Top Ten of Habitat Management

Discussion in 'Native Habitat Management' started by Prelude8626, Mar 20, 2019.

  1. Prelude8626

    Prelude8626 Member

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    I would love to hear what the list of first things you all did when you first purchased your properties or what you think is the most important. Ive owned my parcel for just about a year now and am really just digging in. I would love to heal lists of what you think are the most important things to start with.
     
  2. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

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    Most important is learn the property before you do anything. Learn its strengths and weaknesses and then start addressing the weaknesses. I'll add to think about the big picture before each small improvement. It's easy for small improvements to actually conflict and overall hurt a property so think about the grand plan for each step.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
  3. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    Very much agree with Gator, in hindsite. But I will admit, first thing I did was pay a local farmer to plow and disc 2 half ac plots. I used a bedspring and lawn roller and bag seeder to lime, fert, and planted a WW/WC plot. Something about seeing growth of what you did makes one feel good, and clover is just a cheap, easy, all around good food source for deer. Second to that is reading Lickcreeks info on plot rotation and hinge cutting. The one plot is still after 10 years the best buck attractor plot on my farm. Good luck.
     
  4. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    Best thing I did was plant buckwheat on newly cleared plots to condition the soil. Most successful first planting was clover. Worst failure was planting trees and not protecting them right away.
     
  5. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    Like dogghr, our first improvement was a clover plot and it being about the first good food plot in the area it drew deer AND surpassed our highest expectations. In hindsight though our best first step would have been to develop an overall plan. We should have defined where we were at. Items such as the following list could have been included in this first step of where we were at. Are the boundary property lines clearly defined, marked and agreed to by others, strong and weak points about the property including but not limited to its' diversity, types, locations and amount of invasive plants, degree of trespassing or permitted use of the property by ourselves and others,stands on the property owned by others, general state of plant and tree succession for different areas of the property, locations of fruit trees, nut trees, favored browse trees/shrubs, brooks, ponds, seasonal wet spots, high spots, low spots, natural funnels, all edges including timber species edges as well as field and other habitat edges, amount and locations of tillable, amount and types of predators living on/using the property, location and condition of ATV/UTV accessible access roads, current deer population on the property, buck to doe ratio, fawn recruitment rate, age breakdown of bucks, sizes of doe family groups, harvest history and use history of the property, how do deer use the property including bedding, feeding and travel areas, amount of day activity versus night, preferred browse survey results of at least one year, wind conditions and directions most common during hunting season including wind currents unique to the property, etc, etc, etc, and on and on.

    Defining the neighborhood would also have helped in creating a plan. Some examples are what is the norm for ages of bucks shot in the neighborhood, type of deer management practiced by others, is the neighborhood a bunch of hoodlums or do they generally follow game laws, which neighbors are which, the current succession stage of neighboring properties, known strong points and weak points about each neighboring property such as but not limited to Ag fields, food plots, natural or planted fruit and nut trees, deer travel ways between your property and the neighbors, amount of deer shot on each neighboring property, seasons hunted by neighbors, current relationship with each neighbor, are there any particular laws where it is seemingly socially acceptable to ignore for the area, sizes of neighboring parcels and number of hunters on each, and are there any particular problem or disruptive neighboring activities.

    About twice this amount of info would have been a great first step for us to begin in creating a habitat and deer management plan for a property. This borders on work but creating a great plan would have been the quickest and surest way to realize your planned goals and defining where you are at is the first step in creating a plan and right up there in defining your goals for your property. Once everything about where we were at was defined recreating a deer woods and habitat improvement plan is an easy trail from there. And of course like any plan it would continue to change as property and area conditions changed but without a plan making all the best habitat improvements are just a bunch of improvements that may or may not enjoy the multiplication factor of each complementing and working in unison with the other.

    Since I have written so long on this one activity I will stop at this being the top activity for me versus the ten top activities.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
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  6. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    A good list, and you've made me curious how you get this info; "amount of deer shot on each neighboring property, seasons hunted by neighbors", if a new guy in the neighborhood would start to ask me these questions I'd probably think they're being nosy, and tell them to mind their own business.
     
  7. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    First there are observations, I'm on the property daily as well as cruising the perimeter roads pretty regular. Much can be inferred from what is seen and heard from that. For example the general amount of deer and the presence of invasives observed from the road pretty much reports what a browse survey would show without ever stepping on a property. Aerial maps show us a lot as well. And much can be confirmed from what is heard in the local watering holes and to a lesser extent at the coffee shops and maybe just as much at the local tractor repair place. Second one never has to say a word; deer hunting is often a main topic around here. The bartenders tee shirt the other night summed it up pretty good-"Pulaski is a drinking town with a fishing problem". Lots can be learned from those fishing problem persons, in the off deer season of course. We don't believe everything we hear but certain truisms do regularly surface over time. And yes some local people would mostly tend to mistrust new guys and think we may be nosy especially the ones who are hiding nefarious activities but that is just how it is.

    Edit- Thought of these two info sources after the original post. Add visits to the local taxidermist and the local deer processors. There one sees what age deer people are shooting in the area and what size deer they consider worthy of mounting. Warning though either visit can be discouraging. At a trip to the deer processor last year to leave off a friends buck, we were shocked to see that most of the deer brought in that week were yearling bucks. That was Nov. 6. And at the same time a trip to the taxidermist after the season can be amazing. Last time we stopped there the size and number of older bucks that had been brought in was a pleasant surprise. It was great to see that this area was producing some great deer.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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  8. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Consider Starting with a couple of food plots. They are the most likely thing to show you some quick gratification. I would not make an overall plan for a couple of years - at least. It will take you that long to get a feel for what is really going on, what is really needed, how the deer travel through the area, adjacent hunting pressure, etc. I have had my ground for fifteen years, I live on it, and am still learning.

    My biggest mistake, the first year or two I went out and planted a bunch of fruit trees. The coons and possums will absolutely not allow any other animal to get a piece of fruit. Besides that, I knocked every piece of fruit off the trees for the first five years so they wouldnt break all the branches off.

    Also realize every piece of property is different. You will have people on these forums, living five hundred miles away - or across the county - telling what you “need” to do - without ever laying eyes on your place. Listen to what they say, but dont consider what they say to necessarily work on your place like it did their place.
     
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  9. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    I agree with Gator....the best thing you can do with a new property is nothing at all. Learn the property, see what the deer do and try to see/understand why. Not just in hunting season either....all year long. Not just your place, but beyond your place. Understanding how the deer move thru and use your property and thus understanding the properties strengths and weaknesses is VERY important.

    Then once you have a better understanding of what you have...then you address the weakest aspect. For some it may be food, while others it may be cover or it may be a specific aspect of one of those. Only once you address the lowest hole in the habitat bucket will you see long lasting improvements, but you have to take an honest look in identifying what that lowest hole is.

    I think there are 3 things you can do right away... #1 - establish and post the property lines and secure the property. #2 - establish perimeter access as much as you can. #3 - start planting screens from prying eyes beyond your property (especially from roads). These are not glamorous in nature, but they will serve you well down the road. Other projects like creating cover and plots and the like will come later...but having a secure property with good access is a solid foundation to start with.
     
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  10. Jeff H

    Jeff H Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    I am also going to go with Gator's recommendation. Never underestimate the power of observation. The old man sitting on the bank of the river reading the water will catch more fish that the young boy who wades right in and starts casting. I've owned my ground for 22 years and when I think of the early years I find a lot of regret from things I did that can never be undone. So your question is what's most important: Observe , define your goals , be realistic and develop a solid plan with the help of professionals if possible. Then execute the plan. Patience will help as well.
     
  11. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    Where I live you can't put anything ahead of what deer perceive to be secure cover. This is especially true when hunting season starts. So that is what I always see as #1.

    However, with that said - This is the top 10 for the new property #2 I'm currently working on. The top 10 for my other place would be much different. At the other place I have planted hundreds of trees. I doubt there will be a single one planted at this new place.
    1. I studied the area and established a cognitive map of where deer travel, and how they use the area at different times of the year. This includes notable terrain features, existing cover, prevailing wind, where crops are planted, and hunting pressure on adjoining properties.
    2. I thought about undetected entry and exit to stands, which will be a weakness on this property, but I will take steps to mitigate that as much as reasonably possible.
    3. Based on the above, I narrowed down where I wanted my primary and secondary stand locations.
    4. Based on the above, I'm establishing mineral licks.
    5. Based on the above, I'm clearing shooting lanes.
    6. Based on the above, I'm hinge cutting to promote bedding and thicken cover at strategic locations away from other hunters.
    7. Based on the above, I will develop a spring I found on high ground.
    8. Based on the above, I will clear a roadway that will allow me to get a truck toward the creek flat. This will help to get a deer out if I shoot one on the low ground. I will put this well off the property line and hinge cut between it and the property line - because deer will start using this road. It will serve a secondary purpose of leading them to the semi developed spring.
    9. Eventually I will get some cameras started and each year decide whether to hunt here or the other place (or a mixture of both).
    10. Just have fun. This isn't life and death. It's enjoying the blessings that God has given us.
     
  12. TreeDaddy

    TreeDaddy Well-Known Member

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    Prelude8626

    Read and re read all of the above posts. Lotta experience and wisdom there^^^^^^^

    Follow two rules:

    1) no complaining
    2) keep planting

    bill
     
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  13. snowracerh

    snowracerh Active Member

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    Location:
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    Hardiness Zone:
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    Have fun and dont turn a hobby into a stressful job. Agree with Jbird and screening/perimeter access is the foundation.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
     
  14. wbpdeer

    wbpdeer Well-Known Member

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    If you don't think like a deer hunter then you are asking the wrong crowd on this forum. Most of the habitat people I know have three things on their mind - deer, bigger bucks and more deer.

    Three things a buck wants / needs - Food, water and Security. Native Hunter told you right - secure cover is so important to a man hunting for what they consider a trophy buck.

    I say to get some good boots and start walking that property ASAP. Walking it before things totally greenup is so valuable. You see rubs and scrapes better. Where are the deer bedding, feeding and where is the thickest place on the property. I shed hunt with two labs - gosh it has made a better reader of the land and woods. I am looking for something small amongst all that land.

    Walk the perimeter of your property to find the exits and entrances the deer are using. Get an aerial photo and typo map of your land and the sourrounding land. All of this gives you the big picture.

    Where do you park your vehicle? Deer got them big ears so they can hear danger and move to avoid detection.

    The best thing a first time property owner can do is learn more about the property first. Walking the ground is so important. If you ain't spend 20 hours in the woods on your ground - you ain't scratched the surface. What trees are there? Where is the water that the deer get to drink?

    A deer is an edge animal.

    Planting 50 trees that aren't protected is foolish. Planting 5 trees right that are protected is what works. Nature will reclaim the weak - never plant two trees and hope they will survive. If I want two good trees, I am going to plant at least 6 right. Hard to beat chestnuts, pears and persimmons. Many guys will add apples to that list. Don't plant any trees until the second year. Your first year is about learning the land and how the deer use it or don't use it.

    Have fun and don't get discouraged. Think long term - like how will this ground be 5 years from now. Clover and buckwheat are two of the main selections to get bad ground turned into good ground.

    Use the best advice you get on this forum - think what will work for you and what to avoid for your land situation.
     
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  15. George

    George Well-Known Member

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    Study up on your woody plants, would be another suggestion, if not already mentioned.

    G
     
  16. Elkaddict

    Elkaddict Well-Known Member

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    Great advice so far. I’ll add a couple things: If there are some areas you’re certain you’ll plant, pull soil samples and get a bunch of lime spread now (our acidic soils average in the high 4s). Lime takes time and you’d waste a lot of effort trying to grow most plot seed in soils like that. Secondly, intimately know your boundaries and local trespass laws. I’d prosecute everyone who you catch.... You need to get word out early there’s a consequence. Most new property owners will want to get along. I’m still paying for being too nice to trespassers from 5 years ago. My neighbors who know me know I’ll do anything to help them....but I won’t tolerate trespassing...by anyone. Final suggestion is make improving the property a family activity so all will enjoy the fruits of their labors... Find a way to make it fun. While I’m content to work every free weekend hour on our place, my spouse and children have a different drive. Enjoy the journey!
     
  17. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    Elk mentioned something that I don't think was talked about that has nothing to do with your property directly...NEIGHBORS. Meet them, get their names, phone numbers, find out what they do for a living, if they are hunters or if they allow others to hunt their place. A good neighbor is worth their weight in gold....a bad neighbor is a headache for the rest or your tenure of owning the property....especially if your not living on the property. Make note of any other observations during your visits...their vehicles, dogs running loose, things like that. Many neighbors will also have some insight as to if you have poaching issues or break-in issues or the like in the area. Having a decent relationship with your neighbors if they are decent people is an asset. Sooner or later your going to have to track a deer...and having that info and contact is well worth the work in advance. Not all neighbors are "the enemy" even if they are deer hunters. Some neighbors are "the enemy" and you best meet them and figure that out sooner than later.
     
  18. Drycreek

    Drycreek Well-Known Member

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    I guess I have a little bit of a different perspective. I didn't buy my place to grow big deer. It's impossible in my area with 217 acres anyway. I bought it to enjoy until I got ready to sell it, and enjoy it I did, right up until the closing. I not only enjoyed the hunting, I enjoyed the work.

    In the meantime, I cleared a perimeter where I could drive around the boundary quickly in my pickup in all but the wettest conditions. That timber was sold and used for other improvements. I cleaned up several food plots with my dozer and backhoe in places that had little to no timber value. That was done over a period of three years. I experimented with different crops until I found the three main ones that I thought suited me. WINA clover, IC peas, and wheat pretty well covered the bases for spring, fall, and a perennial. I had two great plots of WINA clover and the deer loved it !

    I cleaned out the roads, cut ditches, installed culverts, and laid down gravel, all with the intention to double the money that I had spent, and having fun along the way. I had electricity ran, community water, plus I drilled a well. I built a nice 1,200 sq. ft. cabin near the front, and that alone was money well spent. I was still working at the time and spent many relaxing weekends there with my wife. My feelings were that someone who wanted a place ready to hunt would buy it and although it took two years, they did. Now, since I owner financed, I have a nice monthly income to supplement the YUGE paycheck that Uncle Sam sends me every month (out of the goodness of his heart) :)

    If I weren't so old, I'd do it again, and I'd enjoy that too !
     
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  19. OkieKubota

    OkieKubota Moderator Staff Member

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    Top 10...

    1. Survey - you will know exactly what you now own.
    2. Dozer clearing that line.
    3. Barbed wire fence around the property. Deer have no issues with it. Stray livestock and folks who aren’t sure of where the property line is...will.
    4. Walk it out, note your terrain features, deer bedding, edge, etc...
    5. Hunt/observe the first fall. Where did you see deer coming from, going to? Where were you hearing the most shooting? Any trespass issues?
    6. With knowledge you have gained decide where to put food plots if you are going to use them. In my world food plots have to be cleared from timber so it is going to mean heavy equipment...
    7. Make the plots as large as you think you will need and then add at least another half again to it. I learned that a few deer turns into a lot of deer when the acorn crop completely fails...
    8. While heavy equipment is there put a water hole at the corner of every plot.
    9. If you can only afford either lime or fertilizer spend your money on lime. Put it down as soon as the plot is created.
    10. Your plots are a destination. Hunt your deer on the way to that destination. Plot hunting itself in our big woods environment ends up educating a lot of deer and turns them nocturnal. Make your plots a “safe” environment for them.
    11. (Just because) - create as much edge as you can by any means. Chainsaw is the least expensive, most bang for your buck land tool you will ever use...if you have open woods create areas of clear cuts, hinge cuts, released desirable trees, trails for the deer to use, etc...

    Enjoy!
     
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  20. Sampson

    Sampson Active Member

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    First determine what your managing it for is it Deer, Turkey, Quail, Waterfowl, Timber or a combination of these.
    Than build your management plan accordingly as each property is unique with different struggles.

    Both of my places have to be managed for cattle and wildlife which creates its own issues but running cattle allows me some tax benefits and helps my land pay for itself. By doing this I have been able to purchase additional property and enjoy the management side and hunting opportunities for deer and turkey.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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