OUTDOORS: Missouri elk, bear hunting seasons set

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor 

The dates and regulations for Missouri’s first-ever black bear hunting season and a second elk season have been approved by the Missouri Conservation Commission.

Both species were thought to be extirpated (wiped out) back before there were any regulated hunting seasons, but actually a remnant population of bears remained, which has finally grown large enough to permit limited hunting. There are about 600 black bears now living in Missouri, with their population growing about 9% a year.

Elk really had totally disappeared, but have been brought back with elk brought in from Kentucky.

The 2021 bear-hunting season will be Oct. 18-27 and will be limited to areas in southern Missouri where almost all of our bears are now found.

Almost all of our bear population is now south of the Missouri River, primarily south of I-44. Three bear management zones (BMZs) have been established in this area and harvest quotas established for each zone. Numbers of permits for each zone have also been established, with BMZ-1 allowing 200 permits with a harvest quota number of 20 bears, BMZ-2 allowing 150 permits and a harvest of 15 bears, and BMZ-3 only 50 permits and a harvest of five bears.

Missouri residents may apply for a permit during May, with a $10 fee for applying. Permit selection will occur by July 1 through random drawing. If selected to receive a permit, the applicant then must pay another $25 to purchase it.

Each permit can only be used in a specific zone. The harvest limit will be one bear per permit, subject to the zone’s quota. Only lone black bears may be taken.

Hunters will be allowed to use both archery and firearms, but baiting and the use of dogs will not be allowed. Bear hunters must wear hunter orange and must call the state conservation department each day before they intend to hunt to determine if their zone’s quota has been reached.

If harvest quotas are not reached, the bear season will close at the end of the 10 designated days (Oct. 27).

Last year’s first-ever Missouri elk season was an outstanding success, with all five permit holders taking a bull elk.

This year’s elk season will be the same time frame and regulations as last year’s, with a 9-days archery season Oct. 16-24 and a 9-days firearms season Dec. 11-19.

Missouri residents may apply for an elk tag in May, with a random drawing July l selecting five lucky applicants. It will cost $10 to apply and, if selected, the permits are another $50. There will be one permit reserved for a qualifying landowner with 20 or more acres in Carter, Reynolds, or Shannon counties.

Missouri’s annual youth turkey season is this weekend with the regular season opening April 19.

Better be scouting this coming week as the conservation department has forecast another “challenging” season and big gobblers may be hard to find. Better have some located before a week from Monday!

For clay target shooting fun, the Trenton Trap and Skeet Club will begin its 10-weeks spring-summer league this coming Thursday, April 15. They still have room for more shooters, so if you’d like some summer shooting fun, give Dick Thompson a call at 660-359-1964, and he’ll get you on a team.

(Bill Wehrle’s “Outdoors” column appears in the C-T every Saturday)