“It’s kind of like Dave always said, ‘if you build it, they will come.’” Robert Johnston recalls Private Land Conservationist Dave Knisley’s advice about creating habitat. Robert and his brother, Roger, “built” rabbit habitat on their property near Old Mines. With MDC guidance and cost-share assistance, they set back unbeneficial grasses, planted native warm-season grasses and food plots, cleared cedars and created brushpiles. Then the cottontails started popping up everywhere. So did the quail. Dave Knisley explained why this happened. “One of the keys is small, annually disturbed areas of habitat. That’s what it takes for rabbits, and the quail came along as an additional benefit.” Robert and Roger, who field trial beagles, especially appreciate having more rabbits on their place. “We run the dogs a lot, and we just love to listen to them run the rabbits.” For help building “rabbit-at” on your property, call your regional MDC office.
As you watch wildlife this winter, plan to boost their chances for survival next year by planting an annual food plot. Before planting, test your soil. The results will show the amount of lime and fertilizer required for good seed production. Plow the lime and fertilizer under, then disk the plot as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. For more information about soil testing, liming and fertilizing, call your local University of Missouri Extension office.
Winter is the time for planning gardens, crops and habitat improvements. While it’s good to dream big, it’s also important to turn plans into actions. Rather than try (and fail) to implement a big plan all at once, take one small step at a time. Look at your calendar and mark a day or two a month when you can give full attention to your project. Spray along your fencerows in the late fall to open up thatched grass, drop a few trees to create shrubby areas, disk up a food plot here and there, or just let some annual weeds come up. Do a little each year and soon you will have big improvements. Remember—think big, start small … just start!
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