Peabody ‘farmer’ growing affection for native wildlife

Everett Brooks has devoted his farm east of Peabody to nurturing the livestock of sportsmen: quail, pheasant, deer and most any other natural species that choose to make their home on his property.

Brooks began thinking about developing wildlife habitat as soon as he purchased his small farm about 14 years ago.

“I started as soon as I bought the farm,” Brooks said about his wildlife interests. “I started working into it at that time because I really wasn’t into the farming that much. I kind of set most of it aside for the game habitat.”

Brooks has put about 74 of his acres into the Conservation Reserve Program, 40 acres are in natural-grass pasture and 20 acres of tillable ground are leased to a nearby farmer for growing milo.

“I’ve just got two horses in the pasture,” Brooks said. “I keep it mainly for the game, too.”

Within the 74 acres of CRP ground, Brooks has developed three food plots. The area is bordered by several areas of trees and shrubs, including several different plum thickets. Last spring, the CRP field was enhanced with legume to increase its wildlife value.

“I actually started on it about 10 years ago,” Brooks said. “I started developing different areas and putting in food plots and getting a decent habitat for the birds and other animals. I just keep building on it as I go.”

For his efforts, Brooks was chosen for this year’s “Wildlife Habitat Award” by the Marion County Soil Conservation District.

An outdoors person since his youth, Brooks’ primary motivation for his avocation-his full-time job is at Hay & Forage in Hesston-is personal gratification.

“I enjoy seeing the game,” he said. “I enjoy hunting and watching the dogs work. I’ve got a couple of Brittanys that I hunt with. I just love the outdoors.”

In addition to working with developing the vegetation in his habitat, Brooks has also worked to enhance the game, too.

“I’ve bought and released birds (pheasant and quail) in order to get new blood into what birds I do have here,” he said. “So far, it seems like it’s worked pretty well. It seems like the coveys are healthy. This year, I didn’t have a lot of coveys, but what coveys I did have, the birds were real healthy.”

Brooks shares his hunter’s paradise with other sportsmen…to a point.

“I let others hunt here, but I usually just tell them if they want to go hunting, we’ll go hunting-if you know what I mean,” he said with a chuckle. “I love to hunt, too, so I’ll take them hunting, is what it amounts to. I do that with a few people every now and then.”

Brooks plans to further enhance his habitat areas in the coming year. One of projects on the drawing board is creating some watering holes for the animals.

“It’s not actually going to be ponds, but it will be water areas that will catch a certain amount of water every time it rains and then hold it for a while,” he said.

He also wants plant some grass along a small creek area that runs through the milo field.

“That will help erosion, plus it will give the animals some habitat there, too,” he said.

Though Brooks enjoys the challenge and rewards of hunting on his property, the real reward simply is being among the creatures of nature. On the day he was interviewed, he and his wife watched a deer licking a salt block in the pasture.

“I love to watch deer,” he said. “I just enjoy that kind of thing.”

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