Many sportsmen’s favorite deer habitat management practices correlate with their favorite hunting season, such as planting fall food plots for deer season.
However, other habitat management practices performed during the off season are likely more important for meeting the needs of their favorite wildlife species.
Landowners interested in managing their forestland for wildlife and revenue should use the spring season to plan and execute timber harvests. Timber thinning improves residual tree vigor and promotes stand health. Thinning creates openings in the forest canopy that allow sufficient sunlight to reach the ground, stimulating desirable plants that provide food and cover for many species of wildlife.
Disking native vegetation in unplanted fields and forest openings promotes favorable food and cover for both deer and upland game birds. Disking promotes desirable forbs (broad-leafed herbaceous plants) and legumes such as ragweed, pokeberry, and partridge pea.
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Disking also improves brood-rearing cover for turkey and quail. Rotational strip-disking should be completed by the end of March to maintain food and cover in unplanted fields and forest openings.
Often, the most cost effective tool used in managing habitat in uplands is prescribed fire. Prescribed fire sets back plant succession and promotes favorable vegetation structure and composition for many species of wildlife.
Landowners and managers should work with a professional, such as a Registered Forester or wildlife biologist, to identify areas on their property where prescribed fire would be beneficial and can be safely applied.
The spring is a great time to implement habitat management for wildlife. For more information about habitat management, please visit www.mdwfp.com/habitat
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