Central Kentucky hunters have a new place to visit. The Dix River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), located in Lincoln County near Crab Orchard, offers 401 acres of bottomland to explore.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources acquired the property in January from local resident James Spurlin. “It’s a unique property, being a bottomland along the Dix River,” said Southeast Regional Wildlife Coordinator Brian Gray. “You almost have to get a topographical map out to appreciate it. All 401 acres are flat. Everything else around it is uplands and rolling hills.”
Dix River WMA was a working farm until recently. Around 270 acres of the property was used for soybeans and other crops. There’s also 100 acres of 10 to 15-year-old sweet gums, maples, ash, hickory and oaks large enough to hang a tree stand.
Fish and Wildlife commissioners will decide in March whether to accept the Wildlife Division’s recommendation to open the property to hunting under statewide regulations, with the exception that only bows will be allowed during the modern gun season. Sixth District Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Frank Brown, who spearheaded efforts to acquire the property, said Dix WMA opens a new opportunity for hunters in central Kentucky.
Gray said the area currently offers some opportunities for deer and turkey. Birdwatchers will be interested in the property, too, because the overgrown fields offer plenty of food and cover. “It should be a pretty good birding spot because the fields are fallow,” Gray said. “It also should be pretty good small game habitat for the next 10 to 15 years.”
Plans for the area are still being developed, but will likely include planting hundreds of oaks, hickories and a variety of hardwoods. Softwoods such as maple and green ash will be allowed to reseed naturally.
The type of soil found on the property indicates it was once a wetland. “We suspect the whole place has been tiled, that someone put drain tiles underneath the surface to get the water off of it,” Gray said.
Work could include plugging drain tiles or removing them to restore the area’s natural hydrology. Gray noted waterfowl now use the Dix River, ponds at the nearby Crab Orchard water treatment plant, and Cedar Creek Lake, which is located approximately 1½ miles away.
Kentucky’s new wildlife management area is bounded to the north by Dix River and to the south by Mudlick Branch, a former oxbow of the river. Unfortunately for anglers, the Dix River at this area is ankle-deep in the summer with a few deeper pools scattered throughout the two-mile segment that borders the WMA. White bass runs from Herrington Lake do not reach this section.
How to get there
From Lexington, take U.S. 27 south to Lancaster. Turn south on KY 39 toward Crab Orchard. At KY 3246 (Fall Lick Road), continue on KY 39 and the property is less than a half mile to the left. Or turn left onto KY 3246, and the property is less than a half mile to the right.
- Dave Baker