This aptly named Lewis County area offers fantastic deer hunting as well as fishing, hiking, and bird-watching.
Before white-tailed deer and wild turkeys had a chance to repopulate Missouri, the people of Lewis County saw the need for conservation. Through land deeds and strong local support, they helped the Conservation Department put Deer Ridge Conservation Area on the map. Today, Deer Ridge encompasses nearly 7,000 acres and boasts over 10 miles of stream frontage, hundreds of oak woodland hills, food plots, the James B. Jenkins shooting range, 225 acres of wetlands, primitive campsites, and a 48-acre lake that provides excellent panfish, like sunfish and crappie.
Efforts to actively manage the woodland ecosystems on the area began about 10 years ago when the deer population on Deer Ridge dipped to fewer than 100. At that time, the odds of seeing a deer were slim. Woodland management activities include tree-thinning projects and prescribed burning. In fact, nearly 1,000 acres of woodland are in rotation for prescribed burning every two to three years. These burns open up the canopy and encourage the growth of woodland grasses and plants, which provide an extra food source for deer in late spring and summer and contribute to improved nutrition and overall health.
The results of this management have been beneficial for many wildlife species, especially deer. The deer population jumped to 400 with a density of approximately 30-40 deer per square mile.
The area offers good browse, escape cover, and abundant acorns from multiple species of oak. Now, true to its name, the area is a deer paradise. Hunters who are accustomed to the natural patterns of deer movement and are up to the challenge will find Deer Ridge an enjoyable place to visit for their next archery or rifle hunt.
Other hunting opportunities on the area include dove, rabbit, squirrel, and turkey, and open waterfowl hunting in the wetland, depending on fall precipitation.
A great diversity of habitats makes for great birding, with 119 total species recorded for the area. For a birding checklist for the area, visit mobirds.org/CACHE/AreaChecklist.aspx?site=542.
—Jason Jacobson, area manager
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
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