Flash In The Pin

Published on: Nov. 1, 2011

In the last month we collected data in the timber at Duck Creek, Mingo and a few of our other forested conservation areas in Southeast Missouri. This information will help us monitor the decline and recruitment of various tree species within the timber. While I was out there, I saw something that caught my eye. Like mining for gold, I saw a flash in the pan, or in this case, a flash in the pin.

This year, pin oak seedlings were widely distributed throughout Duck Creek's and Mingo’s timbered units. In certain places, there were more than 500 seedlings within a 10-foot square area, creating a green carpet of tiny trees on the forest floor. Although the density of seedlings was not always this high, the presence of pin oak seedlings across the pools was fairly consistent. This was pretty atypical and exciting to see.

Widespread decline of bottomland hardwoods

Most bottomland hardwood forests in the United States today have a common problem. The forests that have red oaks like pin, willow or cherrybark oak in the overstory are aging and starting to decline. Most of the older trees at Duck Creek and Mingo are 80 to 100 years old and starting to fall out. Growing underneath them is a different forest community. Instead of another generation of oaks, the species coming up consist of maples, ash, elm and sweet gum. Having a diverse stand isn’t necessarily a problem, but when you are talking about a total shift in communities within the next 20 years, this raises an alarm.

Opportunity knocks

Having a good crop of pin oak seedlings gives us the opportunity to recruit these small trees and help them move from the forest floor, to the midstory and, finally, into the overstory. If you don’t have any seedlings, you don’t have anything to work with.

Red oaks are not shade-tolerant. They require light in canopy gaps to grow and mature. They are also slow-growing trees and may be temporarily out-competed by other fast-growing tree species. Our timber stand improvement work tries to provide the right conditions and reduce the competition so that these oaks have a better chance to make it to the forest canopy.

Management Actions

For example, this year along Thompson Ridge we treated trees in the midstory with a technique called “hack-and-squirt.” Species such as ash, elm, sweet gum and maple in the midstory were treated with herbicide so that more light can reach

Key Messages: 

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.


On December 1st, 2011 at 9:28am frank said:

Glad you had a good hunt.  We'll check into the boat.

On November 30th, 2011 at 9:26pm bandtaker1 said:

Another fantastic hunt at Duck Creek today. However I need to let you know the boat I used at the E blinds had a dangerous serious leak. The one with the pointed front end with a blue registration tag with the number 003801. Half Full of water by 10:30. I was lucky and had a bucket with me to bail it out. Might want to warn future hunters.

On November 30th, 2011 at 6:08pm JFox said:

Can't wait to get back from school and hunt duck creek again. This blog is awesome, they should do one for every managed waterfowl area. Kieth, Matt, Dennis, thanks for all you're doing!

On November 30th, 2011 at 9:24am MattB said:

Bandtaker1 we will attempt to fix the leak in field 1 later this week after the rain has stopped.  We appreciate you bringing it to our attention and we will get it fixed as soon as possible.  Those are only temporary rice levees and they are prone to fail during significant rain events.

On November 29th, 2011 at 9:08pm bandtaker1 said:

Is anyone going to attempt to fix the leak break in the rice levee on the back side of Field 1? It is about 2 foot wide. The photo of the field showed water covering the field. Now there is less than 5% of the field with water.

On November 14th, 2011 at 11:09am frank said:

We originally had our blog off of the MDC website.  In the last year, when the MDC website was renovated we made the jump to the current location to make sure MDC information was all in the same place.  Stilts Woods does not have a reliable water source and isn’t being considered for waterfowl hunting.  We’ve mentioned before that we do have plans for the old C blind in our next renovation stage. This would include reinforcing the levee and putting a water control structure that would be able to capture flood water out of Ditch 104. As far as when this will happen, we need to finish up what we’ve started first.

On November 13th, 2011 at 6:30pm Bandtaker1 said:

I would like to know why this blog site has moved 3 times now without warning or instructions to the new "comments" site location? Did not receive any info on whether Stilts Woods and the old Pool C were being considered for waterfowl hunting?

On November 9th, 2011 at 11:06am Matt Smith said:

Thanks Frank, I appreciate your work at Duck Creek. Its one of my favorite places to hunt. I spent many years helping Peter Blums band wood ducks at Mingo and DC. Any chance that you can talk Brunke into having an Otter Slough Update/Blog?

On November 9th, 2011 at 9:43am Anonymous said:

How did this rain affect pool 3 and 8 and dark cypress will there be any positions in unit a now, im sure there is water, sorry for so many questions at once just hopeing for a good season this year

On November 8th, 2011 at 8:08pm Darin Hudgens said:

Keep up the good work!! We hunted opening day in Pool 2 and seen a variety of oak trees that were loaded with acorns. Looks good and thanks for all you do!!
Shortened URL