Bushwhacker Lake Conservation Area

Driving Directions

From Brounaugh, take Highway 43 south 2.50 miles to Zodiac Road, then east 1 mile to the area.


This area contains prairie, forest, old fields, cropland, grassland and savanna. Facilities/features: boat ramp, primitive camping, three fishing jetties, fishing dock, Bushwhacker, and Willow lakes (196 acres total), and a permanent stream (Drywood Creek).

About This Area

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.

General Information




Owned by MDC

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bird Watching  This area has a good diversity of grassland birds including Dickcissels, Grasshopper Sparrows, Henslow Sparrows, and Short-eared Owls. Prairie Chickens have booming grounds on the west side of the area. Get the Audubon Society of Missouri Conservation Area Bird List.  
Camping - Individual Campsites   Camping is primitive with a privy available. No other amenities provided. Designated camping is allowed a two sites; adjacent to the boat ramp located on the west shore of Bushwhacker Lake, and adjacent to the southwest shore of Bushwhacker Lake. No generators are allowed at the southwest camping area.  
Field Trials with Special Use Permit  Beagle chase field trials only. Special Use Permit can be obtained from Wildlife Management Biologist 30 days prior to event.  
Fishing - Bass Good population.  
Fishing - Catfish Fair population.  
Fishing - Crappie Good population.  
Fishing - Other Fair population.  
Fishing - Sunfish Good population.  
Hiking  Hiking is allowed on the entire area. There are many mowed access trails that provide quality hiking opportunities. There is a 6.6 mile mowed horse/hiking trail located southeast of the lake.  
Horseback Riding  There is a 6.60 mile horse/hiking trail located southeast of the lake. The trail is closed to horseback riding during all Deer and Turkey hunting seasons (see Area Regulations for deer and turkey hunting dates).  
Hunting-Deer Good population. Deer regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Hunting-Dove Fair population. Though there are no fields actively managed for dove hunting, dove hunting opportunities exist on many of the crop fields currently cropped by permitee farmers. Statewide regulations apply. 
Hunting-Quail Good population. Managment activities including prescribed burning, edge feathering, patch-burn grazing, tree removal, grass/forb planting and grain crops throughout the area provide many acres of good quail habitat. 
Hunting-Rabbit Good population.  
Hunting-Squirrel Good population.  
Hunting-Turkey Good population. Turkey regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Spring Turkey or Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Hunting-Waterfowl-Open Hunting Fair population. Though there are no managed wetlands there are several ponds and the larger lakes that provide waterfowl habitat and hunting opportunities. 
Nature Viewing  Many portions of native prairie have a good plant diversity. Wildflowers are typically showy during late Spring to Early Summer. 

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Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Boat Ramp - Lake - Concrete   Bushwhacker Lake   
Camping Area - Individual Campsites   Camping is primitive in two locations with latrines available. No other amenities are available. No generators allowed at the southern camping area.   
Dock - Fishingaccessible  Floating dock is wheelchair accessible. 
Fishing Jetty/Platform    
Parking Lotaccessible 22  All parking areas are gravel.  

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Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Fishing Lake or Pond Bushwhacker Lake 157.00 acres Paved boat ramp, parking area, campground, latrines, and jetties adjacent to lake.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Willow Lake 29.00 acres Walk-in access only. Approximately 0.25 mile from parking area.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Wasp Pond 0.30 acres Walk-in access only. Approximatley 0.25 mile from parking area  
Fishing Lake or Pond Jump Shoot Pond 5.30 acres Walk-in access only. Approximatley 1/8 mile from parking area  
Fishing Lake or Pond Little Italy Pond 4.70 acres Walk-in access only. Approximatley 0.25 mile from parking area  
Non-Stocked Pond  7.00 acres There are several small ponds scattered throughout the area that provide various fishing opportunities. 
Stream - Intermittent  5.00 miles  
Stream - Permanent Little Drywood Creek 3.00 miles  

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Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Native Prairie 1508.00  
Savanna 270.00  
Old Field 859.00  
Crop Land 660.00  
Grassland (non-prairie) 440.00  
Lakes/Ponds 196.00  
Forest and Woodland 856.00  
Total Area Acres:4789.98 

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Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
Multi-use trail (Easy) Multi-Use (Hike/Horse) 6.60 

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Shooting Range General Information







Click Shooting Ranges for more information.

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