Timber Stand Improvement for Deer
For those of you who didn’t tuck tail and run when thinking of anything that has to do with timber harvest, cutting a bit of those good-looking woods down is beneficial for deer. Those beautiful woods you cherish so much are exactly that, Beautiful woods. Clean tall trees that you can see up to 100 yards through. While this might be the ideal woods in your mind, the fact is that deer and wildlife can’t really use it except for the seasonal mast drop.
If you are currently picturing your property then listen up. Right now is when your property matters the most in the deer’s world. The winter months for a deer is life or death day by day. Quality habitat is what is going to push your deer herd to spring. Quality, meaning an abundance of food and cover for the cold and hungry doe, fawn, and rut tattered buck. If your woods are gorgeous then it’s time to do some work.
It is ok to start up the chainsaw, you’re on your way to doing more good than damage. Selectively harvesting trees throughout the woodlot will open up sunlight on the forest floor. You want to take out your undesirable trees as far as timber and deer are concerned. Your elms, basswoods, hickories, any invasive all should go. If you have a woods bountiful with oaks, decide which oaks should go if undesirable or consult with a forester on proper densities for your region. Timber thinning works exceptionally well with pine stands. Numbered cuts or row cuts work great to expose the ground to sunlight. You can even leave the tops, they make for great cover initially and protect some saplings from deer. Come spring, you will witness a growth pulse of shrubs, briars, berries, vines, and saplings that are all quality browse.
In a year or two the good-looking woods will become ugly to the untrained eye. Littered with tree tops, snaky brush piles, and briars you will soon realize the true beauty of your work. Tons of food per acre and quality cover all with just some simple cuts. If you start this winter you will be preparing for spring, but you will already be putting tree tops on the ground which is a dinner bell for deer. Just a couple of buds from the top of the tree is enough to make a whitetail happy.
TSI work can be scary when first discussed but the benefits of a few cuts far exceed the costs. Chainsaws truly are one of the most valuable tools in the deer hunters shed, you just can’t be too afraid of using it. So gas, oil, and sharpen it up the off season has already started and now is the perfect time to start.