The Arcadia Valley Region and Black River Recreation Area are havens for the avid sportsman or woman. The diverse terrain of the St. Francois Mountains and Ozark Valleys are full of oak and hickory forests, flowing rivers, and numerous lakes and streams. This habitat diversity provides homes for a multitude of wildlife.
If you are looking to escape life in the suburbs or reconnect with nature, this is the place to scratch that itch. It will be easy for you to see why the fur and trapping industries played such an important role in the heritage of our region. The mountainous forest is a natural habitat for many native animals such as the bobcat, mink, raccoon and fox. In addition, the rivers, creeks and streams provide homes for many aquatic mammals including colonies of beavers, romps of otter and litters of muskrats. This wide variety of wildlife ensures that trappers in this area are able to participate in one of the oldest sports known to man.
For the firearm or bow hunting enthusiast, the wooded areas and thickets provide cover for nestled whitetail deer. Once discovered, the chatter of red and gray squirrels or the scream of a nearby blue jay or crow may reveal the hunter’s presence. Hunters rise before dawn and eagerly anticipate the first owl’s hoot, knowing the next sound will be the gobble of the wild turkey coming from its roost.
Big game hunters will have their dreams come true at the sight of a twelve-point buck or huge, tusked, wild boar. Small game hunters’ hearts will skip a beat when they discover a woodcock, grouse, dove or covey of quail startled into flight from nesting areas near the edge of the woods, around old abandoned barns, or in fields. The young and old alike await the first snow in anticipation of running the hound and stomping the brush piles for the hidden cottontail rabbit.
Hunting is basic to our nature and rewards the alert, patient, and self-restrained among us. It demands knowledge of wildlife and nature, along with skill and determination to be successful. This timeless activity provides many pleasures including life-long bonds with fellow hunters, the companionship of loyal hard-working dogs, and the earthy scent of linseed oil and decaying leaves. It’s also a great way to exercise.
We must all remember to respect the land. As children, we were taught to hunt only to put meat on the table and to bring back a piece of game for every bullet we took with us. We must all understand how important it is to respect and conserve our wild game and the habitats that support them. By following the rules and laws governing hunting in Missouri, we will ensure the survival of this rewarding activity for generations to come. For information, online permits, and designated seasons and limits in Missouri, please click here for guidelines from the Missouri Department of Conservation.
These scenic forested lands and the purity of the rivers and streams make this one of the most popular recreational areas in the state. Whether you are hunting with a Winchester or a Kodak you will not be disappointed. Please visit the Mark Twain National Forest page for the locations of hunting areas in our region.
by Melody James Gardner
For an atlas of public lands the Missouri Department of Conservation owns, leases or manages for public use in Reynolds County or Iron County click here. Search by County. For other Federal lands in our region please click here.
Veteran and novice fishermen may catch more than they planned in the Arcadia Valley Region and Black River Recreation Area of Missouri. Mother Nature has been very busy along the many lakes, ponds, winding rivers, and abundant Ozark streams. This area of rugged, untamed beauty teems with life including bear, deer and coyote. Ornithologists have counted over 120 species of birds including eagles and hawks. There is a wide array of flora and fauna with over 300 species of wildflowers for the angler to enjoy as he casts his lure or drowns a bobber.
The Black River provides scenic shut-ins, deep pools of clear water, and limestone bluff walls with natural rock out-croppings, which form beds for the most sought after “sport fish”, the smallmouth bass. Just east of the Black River the St. Francis River flows, offering the outdoor enthusiast several interesting challenges. These rivers are a pleasure for spin-cast anglers and fly fishermen alike. They provide a natural habitat for game fish like bass, crappie, walleye or muskie, and for non-game fish such as sunfish, carp, drum and gar. Mr. Whiskers and his scavenging cousins – the channel cats, blue cats, bullheads and flatheads – swim beside other “bottom feeders.” These strong fighters make the catch an event no angler will forget. Catfishing methods vary. Some sportsmen prefer floating the rivers, while others fish from the banks by pole and line, trout-line, throw-line, limb-line, bank-line, jug-line or noodling (a new take on fishing using only your hands—also called hogging).
Each gigging season, frogs and suckers go into hiding under the root wads of fallen trees. When entering a backwater pool or wetland, be prepared for a feeding heron or osprey to startle you while taking flight. These areas support a variety of plants and wildlife such as bullfrogs, green frogs, and the spot-handed and Ozark crayfish. They also provide a haven for reptiles and aquatic salamanders like the protected hellbender.
Taum Sauk, Shepherd Mountain, Council Bluff and Crane Lake are several of the area lakes that will entice the freshwater angler to get hooked on spending their day fishing for that elusive lunker. These surroundings provide a wonderful place for mentors to guide young ones in the art of fishing. With a simple cane pole, you can teach them to tie and bait a hook and watch them smile as they catch their first bluegill or sun perch.
There is more to fishing than just catching big fish. —Whether you have a few hours or a whole week’s vacation, it’s a great way to relax. Spend a quiet day in nature. Watch an eagle soar overhead, see a beaver colony build a dam downstream, or spot an arrowhead lying in the rocks on the beach. Fishing is a great way to spend time with family and friends, creating memories that will last a lifetime. There is a “honey hole” just waiting for your hook to hit the water. So pack the necessities–fishing license, hat, sunscreen—and of course, don’t forget the camera to capture everlasting proof of the highlights of your fishing adventures in our region. Of course, fishing is a favorite pastime on the entire Black River. See this page for detailed information on other fishing opportunities in our region.
by Melody James Gardner