lots of great public land options. This article will introduce you to hunting on areas managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. There are nearly 1,000 of these areas, and most of them offer some kind of hunting options.
Missouri conservation lands can be found aplenty from the Iowa border to the Arkansas state line and from Illinois to the East all the way to Kansas. There essence seems to change as you go from north to south. The southern conservation areas are in the Ozarks and some are enormous in size.
Areas in southern Missouri, like Current River, Peck Ranch, Angeline, and Rocky Creek are all in the tens of thousands of acres. The areas are heavily forested and are a twisted mass of ridges and hollers. Deer and turkey hunters who find success here are experts on acorns and water sources. The deer densities are low relative to northern areas, but there are sufficient numbers and some experts believe that a world record buck may soon be produced in an area like Sunklands. Right now, most trophy deer are coming further north.
There are some sizeable conservation areas further north. Areas like Union Ridge are close to 10,000 acres. These areas are more diverse in their habitat. You will find some heavily forested areas and certainly there are hilly regions as well. However, these conservation areas have far more in the way of old fields, orchards, and other vestiges of former agricultural pursuits. These areas are very good not only for deer and turkey hunting, but also for upland game and birds. There are even some decent pheasant areas near the Iowa border.
One nice thing about the hunting options on Missouri’s conservation areas is that they are not only found in rural areas, but there are some excellent hunting options near urban centers. One of these areas is Bush Wildlife Area in St. Charles County near St. Louis. There are managed deer and turkey hunts as well as small game hunting opportunities.
Before heading to any of these areas, visit mdc.mo.gov to get the latest regulation information for the area you will visit.