Most pressing at this time of year is the new requirement for qualifying landowners to register their properties so they can qualify for free hunting permits.
Starting this year, resident landowners with 20 or more acres and non-residents with 75 or more acres must submit information that identifies their property boundaries and the family members who live on the property to qualify for free permits. Registration must be completed in time for spring turkey hunting seasons for those who wish to participate.
The change increases the required size of properties that qualify for free permits. In the past landowners with as few as five acres were eligible. Now the minimum size is 20 acres, and those who own between five and 19 acres do not need to register.
However, those landowners are required to purchase hunting permits for deer and turkey hunting seasons, but may hunt small game, fish and trap on their properties at no charge.
Property registration can take place online at mdc.mo.gov/landownerpermits. You can request a paper application by calling 573-522-0107 or by mail to Missouri Department of Conservation, Permit Services, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102.
Those who choose to use the paper application must complete the forms at least 60 days before the opening day of the season.
Apply for managed turkey hunts this month
February is the month to apply for spring managed turkey hunts through the state Conservation Department. The nearest opportunities for Jefferson County hunters of any age can participate in eight different hunts at the August A. Busch and Weldon Spring conservation areas in St. Charles County.
In each of the hunts, 40 hunters are selected for one of four, four-day hunts at each location. Odds of being selected for each hunt is based on the number of applicants this year, but the schedule of hunts on the registration page shows the success rate from applications last year. The hunts later in the season and the ones at Weldon Spring offered better chances for selection.
Thirty hunters ages 11 through 15 will have a chance to hunt at the Busch and Weldon Spring areas for the youth weekend of turkey hunting season on April 4-5. About half of the hunters who applied at Busch were picked last year, and all who asked for the chance at Weldon Spring had their names drawn.
The online application window closes on Feb. 29, and results will be posted by March 15 on the agency’s website.
Waterfowl workshops seek hunter input
The Conservation Department is holding meetings statewide seeking opinions from waterfowl hunters about weather, habitat, harvest totals, season dates and zone preferences. The information will be used to establish hunting dates and zones from 2021 through 2025.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gives states the opportunity to change the number and location of duck zones every five years,” said state resource scientist Doreen Mengel. “We are holding these meetings to get hunter input.”
The closest meetings for Jefferson County duck and geese hunters are in Cape Girardeau at the Drury Plaza Hotel on Feb. 12 and on March 4 at Wapelhorst Park in St. Charles. The waterfowl workshops are scheduled from 7-9 p.m. each night.
John J. Winkelman is community engagement manager at Mercy Hospital Jefferson. If you have news for the Leader’s Outdoor News page, e-mail email@example.com and you can follow John on Twitter at @johnjwink99.