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Hunting for Bobwhite, Pheasant, and other Small Game in Missouri

Hunting for Bobwhite, Pheasant, and other Small Game in Missouri

A Missouri bird hunter holding a Bobwhite Quail.

Missouri is where the rivers run and the birds flush

Like many of the Midwestern states surrounding it, Missouri is comprised of a good deal of farmland. Over 90 percent of Missouri’s rivers, scattered woodlands, and tall grass prairies are on private land. In partnership with landowners, the Missouri Department of Conservation works hard to ensure that game birds have good habitat. Much of the work involved in making sure there are strong populations of game birds like bobwhite quail takes place on land directly managed by the Department. Today, the Department holds at least 789,000 acres, much of which is managed specifically for quality game habitat. Besides public lands, you can also access private lands for hunting under the Outdoor Recreational Access Program.

Species*SeasonDaily / Possession LimitNotes
Bobwhite quailNov 1, 2020 – Jan 15, 20218 / 16
WoodcockOct 15 – Nov 28, 20203 / 9
PheasantNov 1, 2020 – Jan 15, 20212 / 4Roosters only
Sora and Virginia railSept 1 – Nov 9, 202025 / 75
DoveSept 1 – Nov 29, 202015 / 45Combined limit of all species
SquirrelMay 23, 2020 – Feb 15, 202110 / 20
RabbitOct 1, 2020 – Feb 15, 20216 / 12No jackrabbits and only two swamp rabbits may be taken per day.
*These season dates were last updated on August 25, 2020 and may not reflect any changes since that date. For the most up-to-date information visit the Missouri Department of Conservation

Bobwhite Quail 

Though the bobwhite quail population throughout the United States seems imperiled, bobwhite quail hunting in Missouri remains strong. Some attribute the number of quail in Missouri to good quail habitat within the state. Quail need dense, brushy covers near grassy areas where they can feed. There are currently many initiatives that involve the conservation and management of quail habitats to ensure good bird hunting in Missouri for the future. 

Ring-Necked Pheasant

In the 2014-2015 season, 5,370 hunters took about 18,000 pheasant. This number represents a downward trend in ring-necked pheasant populations in Missouri. You’ll most likely find pheasant in northwest Missouri and parts of the northeast as well as on hunting preserves. 

The season opens November 1 and closes January 15 with a daily bag limit of 2 roosters. 

American Woodcock 

Beginning in mid-October, northern Missouri is the place to look for American woodcock. The numbers in the south improve into November as the woodcock migrate south. There are various conservation areas across Missouri to check out like Bushwhacker Lake, Duck Creek and Magnolia Hollow. 

The season opens October 15 and closes November 28 with a daily bag limit of 3. You are required to have a migratory hunting permit.

Dove, Rails, and Other Small Game Species to Hunt in Missouri

There are a few other species available for bird hunting in Missouri. The dove season begins September 1 and ends November 29 with a daily bag limit of 15. Sora and Virginia rails have a season from September 1 to November 9 with a generous daily bag limit of 25. 

Hunters can extend their season significantly by pursuing small game such as rabbits and squirrels. Rabbit hunting in Missouri is open from October 1 to February 15, while squirrel hunters enjoy a long season from May 23 to February 15.

Hunting License Requirements and Fees

As an alternative to the fees shown below, Missouri offers residents the opportunity to purchase lifetime small game or lifetime combination (hunting/fishing) license. Prices vary by age group.

Small game hunting permit$1094
Apprentice hunter authorization$10$10
Migratory bird hunting (in addition to small game)$6$6
*These license fees were last updated on August 25, 2020 and may not reflect any changes since that date. For the most up-to-date information visit the Missouri Department of Conservation

American Woodcock Society

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA)

Pheasants Forever

Quail Forever

Hunter Safety Course and Dog Training for Bird Hunting in Missouri 

Anyone born after 1966 must complete a hunter education course in order to purchase a hunting license for bird hunting in Missouri. Missouri residents who are at least 16 years old can complete the entire two step course online. You can take a class online for a $15 fee. Anyone at least 16 years old may enroll in the Apprentice Hunter Authorization for $10, which allows them to hunt without possessing a hunter education certificate. The program is good for one year. Additionally, the individual must follow the safety requirements which include being under the supervision of a licensed adult. 

You may train your dog for bird hunting in Missouri on conservation areas that allow for dog training. The dog training permit costs $20. Any pheasant, exotic partridge, or quail used must be legally obtained and captive-reared.

The bird hunting season dates, game bird species available, and other information is subject to change. The article may not reflect this. Please visit the Missouri Department of Conservation for the most up-to-date information on bird hunting in Missouri.

View Comment (1)
  • As a Missourian I have always been interested in quail & pheasant. Not to shot them but to look for the best way to preserve their numbers into the hundreds of thousands. Now I know that is clearly not going to happen with the current stock nor those organizations in charge of seeing their numbers climb. Two organizations that fell apparat then rebooted their alliance didn’t do anything different,kept the same people and continued doing the same thing. I have spoken to area landowners and they want something different and new that is unlike anything else. So I spoke with a friend of mine and we have decided to take our own money and raise the necessary funding to bring back the numbers of the days of our grandfathers. We both know we will probably be dead when the numbers do come back but we plan on doing away with chapters & associations all together. Basically as a new member,yo are in or out! All new members will be interviewed and will be required to purchase a three year membership at $300.00
    They will get a hat and that it! They will be required to own,rent or lease land and let only members have access to the land. The land will be required to use our mixture of seeds,buy certain trees an bushes. The land that uses our products will never be allowed into the CRP program nor burned or cut. If you would like to speak with an assistant,to may text a question at 654-9244

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