Forest Management to Improve Hunting
Believe it or not, forest management plays a key role in the productivity of your hunting activities. Making timber stand improvements, such as thinning could greatly increase the wildlife activity in your forest on your land. When a timber stand has a closed canopy, meaning the tops of the trees are all touching each other, sunlight can't get through to the forest floor. This stunts or completely disallows growth of vegetation necessary to provide food, cover and nesting areas for deer, turkey and more. All wildlife, including bugs, birds and snakes play a role in increasing wildlife activity for hunting and if you have a lack of vegetation - you won't have much for deer, turkey or any other species.
So what timber stand improvements can you make to promote growth of vegetation and increase the wildlife population? Firstly, take some "before" pictures or video so you can accurately measure your progress. Look into hiring a consulting Forester who can help you develop and implement a plan for some timber stand improvements specifically to increase wildlife activity. If you have a closed canopy timber stand, it's likely the Forester will recommend a thinning.
The Forester will cruise the timber in the area you're wanting to improve and mark trees with a specific color by either brushing on or spraying on tree marking paint. (Marks from tree marking paint will last for years!) The point of this, is to mark trees he/she decides will be beneficial to the wildlife, such as white oak. White Oak drops acorns which deer love. (There are many other trees deer love, but that's another article.) All trees not marked with tree marking paint will be thinned by either felling them or chopping slightly into them and dispensing a spray fomulation containing an herbicide such as Accord XRT II, Garlon 3A, Garlon 4 Ultra, Ranger Pro or Arsenal which will kill the tree and any other brush. The herbicide formula the Forester chooses will depend on what kind of trees and brush he/she is wishing to remove.
This will allow the tree canopy to open up and let sunlight filter down onto the forest floor. Existing vegetation will begin to grow or vegetation can be planted. At a point when vegetation is dormant, it's likely the Forester will recommend a prescribed burn, also called a controlled burn. A prescribed burn, in short, is when you dig out fire lines around a specific area. Using a drip torch, you'll burn up the area where you'd like to burn up dead branches, sticks and dead leaves. (Prescribed Burns should always be conducted by a professional.)The prescribed burn will rid the forest floor of all dead and non-productive material and feeds the soil at the same time, really allowing that vegetation to take off. By the next year, you should see a vast improvement in wildlife activities which will improve year over year if properly maintained leading to successful hunting!
Another way to increase wildlife activity on your land is by developing a food plot. See our next blog on building and developing a food plot for deer in particular.