Controlled Burning For Wildlife
Fire is Mother Nature’s original form of management. When used carefully, it can help land managers control a variety of different habitats. This week, we’re in Alabama burning a mid-rotation pine stand to not only help the pines, but also improve the turkey hunting with the season just opening up.
The first two steps to a prescribed burn are to apply for a burn permit and make sure your fire breaks are properly prepared. The burn permit will allow the local departments to know it’s a prescribed fire rather than one that is uncontrolled while the fire breaks will help you keep the fire where it needs to be. We’re using a drip torch with 3 parts diesel to 1 part gas. The gas helps with the burn while the diesel allows the mixture to stick to the vegetation. The end result will be a ground layer free of cover. After a good rain, the exposed soil will explode with seeds already present in the seed bank providing a ton of forage heading into the summer months.
Airgun Deer Hunting
Last year, we featured the Benjamin Rogue .357 air rifle. This year, they’ve unveiled their new Bulldog and needless to say it has been put to good use in Alabama this season. It is the perfect weapon for antlerless deer harvest and doesn’t spook other deer on the property because of it’s limited noise upon firing.
For the past 37 years, Chuck or his father has harvested a deer on the family farm. They set out this year to continue on the tradition with the new Benjamin Bulldog. Not only were they able to continue the tradition, but they also capitalized on the new extended Alabama deer season that lasts into February. Biologists collected conception data for 10 years testing the timing of the rut. The tests found the peak of the rut was in early February. With the peak of the rut coinciding with the time antlers start to drop, many bucks permanently injure their pedicles fighting each other when they knock antlers off before they’re ready to drop on their own. The permanent injury will forever effect the deer’s antler.
Planting Trees For Wildlife
The key to any piece of property is having the key elements of what a whitetail needs. A landowner needs to identify a property’s strengths and weaknesses then work to fill those. In the case of this property, cover is abundant, but hard and soft mast is sparse. This week, we’re working with Allen Deese of The Wildlife Group on planting mast producing trees to increase the long-term food source.
Planting trees is more than just digging a hole and covering a rootball. Careful planning and care must be taken to ensure success. The best time to plant trees is in late fall or winter when trees are dormant. We planted AU Buck Series Chestnuts from The Wildlife Group which offer a continuos drop through the months of September, October, and November. When planting these trees or any trees, be sure to keep the base of the planted tree an inch or so above the soil. Over time, the soil will settle and if you plant the root ball flush with the soil, a depression will form around it and could kill the tree.
Small Land Management and Hunting Strategies
The majority of hunters and land managers deal with small parcels of land. Successfully managing and hunting these tracts of land can be challenging, but it is far from impossible. The key is providing everything a whitetail needs so it doesn’t have a reason to leave. This can be done through a variety of different measures, but a vital key is not only managing the land, but also the amount of hunting pressure you put on the deer on your property.
A lot of hunters have that place they call home. For Casey, this is his grandpa’s farm where he got his start deer hunting with his brother, dad, and grandpa. Over the years, the hunting turned into managing by being more selective of their harvest, planting food plots and enhancing the habitat by planting Switchgrass. It was a family project and vision shared by the Shoopman family. The last time Casey saw his grandpa was the same day the first Switchgrass seed hit the soil just months before he passed away in 2010.