Bringing Back the Memories
Dr. Mark Costley grew up in the small Southwest Missouri town of Monett. He attended high school there and was part of a state championship football team in 1971. After high school he left for Columbia, Mo., to attend the University of Missouri. After graduating medical school at Mizzou and completing his residency at Duke in North Carolina, he found himself, along with his wife Terre, back in that same small Southwest Missouri town beginning a new practice as a family M.D.
Mark would tell you that Monett hasn’t changed a great deal, while it has grown larger and offers a few more amenities and attractions than it did when he was a kid; the one thing that has changed is the quail hunting that he and his dad once enjoyed. Much like the rest of Southwest Missouri, the landscape has changed. Urban sprawl has played a factor; the growing cow/calf numbers in Lawrence County and fescue, the forage base of choice for many Southwest Missouri producers, have played a part. Mark decided he would like to have some of those good memories back. He wanted to see and hear more bobwhites on his place.
His farm is 180 acres of mixed pastures, hay lands, old fields and woodlands, pretty indicative of the area. As a practicing family physician, work is time-consuming and sometimes stressful, so the farm has become a place of stress relief and recreation. Dr. Costley and his family find the acreage to be a place of solitude where they garden, hunt and recreate throughout the year. While it is a working farm, he has the operation under lease with a local producer who is in the beef cattle business raising registered Angus cattle. The operation is an income source, but the cattle have become a tool for Mark to use in managing the farm for bobwhite habitat. Mark and I began our discussion back in 2003 looking at the steps that might be taken to bring the quail back. As far as he knew, he thought he had one covey. This was based on the fact he generally heard a bird or two whistling in the spring and summer and sometimes saw a pair or two, but often they were nowhere to be found in the fall. After developing a plan he began the process. He applied for and was successful in securing LAP funds through MDC in