In the Field: Habitat Days

Jason Myers talked about improving habitat on the landscape, and the slew of opportunities there are for cost sharing for habitat work on private land. Jason, and Farm Bill biologists like him, are also able to offer free technical support for writing management plans and offering habitat advice. Contact your local Conservation District to see what resources may be available in your area. Jason also mentioned a few other resources that can help reduce costs. Conservation Districts often have drill and tree planter rentals available, as well as tree and seed sales in the fall and spring. He suggested you connect with your local QDMA branch or Pheasants Forever chapter to find out what resources (seed, cost share, etc.) they may have available to assist with habitat improvements.
Trent Masterson is a guide, outfitter, and trapper who also has a background in land management. His primary focus is on predators and nest predators. The best time to trap predators is before they have the ability to have the largest impact. You want to have the populations reduced before fawn drop and nesting time. Trent talked about how trapping isn’t as complicated as people may think. He offers one-day trainings that provide strategies for baiting and trapping. His big tip for attracting coyotes is to use coyote turds from somewhere 10 or so miles away. He recommended you trade coyote scat with your buddies. They carry the scent of a “territory invader” and coyotes are highly drawn to the scent. Trent also did a trapping demonstration for the group after the presentations were over.
Matt Ross spoke about attracting and holding bucks on small properties. He said that deer require natural vegetation, and while food plots offer some great food options, they cannot replace the need deer have for their woody browse. When you are looking to manage your land for deer, it is important that you look at it from a landscape, or up in the sky, perspective. You want to use your land to complement what is already there and improve it. By looking at what surrounds your property, you can get a good idea on if you need to create, maintain or enhance the parcel. Matt also reiterated several times the importance of involving a forester in your management planning. There are foresters out there who are able to look for the valuable timber on your property, and also take into account management practices that benefit the wildlife you are seeing to manage. Finally, Matt talked about winter cover. It is important that deer have quality cover with woody browse to get them through the winter. When the food source isn’t in the same location as the cover, they have to burn calories to travel to the food source. Reducing travel will help improve the condition they are in when spring comes.
After the speakers, and the trapping demonstration, we went out into the woods. We looked for deer browse, tried to avoid poison ivy, and admired some hinge cuts. This property had very little browse, so we were able to see the regeneration of maples, beech, and even a few oaks. There was also some trillium, and morel mushrooms.

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