Places to Go

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From Missouri Conservationist: September 2017

Northwest Region: J. Thad Ray Memorial Wildlife Area

By Larry Archer

Outdoor adventures to write about:

Thanks to author Mark Twain, most people associate the town of Hannibal and adventure with fugitive-hiding caves and rickety rafts floating the waters of the Mississippi River. Hannibal also offers another outdoor adventure — albeit not as harrowing — in the form of J. Thad Ray Memorial Wildlife Area (Ray MWA).

At 178 acres, Ray MWA is relatively small, but its location within the city limits of
Hannibal in northeast Missouri makes it a destination for residents who want to enjoy nature, said Kyle Monroe, area manager.

“It’s about a 50-50 mix of woods and open land, and we manage the land for small game and pollinators, so we do prescribed burning,” Monroe said. “The two main users are joggers and walkers, who use the mowed paths on the area, and archers.”

When they arrive this fall to begin practice for deer season, archers will find the area’s range updated with new targets, including ones designed for crossbows, which are now an approved method for harvesting deer during archery season. Donated to the state in 1971, Ray MWA wasn’t public land in Twain’s time, but it is available now for adventure for a new generation of Toms, Beckys, and Hucks.

J. Thad Ray Memorial Wildlife Area is located within the city limits of Hannibal. From the junction of Route W and U.S. Highway 61, take Route W west approximately 1 mile. N39° 43’ 44.75” | W91° 24’ 45.25” 573-248-2530

What to do when you visit

Archery Range

Includes a walking range with 10 targets and a static range with five targets. Open sunrise to sunset year-round.


Mowed paths available for hiking.

Spring Turkey and Fall Deer and Turkey

Hunting Deer (Good) and turkey (Fair). Deer and turkey regulations are subject to annual changes, so refer to the booklets for current regulations.

Nature Viewing

Open land consists of native warm-season grasses and wildflowers, which provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. “I am a runner and biker, so I love jogging around the trails and seeing the rabbits running around and the wildflowers that are coming in from our prescribed burn efforts.”
—Area Manager Kyle Monroe

What to look for when you visit

  • Eastern meadowlark
  • Raccoon
  • Western ratsnake

This Issue's Staff

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