During the Civil War, Kansas Jayhawkers ambushed local residents believed to be Confederate sympathizers. In retaliation, those men, known as bushwhackers, banded together and started their own guerilla war against the Union. The guerilla warfare soon spilled over into Missouri, and some fierce fighting took place along Little Dry Wood Creek.
Bushwhacker is an appropriate name for the conservation area that now covers 4,790 acres along the Vernon and Barton county lines. Little Dry Wood Creek runs through the eastern side of the area.
Historically, nearly the whole area was prairie, with timber only along Little Dry Wood Creek and its drainages. Before it became public land, much of the original prairie had been plowed and put into crops, or disced and seeded to fescue. The more than 1,400 acres of prairie remaining today are being restored through controlled grazing, herbicide treatment, and burning. About 120 acres of native hay meadows also remain and harbor the same plant communities that buffalo once grazed. Other wildlife, such as quail, rabbits, and deer, are common. Each fall and spring, hundreds of waterfowl use the area's lakes and ponds.
One of the drainages was dammed in 1982 to make 157-acre Bushwhacker Lake. This lake, along with a smaller lake and numerous ponds on the area, has been renovated and stocked with bass, bluegill, and channel catfish.
During your visit to Bushwhacker Lake Conservation Area, you may observe various wildlife management, research, and soil conservation activities. Sharecrop agreements with local farmers help provide food for wildlife. Trees and shrubs are planted along the boundaries, and clumps of shrubs will be planted in the open fields to provide cover for quail and other wildlife. Native warm-season grasses and prairie forbs, wheat and lespedeza are being planted in strips. Any physical disturbance is only temporary.
DEER HUNTING IS ONLY ALLOWED THROUGH THE MDC MANAGED DEER HUNT SYSTEM, if you are interested in deer hunting this area please consult the annual Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Booklet each year. Applications to deer hunt this area are made each July. There are archery, youth and muzzleloader hunts offered through this managed hunt system. This deer hunt is designed to provide a high quality hunt including good numbers of deer as well as the high potential for older age class trophy bucks.
Trapping is allowed by Special Use Permit.