Prairie and woodlands combine to offer diverse outdoor opportunities.
By Larry Archer
“It’s a really good time to walk out in the prairies on the western side of the area. June and July are the two showy times for the prairie plants. So you’re going to see tons of native grassland species.”
—Bushwhacker Lake Conservation Area Manager Nick Burrell
The peacefulness of a morning on the prairie of Bushwhacker Lake Conservation Area belies the violence of the struggle that spawned the area’s namesakes.
Named for the Civil War-era Confederate sympathizers who frequently battled both Union troops and pro- Union Jayhawkers from Kansas, this 4,790-acre conservation area’s diverse landscape in Vernon County offers visitors an equally diverse selection of outdoor opportunities.
“It’s kind of managed two ways,” said area manager Nick Burrell. “It’s managed for all the native prairies we have, and it’s also managed as an Ozark woodland. It’s got glades (dry, desertlike areas). It has shelter caves. It has bottomland along Little Dry Wood Creek. It’s got a little bit of everything.” For birders, the area’s 1,400 acres of prairie offer an array of grassland species, including prairie-chickens. The Audubon Society of Missouri lists as many as 43 species identified at the site.
A popular hunting spot, deer hunting is allowed by managed hunt only. Hunters can apply online this month to be included in the drawing. For more information, see the Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold or online at short.mdc.mo.gov/ ZZf. Additionally, the 157-acre Bushwhacker Lake offers good bass and crappie fishing.
Good diversity of grassland birds, including dickcissels, grasshopper sparrows, Henslow’s sparrows, and short-eared owls. Greater prairie-chickens have booming grounds on the west side of the area.
Individual campsites (primitive with a privy available). No other amenities provided.
Bass, catfish, crappie, sunfish
Allowed on the entire area. Many mowed access trails provide quality hiking opportunities.
A 6.6-mile horse/hiking trail is located southeast of the lake. The trail is closed to horseback riding during all deer and turkey hunting seasons.
No managed wetlands; several ponds and larger lakes provide waterfowl habitat and hunting opportunities. Nature Viewing Many portions of native prairie have a good plant diversity.
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber
Art Director - Cliff White
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler