If small-game hunting — especially for quail and rabbit — interests you, put this Dent County area on your list.
This 2,044-acre area, purchased in 1988, gets its name from an old Native American trail running across the land’s southeast section. Under the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Cherokee were removed from their native lands in the southeastern United States and forcibly moved to Oklahoma. During this time, U.S. soldiers were put in charge of large groups of Cherokee to form detachments. Peter Hildebrand’s detachment of 1,766 Cherokees traveled through White River Trace in March 1839. They later rejoined the larger Trail of Tears route at Marshfield. The White River Trace later became a major route for settlers traveling west.
Today, White River Trace is a unique conservation area that offers visitors the opportunity to walk through the same tall grass prairie littered with woody cover. You may be surprised by the wildlife you see as you hike or hunt the area.
Department staff have completed a lot of hard work to restore the area to pre-settlement conditions, including open woodlands and nativewarm-season grasslands that were commonly found in Missouri. These grasslands and quality upland wildlife habitat are especially attractive to bobwhite quail and other grassland bird species, such as grasshopper sparrows and dickcissels. This type of habitat is uncommon on the Salem plateau, so the area provides a unique recreational and wildlife viewing opportunity for this part of the state. Area visitors often enjoy birdwatching and hiking on several miles of interior roads that are closed to vehicles.
Please note this area offers a shorter quail season — Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 — than the regular statewide season. Hunters in the area are required to fill out a free daily hunting card and return it to the area headquarters after each day’s hunt. This allows the Department to keep track of harvest and populations.
—Justin Gailey, area manager
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