Saturday, April 10, 2010

Land Management Timber Work

This spring we have been doing some awesome land management projects and consultations for folks looking to buy a particular piece of property as well as for folks looking to spruce up their piece of property. Anyhow, this latest project is definitely one worth talking about! This particular father/son owned piece of property in Fulton County has been carefully and meticulously manicured for raising, holding, observing, and harvesting trophy deer. For this project, we were not hired for our knowledge but rather our backs (and equipment).

The land management plan in place on this property is like 5 levels past any land management program I have seen implemented to date. The owners have more knowledge of whitetail deer (and more trophy deer hanging on the wall in their cabin) than most of the professional fellas you see on TV. Every square inch of this 600 acre property is being managed and maintained for raising and harvesting deer. It goes way beyond just planting food and hoping the deer will come.
Many people think that simply feeding deer is the key to harvesting them, just the same way they think that simply feeding fish is all the management it takes to grow trophy fish. Let me just say that there is just so much more than simply planting a food plot or merely setting a timer on a feeder. Regardless of how much food is available naturally or supplementally, consistently growing fish and deer takes paying attention to all of the many very tiny details, instead of just focusing on the one big detail.

For this property, 5% of it is planted in various annual and perennial food plots placed strategically throughout. Here is a clover field overlooking the big timber.

1/2 acre to 3 acre plots are spread out everywhere. The food is strategically planted and the focus is on year round nutrition rather than just hunting season attractant. 12 months out of the year, the deer living on this farm have more than enough food, water and shelter and never need to leave. Oh yeah, water holes like this one have been strategically placed throughout.

On top of the supplemental food that is planted every year, the property is managed for providing optimum natural forage as well. Every year, certain trees are hinge cut and they provide great forage for a couple years and then once they die they turn into great shelter. Also a wide variety of shrubs and nutrition producing trees are maintained as well. Approximately 20% of the property is planted and harvested annually as well. These row crops provide quite a bit of food too.

I would estimate that about 50% of this hunting farm is deer sanctuary. Humans dont go in these places ever. Thick native grasses and big knarly timber make up the majority of these man forbidden areas. The forbidden areas are never hunted, walked upon, or messed with period. Never give the big boys a reason to leave, and they simply will stay put.

Not only is the land managed for raising deer, but hunting the deer efficiently and properly takes quite a bit of effort as well. Stand sites are picked and then funnels and pinch points are then man made to make sure the deer walk within shooting distance of the stands. Here is a pic of a spot where we piled up thick brush completely blocking access to this popular food plot from the wrong side of the timber.

Deer can come in on only one side and they have to walk within 30 yards of this stand not only to get into the food plot, but more importantly for the bucks to see who is in the food plot. They have to walk by this stand. I cant quite describe this to really do it justice, but they have done a tremendous amount of thinking, planning, observing, and work over the last 10 years to create the absolute perfect hunting stands. Here is a deer stand in this huge white oak tree right on a trail between two different types of food plots. Trees like this are very easy to stay hidden in!

The entire property is divided into sections on a map. There is a written management plan for each section. We have until the second week of May to get as many sections done as possible. Once the does start having fawns, all the work on the property is done for the year. Having the fawns born and raised on the property without any human distractions is pretty important to keeping that deer on your property forever. Justin and some of our part time help have been performing the selective tree cutting and hinging, brush pile making, and various other labor for the last week. They finished 5 sections and hope to get a couple more done by the cutoff date.

I cant quite describe this management plan enough to do it justice, and realize that this isnt possible for everyone in every situation. But for this Father/Son duo, this is their goal, passions, and dreams all coming true. I cant say that I would manage my property like this if I had some, because I love mushroom hunting, 4 wheeler riding, camping, and exploring, but to each his own. The many deer hanging in their cabin would make any professional hunter or Deer and Turkey classic attendee jealous and asking questions.

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