Missouri Deer Hunting Season 2023

Christian | |

With the lion’s share of the Ozark mountains and forest, Missouri boasts some of the country’s most extensive natural beauty, including healthy wildlife populations that provide large stocks of game. Nearly eight percent of Missourians are hunters, and in addition to animals like black bear and elk, they harvest over 300,000 whitetail deer each year. If you want to add to that number, make sure you know the Missouri deer hunting season dates and other important regulations.  

Missouri 2023 Deer Hunting Season Dates

The Missouri deer hunting seasons are simple to follow. In fact, there are really only two types of seasons: archery and firearms. However, there are multiple season dates for each type, each with specific guidelines, which I’ll dive into throughout the article.

Missouri Archery Season Dates

Early ArcherySept. 15-Nov. 10, 2023
Late ArcheryNov. 22, 2023-Jan 15, 2024

Missouri Firearms Season Dates

Firearms: Early AntlerlessOct. 6-8, 2023This season is not available in some counties* in the northwest and southeast parts of the state.
Firearms: Late AntlerlessDec. 2-10, 2023This season is not available in some counties* in the northwest and southeast parts of the state.
Firearms: Early YouthOct. 28-29, 2023Open to ages 6-15.
Firearms: Late YouthNov. 24-26, 2023Open to ages 6-15.
Firearms: GeneralNov. 11-21, 2023
Firearms: CWDNov. 22-26, 2023
Firearms: Alternative MethodsDec. 23, 2023-Jan. 2, 2024This is the equivalent of a muzzleloader season. See legal weapons below.
*Andrew, Atchison, Butler, Carter, Dunklin, Holt, Iron, Mississippi, New Madrid,  Nodaway, Pemiscot, Reynolds, Scott, Stoddard, Wayne

Missouri Bag Limits

Bag limits in Missouri depend on the season, though there is a combined statewide bag limit of two antlered deer. Some counties also have a four-point requirement for antlered deer.

Archery Season Bag Limits

An archer’s hunting permit allows you to take two deer of either sex. However, you can only take one antlered deer in each part of the season, early and late.

You may also buy and fill as many archery antlerless permits as you like with the exceptions of Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid and Pemiscot counties.

Firearm Season Bag Limits

There is a combined limit of one antlered deer for all portions of the firearms season. The limit on antlerless deer varies by county as well as the individual portions.

Firearms: AntlerlessOnly antlerless deer, limit varies by county
Firearms: YouthOne deer of either sex
Firearms: GeneralLimit varies by county
Firearms: CWDLimit varies by county
Firearms: Alternative MethodsLimit varies by county

Missouri Deer Hunting License Requirements and Costs

Missouri has one of the simplest licensing schemes in the country. In fact, they just call them “permits,” not licenses. You need an archery permit to hunt the archery seasons and a firearms permit to hunt the firearms seasons.

As detailed above, these general permits provide an initial bag limit. You can then buy additional antlerless permits for both archery and firearms seasons. You can purchase as many antlerless permits as you want, but you must still follow antlerless bag limits based on county and season portion.

Unfortunately, Missouri does not have a lifetime license for deer hunting like most other states, though there is a lifetime option for small game.

PermitResident CostResident Landowner CostNonresident CostNonresident Landowner CostYouth* Cost
Archer’s Hunting Permit$19.00FREE$265.00$195.00$9.50
Archery Antlerless Deer Hunting Permit$7.00FREE$25.00N/A$3.50
Firearms Any-Deer Hunting Permit$17.00FREE$265.00N/A$8.50
Firearms Antlerless Deer Hunting Permit$7.00FREE$25.00N/A$3.50
*Youth permits are available to hunters aged 6-15.

Missouri Residency Requirements

To qualify for resident permits and prices in Missouri, you have to have an “actual residence” and legal permanent home address both in the state of Missouri for at least 30 days before applying for the permit. The following special groups also receive resident prices:

  • Missouri residents employed by the federal government in the District of Columbia or serving in the military
  • Those serving in the military and stationed in Missouri as well as their immediate family and cohabitants
  • Any honorably discharged military veteran with at least 60 percent disability or  who was a prisoner of war
  • Nonresidents attending school in Missouri

Missouri Hunter Education Requirements

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1967, has to complete an approved hunter-education certification program to hunt during a Missouri firearms season. However, you can purchase an Apprentice Hunter Authorization for $10 that allows you to hunt during the firearms season under the supervision of a licensed hunter. You must also purchase the required firearms permits. You may only participate in the Apprentice Hunter Program for two years.

What Weapons Can You Hunt With in Missouri?

Missouri specified approved methods of take by the given season or season portion.

Archery Seasons

During the archery seasons you can use longbows, recurve bows, compound bows and crossbows. Missouri even expressly allows atlatls. There are no draw weight minimums or broadhead restrictions.  

Firearms Seasons

All the firearms seasons have the same allowed and prohibited methods of take with the exception of the alternative methods season, which is essentially a muzzleloader season. Allowed methods include:

  • Pistols, revolvers or rifles as long as they are centerfire and shooting expanding bullets 
  • Shotguns with slugs
  • Air-powered firearms shooting .40-caliber ammunition or larger charged from an external compression power source
  • Muzzleloading or cap-and-ball firearms shooting .40-caliber ammunition or larger
  • Legal archery equipment as detailed above

The following firearms and ammunition are prohibited:

  • Firearms with a capacity of 11 cartridges in the magazine and chamber combined
  • Ammunition propelling more than one projective in a single shot, like buckshot
  • Full hard metal case ammunition
  • Fully automatic firearms

Firearms: Alternative Methods

The portion of the Missouri firearms deer hunting season called “Alternative Methods” runs from December 23, 2023, to January 4, 2024. During this portion, you cannot use shotguns or rifles that you can load at the breech or by any means except the muzzle. You can, however, still use centerfire pistols and revolvers as well as legal archery equipment as detailed above.

Can You Hunt With an AR-15 in Missouri?

You can hunt with an AR-15 in Missouri during the firearms seasons with the exception of the alternative methods portion. Missouri’s only real restriction on rifles is that they must be centerfire, which permits the original Colt AR-15.

The main thing to watch out for is Missouri’s limit on magazine capacity. Your rifle may only carry 11 rounds, including the one in the chamber, giving you a practical magazine restriction of 10. Make sure you’re using an appropriately sized magazine with your AR-15.

Additionally, many people use the term “AR-15” to refer to similarly styled rifles that aren’t necessarily the original Colt model. In this case, they may have been modified to fire rimfire ammunition or in some other way that is prohibited in Missouri. Make sure your particular rifle follows all the requirements.

What Types of Deer Are Popular in Missouri?

The most popular deer species to hunt in Missouri is the whitetail deer. In fact, that’s true for the entire United States. The University of Missouri estimates the state’s deer herd at 1.4 million, which is almost a deer for every four people.

Interestingly, though, Missouri is also home to another closely related deer species: elk. With an isolated herd of just a couple hundred animals located deep in the Ozarks, elk hunting in Missouri is possible but heavily restricted.

Elk hunting permits are issued by random lottery and are only available to residents. If you win, the permit costs $50 and allows you to hunt a single bull elk with at least one antler at least six inches in length. There is an archery season running from October 21-29, and a firearms season running from December 9-17.

What Else Is Popular to Hunt in Missouri?

Besides deer and elk, Missouri is a popular place to hunt black bear, which has been allowed since 2020 south of the Missouri River in three Black Bear Management Zones (BMZs). The season lasts from October 16-25 or until the harvest quota is met, which is determined yearly by the Missouri Department of Conservation. You may only take one lone black bear of either sex per season.

Wild turkey is another popular game animal. There are both fall and spring seasons.

Other popular game animals with managed seasons include:

  • Badger
  • Beaver
  • Bobcat
  • Coot
  • Coyote
  • Crow
  • Dove
  • Duck
  • Fox
  • Frog
  • Goose
  • Groundhog
  • Mink 
  • Muskrat
  • Opossum
  • Otter
  • Pheasant
  • Quail
  • Rabbit
  • Raccoon
  • Rail
  • Snipe
  • Squirrel
  • Skunk
  • Teal
  • Woodcock

I'm an avid hunter, archer and outdoorsman. I was born and raised in the Ozarks, my aunt taught me to hunt and I've been shooting bows since I was a kid.

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