“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” This quote by Aldo Leopold, the father of American conservation, is a favorite of John Heckmann’s. John practices what Leopold preached. His 800 acres in Warren and Montgomery counties lie within the Missouri River Hills Conservation Opportunity Area. Conservation Opportunity Areas are places where landowners, agencies and nonprofits can work together to do the most good for Missouri’s wide variety of habitat types and native species. Although John is motivated to practice good conservation on his own, he also gets added help through various cost-share programs. To see if your property lies within a Conservation Opportunity Area, visit our online atlas.
When it comes to managing food plots, less is more—for you and for quail. Leaving half your food plot idle (undisked, unmown and unplanted) results in summer brood habitat. On small plots (less than one-quarter acre), idle the entire plot and disk every other year. Idle areas grow up in annuals that provide food and cover. Also, reducing your seeding rate by a third or half saves money and promotes “seedy” annuals—as good for quail as planted crops.
Prescribed fire can enhance your woodland and grassland habitat, but conducting a prescribed burn safely and effectively requires the proper training and equipment. After you have completed prescribed fire training, ask for torches, rakes, backpack water sprayers and other types of equipment at many county soil and water conservation district offices or your local Quail Unlimited, Pheasant and Quail Forever or National Wild Turkey Federation chapters. These sources may also offer seeding equipment, all-terrain vehicle sprayers and cultipackers. Equipment use is typically free or available for a nominal rental fee. Contact your local soil and water conservation district or your regional Conservation Department office to ask about local prescribed burn training workshops and to discover the kinds of equipment offered in your area.
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