Best Spots for Bowhunting Missouri Trophy Bucks

All-time total numbers of Pope & Young whitetails taken in Kansas.

Make no bones about it: There are a ton of bucks carrying massive bone in Missouri. And with over-the-counter licenses and a long archery season, the Show Me State can show hunters a thing or two about trophy bowhunting.

Last year, more than 140,000 bowhunters bagged in excess of 46,000 whitetails, so your odds of at least seeing deer are good in most areas of the state.

Many areas have produced a passel of trophy deer, too. Check out the Pope & Young records, and you'll see that far-western Jackson County has the most all-time entries (76), followed by St. Louis (75), Boone (73) and Callaway (60). But recently, the trend has shifted to the north, with the top trophy-growing areas all found "above" the Missouri River.


Persistence paid off for Darren Cottrell after he slung an arrow through this tremendous 196-inch Missouri brute in 2010. Photo courtesy of Realtree


In fact, most of the top counties of recent years actually border Iowa.

According to Missourian and deer biologist Dr. Grant Woods, the reason is simple.

"As you travel north, the soil quality gets better," says the host Growing Deer TV. "You have a lot of intensive agriculture, which gives deer plenty to eat."

Here's a little-known fact that has enormous ramifications on an area's trophy-growing potential: The more soybeans grown in an area, the more monster bucks it tends to produce. In fact, if you were to lay a U.S. map of the trophy buck hotspots over a map displaying areas with the most soybeans grown, the two line up perfectly!


What makes this important to our current discussion on Missouri trophy bucks? The stateĀ ranks sixth in the U.S for annual soybean production.


Of course, bucks need more than just ample food to grow big, heavy antlers. They also require time to mature, which is often up to hunters to provide.

"Implementation of antler point restrictions (at least four points on one antler) and increased hunter selectivity have made the mixed habitats comprised of rolling hills, row crops and hardwood forests very productive areas for producing bucks in older age-classes," explains Jason Sumners, deer biologist with Missouri Department of Conservation (MDOC).

Despite the apparent success of antler restrictions, this year it's been lifted in 14 counties, and the Columbia/Jefferson City Urban Zone has been eliminated.

As part of a joint research effort between MDOC and University of Missouri, hunters in several counties could see deer wearing GPS collars. Officials emphasize that they don't want the presence of a collar to influence a hunter's decision on whether or not to harvest the animal.

Chad Lathrop took this tremendous 168-inch bruiser in northern Missouri, a prime spot for bowhunting bucks in the Show-Me-State. Photo courtesy of Realtree

Bowhunters are also encouraged to record the number of deer, turkeys and furbearers they see while hunting. The information helps MDOC personnel set hunting regulations. While the main registration period for this survey has passed, you might still be able to send an email to Rachel.Boss@mdc.mo.gov with the subject line "Bowhunter Observation Survey" and get an observation survey sent to you. After the season is over, these are to be returned in a postage-paid envelope.

A 15-point, 188 5/8-inch buck taken by Eugene Bausch in Macon County in 2001 is the largest typical ever arrowed in the Show Me State.

In Pike County, bowhunter Randy Simonitch bagged the top non-typical, a 33-point, 269 7/8-inch beast that had been camped out in a 20-acre soybean field. In an incredible act of charity, Randy's neighbor called him when she spotted the buck in the bean field on an October morning. After about an hour of stalking, the archer arrowed the monster deer at 25 yards.

Check out the Big Buck Profile on the Randy Simonitch buck from NAW TV:

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Wyoming Whitetail Crossbow Hunt

Wyoming Whitetail Crossbow Hunt

Imported video NAW14-WyomingWhitDr. James Kroll and Gordon Whittington are in Eastern Wyoming hunting whitetails with their crossbows.etailCrossbowHunt.mp4

Deer Dog: Puppy Pitfalls

Deer Dog: Puppy Pitfalls

On this edition of "Deer Dog," Jeremy Moore explores the pitfalls of puppy training.

Alternative Season Whitetail Hunt

Alternative Season Whitetail Hunt

Mike Clerkin is hunting the alternative weapon whitetail season in Missouri with his S&W revolver.

Putting a New Spin on an Old Whitetail Hunt

Putting a New Spin on an Old Whitetail Hunt

Gordon Whittington returns home to Texas to relive one of his favorite deer hunts of all-time, and make new memories.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Here's a look at some of the new deer rifles from SHOT Show 2020! Guns

Best New Deer Hunting Rifles for 2020

Lynn Burkhead - January 29, 2020

Here's a look at some of the new deer rifles from SHOT Show 2020!

Just like humans, whitetail deer need a well-rounded diet throughout the year. During different seasons, the nutritional requirements of bucks, does and fawns will vary slightly, but all three need water, protein, energy (fats and carbohydrates), calcium, phosphorus, sodium and fiber. Land Management

Whitetail Nutrition Calendar: What Deer Eat and When

Matt Haun

Just like humans, whitetail deer need a well-rounded diet throughout the year. During...

Fill your quiver with the right ammo this season. Bowhunting

The Best Arrows for Deer Hunting

Tony J. Peterson - June 10, 2019

Fill your quiver with the right ammo this season.

Not figuring the correct range to the target is a common mistake. How-To

Bullet Drop & Range Estimation

Travis Faulkner

Not figuring the correct range to the target is a common mistake.

See More Trending Articles

More United States

Arkansas doesn't quite know where it is. Or, to put it more accurately, many people are unsure how United States

Where to Hunt in the South? Try Arkansas.

Gordon Whittington - January 27, 2017

Arkansas doesn't quite know where it is. Or, to put it more accurately, many people are unsure...

Ask most people what they think of when someone mentions Oklahoma, and the answer is likely to United States

Oklahoma Hunting Can Be Top Notch

Gordon Whittington - May 04, 2017

Ask most people what they think of when someone mentions Oklahoma, and the answer is likely to

Check out our expert's picks for the top 10 deer hunting destinations for 2018! United States

The 10 Best Deer Hunting Spots for 2018

Bob Humphrey

Check out our expert's picks for the top 10 deer hunting destinations for 2018!

If you're an Eastern bowhunter, chances are you long to sample the wild flavor of chasing big game United States

Backwoods Bowhunting in West Virginia

Gordon Whittington - July 11, 2017

If you're an Eastern bowhunter, chances are you long to sample the wild flavor of chasing big...

See More United States

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now