Change has been an inevitable occurrence in 2020. COVID-19 has changed lives, businesses, events, and countless other areas. Hunting and fishing in the state of Missouri are no different. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has worked hard to overcome these challenges over the past year.
Each spring, recreationists flock to Missouri’s lakes, streams, and fishing ponds. Pre-spawn fishing and spring turkey hunting mark the start of a new-year for Missouri outdoor enthusiasts.
The MDC recognized these difficult times and waived the need for fishing permits and trout stamps for much of March and April. This encouraged families to take advantage of the spring weather and enjoy fishing without the cost of a yearly fishing license. During this time, I spoke with several families who took their kids fishing for the first time and found a new way to get outside.
Changes will continue this fall as deer and waterfowl hunters alike will see changes during their season. In years past, deer hunters in select counties had been required to check their harvest at MDC sampling areas to gather data in at-risk chronic wasting disease (CWD) areas.
This fall, these sampling areas will remain open. However, the previously mandated sampling will be voluntary during the 2020 deer season. Deer hunters will have the option to check their deer at various locations around the state and are still highly encouraged to do so. More info on sampling stations can be found here: MDC Sampling.
Missouri’s highly-trafficked and managed waterfowl hunting areas will also experience change during the 2020-2021 season. The typical early-season reservation system was canceled along with all youth season drawing for hunting positions. Managed hunt circumstances will be decided on an area-by-area basis this fall/winter. The MDC has created guidelines for these areas depending on the COVID-19 severity in that specific area. Some areas will operate as normal (with social distancing in place), and some areas will be reliant 100% on the weekly online drawing process. Specific information on these areas can be found here: Procedural Levels for Waterfowl Managed Hunts.
As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Missouri hunters will still enjoy their favorite time of the year as always. While things are different this year, it is more important than ever to take advantage of the outdoors and to do so in a fun and safe way!