Ted Shanks Conservation Area

Driving Directions

From Hannibal, take Highway 79 south 17 miles, then Route TT east to the area.


This area contains about 4,000 acres of flooded wetlands. Facilities/features: lake boat ramp, stream boat ramp, waterfowl blinds, and two natural areas (Bur-Reed Slough and Oval Lake). There are also more than 500 acres of fishable water, including Horseshoe Lake (70 acres), Salt River, and the Mississippi River.

About This Area

This 6,705-acre area contains bottomland hardwood timber, open marsh, mixed shrub/scrub/emergent wetlands, row crop, oxbow lakes and sloughs, old fields, and upland woods. The area consists of 3,827 acres of MDC lands and 2,878 acres of lands managed under a cooperative agreement between the Conservation Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Pittman-Robertson funds from the federal excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition were used for 75% of the purchase cost of the original area. The area was acquired in 1970 to 1971.

Ted Shanks Conservation Area borders 8.75 miles of Mississippi River frontage, 4.75 miles of the Salt River and 2.25 miles of river bluffs.

Zebulon Pike charted the mouth of the Salt River in 1805. The area was a hunting and battle ground for Sac and Fox Indians from the north and the Osages from the south. The land was granted to Saucier in 1799 and in turn to his son-in-law's brother, Auguste Chouteau (one of the founders of St. Louis), then to Neree Valle (associated with the founding of Ste. Genevieve).

The area contains 35 miles of levees, two pump stations, nine miles of water canals and 45 water control structures. The area is divided into 19 management units.

General Information




Owned by MDC

  • Except for registered waterfowl and archery deer and turkey hunting, all hunting and fishing is closed from October 15 to the end of waterfowl season.
  • Use or possession of lead shot prohibited.

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bird Watching  Get the Audubon Society of Missouri Conservation Area Bird List. Designated an Important Bird Area by Audubon Missouri.  
Camping - Primitive Area  From the end of the area's waterfowl hunting season through October 14, camping is allowed in and adjacent to area parking lots. No camping along roadways. From October 15th to the end of the areas prescribed duck season camping is limited to the area adjacent to the visitor center. No amenities provided.  
Canoeing  The lower unit of the wetland area includes many miles of passage. This unit includes Threemile Ditch, Horseshoe Lake, Rainbow Lake, and the Salt Pits.  
Fishing - Bass Fair population. Fishing for smallmouth bass is good on the Salt River. Largemouth bass fishing is fair on Flag Lake, Horseshoe Lake, Rainbow Lake, the Salt Pits, and Threemile Ditch. 
Fishing - Catfish Good population. Opportunities are good for the Salt and Mississippi rivers and fair on Horseshoe Lake, Rainbow Lake, Flag Lake, the Salt Pits, and Threemile Ditch.  
Fishing - Crappie Fair population. The best opportunities exist on Horseshoe Lake, Flag Lake, Rainbow Lake, the Salt Pits, and Threemile Ditch. Some fish may also be caught on the Salt River. 
Fishing - Other Good population. Other species present include bowfin, common carp, and gar species. 
Fishing - Sunfish Good population. Best opportunities exist on Threemile Ditch, Rainbow Lake, Flag Lake, the Salt Pits, and Horseshoe Lake. 
Hunting-Deer Good population. See regulations.  
Hunting-Dove Fair population. Closed October 15th through the end of the prescribed duck season. Non-toxic shot required    
Hunting-Quail Fair population. Closed October 15th through the end of the prescribed duck season. Non-toxic shot required  
Hunting-Rabbit Fair population. Closed October 15th through the end of the prescribed duck season. Non-toxic shot required    
Hunting-Squirrel Fair population. Closed October 15th through the end of the prescribed duck season. Non-toxic shot required    
Hunting-Turkey Good population. Non Toxic Shot required - Firearms closed October 15 through the end of the prescribed duck season-Archery open Annual Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet and annual Spring Turkey Hunting Information booklet.  
Hunting-Waterfowl – Morning Draw Good population. Morning drawing used to allocate hunting opportunity during duck season.  

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Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Boat Ramp - Lake - Concrete Horsehoe Lake   
Boat Ramp - Lake - Other Threemile Ditch  A gravel boat ramp exists to access the lower wetland units. It is located at the upstream end of Threemile Ditch.  
Boat Ramp - Stream - ConcreteaccessibleSalt River  This ramp provides access to the Salt River.  
Hunting Blind - Waterfowlaccessible  Reservations can be made by calling (573)248-2530.  
Other Short trail  Trail is 0.3 mile in length.  
Parking Lotaccessible 21  Includes 2-Gravel Parking Lot with concrete pads.  
Visitor Centeraccessible  Open seasonally. 

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Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Designated Natural Area Bur-Reed Slough NA 20.00 acres Natural areas provides additional information.  
Designated Natural Area Oval Lake NA 20.00 acres Natural areas provides additional information.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Horseshoe Lake 70.00 acres  
Fishing Lake or Pond Flag Lake 40.00 acres  
Fishing Lake or Pond Rainbow Lake 10.00 acres  
Stream - Permanent Mississippi River 6.75 miles Special fishing regulations apply on the Mississippi River. 
Stream - Permanent Salt River 3.50 miles  

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Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Old Field 340.00  
Other 382.00  
Crop Land 1420.00  
Lakes/Ponds 505.00 Assorted oxbows and sloughs (fishable) 
Forest and Woodland 1212.00 mostly bottomland woodland-impacted by 1993 flood 
Total Area Acres:4025.52 

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Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
Hiking trail (Easy) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 0.30 

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Shooting Range General Information

This area has no shooting ranges.

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