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23-24 Habitat Work


ZAG

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Well it’s that time of yr my mind started wandering from hunting to habitat improvements this winter/spring.

I have a long list this yr, most of which are fairly small ones. I’m gonna make a thread for ya’ll to follow along.

One of the projects is continuing work on a roughly 10acre sanctuary piece. It’s made up of dead ash, thorn bushes, autumn olive and goldenrods. Last winter we cleared a bunch of it out but have more to go. This yr I’d like to add some scotch/jack and or eastern red cedar in clumps to help this area be an even better bedding area. 
Scotch and or Jack pines and ER cedar sounds like a good option. Scotch and jacks lower branches will die off letting understory grow under it. 
Pic below. Thoughts?

IMG_2848.jpeg

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2nd area is a block of pines that border our newest food plot. As you can see there is not much understory. Thoughts on how I can enhance growth as I’d like to get something growing underneath to provide more cover. 
One of my thoughts is clear out the understory duff with the front loader exposing the soil and see if that generates new growth in spring and also though about planting something somewhat shade tolerant pine/cedar clumps or something else. Don’t really wanna cut the existing pines.

IMG_2849.jpeg

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Just curious as to why you'd want to clear it? (First pic). Heavy thick mess is prob what they feel comfortable and safe in.   Maybe line the outside of it with pines/cedars for even more cover and less work.  We have sanctuary areas too that are crazy thick but I stay right out of there. 

And looking forward to following along !  Loved the plot you did. 

Edited by Robhuntandfish

"it's pointless for humans to paint scenes of nature when they can go outside and stand in it"- Ron Swanson

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5 minutes ago, ZAG said:

2nd area is a block of pines that border our newest food plot. As you can see there is not much understory. Thoughts on how I can enhance growth as I’d like to get something growing underneath to provide more cover. 
One of my thoughts is clear out the understory duff with the front loader exposing the soil and see if that generates new growth in spring and also though about planting something somewhat shade tolerant pine/cedar clumps or something else. Don’t really wanna cut the existing pines.

IMG_2849.jpeg

This section I would thin out the existing trees for sure.  Understory won't grow if there isn't enough sunlight for it.  Don't have to cut it all but can thin it out quite a bit.  Hinge cutting some of it would cause it to be a sanctuary/bedding area.  If you don't want it to be difficult to get thru for people then just thinning it should help out a lot.  

"it's pointless for humans to paint scenes of nature when they can go outside and stand in it"- Ron Swanson

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1 minute ago, Robhuntandfish said:

Just curious as to why you'd want to clear it? Heavy thick mess is prob what they feel comfortable and safe in.   Maybe line the outside of it with pines/cedars for even more cover and less work.  We have sanctuary areas too that are crazy thick but I stay right out of there. 

Most is autumn olive which is invasive and really no wildlife value, some areas have gotten so dense it’s too thick for anything to navigate thru. 
I’m trying to get more natural grasses/goldenrod growth with the pines/cedars providing cover and thermal cover. Id rather have that than autumn olive and thorn bushes. 
My thought is sanctuaries are a must. The idea to stay out of them doesn’t make sense to me. The only time we get into them is after deer season. Scout it for signs, are they using it? Are there lots of beds? Lots of scat? Rubs? Scrapes? And most importantly what can be done to make it better. 

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Autumn olive is non native, but deer do eat it for browse and it makes excellent bedding habitat.  There is no such thing as too thick when it comes to deer navigating their way through. That’s exactly what you are looking for in a bedding situation. 
 

In looking at your pines which themselves aren’t keeping too much light from reaching the forest floor, all the deciduous trees around them are. I’d cut a bunch of those maples, ash, hickory, etc. if you want more sun to hit beneath the pines. 

"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Anonymous 

 

https://www.troutscapes.com

https://nativefishcoalition.org/national-board

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1 hour ago, ZAG said:

Most is autumn olive which is invasive and really no wildlife value, some areas have gotten so dense it’s too thick for anything to navigate thru. 
I’m trying to get more natural grasses/goldenrod growth with the pines/cedars providing cover and thermal cover. Id rather have that than autumn olive and thorn bushes. 
My thought is sanctuaries are a must. The idea to stay out of them doesn’t make sense to me. The only time we get into them is after deer season. Scout it for signs, are they using it? Are there lots of beds? Lots of scat? Rubs? Scrapes? And most importantly what can be done to make it better. 

I've been thru the sanctuary areas on our property and found them loaded with deer trails, beds and signs etc.  Ive checked them out after season a few times.  But I stay out of there otherwise.  It's so thick in spots I have to get down on all fours but the deer love it feel safe in there for sure.  They use them to bed into and come out into the plots to chow.  It's far too thick to even think about hunting it.  Once you know it's a bedding and sanctuary area really no reason to be in there for us.  I think the best thing you can do for it is to leave it or make it even more covered.  Thats why I was thinking maybe a row of pines around it.  

"it's pointless for humans to paint scenes of nature when they can go outside and stand in it"- Ron Swanson

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14 minutes ago, Bucksnbows said:

Autumn olive is non native, but deer do eat it for browse and it makes excellent bedding habitat.  There is no such thing as too thick when it comes to deer navigating their way through. That’s exactly what you are looking for in a bedding situation. 
 

In looking at your pines which themselves aren’t keeping too much light from reaching the forest floor, all the deciduous trees around them are. I’d cut a bunch of those maples, ash, hickory, etc. if you want more sun to hit beneath the pines. 

Kinda my thought on the pines, tall and smaller crown should provide some surface sunlight. I’m really curious if stripping it down to bare dirt with the front loader will promote new growth.

I’ll post progress as I go.

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3 minutes ago, ZAG said:

Kinda my thought on the pines, tall and smaller crown should provide some surface sunlight. I’m really curious if stripping it down to bare dirt with the front loader will promote new growth.

I’ll post progress as I go.

I doubt you need to do the stripping. The forest floor is unbelievably chock full of native seeds waiting for sun to give them life. Remember too that pines are acidic, so not everything grows under them. 

"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Anonymous 

 

https://www.troutscapes.com

https://nativefishcoalition.org/national-board

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28 minutes ago, Bucksnbows said:

I doubt you need to do the stripping. The forest floor is unbelievably chock full of native seeds waiting for sun to give them life. Remember too that pines are acidic, so not everything grows under them. 

I’m gonna get the tractor back there to push some old logs that have been laying down in the pines. I’m thinking back blade the surface to remove all the leaves and needles and see what happens. That should help stimulate the exiting seed bed id think.

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18 hours ago, ZAG said:

Well it’s that time of yr my mind started wandering from hunting to habitat improvements this winter/spring.

I'm in the same boat, I've spent most of my last two sits in the woods thinking about improvements and new stand locations. I found an area that had an absolute ton of buck sign last week and that's all I have been able to think about.

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I keep notes on my phone, broken out by the specific property, as I think about improvements - typically done while I'm hunting that property.  I have two boys who are old enough to hunt and have done quite well this year, so I will be conferring with them to a) get their inputs on changes they think we should make and b) prioritize those changes into a to-do list.  Undoubtedly we won't be able to get it all done over the 3 properties that we hunt, but I hope going through the process will help keep them interested in hunting for the long-term and build good land stewardship habits for them.

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1 hour ago, escpen said:

I keep notes on my phone, broken out by the specific property, as I think about improvements - typically done while I'm hunting that property.  I have two boys who are old enough to hunt and have done quite well this year, so I will be conferring with them to a) get their inputs on changes they think we should make and b) prioritize those changes into a to-do list.  Undoubtedly we won't be able to get it all done over the 3 properties that we hunt, but I hope going through the process will help keep them interested in hunting for the long-term and build good land stewardship habits for them.

Sounds like a fun time with the boys.

I always enjoy the offseason habitat work. As it helps set the tone for the following season and hopefully its better than the past reason.

We have been at this habitat game for a lot of years making improvements each yr on our land and I think we’re making a better place for all the critters and hopefully deer spend more time on our place vs others! 

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