Spring is a time for rebirth, and the maintenance of your property is no exception. After countless hours spent hunting your land this winter, the time has come to assess your property and plan for the work that needs to be done in preparation for next season. Let’s discuss the certain steps that must be taken before the spring green up.
First things first – evaluating your hunting season can help you make important changes for the next season. Did you meet your goals for the season? For example, were doe harvest numbers met? How about mature buck sightings/harvest? How did you manage the amount of hunting pressure on the property? If your goals were not met it’s important to ask yourself what can be done to improve your chances of success going forward. If your goals were met, what did you do correctly that should continue or be emphasized more? Having an accurate idea of what went right or wrong during the season will help produce even better results next season. Establishing new camera sites and conducting a post-season camera survey might allow you to better understand the quality and quantity of your deer herd, for example.
February is a great time of year to perform prescribed understory burns that will assist in controlling unwanted vegetation and encouraging native grass growth, and will benefit your timber stand and create new habitat for all wildlife. Burning can also help control any pests or diseases that may be in a timber stand. Before performing a prescribed burn, fire lanes must be in place and a burn plan must be created. With the right plan, prescribed burning can be a very effective tool for a landowner.
While burning can certainly develop wildlife habitat, other methods can be implemented to make your property more inviting for wildlife. In order to maximize wildlife on your land, you must create or improve existing habitats. For avid duck hunters, maintaining your duck ponds will require draining and general maintenance. Ensure resident ducks will choose your property for their home by cleaning out old duck boxes and installing new ones. Creating nesting habitat for turkeys and quail can be done by making brush piles or leaving fields and roadsides grown up in native grasses. Fertilizing your road sides and trimming tree limbs so more sunlight can bathe the ground will help increase this easy to create habitat. Strip disking will create an area for turkeys to dust and feed, and will also encourage re-vegetation of native warm season grasses. Early March is also an excellent time to plant shrubs that will provide cover and food for deer and other wildlife.
A stable source of food is the most important criteria for any animal. After deer season has ended, it may be a good idea to install new feeders and implement a high protein supplemental feeding program to help your deer herd regain body mass and help sustain them through the remaining dormant period. In addition to supplemental feeding, February and March is the time to begin planning summer food plots. While feeding high protein feed is great, crops such as soybeans, corn, sorghum, sunflowers, lab-lab, and iron-clay cowpeas offer much more nutrition than the feed alone. In addition, the crops provide food for all wildlife, not just deer. Planning for these summer food plots/dove fields is critical to their success. Now is the time to be taking soil samples and applying lime if needed. Also in areas where it is not too wet, sub-soiling is a must to break any hard pans and loosen the soil in order to form a better seedbed. As spring approaches it will be vital to maintain clover plots to not only provide wildlife with food and encourage them to stay in the area, but also to take the pressure off some of your other summer food plots until they can mature. In addition to being good for foraging, clover also produces nitrogen, which is essential for healthy soil in the future. Fertilizing clover plots will encourage their growth, and mowing and applying the correct herbicide will help ensure the longevity of the patch.
Although we are getting close to spring green up, it is still not too late to plant fruit tree orchards. A good mix of apple, pear, crabapple, and persimmon trees can really help enhance your property’s aesthetics as well as wildlife potential. If you already have orchards in place, now is the time to prune them to ensure maximum yield. In addition to fruit tree orchards, planting fast producing hard mass trees such as Saw-tooth Oaks, Chinquapin Oaks, Nut-all Oaks, and Dunstan Chesnutt trees around your property can help to both improve habitat and create new hunting opportunities. Reforestation projects of pines and hardwoods should be wrapping up, but it is still not too late to have a crew come out and plant. As with growing food plots, soil tests are highly recommended before planting your trees to help ensure survival rate and future yield.
While it is still cool, and the snakes are still in their holes, now is the best time to mark new areas for wildlife openings, food plot expansion, and new road access. Go ahead and identify your existing roads that need attention, so when dryer weather comes you can improve them to ensure mobility.
BlackRidge Land Company can help you put together and implement a year-round plan to achieve your land ownership goals. Visit our website at blackridgeland.com or give us a call today!
Thomas Morrison 205.288.1365