Hunting & Fishing
Ask anybody in the Ozarks, and they’ll tell you that hunting is a part of life in southwest Missouri. Families have long traditions of gathering at hunting cabins for quiet weekends in the woods spent hunting, cooking and just being together. But if you aren’t already a hunter, it can be hard to know how to start. Luckily, there are plenty of resources in southwest Missouri—guided hunts, fly fishing lessons and more—that can be your first step into your new favorite past time.
Regardless of what kind of hunting your interested in, you’re likely going to need some gear to get you started. And because it was founded in Springfield, MO, why not start at Bass Pro Shops? The store is an outdoors wonderland—with live fish to boot.
A fews years back, we sent a writer to try bird hunting for the first time, and her research took her to Flying Feathers Game Bird Hunting in Lockwood. And the experience ended up being amazing. The team at Flying Feathers guide guests through the day, so it’s just as handy for beginners as it is for seasoned pros. The business even raises and trains bird dogs (gorgeous Irish setters and German shorthair pointers) who come along on the hunt to assist on half-day or full-day hunts for quail, chukar or pheasant. There are a handful of package options, some of which include meals.
Another option for an upscale hunting experience if you don’t have land of your own is The Hunting Grounds based in Willow Springs. There, the hunts focus on whitetail deer, red stag and elk. Other perks are comfortable lodging options with kitchens and an on-site chef, all situated on beautiful Ozarks land filled with woods, streams and wildlife. If you’re up for some travel, they also have packages for mule deer hunting in Utah.
Make sure you’ve acquired any necessary hunting or fishing permits from the Missouri Department of Conservation. In some cases you’ll need hunter education as well. You can find details for how to get permits and sign up for hunter education courses on the MDC website, which is a treasure trove of hunting information. It breaks down the dates of different local hunting seasons, lists state regulations or restrictions, connects you to supplemental hunting skills classes and even provides a pretty huge resource full of wild game recipes.
Fly fishing is another past time that’s especially lovely in the Ozarks, where crystal clear spring-fed rivers are home to beautifully speckled rainbow trout. River of Life Farm, known for its treehouse cabins perched along the riverbank, sits right beside the North Fork of the White River. Unlike some other waterways that are stocked with trout thanks to fish hatcheries, the North Fork features a wildly produced supply of rainbow trout that love the river’s chilly waters. ROLF is actually situated along the river’s Blue Ribbon Trout Area—a rating given by the state that indicates a high quality fishing stream. That area is known for having plenty of rainbow trout and even some brown trout. River of Life Farm is a handy place to start if you’re new to fly fishing because they offer guide services with an experienced angler and a lunch on the shore—plus fly rods, tackle and waders available for rent.