Fishing & Hunting in Jefferson County

Jefferson County Conservation Board, Fairfield, Iowa

Fishing & Hunting Areas

Fishing Areas (in Jefferson County)

Fishing is allowed in 7 areas managed by the Jefferson County Conservation Board -- Jefferson County Park, Mac Coon Access, Round Prairie Park, Zillman's Hickory Hills, Whitham Woods, Cedar Creek Timber, and Turkey Run Wildlife Area.

Jefferson County Park 227 acres Four ponds
Mac Coon Access 71 acres Stream, Skunk River
Round Prairie Park 101 acres Two ponds, one stream
Zillman's Hickory Hills 46 acres Two ponds
Whitham Woods 133 acres One pond
Cedar Creek Timber 275 acres Stream
Turkey-Run Wildlife Area 405 acres Stream

All of the rules and regulations of the Iowa State DNR apply. For instance, you must have a valid fishing license.

For complete information, go to - Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources Fishing Page


If there was a family of fish that was the monarch in any locality, then to Iowa anglers catfish would be "King". A poll on fishing in Iowa revealed that nearly one-third of our fishermen prefer to catch channel catfish and bullheads.

The Skunk River (photo below) provides river rats with miles of snag-filled holes that support not only channel catfish but giant flatheads as well.

Skunk River

Ten species of catfish inhabit Iowa waters.

These species include large catfish such as:
   ⚫  Channel catfish, flathead catfish and blue catfish, all of which often reach weights of over 20 pounds
   ⚫  The bullheads, including black, yellow and brown, which rarely exceed 4 pounds in weight
   ⚫  And four species of madtoms, which are the smallest of the catfish.

Catfish are easily identified by their smooth scale-less bodies, eight elongated fleshy barbels or "whiskers" about their mouth, and the strong, sharp spines that are located at the insertion of the dorsal and pectoral fins. It is believed that the spines are adapted as defensive structures in the catfish family.

A locking mechanism allows the fish to extend the spine outward when attacked or touched, making it hazardous for a predator to grasp it and nearly impossible to swallow. Madtoms and small bullheads have glands at the base of the spines that secrete a mild but painful venom when danger is threatened.

The barbels of catfish carry well-developed sensory organs which are used to transmit both touch and taste. Additional taste buds are found at other locations on the body.

It has been estimated that an adult bullhead has perhaps 100,000 nerve sensory sites on its body. All of the catfish are adapted to foraging in muddy and dark waters where feeding by senses is essential. (From Iowa DNR website.)


Hunting Areas (in Jefferson County)

Hunting is allowed in 5 areas managed by the JCCB: Mac Coon Access, Livingston Timber, Cedar Creek Timber, Turkey Run Wildlife Area, and Gantz-Hewett Timber.

Mac Coon Access 71 acres Deer, turkey, squirrels, rabbits
Livingston Timber 74 acres Deer, turkey, squirrels, rabbits
Cedar Creek Timber 275 acres Deer, turkey, squirrels
Turkey-Run Wildlife Area 405 acres Deer, turkey, squirrels, rabbits, upland game birds and waterfowl
Gantz-Hewett Timber 30 acres Deer, turkey, squirrels, rabbits, upland game birds

All of the rules and regulations of the Iowa State DNR apply. For instance, you must have a hunting license, and can hunt only during the stated season.

For complete information, go to - Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources Hunting Page


White tailed Deer

White-tailed deer were reported to be quite abundant when white settlers arrived in Iowa in the early 1800's. Uncontrolled exploitation for food and hides rapidly reduced deer numbers and by 1880 deer were rarely sighted in much of the state.

In 1898 the deer season was legally closed. By this time deer had been virtually eliminated from all of Iowa.

Reestablishment of deer into the state can be traced to escapes and releases from captive herds and translocation and natural immigration from deer herds in surrounding states. A conservative estimate of the population in 1936 placed statewide numbers at between 500 and 700 animals.

This small herd grew steadily. By 1950 deer were reported in most counties and the statewide estimate topped 10,000. Concentrations in some areas were beginning to cause problems by damaging agricultural crops.

In response to these problems the first modern deer season was held in December of 1953 and 4,000 deer were killed. Currently, the deer herd is estimated to be about 200,000 after the hunting season and harvests have approached 100,000 in recent years.

Careful management of deer populations by man has played a crucial role in allowing deer numbers to return to the levels enjoyed today. Management consists of carefully regulating the harvest since hunting provides the only major source of mortality for deer today.

Unchecked, Iowa's deer herd would double in as few as 3 years. With Iowa's abundant agricultural crops providing food, densities could potentially reach 100 or more deer per square mile before natural regulatory mechanisms would begin to affect deer health and slow the rate of growth.

Deer numbers this high would cause economic hardship to Iowa's landowners as well as alter the natural vegetative community. Maintaining a deer population in balance with the wants and needs of the people in the state is a difficult task, but hunting is the only viable management option to achieve this goal. (From Iowa DNR website)


Wild Turkey Restoration

Iowa's primitive oak-hickory forests covered nearly 7 million acres during the original land survey in 1859. Settlers' records indicate turkeys were associated with most of this timber.

Although turkeys may not have been as numerous in Iowa as in their primary range east of the Mississippi River, they were still plentiful. Unfortunately, wild turkeys were eliminated from Iowa by the early 1900's due to habitat loss and partly because of uncontrolled subsistence hunting.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) began experimenting with turkey restoration in 1920 using pen-reared birds. Releases were made over the next 18 years but all releases were uniform failures. By 1960 no known wild turkey populations existed in Iowa.

The first attempts at releasing transplanted wild turkeys were in the early 1960's. Rio Grande and Merriam's subspecies were released at several sites during the 1960's but ultimately their poor adaptation to Iowa's oak-hickory forest led to population failures for both subspecies.

The first release of Eastern wild turkeys was in 1966 in Lee County. The population response of these turkeys was phenomenal - survival of released birds, reproduction, and poult survival were all excellent. The success of this Eastern subspecies stocking led to an additional stocking that also proved successful.

By 1971 it was obvious that the Eastern subspecies was the turkey to use in future restoration attempts.

Since the initial 1966 release, 3,063 Eastern wild turkeys have been released at 220 sites at a stocking rate of approximately 3 adult gobblers and 10 hens per site. Nearly all sites are considered successful, and turkey populations have expanded across the state. (From Iowa DNR website.) (Photo by Julie Johnston - used with permission.)

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Mission Statement
Our mission is to enhance the quality of life in Jefferson County by acquiring, developing and managing public areas so that its citizens will have opportunities for quality outdoor recreation experiences, and to cultivate good land stewardship through natural history and environmental education activities.

Jefferson County Conservation Board, 2003 Libertyville Road, Fairfield, IA 52556
Call: 641-472-4421    Fax: 641-472-7911   E-mail:
Updated 1-5-17


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Fishing dock at Whitham Woods
Fishing dock at Whitham Woods
Fishing dock at Whitham Woods


Ashlyn Lisk and her catch at 6th grade Conservation Day.


Gray Squirrel.


Charity Trent with teacher Cory Klehm. It was her "first fish ever!".