The Missouri Department of Conservation received approval from the Missouri Conservation Commission to make changes for the spring turkey season and will be proposing changes for the fall archery and firearms turkey hunting seasons.
Spring shooting hours for private land only will be extended from a half-hour before sunrise to sunset. Shooting hours on public land will remain a half-hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. The changes will be effective for the Spring 2024 turkey season.
The proposed turkey changes to fall turkey hunting would require both fall firearms turkey hunters and fall archery turkey hunters to purchase a fall turkey-hunting permit. Turkeys would no longer be included in the archery-deer permit. The bag limit would be reduced from four to two birds. These proposed changes will be open for public comment from Feb. 2 through March 2, 2024, under Public Commenting Opportunities on the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website.
According to MDC, the primary motivation for the regulation changes is to increase opportunities during the spring season for youth hunters and hunters who work during the day and to reduce the fall harvest while maintaining as much opportunity for hunters as possible.
MDC noted that 93% of land in Missouri is privately owned and 88% of Missouri’s annual spring turkey harvest is done on private land. MDC added that maintaining shooting hours ending at 1 p.m. on conservation areas and other public lands would continue to support multiple afternoon activities by a variety of users on these areas.
The 1 p.m. closure during the spring season was originally seen decades ago as a way to help Missouri’s turkey population rebound from a few thousand birds to the several hundred thousand wild turkeys we have today.
The current fall turkey season allows hunters to harvest up to four birds of either sex without a beard requirement. The proposed changes will reduce the number to two birds of either sex.