Is your wildlife population getting the best natural food during the warmer months? Hopefully you have provided good winter forage for your deer population and summer browse and forage is beginning to emerge. Antler development is beginning, and a healthy buck will certainly grow a better rack. All wildlife species will thrive with proper management of high value browse and food supplements.
What Limits Deer Browse and Food?
Natural woodlands habitat comes in many shapes and forms. A forest that is unmanaged will certainly have many species of wildlife. Timber will also grow and often times quite well. You can certainly still enjoy your land and have great recreational value. However, you are probably not realizing the maximum benefit from your investment. This applies to timber income production and quantity and quality of wildlife.
Managing your forest significantly improves growth, quality and quantity of your timber and wildlife. A stand of timber that has a closed canopy of timber shades the forest floor. Sunlight is essential for the many varieties of forbs, legumes and wildflowers to thrive. All wildlife utilize these as natural browse and habitat.
The proper mix of the right varieties will greatly enhance your forest ecosystem and your forest will become alive with activity. With a more open canopy and more sunlight on the forest floor, you will notice more forage for deer to browse. Over time, you should begin to see an increase in antler development, body weight and a whole host of additional benefits for the wildlife population.
Management Tools to Enhance Natural Browse
Simply managing your forest for timber production does provide some benefit to wildlife. Slightly tweaking forest managing to emphasize wildlife can enhances your deer population. We can even manage timber in a manner to target certain wildlife species.
Many of our clients want timber income while maximizing deer and other wildlife potential for recreation on their property. Our goal is to understand the landowner’s goals and tailor a specific plan to accomplish just that. Depending on goals, there are many tools, applications and techniques we can use to achieve the landowner’s goals.
Management Tools, Applications and Techniques for Natural food & Habitat
- Timber Thinning and Clear-cutting
- Irregular shape harvest blocks, block size and staggered harvest blocks
- Prescribed burns
- Chemical applications to control targeted vegetation
- Application of various seed and food source
- Disking/harrowing of targeted areas at appropriate time of year
- Planting mast producing trees. A variety of oaks and fruit trees are recommended.
- Grassy openings left un-mowed and natural until early fall.
The above tools are utilized in achieving desired outcomes and goals. Strategic placement of game patches, fruit and mast producing trees, harvest and burns all play a role in available summer food sources for deer browsing.
I am also a great believer in a great road system. Good roads enhance timber sales, access for recreation and enjoyment, provide openings for wildlife, firebreaks and a whole host of positive features to improve the land and the landowner experience. Every property is different and will require its own special prescriptions and plans. Many of these things can be implemented by the landowner and are not expensive.
All this is part of being a good steward of the land and, for me, provides great satisfaction and enjoyment. We would encourage you to get out on your land and try these ideas to enhance your property at whatever level you feel comfortable. Enjoy your land, manage your timber, deer and other wildlife and be a great steward!
Pictures in this Aticle were provided by Quality Deer Management Association. QDMA is a huge resource for managing deer and other wildlife on your proeprty. We encorage you to follow the link and take advantage of this great resource.