Places to Go: Crooked River CA

By Larry Archer | September 1, 2023
From Missouri Conservationist: September 2023

Crooked River Conservation Area

A dove hunting destination

The story of the sunflower fields of Crooked River Conservation Area (CA) could be summed up with Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

Throughout the summer, the fields are at their bright, tall, showy best. By September, the fields have lost their beauty but can now fulfill their purpose — as feed for doves in preparation for dove season, said Wildlife Biologist Brian Gilbert. 

“For September, the dove opener is the biggest deal,” Gilbert said. “We do about 60 acres of sunflowers every year. It’s a very highly used area that first week of dove season.”

And while the sunflower fields are the attraction for many, they are only a small part of Crooked River CA’s 1,420 acres in Ray County, northeast of Kansas City.

For those not dove hunting, the area’s diverse habitats offer other outdoor options, he said.

“Based on the diversity of the area, there’s opportunity to see almost anything down there,” he said. “We’ve got a small wetland on the north end, there’s three miles of riparian corridor frontage along the Crooked River, and we’ve got really nice pollinator strips out in the crop fields.”

Crooked River CA

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner