Peck Ranch Refuge closed to spring turkey hunting

SUMMERSVILLE—Hunters who customarily use the refuge area at Peck Ranch Conservation Area (CA) will need to make alternate plans again this year, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).

MDC closed the refuge portion of Peck Ranch CA to public access, including spring turkey hunting, in 2011. The closure was designed to prevent possible disturbance of elk freshly arrived from Kentucky as part of MDC’s elk-restoration program. MDC reopened the area to public access in July 2011 after elk were released from holding pens.

This year’s closure is expected to follow the same pattern as a second group of elk arrives from Kentucky. Hunting will still be allowed on approximately 12,000 acres outside the marked refuge fence, according to Preston Mabry, area manager of Peck Ranch CA.

Mabry said newly restored elk at Peck Ranch are a continuation of the area’s rich tradition in species restoration. The refuge played a vital role in restoring the thundering gobble of the wild turkey to the Ozark hills. That gobble is now joined by the bugling of elk.

“Turkey season is a time we spend all year looking forward to,” said Mabry. “We certainly thank hunters for understanding and for doing their part to help create an area free of disturbance, so this second portion of the elk herd can become acclimated to their new home.”

Mabry said MDC wants to minimize human presence near the facility where elk are held for an acclimation period prior to release. He said hunters are welcome to hunt outside the refuge. Peck Ranch CA information and a map of the area are available at mdc.mo.gov/a5203, or at the Peck Ranch CA Headquarters. The fenced refuge area is clearly marked.

MDC established Peck Ranch CA in 1945 for wild-turkey management. For more than 30 years, MDC has used diverse management techniques, including prescribed fire and timber harvests, to maintain and restore natural communities there. This has created habitat for a wide range of native wildlife.

For more information, call the Peck Ranch CA headquarters, 573-323-4249, or visit mdc.mo.gov.