Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall into Missouri’s Hunting and Fishing Opportunities

Lands (owned and leased) that were managed by ...Image via WikipediaJEFFERSON CITY, Mo. --- The heat of summer has given way to fresh breezes and the relaxing, cool air of the approaching autumn. Now is a great time to experience Missouri’s hunting and fishing opportunities first-hand.

Today marks the beginning of the first of two bow seasons for hunters seeking deer and turkey in Missouri. Deer season for bow hunters runs through Jan. 15, 2011, though there is an 11-day break for the firearms portion of deer season, which runs Nov. 13-23.

Bow hunting proved to be a popular and productive method for harvesting Missouri deer during the 2009-10 archery season. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, a record 51,972 deer were taken, marking the first time more than 50,000 deer were harvested during archery season.

Those looking for public lands on which to hunt will find the Missouri Department of Conservation has thousands of acres of public hunting areas around the state, which means it’s not difficult to find area where deer hunting is allowed during archery season.

A few places to consider deer hunting include Bluffwoods Conservation Area, a 2,300-acre tract near St. Joseph, where the conservation department reports a good deer population; or the 348 acres of Montgomery Woods Conservation Area near Kirksville, where another good population of deer resides.

Don’t forget Little Dixie Lake Conservation near Millersburg, a 733-acre area in Callaway County where there’s a designated area for archery; Holly Ridge Conservation Area, near Bloomfield, with its good population of deer and an on-site archery range; and the 4,790-acre Bushwhacker Lake Conservation Area near Bronaugh, featuring the 157-acre Bushwhacker Lake.

Missouri’s population of deer leads to great opportunities for hunters, and the same can be said for the Show-Me State’s gobbler hunters. With 3,298 wild turkeys harvested the 2009-10 archery season proved to be a record-setter, too.  The upcoming season runs Sept. 15-Nov. 12 and Nov. 24-Jan. 15, 2011.

Popular public lands for turkey hunting include the Huzzah Conservation Area, near Steelville, where a good population of turkey, combined with 6,000 acres of forest and portions of the Meramec River and Huzzah and Courtois creeks, creates a bountiful and scenic hunting venue. Also, hunters find a first-rate turkey population at the Apple Creek Conservation Area, a 2,000-acre site about 20 minutes northeast of Cape Girardeau.

Another venue for turkey hunting is the Parma Woods Conservation Area near Parkville. This area, situated on 200 acres near the Missouri River, features an on-site range for honing your bow-hunting skills. Outdoors enthusiasts may use the archery range and enjoy good turkey hunting at the Compton Hollow Conservation Area, located nine miles west of Marshfield. This area includes special use hunting area for those with medical exemptions.

Other areas for turkey hunters to consider include: Rudolf Bennitt Conservation Area, located near Higbee, at the point where Boone, Randolph and Howard counties meet; Deer Ridge Conservation Area near Lewistown; and the Caney Mountain Conservation Area near Gainesville.

For those who’d rather spend late summer/early fall fishing, Missouri offers the chance to catch everything from catfish and bass to trout, walleye and muskie. Whether you’re launching a boat, wading or walking the banks of one of the state’s rivers, lakes or streams, it’s safe to say the fish are always biting somewhere in Missouri.

Even though Missourians aren’t prone to “fish stories,” here are a couple of tales to consider when planning your next fishing getaway.

In July, a pair of anglers fishing the Missouri River, near the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area north of St. Louis, hauled in a state-record and world-record blue catfish. The 130-pound blue catfish measured 57 inches, outweighing the previous state-record by 27 pounds. A couple of days later, a father-son tandem hauled in a 99-pound flathead on the Missouri River near Mokane.

Then there’s the state-record, 58-pound, 10.4-ounce striped bass taken earlier this year from Bull Shoals Lake in Taney County. This prize catch was slightly more than 48 inches from nose to tail. Table Rock Lake, which is part of this region’s Tri-Lakes area, is home to great bass fishing, striped and other types.

Not far from Bull Shoals is Lake Taneycomo, which offers the chance to catch some of the state’s largest rainbow and brown trout. The water temperature stays about 58 degrees year-round and the lake usually is stocked with about 750,000 trout. And if you enjoy trout fishing, be sure to visit Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon. This park is home to the state’s third-largest spring and, from April-October, is a major trout-fishing destination.

Other great fishing spots include Lake of the Ozarks, which is stocked with bass, catfish, paddlefish, walleye and hybrid stripers; Pomme de Terre Lake in Pomme de Terre State Park, which offers the chance to catch several varieties of fish, including walleye and muskie; and Stockton Lake, which is one of the best walleye fishing lakes in the Midwest (and a great lake for sailboat use).

Don’t overlook Truman Lake in Harry S Truman State Park, where crappie and black bass are abundant; Mark Twain Lake, known for excellent crappie and bass fishing; and Lake Wappapello, in Lake Wappapello State Park, which is known for white bass, crappie and blue gill fishing.

In addition to hunting turkey and deer, fall in Missouri brings the season for game such as quail, geese, ducks, teal, crow, dove, and pheasant, plus furbearers such as bobcat, beaver and otters.

Regardless of which outdoor activity you choose, make sure to study Missouri’s regulations and the specific rules for state-maintained hunting and fishing areas; and remember to have the proper permits for the activities in which you’ll be participating. For more info on Missouri permits, seasons and regulations, visit or

For more information on Missouri’s hunting and fishing opportunities, as well as other vacation ideas from around the Show-Me State, please log on to; call 800-519-4800 to order your free copy of the Official 2010 Missouri Travel Guide


Missouri Conservation Area Guide