Missouri Turkey Hunting
Turkey hunting is a popular and challenging sport in Missouri, where hunters can pursue the elusive eastern wild turkey across diverse habitats. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you need to know some basic information about turkey hunting in Missouri, such as the hunting seasons, bag limits, permits, regulations and tips.
Missouri has two main turkey hunting seasons: spring and fall. The spring season is more popular and offers better chances of harvesting a mature gobbler. The fall season is less crowded and allows hunters to take either sex of turkey.
The spring season has two segments: youth and regular. The youth segment is for hunters who are age 6-15 on opening day and allows them to hunt one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. The regular segment is for all hunters and allows them to hunt one-half hour before sunrise to 1 p.m.
The fall season has two segments: firearms and archery. The firearms segment is for hunters who use shotguns or muzzleloaders and allows them to hunt one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. The archery segment is for hunters who use bows or crossbows and allows them to hunt one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
The following table shows the dates and bag limits for each segment of the turkey hunting seasons in Missouri for 2023:
|Spring Youth||April 1-2||One male turkey or turkey with visible beard|
|Spring Regular||April 17-May 7||One male turkey or turkey with visible beard per day; two for the season|
|Fall Firearms||October 1-31||Two turkeys of either sex; both may be taken on the same day|
|Fall Archery||September 15-November 10; November 22-January 15||Two turkeys of either sex; only one may be taken on the same day.|
Permits and Regulations
To legally hunt turkeys in Missouri, you must possess a valid hunting license and turkey permit. License and permit fees vary depending on your residency status, age, and the hunting season. Key points to consider include:
- Resident vs. non-resident: Non-residents pay higher fees for hunting licenses and permits than Missouri residents.
- Age: Hunters who are under 16 or over 65 are eligible for reduced fees or exemptions for hunting licenses and permits.
- Season: Spring turkey permits allow hunters to take two male turkeys or turkeys with visible beards, one per day. Fall turkey permits allow hunters to take two turkeys of either sex, both on the same day. Archery turkey permits allow hunters to take two turkeys of either sex during the fall archery season only.
- Methods: Hunters can use shotguns (20 gauge or larger), muzzleloading shotguns (.40 caliber or larger), bows or crossbows to hunt turkeys in Missouri. Rifles, handguns, air guns, slingshots and electronic calls are prohibited. Shot size must be No. 4 or smaller for lead shot and No. 2 or smaller for nontoxic shot.
Turkey Biology and Habitat
Missouri is home to the eastern subspecies of wild turkey, one of five subspecies native to North America. Turkeys are highly adaptable birds that can live in a variety of habitats, from forests and woodlands to grasslands and agricultural fields. However, they have some basic habitat requirements that must be met for their survival and reproduction.
Turkeys need four types of habitat: nesting, brood-rearing, feeding and roosting. Nesting habitat consists of dense vegetation that provides concealment and protection for hens and their eggs. Brood-rearing habitat consists of open areas with abundant insects and seeds that provide food for hens and their young. Feeding habitat consists of diverse plant communities that provide seeds, fruits, nuts, greens and insects for turkeys throughout the year. Roosting habitat consists of large trees with sturdy branches that provide shelter and security for turkeys at night.
The average weight of a wild turkey in Missouri is about 17 pounds for males and 11 pounds for females. However, this can vary depending on the age, health and season of the bird. Turkeys can live up to 10 years in the wild, but most do not survive past their first year due to predation, disease and hunting.
Turkey Hunting Tips
Turkey hunting is a challenging sport that requires patience, skill and knowledge of the quarry. Here are some tips to help you succeed in your hunt:
- Scout before you hunt: Locate turkeys by listening for their calls at dawn and dusk, looking for their tracks, droppings and feathers, and observing their movements and patterns.
- Choose a good spot: Set up near a roost site, a feeding area or a travel corridor that turkeys use regularly. Make sure you have good visibility and cover.
- Call wisely: Use a variety of calls to imitate the sounds of turkeys and attract them to your location. Learn when to call more or less depending on the mood and behavior of the birds.
- Be still and quiet: Turkeys have excellent eyesight and hearing and can detect any movement or noise that seems unnatural. Wear camouflage clothing that matches your surroundings and avoid fidgeting or talking.
- Be safe: Always identify your target before shooting and make sure there is no other hunter or animal behind it. Wear hunter orange when moving between locations or when leaving the woods. Respect other hunters’ rights and follow all hunting laws and ethics.
Hunting turkey in Missouri can be a rewarding experience that connects you with nature and provides you with delicious meat. By following these tips and learning more about turkey hunting in Missouri, you can increase your chances of having a successful hunt.