Welcome to Bois D'Arc

Bois D'Arc Conservation Area, (pronounced Bo-dark) 10 miles west of Springfield, is named after the small town of Bois D'Arc and for the Osage orange trees that dominate the mostly open landscape. The Osage Indians used the sturdy limbs of these trees to make their bows; thus the French words bois d' arc, meaning "arc of wood." Other common local names for these trees are hedge apple, Bois D' Arc tree, bowwood and hedge. Some of the trees on the conservation area are more than 100 years old.

Originally, the Conservation Department bought Bois D'Arc Conservation Area to conduct bobwhite quail research. Bois D'Arc still provides optimum quail habitat, which also benefits many other wildlife species, especially cottontail rabbits. The area is not suited for pond construction, but there are a few small, shallow, fishless ponds. These serve as breeding areas for aquatic, salamanders and other wetland species, such as woodcock. These secluded ponds also attract waterfowl. A small deer herd, as well as some flocks of wild turkeys, also live on the area.

Bois D'Arc Conservation Area is surrounded by vast acres of fescue that support grazing beef herds, so quail are unable to "recruit" or exchange birds from surrounding farms. The quail that hatch on the area are just about all there is for the quail hunter during the November hunt.

Because the area easily could be "hunted out," quail, rabbit and dove hunters can hunt only until 1 p.m. daily. In addition, quail and dove hunters must check in and check out. Quail seasons usually are restricted to 30 or 45 days, depending upon quail survey information.

The long rabbit season is popular and includes special opportunities for disabled hunters. We have set aside almost 400 acres for use by rabbit hunters who have some type of physical limitation that prevents them from walking into the field. A permit allows these hunters access to this designated area with their vehicles. Vehicles still are restricted to access roads, but hunters seem to appreciate this privilege.

As with all conservation areas throughout the state, our management plan begins with the soil. A conservation plan for Bois D'Arc came from recommendations made by the local district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS. Local farmers share-crop suitable acres on the area under contracts that also benefit the local economy.

Contour strip-cropping practices reduce soil erosion and provide the habitat diversity attractive to quail, rabbits, marsh