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Published on: Dec. 28, 2010

cedar encroachment days. Eastern collared lizards can now be found on most glades on Peck Ranch and surrounding glades managed by The Nature Conservancy and National Park Service.

White-Tailed Deer and Peck Ranch

In a way, Missouri’s white-tailed deer could be considered nature’s botanists because they sample most any plant available. The more variety available, the better their foraging can be. They feed on tender vegetation and forage for nut crops, so they would “know” the plants better than any species. Management at Peck Ranch involves managing the variety of habitats in such a way that deer can take advantage of them all woodlands, glades and forests.

Peck Ranch also has forests with appropriate soils on northern slopes and in the bottoms. One of the natural areas, Golden Seal Natural Area, is a great example of Ozark forest habitat. Forests tend to have taller trees that require more moisture and an assemblage of trees and other plants that don’t survive the droughty glades and woodlands. Plants such as rattlesnake fern, may apples, and dogwoods love what these sites have to offer.

Peck Ranch supports a good deer population, according to Houf, partly because of the harvest of declining scarlet oak trees that allowed for the oak sprouts and the planted pine to regenerate for a healthier woodland community. Ample deer browse and cover are a benefit, he said, adding that one of the area’s management priorities is to not only provide early succession plants but also about 300 acres and growing of green browse supplement, which includes alfalfa, wheat, rye, ladino clover, red clover, crimson clover and orchard grass. According to Houf, it’s the habitat management that’s led to quality deer populations and quality deer hunts for the public.

“The management paths of the collared lizard, the wild turkey and the whitetail deer are one and the same,” Houf said. “As a wildlife biologist, I take the natural community management path. Using the axe and the match to maintain natural plant community diversity and integrity ensures that we’re keeping every cog and wheel for future generations to enjoy.”

The fact that Peck Ranch CA is loaded with wildlife is a direct result of the habitat. Plants unique to a glade, woodland and forest by themselves are good, but when laced together to make a landscape habitat like that at Peck Ranch, they become a perfect recipe for attracting and managing

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