In the early 1900s, homesteads throughout the Ozarks had areas where row crops, such as corn, were raised to feed families and livestock. Many of these homesteads were abandoned over the years - farmhouses fell into disrepair and once plowed fields were slowly lost to cedars, sumac and goldenrod. The old homestead along Indian Creek at the foot of Barnet Mountain in Shannon County is just one such farm that is getting a second life. Rather than a place to raise corn, this new life will provide habitat for wildlife. Not just deer and turkey, but songbirds, such as warblers, sparrows, grosbeaks, buntings, and flycatchers, will benefit equally. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has been working to improve wildlife habitat and increase recreational opportunities. Called the Knuckles Fields Restoration Project, the goal is to improve wildlife habitat, especially for edge and open land dwelling bird species. The resulting green browse food plot will provide food and cover for ground nesting birds and mammals and, if all goes well, elk from nearby Peck Ranch may even find this area and start calling it home!
Guided by 1930s photographs, the former field was cleared using bullhogs and dozers. The bullhog is a large attachment to a bobcat type tractor that grinds years of neglect and overgrowth into mulch. When the clearing phase is concluded, a mixture of clover, wheat and grasses will turn the fertile soil exposed by the bullhog into a green browse food plot, sure to be a white-tail favorite.
Missouri is a great place to hunt and fish. Providing green browse plots such as this, helps to keep our deer and turkey population happy and healthy. For the folks who want to just enjoy the great outdoors, the project area will provide a high quality environment for our furry and feathered friends, providing recreational opportunities for wildlife watching. Want more information? Contact yourMissouri Department of Conservation district forester or private lands conservationist.