Hunters visiting the Lake of the Ozarks discover the woods and fields surrounding the Lake are filled with a wide variety of game. Throughout the year, hunters can pursue deer, turkey, squirrel, rabbit, dove, duck, geese and quail in the diverse terrain and on the waters at the Lake.
The two most popular species for hunters visiting the Lake are deer and turkey. The area has a growing population of both species which thrive in the nearby wooded areas and farmlands. During the spring turkey season, hunters call for a solitary bearded bird in the woods, while in the fall they have the best luck plucking a hen or jake from a flock of birds in the woods or fields.
A booming deer population includes plenty of trophy-size bucks. Locations containing open timber and scrub oak are prime spots to bag deer during both the bow and firearms seasons. If the lake area's woods produce a good corn crop, look for the deer in the thicker timber.
The woods are also loaded with gray and fox squirrels for hunters who enjoy tracking smaller game. The Lake area has plenty of hickory nut trees, which is a favorite dining place of the squirrel.
The farmlands and open fields circling the Lake contain good populations of rabbits and quail. Favorite areas for cottontails include milo fields near the edges of woods, briar patches, and draws along gravel roads or railroad tracks. Quail can be found in brush piles or brushy fence rows near open fields.
The first migratory birds to visit the Lake in the fall are doves. The best spots to find these birds are freshly cut grain fields or farm ponds with hedge trees nearby. When the weather turns cold and nasty, ducks and geese visit the lake in large numbers. Frequent flyers to the Lake area include mallards, wood ducks, gadwalls, greenwing teals, ringnecks, goldeneyes, Canada geese and snow geese.
Most hunting in the Lake of the Ozarks region is done on private land with permission of the landowner. There are also some hunting preserves and landowners who offer land-lease packages for hunting.
Public Hunting Areas
Fiery Forks State Forest
Toronto Springs Wildlife Area
The Saline Valley Wildlife Area
Carpenter Memorial Wildlife Area
Big Buffalo Creek Wildlife Area
Trail - ¼ mile (one way)
Overlooks near the castle provide views of Ha Ha Tonka Spring and the
Lake of the Ozarks. Mild terrain.
Trail - 2 miles
Starts by the castle and leads to open views of the lake and two old quarries.
Rim Trail - ½ mile (one way)
This wooden boardwalk begins near the water tower and descends a series
of steps to an overlook above the Whispering Dell Sinkhole. The step portion
of this trail is strenuous. The steps continue to the spring below.
Trail - ½ mile
Starts at the natural bridge parking lot. The trail winds under the natural
bridge and through a large sinkhole (the Colosseum). Moderate terrain.
Trail - 1 ½ miles
Starts at the spring/lake parking lot. One-way distance to the spring
is one-half mile, mostly paved. Wooden stairs lead above the spring bluff
to the old post office. The step portion of this trail is strenuous.
Trail - ¾ mile
Making a loop around the island and past the balanced rock, this trail
starts at the millrace (on the Spring Trail). Rugged terrain.
Ridge Trail - 1 ½ miles
Begins at the Spring Trail trail head. The trail passes through an area
of large lichen-covered boulders along a ridge. Moderate terrain.
Park at the lot east
of Hwy. D, between the park's castle and spring entrances for the following
Savanna Interpretive Trail - 450 feet
This is an accessible trail with four interpretive stops.
- ¾ mile
Prescribed burning helps maintain this open woodland. A brochure and eight
interpretive stops tell more about this savanna landscape. Moderate terrain.
Kitchen Trail - 1 mile
Visit unique geologic features, including Devil's Promenade. Rugged terrain.
Hollow Trail - 7 miles
Backpack camping is allowed on this trail that winds throughout the Ha
Ha Tonka Savanna Natural Area. Rugged terrain.
Location: Highway 54 in Central Missouri