Saturday, February 04, 2006 : infoZine Staff : Managed Hunts Offered Where Missouri's Turkey Saga Began By Jim Low Explore Missouri's turkey-hunting roots with a managed youth, archery or firearms hunt at Caney Mountain Conservation Area in Ozark County. Gainesville Mo. - Looking out over the rocky glades of Caney Mountain Conservation Area in Ozark County, or standing in one of its steep, silent hollows, it's easy to feel as if you have been transported back in time. The remote, untamed character that makes the area appealing to modern-day hunters also made it one of the last refuges for the wild turkey. Today, hunters can savor the area's history and the excitement of spring turkey hunting in a series of managed hunts sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation. When the Conservation Department began its turkey restoration program in the 1950s, it estimated the state's total wild turkey population at fewer than 2,500. Caney Mountain was one of the few places where the birds survived, so the agency made it a refuge. Once the local flock was large enough, biologists trapped Caney Mountain birds and used them to re-establish turkey populations in other areas. The program, along with conservative hunting regulations and strong citizen support, succeeded so well that Missouri now leads the nation in turkey harvest. Last year's combined spring and fall turkey harvests totaled more than 69,000 birds. This year's managed hunts include one for 10 hunters ages 6 to 15, another for up to 30 archers the first week of the spring turkey season and two more hunts for 30 archery or gun hunters each during each of the final two weeks of the spring turkey season. The application period is Feb. 14 through March 14. You can apply by calling (800) 829-2956 or online at mdc.mo.gov/cgi-bin/mgm-turkey/hunts.htm.