Google “native habitat management practices” and you will likely unearth more than you care to research. I have good news: no research necessary. Just read on. I believe that there are 5 critical native habitat management practices that any land owner should implement if he wants to make a real difference in the quality of the hunt on his property. No single practice is more important than the other – each one is vitally important to the improvement of your land. You may have what you believe is the perfect property for wildlife. However, without implementing these practices, it is far from realizing it’s potential.
Here is a hypothetical situation that many people have encountered:
Mr. Smith owns 320 acres of prime agricultural land along the Cimarron River in north central Oklahoma. This farm consists of 150 acres of old hardwood forests, 100 acres of agricultural bottom ground leased in alfalfa and corn, and the rest is comprise of over-grazed native pasture. Mr. Smith believes his farm is ideal for hunting in its current condition. After all, they do kill one or two great wall-hangers every year, even though they may sit for days without seeing a deer with antlers. The truth is, Mr. Smith needs some help to get his property up to its full potential. In this post, I’ll go over the flaws in the habitat. Over the next week, we will tackle the solutions.
Flaw #1: The cattle have grazed the same pastures for years. Very little grass grows back and most areas are smothered by a heavy thatch of old growth. It is very hard to find native grass over a foot tall anywhere. Also, the hardwood timber has been ignored for decades. Years of ice storm debris and over-crowding have made it nearly impenetrable.
Flaw #2: The timber is severely neglected.
Flaw #3: No tall grass left. Fewer fawns are seen each year.
Flaw #4: All of the agricultural fields immediately border thick timber or overgrazed pasture.
Flaw #5: Very little native browse is left.
Now, stay with me. You may own, or know someone who owns, a property very much like Mr. Smith’s. While I’ve only given the details of the make-up of his property and outlined the flaws in the habitat, I will go into further detail on each one as well as discussing the solutions in the next few posts throughout the coming week. Stay tuned, and be ready to learn…
’til next time – Scott