Places to Go

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From Missouri Conservationist: October 2017

By Larry Archer

Southeast Region: Peck Ranch Conservation Area

More on the menu than just elk.

As the epicenter of the Department of Conservation’s elk restoration efforts, Peck Ranch Conservation Area’s signature feature dominates visitors’ time and attention.

“The most common use in October is elk viewing,” said Peck Ranch CA Manager Preston Mabry. Driving tours through the area’s refuge, especially when taken right after dawn and right before dusk, offer visitors the best — but not guaranteed — opportunity to view elk. The refuge is closed during parts of October for managed deer hunts, so a check of the department’s website when planning a trip could stave off disappointment.

But Peck Ranch, with its23,763 acres in the Ozarks region of south-central Missouri, has much more to offer in addition to elk. With four natural areas totaling more than 5,800 acres, access to 11 miles of the Ozark Trail, a viewing deck, and several viewing blinds, the opportunity exists for experiencing an abundance of nature.

The area’s combination of woodlands and glades also offers bountiful opportunities for bird watching. More than 50 species of birds have been documented in October at Peck Ranch, and it is included in the Great Missouri Birding Trail. Like a restaurant best known for its most popular dish, Peck Ranch CA has more on the menu than just elk.

Peck Ranch Conservation Area

Northwest Carter County and eastern Shannon County, northeast of Winona. From Winona, take Route H east 5 miles, then continue east on gravel 7 miles to the area in Carter County.

N37° 3’ 2.7216” | W91° 10’ 28.9776” 417-256-7161

What to do when you visit:

  • Archery and Firearm Ranges
  • Bird Watching: Included on the Great Missouri
  • Birding Trail, the area includes representatives of glade, woodland, and forest interior species.
  • Camping: There are five designated primitive camping areas, including three with disabled accessible privies.
  • Hiking: In addition to access to 11 miles of the Ozark Trail, the area includes a one-half mile nature trail.
  • Hunting: Deer (good) and turkey (good). Managed deer hunts are held within the wildlife refuge, but turkey hunting is only allowed outside the refuge. Deer and turkey regulations are subject to annual changes, so refer to the Spring Turkey and Fall Deer and Turkey booklets for current regulations.
  • Nature Viewing: Auto tour for elk viewing peaks in October. Check the department’s website for dates when the refuge is closed for managed deer hunts. The area also includes a viewing deck overlooking a beaver pond, three viewing blinds, and several open vistas.

What To Look For When You Visit

  • Northern harrier
  • Carolina wren
  • Eastern collared lizard
  • Lichen grasshopper

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