MO Wildlife Code basis for keeping sustainable wildlife populations

by Sarah Ettinger-Dietzel

Conservation Agent for Iron County


As deer and turkey season end, avid hunters switch their focus from large game to small game hunting and trapping.

Hunting and trapping of furbearers in Missouri is a time honored tradition that has spanned centuries. In the early years it was feared many of Missouri’s wildlife were on the verge of disappearing. The introduction of ground breaking ecological principles and strategic management practices implemented by concerned Missourians brought the return of healthy wildlife populations, not seen since pre-settlement times.

One of the primary management tools and reason for the success was due to Missouri’s hunting and trapping regulations. The Missouri Wildlife Code gives the citizens of the state permissive regulations, which basically means the code lets the hunter/trapper know what they can do versus what they cannot do. This set of regulations are the basis for keeping sustainable populations, which in turn allows the people of Missouri to continue to enjoy the amazing hunting and trapping privileges their forefathers once experienced.

The general regulations are the same as any hunting/trapping in Missouri. As a hunter and trapper you will need the appropriate permits, the knowledge of when the seasons open and close and the methods allowed for the animals being harvested.

Some restrictions apply in all hunting seasons, for instance restricted baiting. The site will be considered baited until all feed is removed for a minimum of 10 days prior to hunting. It is still unlawful to hunt from public roadways or use chemicals, poison or tranquilizers to harvest animals. Unlike deer and turkey season, small game hunters can use artificial light during bull frogs and green frogs, raccoon and other furbearing animals in season when treed with the aid of dogs.

For trappers, a Conibear type trap may be used adjacent to public roadways only if set underwater in permanent bodies of water. Trappers wanting to use cable restraints must successfully complete a cable restraint course offered through the Missouri Department of Conservation. To get a listing of upcoming classes please contact your local agent.

All furbearers, except Beaver, mink, muskrat, river otter, turtles and fish may be hunted using pistols, revolvers and rifles propelling a single projectile, guns powered by spring air or compressed gas, and shotguns not larger than 10 gauge with the magazine cut off or plugged to hold no more than three shells in the chamber or magazine combined. While hunting game birds with firearms only shotguns are allowed except for crow.

While using the resources remember to keep in mind all the seasons, methods, limits and harvest restrictions. All this information can be found in the free Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations pamphlet located at local vendors or online at As always, if in doubt about a regulations or have questions or concerns contact your local agent.

Above all MDC wishes all Missourians and visitors to be safe and enjoy our states beautiful resources. 

Sara Ettinger-Dietzel is the Conservation Agent for Iron County. For any questions or to report a wildlife violation, contact her at (573) 466-9119.