October 24, 2007
100 Best Public-Land Hunts: Missouri
By Scott Bestul
Lower Hamburg Bend Conservation Area
Location: northeast Missouri
Size: 2,265 acres
Catastrophic floods in 1993 and 1995 caused private landowners to sell out, creating new public lands along the Missouri River north and west of Columbia. Lower Hamburg Bend, in Atchison County near Hamburg, Iowa, is one of the larger ones. The thick stands of cottonwood and willow that have taken over these fertile bottomlands make deer less vulnerable to hunting pressure, and mature bucks are starting to feel at home in these relatively small areas. The challenge is finding them in the dense cover. "It's tough hunting," Hansen says, "but deer numbers are high and the potential is there for some good bucks."
Woodson K. Woods Memorial Conservation Area
Location: central Missouri
Size: 5,616 acres
One of the state's most scenic public lands, Woods is also among the best archery-only deer hunting areas. The Meramec River and Dry Fork Creek flow through rugged Ozark hills, which are about 80 percent oak-history forest, and the state-owned conservation area near St. James also features some open bottomlands and a generous amount of food plots. Hunting pressure is significant, but the prohibition on firearms hunting means plenty of good bucks remain for archers.