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.