We are blessed in Lawrence County to be close to nature and the wildlife that live in our woods, streams, and skies.
Deer and wild turkeys can be spotted on a drive through David Crockett State Park, located near the western city limits of Lawrenceburg. You can spy even more if you stop for a picnic, walk the park’s six miles of hiking trails, or take a spin on the paved bike path.
You can extend your stay at one of seven LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) cabins near Lake Lindsey, where a healthy flock of Canadian Geese are permanent residents. Be closer to the great outdoors at one of the park’s two RV campgrounds, or be part of it at a primitive campsite.
You can also get up-close-and-personal with a few creatures that can no longer live in the wild. The Park office is home to three snakes and two box turtles who are accustomed to people and petting. An aviary near the Park museum houses two Red-tailed Hawks and a Barred Owl. Visit the museum itself (admission is free) to learn about David Crockett’s life in Lawrence County and see two native Screech Owls.
Our county is crisscrossed with streams that are filled with fish and are a magnet for a variety of mammals and birds. You can share the water when you swim or wade in it, or get a great view of creek banks – and fish below – from a canoe or kayak. Shoal Creek Canoe Run in southwest Lawrence County offers rentals for as little as three hours or as long as four days.
The Buffalo River is designated a State Scenic River in Lawrence County. It begins near Henryville, and public access is located one mile east of that community on the Turnpike (Highway 240). Tennessee’s “Watchable Wildlife” website says 85 species of fish have been observed in the river and mammals including deer, beaver, and muskrat “abound on its banks.” Bird watchers can observe Double-crested Cormorant, Mallard, Wood Duck, and Belted Kingfisher. “Green Herons and Great Blue Herons are often flushed from its banks in spring and summer.”
Also featured at TNWatchableWildlife.org is Laurel Hill Wildlife Management Area, a 14,000-acre preserve managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The Natchez Trace Parkway crosses Lawrence County’s extreme northwest corner, and most of it lies within Laurel Hill WMA.
The website states that “Neotropical migratory bird species are common in summer, including Summer and Scarlet Tanager, Worm-eating Warbler, and Kentucky Warbler. Cerulean Warblers also nest here, one of the few locations in the western highland rim where they can still be found nesting. Loggerhead Shrikes are rare, but can be found nesting in the area. Great blue Heron, Eastern Bluebird, and Belted Kingfishers are regularly seen year-round.
“On Laurel Hill Lake, common Loons, Mallards, Gadwall, Wood Ducks, and Bufflehad can be abundant in winter. Wild Turkey, White-tailed Deer, squirrel, rabbit and other game species are abundant. Spring migration can yield a wide variety of migrant birds including Magnolia Warbler, Yellow Warbler, and Bay-breasted Warbler.”
Because Lawrence County is primarily rural, most of us share our backyards with wildlife of some sort. It is a gift to be so close to the natural world and the beautiful creatures that are part of it.
Photos by Tom Hill, OakRidge48@gmail.com