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What Animals Can You Hunt in Missouri? 12 Common Game Species

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woman hunter in the forest

Missouri is a Midwestern state with moderate temperatures and a large forest landscape. Its rural woodland areas are typically frequented by hunters in the fall and winter months, and there is definitely a large variety of both large and small game available to hunt during this time of year.

But what are the best animals to hunt in Missouri? In this article, we’ll outline the different types of animals that you can legally hunt in Missouri during your next hunting season.

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The 12 Common Game Species in Missouri:

1. Whitetail Deer

whitetail deer

Image Credit: Linzmeier1, Pixabay

Average Weight: 150-200 pounds
Difficulty: Low

The whitetail deer is the American hunter’s favorite harvest, and it’s a very popular game to hunt in Missouri.

Bucks can be as heavy as almost 300 pounds with their impressive racks.

Hunters can usually catch young and mature males during the rut that are out and about looking for a mate. You may also find them munching on nearby shrubs, trees, or grass, as they are less timid during this time of year than in other months.


2. Mourning Dove

Pair of Mourning Doves on Shepherd's Hook

Image Credit: Bonnie Taylor Barry, Shutterstock

Average Weight: 4.2 ounce
Difficulty: High

Dove season is a great way to start your hunt. You can hunt doves by either pushing the fields and flushing them, or by “still hunting” in a field and waiting for them to fly by.

Although their small stature makes them difficult to shoot, they can still be easily captured if you have practiced at-range shooting. Hunting mourning doves has its advantages. Their meat is quite tasty and not as stringy as other bird game.


3. Geese

canada geese flying

Image Credit: 258817, Pixabay

Average Weight: 7 pounds
Difficulty: Low

Beginners can also harvest the various geese species found in Missouri. Geese, which are larger birds, usually fly in large flocks and offer hunters multiple targets from which they can choose. These large birds which hunters love to eat grilled, baked, or fried can be one of the most succulent games that you can catch. They can be hunted with decoys and called to the hidden hunter, who can get easier shots as they descend to the spread.


4. Rabbit

Wild Rabbit

Image Credit: lppicture, Pixabay

Average Weight: 2 pounds
Difficulty: High

Rabbits are very similar to squirrels in their difficulty level. They can be found everywhere and can be harvested with multiple methods. Many rabbit species can be enjoyed as table food and are great for large dinner spreads and grilling in the woods.

Rabbits can be harvested on a drive with dogs, hunting partners, or solo. The difficulty with rabbits comes with their speed and agility. This particular game is better for more seasoned hunters, as they can be difficult to get a good aim on.


5. Antelope

pronghorn antelope in the wild

Image Credit: christopher d gilman, Shuttertock

Average Weight: 150 pounds
Difficulty: Low

If you live on the outskirts of Missouri, you’ve probably seen antelopes grazing on the flatlands or hanging out near the roadside waiting to cross safely. They are one of the fastest land animals in North America and have great vision.

However, because they spend so much time outdoors, rifle hunters can easily track them. It’s important to get as close as possible without scaring the antelope. Antelope are medium-sized game and don’t require big rifle cartridges.


6. Black Bear

black bear near canim lake

Image Credit: ArtTower, Pixabay

Average Weight: 400 pounds
Difficulty: Low

Black bears are the most dangerous and largest species to hunt in Missouri. But they can be easily brought within range with the right bait and a bit of patience. However, the state of Missouri doesn’t allow you to use bait or dogs to hunt black bears.

Also, you can only harvest one black bear per permit. This is due to their declining population. If you do cook your own black bear meat, be sure to cook it properly, as it can be dangerous to eat if it’s undercooked.

And note that due to their size, you’ll need a rifle with a larger caliber to take them down. You may also want to have a friend assist you with the hunt to help carry the bear to your vehicle.


7. Turkey

turkey in the grass

Image Credit: create219, Pixabay

Average Weight: 11 pounds
Difficulty: Medium

Turkey hunting is usually done individually and not in groups. It’s an excellent option for someone who is new to hunting, but it can pose quite a challenge if you don’t have enough target practice. You will need to know how to harvest turkey using a shotgun.

But the reward is so worth it, as it’s one of the tastiest games that you can hunt, especially during the winter months. You can use decoys and calls to hunt turkey and this game is easy to bag and toss on the grill.


8. Duck

mallard duck in flight

Image Credit: rolandmey, Pixabay

Average Weight: 2 pounds
Difficulty: High

There are many species of ducks to hunt in the state of Missouri. Ducks can be called and decoyed over water, and if you have enough precision, you can catch quite a few on your first go at it. Note that duck hunting usually requires a retrieving dog.

Ducks are especially fast, which makes duck hunting difficult for beginning hunters. However, it’s made easier by the large number of them and their range across the state. If you catch them in large flocks, in which they are likely to travel, you have a better chance of capturing one.


9. Squirrel

squirrel on a tree trunk

Image Credit: NadiaTighe, Pixabay

Average Weight: 1 pound
Difficulty: High

Squirrel hunting is a great beginner game species (even though they’re super fast), and they can be found everywhere. They can also be hunted using different methods. It’s best to use small-caliber rifles and small gauge shotguns if you’re a new hunter.

They are very fast and can help teach new hunters quite a few skills in terms of locating, tracking, and stealth. You almost have to stalk squirrels to nail them down, and you can catch them rummaging in the forest on the floor or between the trees looking for nuts (which make for great bait).


10. Elk

a Bull Elk

Image Credit: Harry Collins Photography, Shutterstock

Average Weight: 600 pounds
Difficulty: Low

Elk are large, slow, and make for great hunting game. They are full of muscle meat and hardy bone, and they have a tough hide, which requires a large caliber rifle to penetrate. Although moose are larger than many other game animals, if shot with the right caliber they will fall in a matter of seconds.

It’s also worth noting that elk can sometimes run up to 10 miles or more if you use the wrong caliber or don’t shoot them in the right place. These game animals are tough to bag up, so be sure to bring one or two assistants to help you load and haul them home.


11. Coyote

a coyote in the wild

Image Credit: mathey, Pixabay

Average Weight: 30 pounds
Difficulty: Medium

Coyotes, although not commonly harvested for their culinary quality, they’re still a moderately easy game for novice hunters. They make for great target practice, due to their habitat range. Hunters can actually find coyotes in all 50 states in the US.

You can use a variety of methods to hunt coyotes, especially during mating season. You can drive, bait, or stalk coyotes–you can also combine methods to make things easier. You can catch coyotes anywhere from late September to early February.


12. Quail

a california quail

Image Credit: jdblack, Pixabay

Average Weight: 4.2 ounce
Difficulty: Medium

Quail hunting is a popular outdoor tradition in Missouri and an American pastime. However, it does require some skill, as these fast-flying birds can be quite agile and difficult to track once they’re in flight. You can use a variety of methods to hunt quail such as driving, decoys, and bait.

They’re usually found solo or in small flocks. But with a bit of stealth and persistence, you can easily lure them into a good trap. They make for a great grilling game and are a popular Thanksgiving favorite.

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Wrapping Things Up

Whether you’re new to hunting or a seasoned hunter, you’ll likely find no shortages of games available in Missouri. It’s important to track down the common habitat areas for your game before heading out and to be sure that you have the right permit. 

Also, remember to have the right caliber for the game that you’re looking to hunt. Be sure to note the number of harvests that you can have for your game, as state laws are constantly changing as some animal populations may decrease.


Featured Image Credit: Vidar Nordli Mathisen, Unsplash

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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