Sorry to hear about your losses, that sounds pretty devastating. Hopefully you can recover a lot of the timber that has value. In the early nineties we had an ice storm come through one spring and the following fall was our worst hunting in the history of our camp, as you said, the deer had food and cover, and it was too thick to hunt. FWIW on running cows in the woods; My uneducated observations over many years of seeing this practice done at many different locations is that running cows in the woods creates a wildlife desert in the longterm, open understory with closed overstory.Been a tumultuous month! 2 hurricanes, 32 days without internet or computer, one throat surgery, and a list of unexpected additional tasks too long to count.
A recap of hurricane Laura shows we lost somewhere between 50-75% of the timber across most of the farm. The hardwoods in particular took a hit. It took nearly 100 hours with a skidder, cutter, and bull dozer just to open the roads to be able to travel the farm. There are still trees down everywhere in all the road right of ways and fields . We salvaged 50 loads of downed timber off about 75 acres before the crew needed to move on to more profitable opportunities. Have about a thousand acres to go. It will take years.
The two silver linings are from a deer perspective it will create a giant thicket to their liking. Course we may never be able to find them. The other benefit is as I have mentioned I am moving towards a regenerative ag program on the farm. The idea behind cattle grazing in the woods is to create a "savannah" landscape keeping underbrush at a younger succession. Well, Laura certainly thinned the timber to a savannah!!! May take me a couple of years to create the infrastructure and skill set to take advantage of this but the habitat is there.
Perimeter fencing is a disaster. A crew worked everyday from just after the storm [ August 27 ] till mid last week with chain saw , tractor and sweat and we still do not have all the fence back up. Probably need two more weeks. Is what it is and nothing we can do about it.
We were taking a break from fence repair to start belated planting. Then Hurricane Beto came along and dumped a bunch of rain on the farm stopping that in its tracks. Just Sunday it was dry enough to begin spraying but after one day a front has come thru with more rain today. The hope is we can finish spraying later this week and finish planting hopefully by early next week. I'm ok with the timing and certainly there is plenty of moisture to get things going but I haven't been able to experiment and play as I usually do.
While the woods are a disaster, as mentioned the deer couldn't be happier. Excepting a couple doe groups you cant find a deer now. I haven't seen a buck to speak of since the storm. Cameras are a luxury we simply don't have time for now. Hunting the woods will probably be impossible this year with all the downed timber and who knows if any deer will come to a food plot with all the fresh browse in the woods. Class B problem Guess it forebodes greatness next year.
I continue working with Dr. Allen Williams and Understanding Ag to transform the farm with a regenerative ag approach. We have the overall design outlined and I have taken soil samples across the farm for Haney and PLFA soil tests. New for me so keen to see what they reveal. I need a dozer to create r.o.w's. for electric fencing but every dozer in the south is busy with clean up. TBD if I can get that done before too wet this winter.
Enough for now. we are crawling out of the hole, everyone is safe, and as with all things habitat and wildlife oriented we do what we can and work with nature as she dictates.