Pheasant hunting, ice fishing, and more.
By Larry Archer
At the turn of the 20th century, northwest Missouri’s 5,100-acre Bilby Ranch Lake Conservation Area (CA) was part of one of the nation’s largest livestock operations. When purchased by MDC in 1987, the area was primarily row crops. It now boasts a different distinction.
“It is probably the premiere pheasant hunting destination in Missouri,” said Bilby Ranch Lake CA Manager Craig Crisler. “If you’re an upland bird hunter, it’s a place you’ve got to go at least once.”
Not only is the area a destination for upland bird hunting, its ample grasslands make it an ideal spot for birdwatching as well, Crisler said.
“You’ll see birds there that you don’t typically see a lot of in Missouri, except for the western part of the state around some of the bigger grasslands,” he said.
In addition to the 110-acre lake that gives the area its name, 17 smaller ponds dot the landscape, providing additional year-round fishing opportunities, he said.
“Since they are ponds, they freeze up pretty readily,” Crisler said. “So, it’s not uncommon to go by one of the ponds this time of year and there will probably be a lot of people ice fishing.”
“If you were blindfolded and dropped in there, you’d think you were somewhere in western Kansas, Nebraska, or the Dakotas.”
—Bilby Ranch Lake CA Manager Craig Crisler
Bilby Ranch Lake Conservation Area consists of 5,110 acres in Nodaway County.
From Maryville, take Highway 46 west 14 miles to the area. short.mdc.mo.gov/ZAa 816-271-3100
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Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
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