Public Land Management, a call to action

wack
 
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Public Land Management, a call to action

Postby wack » Tue Jan 20, 2009 6:13 am

In the land management thread, there are all kinds of great things people are doing to create better habitat. This thread I want to find out about the conditions of public hunting grounds through out the state. I'm seeing some disturbing things going on in my County that I want hunters to be aware of, look out for and report it back here. If what I see in this county is the same state wide, we have a huge problem.
I made it a point this year to get a DNR public hunting grounds map for Winnebago county and hunt every public grounds on the map. What I found is quite disturbing.  The majority of these properties I would describe as wide open abandoned farm fields planted with tall grasses. Not terrible habitat, but by no means is it great habitat for deer, turkey and other huntable wildlife. We can do much better, but that isn't nearly as bad as what I found on 2 properties.
These two public hunting grounds are wildlife nightmares right now. They were planted almost entirely with soy beans and then harvested in late Oct. The property on Haase Rd. I would guesstimate as 3/4 soy beans, 1/4 mixed hardwoods. It's surrounded by marsh, private houses and a farm. They harvested the beans in Oct. and left nothing but dirt that's now covered in 3+ feet of snow. This is a large piece of land that right now could not support 5 deer for the whole winter. Wonder why the deer are on the farmers land and in the back yards of the houses? Because they can not survive on the public land.
The other property isn't far away and I would describe that as 3/4 soybeans with a winding creek along 1 side, corn field on the other side, a small alfalfa field on the back side and it touches corners with a huge public hunting ground that's about 90% tall grasses. The beans were harvested in late oct, the neighboring farm harvested the corn mid Nov.. Again, a huge piece of dirt that couldn't support a half dozen deer for the winter, forcing the deer to private land and starvation, causing crop damage and fueling the Ag tag program.
My call to action is this. I want to know how widespread this problem is. I want you to all pay attention to what's going on at the public hunting grounds near you. I want you to find out where the deer damage hunting is going on near you and in what relationship those properties are with public grounds. I want you to get out and scout these properties and report back as to what you are seeing and what's needed to be improved to keep the animals on public land year around by improving it's holding capacity. I want to know what public properties are in need of the most help.
Once we identify some of these properties I would like to see the DNR biologists and hunters get together and brainstorm on each property about what can be done through donations and volunteers. I don't want hunters out just throwing seeds around, we'll create more damage than good. Rather have good solid plans drawn up by wildlife biologists who can be creative without taking a budget into consideration with the goal of creating the ultimate wildlife food sources for our wildlife. 
American by birth, hunter by choice.

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Washburn
 
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RE: Public Land Management, a call to action

Postby Washburn » Tue Jan 20, 2009 6:46 am

What Wack references as far as the "quality" of DNR "managed" public hunting areas is, sadly, not a new development. I remember actively seeking DNR public hunting lands in the 70s and 80s in the Horicon area to hunt pheasants. The habitat was mostly poor and held little wildlife. I compare these lands in Wisconsin to what I find in South Dakota; WPAs and Hunter Walk In areas. The Dakota land is full of wildlife and vital to the health of waterfowl, upland birds, deer, furbearers, and many non-game species. Some of this may be attributable to Federal Vs State management, funds, etc.

Having said all of that, I do believe that there are thousands of acres of publicly available land that does support a wide range of wildlife; county forests and timber company lands in the Northern tier of Wisconsin.

Near my place in Stone Lake I can choose literally countless areas to hunt deer, bear, and grouse within a quick 20 minute drive. I am rich in public land up there. Downstate where I live most of the time? Not so much.

This is certainly an area the DNR should step up their efforts.

Washburn
"As the light grows dimmer and the trail begins to fade, my sweetest dreams are those of yesteryear, at deer camp."

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Washburn
 
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RE: Public Land Management, a call to action

Postby Washburn » Tue Jan 20, 2009 6:48 am

Guess I got a little caught up in my own thoughts in my last post...yes Wack...I will take your challenge and personally visit and report on DNR managed lands in my area. Thanks for the call to action.

Washburn
"As the light grows dimmer and the trail begins to fade, my sweetest dreams are those of yesteryear, at deer camp."

Osty
 
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RE: Public Land Management, a call to action

Postby Osty » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:38 am

I've hunted several public land areas and currently have land adjacent to public land.
 
What I see is a need for some logging, crop fields, or a change in land use.  Where I hunt now it has several grown up pine tree areas.  Looked like it was previously logged but these pines are at least 60-70 feet tall now.  Also a bunch of marsh grass which I'm not sure how it could be improved.  Provides trails and cover, maybe some bedding but not sure on browse.  Unfortunatlely I don't have the time to establish a food plot or do some logging on my property.  Maybe in a few years if I head up that way I will.

wack
 
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RE: Public Land Management, a call to action

Postby wack » Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:00 am

I drove by a bunch of public land in Winnebago county yesterday including the 2 bean fields. We have a lot of snow out there and from what I could see with spotting scope from the road, I see no sign of deer. I saw 2 turkeys trying to scratch out a living and know where they were digging they'ed find nothing but snow, ice and dirt. The parking lots to these hunting grounds are plowed in. Couldn't get my 4x4 into a parking lot if I tried. I tried to hike into one of my favorite spots only to get a few yards and be buried to my waist in deep snow. I'm going to need snow shoes or something to get in and see if there are any deer left out there. My last Dec. hunting trip out there, I only saw birds of prey and a possum. My last hunting in Washara county near Red Granite, I also saw 1 possum and very few tracks of any kind. The biggest snow trail was from coyote's feeding on deer carcasses thrown out by hunters near the parking lot.
 Ono of the main reasons I started this thread is because we need to start paying attention. You see a bean field and think, deer like beans.This might be good for hunting and never give it a second thought. Then they harvest it just before gun season when the deer are cleaning up the last of what's left in the field. Many of us do not see what's going on out there from Jan to spring time and durring that time, we have been loosing a lot of deer. Last winter I think we lost a lot of deer to starvation and Ag Tags and this winter is started out worse than last. I think a large percentage of the deer population died because of this and is one of the main factors in why the DNR's deer count was so off.
 I hope this isn't the case state wide but it's a real possability and I'm asking my fellow hunters to take a good look and if my theory is correct, we can do something about it. If my theory is wrong, we still can not hurt ourselves by discussing how to improve the habitat on our public hunting grounds. The people of Oshkosh and other surrounding communties have more deer with in city limits than what we have out on public hunting grounds and the sad part is if they captured the deer in Oshkosh and transported them out to one of these public grounds, they would either starve to death or fill an Ag Tag.  I know we can do better. 
American by birth, hunter by choice.

Osty
 
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RE: Public Land Management, a call to action

Postby Osty » Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:06 pm

I still feel a logging program needs to be in place for public land.  I think the would help create some feeding areas and establish new cover.  Some of these forests are old and very mature which = low food per acre.  Low food means less deer or the deer will not stay there.
 
Logging is a step.  The DNR could make some deal with local loggers to take X amount of trees in certain areas.  I'm sure financially each side would make out.
 
Local sport clubs could help with the plowing.  Like the Adopt-A-Highway, if some club has enough support that could help out.
 

wack
 
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RE: Public Land Management, a call to action

Postby wack » Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:46 pm

Yes I agree Osty. Each and every public hunting property could be improved and should be. To bad we couldn't bring some of those trees down here. Finding trees to climb here is difficult at best. Finding an apple tree is like finding gold.

 I'm not real concerned with every property though. The properties that I'm really concerned about are those Public hunting grounds that were planted last year with a cash crop and then harvested leaving nothing for the wildlife to eat during winter. Hunting grounds that are dirt waist land from fall harvest till spring green up. Hunting grounds where deer are starving right now because it was more important to harvest beans on than to support the wildlife it was set aside for over winter.
 Simple question:
 Do you know of a public hunting grounds near you that had a cash crop harvested from it this past season?  Do you know of public hunting area's that are bare dirt right now because a crop was harvested from it? 

 If you answer yes to either question, speak up.

So far I know of 2 in Winnebago county west of Omro. All I want to do is identify these properties first. Those of you in Winnebago county that hunt public grounds and you have snow shoes, a helicopter, or are young enough to hike through all the snow, get out there and tell us what you see. Be careful, I found myself up to my armpits in snow 20 yards from my truck. lol If you know of another property in your area that fits the description, go out and do the same. Are deer starving? Are there any deer? What are they eating? How is the dirt field affecting the neighbors? What kind of wildlife sign do you see?

 GET OUT THERE! If nothing else, you'll have a great time and you might learn something.
American by birth, hunter by choice.

wack
 
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RE: Public Land Management, a call to action

Postby wack » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:44 am

The location of the 2 bean fields I know of in Winnebago county  are in the Deppe Wildlife area. One is on the far east side that's on the corner of Eureka Rd. and Oak Hill Rd.  The other bean field is on the west side of Deppe Wildlife Area on 37th.
If you look at the map,  http://dnrmaps.wisconsin.gov/imf/imf.jsp?site=mgdlands the entire rectangle off from 37th is one big bean field with a creek running along the south side, private corn field on the north side. About 2/3 to 3/4 of the rectangle off Eureka Rd is also a bean field and the woods starts just past the curve of Eureka Rd on the west end of that rectangle. Almost everything public in between these bean fields is wide open tall grasses.
American by birth, hunter by choice.


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