Who Here Studies Plants To Improve Their Deer Hunting?

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Woods Walker
 
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Who Here Studies Plants To Improve Their Deer Hunting?

Postby Woods Walker » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:56 pm

I've always had a strong interest in the plants that deer and other wildlife use, and I've made it a lifelong study to learn as much about the plants in the woods I hunt to become a better deer hunter.
 
I started out as foresty major in college, and then changed to and graduated with a degree in Range Management. The theory  that we were taught, was that if the plant community is healthy, then the animals that live in it will be too. I believe this to be a sound theory.
 
What many folks don't realize, is that a deer woods is constantly changing, even though for the unobservant eye it doesn't seem that way. Did you ever have a good deer woods that over time just didn't seem to be as good anymore? Barring any dramatic changes in it or the adjoining wooded areas, it is most likely because your woods is becoming more mature, and the amount of browse that deer prefer has decreased as the forest canopy increased.
 
That's why I LOVE to see a good series of strong, violent, storms come through the area and knock a whole bunch of mature trees down. In another year or so, that area will have more deer in it.
 
Anyone else?
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dmcianfa
 
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RE: Who Here Studies Plants To Improve Their Deer Hunting?

Postby dmcianfa » Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:43 pm

We manage our land in that we wait until hardwoods meet maturation and select cut them leaving the immature behind to be cut another 10-15 yrs or so later.  We also thin out our white cedar as it tends to grow very thick in our "swampy" regions.  For the most part we will hinge cut alot of these cedars, but some harvest is necessary and helps alleviate taxes.  Other evergreens, such as pine and balsam are closely watched and are allowed to reach very mature status before being harvested.  Typically these evergreens thrive in our area and climate and provide cover and browse as well in their early stages.  As far as poplar and saplings go, they come very shortly after an agressive cut to the land in our area and these are excellent sources of habitat for many years afterward because of their denseness not only for deer, but roufed grouse and woodcock, which we love to hunt as well out of our camp.
"I enjoy and become completely immersed in the challenge and the increased opportunity to become for a time a part of nature. Deer hunting is a classical exercise in freedom. It�s a return to fundamentals that I distinctly feel are basic and right"-F.B.

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Woods Walker
 
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RE: Who Here Studies Plants To Improve Their Deer Hunting?

Postby Woods Walker » Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:52 pm

Living in Illinois, I don't have a lot of knowledge of balsams and the like. Cedars I do know a bit about, as I have some on my property, and I see how the local deer use them.
 
I know that balsams and whatnot are used as a food source, but how good of a food source are they? Are they utilized only when everything else is gone? Or are they a preferred food source?
Hunt Hard,

Kill Swiftly,

Waste Nothing,

Offer No Apologies.....

>>>--------------------------------->
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dmcianfa
 
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RE: Who Here Studies Plants To Improve Their Deer Hunting?

Postby dmcianfa » Mon Dec 08, 2008 5:02 pm

Balsams in our area are most definetely a preferred food source for them.  They ravage the buds on them when they come in and and can quickly devistate a small balsam patch in the wild and if you plant them on your property in our area for your yard or looks, they will die very quickly after planting if you don't fence around them due to deer.  But, since we have them in plenty in the wild they provide very good shelter from the rain for them and they have much browse on the natural buds when present.  I can't tell you how many times I've still hunted and spotted a deer in the rain that is tucked underneath a balsam waiting the weather out.  I quickly learned to gravitate towards them and spy them closely with my binocs before getting too close as it is a hotspot in foul weather and often come in clusters.  Most often you have to get on your knees to see underneath the balsam canopy. 
"I enjoy and become completely immersed in the challenge and the increased opportunity to become for a time a part of nature. Deer hunting is a classical exercise in freedom. It�s a return to fundamentals that I distinctly feel are basic and right"-F.B.

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shaman
 
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RE: Who Here Studies Plants To Improve Their Deer Hunting?

Postby shaman » Mon Dec 08, 2008 5:35 pm

Loosing our mature hardwoods is usually a mixed blessing. You gain light, but you lose mast-- usually acorns. On the other hand, cedars dominate everywhere the oak and hickory do not. If enough of these do not regularly get blown over they have a tendency to choke out everything else, at least for several decades. Ike came through here in September and knocked down a few of our mature trees.  I am sure what grows up in their stead will more than exceed their progenitor's ability to attract deer.

Right after we acquired our farm, we had the biologist in for a visit.  One of his biggest tips was cutting or hinging all the cedars we could to let the light in.  He advised this in any area where the hardwoods were standing taller than knee high.  It wasn't six months before mother nature took a hand in things and took one of our more impenetrable cedar thickets and knocked it over.  This was followed up with back-to-back years of wind stoms, ice storms and a small F0 tornado.  The deer got cover and browse. The hardwoods got the light they needed, and overall things have really taken off in that corner of the property.

Deer are not deep woods creatures.  They prefer the edge--the edge of light and shadow, the edge of forest and field, the edges between inhabited, cultivated and wild.
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ranwin33
 
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RE: Who Here Studies Plants To Improve Their Deer Hunting?

Postby ranwin33 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:18 am

ORIGINAL: Woods Walker

That's why I LOVE to see a good series of strong, violent, storms come through the area and knock a whole bunch of mature trees down. In another year or so, that area will have more deer in it.
 
Anyone else?

That's why many consider a chainsaw to be the most important tool for those trying to create habitat for deer.
“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
Aldo Leopold

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ranwin33
 
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RE: Who Here Studies Plants To Improve Their Deer Hunting?

Postby ranwin33 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:25 am

ORIGINAL: shaman

Loosing our mature hardwoods is usually a mixed blessing. You gain light, but you lose mast-- usually acorns. On the other hand, cedars dominate everywhere the oak and hickory do not. If enough of these do not regularly get blown over they have a tendency to choke out everything else, at least for several decades. Ike came through here in September and knocked down a few of our mature trees.  I am sure what grows up in their stead will more than exceed their progenitor's ability to attract deer.

Right after we acquired our farm, we had the biologist in for a visit.  One of his biggest tips was cutting or hinging all the cedars we could to let the light in.  He advised this in any area where the hardwoods were standing taller than knee high.  It wasn't six months before mother nature took a hand in things and took one of our more impenetrable cedar thickets and knocked it over.  This was followed up with back-to-back years of wind stoms, ice storms and a small F0 tornado.  The deer got cover and browse. The hardwoods got the light they needed, and overall things have really taken off in that corner of the property.

Deer are not deep woods creatures.  They prefer the edge--the edge of light and shadow, the edge of forest and field, the edges between inhabited, cultivated and wild.

Couple of good points here: cedars will shade out things if left to grow, and they can be prolific.  But if you have the acreage, a nice grove of cedars will serve as a bedding area or sanctuary for deer during colder times.  So I would say let them grow if you've got the acreage to do so and can still have hardwoods in other areas.
 
The second point about deer being edge creatures is very true.  Spray a field edge with Roundup to kill competing grasses, lay over some trees into the killed area and let it get good and brushy - the deer will come.
“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
Aldo Leopold

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Sailfish
 
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RE: Who Here Studies Plants To Improve Their Deer Hunting?

Postby Sailfish » Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:49 am

That's why I LOVE to see a good series of strong, violent, storms come through the area and knock a whole bunch of mature trees down. 

 
Or a good old fashion forest fire.
We practice that regularly in the south.
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hilltop
 
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RE: Who Here Studies Plants To Improve Their Deer Hunting?

Postby hilltop » Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:18 am

I would think we all do to a certain extent. There have been many times that I hunt a food source [ acorn,clover.etc] and see deer pass on those and brouse on something else. I ask myself then what are they feeding on and where else might I find it on my property.

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RE: Who Here Studies Plants To Improve Their Deer Hunting?

Postby beagleman23 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:40 am

Deer eat far more browse than most hunters realize.  Seasonal food sources are just that-seasonal and do not sustain deer through the year especially the winter months.  The harvesting of timber(or storms) allows new growth.  Unfortunately, New York State loves mature planted pines on their state forests.  They have allowed some selective harvest.  In Allegany State Park there once was a healthy population of deer, not so any longer.  The forest is close to 150 years old in some areas and does not support numbers of deer.  The State has made attempts to harvest but they have been sucessfully blocked by the 'tree huggers' and 'bird lovers'.

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