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Forest Management for Improving Deer Populations

Are you looking to significantly improve your deer population?  Forest, or timber management, is one powerful way to do it.  Forest management helps to create healthy and fertile deer habitats that will improve your wildlife for decades to come.  Forest management is a seriously fertile investment opportunity for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts.

If you are a novice when it comes to timber management, your question is likely: where do I begin?  We can help there.  We will go over identifying which trees are helping your deer habitats and which are severely hurting deer populations.  After tree identification, you will want to move on to cutting down the harmful trees and foliage that may be lowering the deer populations in your area.  After that, the last step is to plant the right trees that will improve your deer populations.

Tree Identification

Identifying various trees has long been a vital part of forestry and a past-time for agriculture enthusiasts.  While there is no limit to the amount of books and guides on identifying the different trees around the world, what we need to know is which we want to keep and which we need to get rid of.  This last part is crucial.  One of the easiest forest management jobs to increase your deer populations is just to trim the forest down and let in some light.

The first step is to identify diseased trees.  The exact ailment will be different for different areas of the world, but there are some general markers and diseases you will likely come across and should look out for.  The most common tree diseases in the U.S. are:

  1. Armillaria Root Rot - Fungi that affects hardwoods, softwoods, shrubs, and more in your forest.  Major cause of oak tree decline in U.S.

  2. Anthracnose - common leaf disease affecting hardwoods.  Symptoms are dead or splotched leaves on trees

  3. Annosus Root Rot - disease affecting conifers.

  4. American Chestnut Blight - fungus responsible for wiping out most chestnut populations.

Here’s an index of common diseases.  Research online which disease are most prominent in your area and how to identify each disease.  Disease can be devastating for a whole forest, which will be terrible for your deer population.

But the most important step is to identify trees that are dying (whether from disease or otherwise).  Once you get the hang of it, it isn’t very difficult to find and identify which trees seem to be dead or dying, the identification markers to a dying tree are:

  1. First, check the leaves.  The clearest marker that a tree is dead is whether there are no leaves all year round.  Inspect the leaves to see if they are brown or otherwise unhealthy looking.  If it is summer and a tree’s leaves look bad, it is a good bet it’s dying.

  1. Second, inspect the branches.  A good sign you should remove a tree is if it has several dead branches.  A healthy tree can have a couple dead branches, but if many of the branches of the tree seem to be dying starting from the tip.  If you can get a twig from the tree and test whether it bends, it’s alive, if it breaks easily, it’s dead.  You can scratch the bark of the tree to see if there is any green, if there is, then the tree is alive.

  1. Third, check the trunk.  If there is a lot of rot on the trunk, you want to remove the tree.  Another bad sign is if a lot of the bark is peeling off.

Removing Trees

Once you have identified the harmful and dying trees in your forest, you need to set about removing them from your property.  Removing a tree can be a dangerous job, so please make sure you have the right equipment and are as careful as is necessary for a job like this.  The Home Depot has made a simple guide to removing trees, including best equipment and the like.

Why do you want to remove trees to improve your deer population?  Well, there are serious benefits to cutting down your forest some.  Letting the light come into your forest will help to make the growth of the forest ground extremely fruitful creating all the necessary life-promoting plants and nutrients for deer habitat and population growth.  This is a major bonus to increasing the wildlife of the forest in general, so you can have a better hunt or just a better forest.  Letting the light come in to create natural undergrowth all around your forest is better than the common hunting practice of creating food plots, which makes it a serious advantage beyond the normal steps people take to increase deer populations.  Beyond this, removing dead and diseased trees will keep your forest healthy for decades to come, and without maintaining your trees this way, your forest will deteriorate.

Planting Trees

Another great way of improving your deer population is by planting the right trees.  Light will create natural growth for cover and food for the deer, but deer really love certain fruits and trees that you can plant pretty easily.  To begin with, white and red oaks are a great tree to begin with.  White and red oaks drop acorns that deer love when they don’t have much to eat, and will leave them right in the open.  Both trees lead to a healthy overall forest.  But an even better tree for attracting deer are persimmons   Persimmons grow ripe fruits about the size of a plum.  Deer absolutely love these fruits and if you plant plenty around your forest, your land will become heaven-on-earth for deer in a 100 mile radius of your property.  Other good tree choices are crabapples and honey locust trees.  You want to scale how many trees you plant with the size of your forest.

Planting these trees and other healthy new trees will create new populations of deer on your property. Forest management is better than the other tactics hunters are using such as food plots and the like, although it is a good idea to do both.  Following this article is your best bet when it comes to vastly improving deer populations for forest properties.