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Trail Guide: Hike, Bike or Ride in “Ruff” Country

  • Area Name: Sugar Creek Conservation Area
  • Trails: Ironwood Trail, 2 miles; Multi-use trail, 10 miles
  • Unique features: Bike/horse trail, possibility of seeing ruffed grouse
  • For more information: Call (660) 785-2420 or visit our online atlas, key word "Sugar".

This 2,600-acre, mostly forested area 4 miles southwest of Kirksville offers a wide range of unusual recreational opportunities. It is one of a few areas in the state that were stocked with ruffed grouse in the 1980s and 1990s. These large relatives of bobwhite quail have not thrived in most areas where they were reintroduced, but small numbers may survive at Sugar Creek CA. Late March to early April is a good time to listen for male ruffed grouse drumming at dawn to attract mates. The area has a 10-mile trail complex that is open to bicyclists and horseback riders. Hikers can share this trail or enjoy the 2-mile Ironwood Trail, which is reserved exclusively for their use. An unstaffed shooting range has disabled-accessible 25-, 50- and 100-yard shooting positions and a shotgun range. The area also boasts good hunting for deer, turkey and squirrels and excellent birdwatching during the spring and fall migration periods.

KC Area Springs Into March

Learn about woodcock courtship and naturescaping.

Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center in Blue Springs has something for all ages and interests this month. A half-day workshop on “naturescaping” March 1 will cover gardening with native plants. The next day you can join Scouts for a litter pickup. Nature lovers age 8 and older can witness the aerial mating ritual of the American woodcock March 20, and those age 55 and older can learn about bird calls on a nature walk March 25. For more information about these and other nature center programs, call (816) 228-3766.

Tune Up for Turkey Season

A special patterning range at Bois D’Arc CA makes it easy.

Turkey hunting success depends on knowing the capability of shotgun, choke and ammunition. The only way to know the effective range of particular combinations is to “pattern” them on paper. The Andy Dalton Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center at Bois D’ Arc Conservation Area has a range just for this purpose. Shooters use 4-by-4-foot lengths of paper and test their guns and ammo at different distances. Looking at the spacing of shot holes reveals how long a shot you can take with certainty of a quick, clean kill. The $3 user fee includes targets and eye and hearing protection. The same price applies for use of other facilities, including the rifle and handgun ranges, target and 3-D archery ranges and trap and skeet fields. All are accessible to shooters with mobility impairments. Call (417) 742-4361.

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