To begin with, I've always found it a bit odd that so much of the Natural Habitat Enhancements is taken up with food plot discussion. It's not that I am opposed to food plots, it's just that they're not exactly natural.
Anyway, over the past 10 years I've experimented with food plots and minerals on my North Missouri micro property. I've done the no-till thing on the trails and I've planted corn and clover on my 1.8 acre of tillable. Each of these experiments were expensive and labor intensive, both in terms of start-up and maintenance. What is worse, none of them really seemed to have much of an impact on the way wildlife used the property. Maybe it is because I sit in the middle of fertile farm land where a variety of food sources are readily available, but no matter what the reason, my plots failed to live up to expectations.
Then I decided to switch gears and work toward natural habitat restoration. I had a wildlife specialist walk the property with me. I told him that I wanted the best deer and turkey hunting possible, but pointed out that single species habitat management is unsound in the long run. He drew up a plan for 4 different areas of management and one DIY project for me. 3 of the 4 areas were 1.5 acre professional timber management sites, with an emphasis on thinning to enhance mast production and promote low level understory. The 4th area was to burn my tillable plot and seed it in native grasses. The DIY part was for me to perform hinge cuts around the perimeter of the property, both as an attractant and as a security measure.
We began 14 months ago with the first 1.5 acre of TSI and the hinge cutting. All I can say is WOW! I chose the first TSI area because I was skeptical and it was an area I rarely utilized. Well in the span of a little more than a year, it turned into the most productive section of the property for deer and turkey hunting! Last November I watched what would have been my best buck harvest there breed and bed a doe, and I would have killed him if I hadn't moved at the wrong time. This spring this area was the favored roosting sight and strut zone for my resident turkey flock and I managed to kill a limbhanger right along the edge.
If I were more educated and experienced with a saw, I could do the TSI myself. But the guy I've hired does an entire area for $300 and it requires absolutely no maintenance. Money is tight and as I said, I was skeptical, so 3 of the 4 projects in his plan remain on the shelf. But I intend to move forward with all three as soon as the budget permits and I may have bought my last bag of food plot seed.