John's Journal...

What to Do on Your Hunting Lands Before Deer Season Starts

Day 4: Species that Benefit from Prescribed Burning

Editor’s Note: For the most success in the upcoming fall deer season, you need to take some time to plan now. By taking steps now, you’ll have better deer hunting in the future, a more-bountiful deer herd and improved turkey hunting.

Click for Larger ViewDagmar Thurmond, a forest biologist for the USDA Forest Service, says mainly deer, turkey and quail benefit from prescribed-burned areas. “All three of those species require palatable food at ground level,” Thurmond advises. “Here’s some information to help you make decisions about burning.

* “Deer – For deer management, you want to prescribe burning on a 3- to a 5-year rotation to keep new leafy material at ground level. Most hunters believe that acorns are a critical food for deer. Click for Larger ViewBut deer only eat acorns 3 months of the year. The remainder of the year, a deer’s diet includes leaves and twigs.

* “Turkeys – Prescribed burning provides turkeys with food, but more importantly, a burned region gives the birds security. Turkeys like to see their predators before the predators spot them. Turkeys also need vegetation for food at a poult level in the late spring to aid poult survival. You need to burn enough ground to produce an open section of land where poults can get around, yet still have a bit of cover to protect them from predators like raccoons.

* “Quail – Today’s landscape makes managing quail difficult. Quail may need more than 2 years of a prescribed-burning rotation, because they usually live in landscapes where natural burns frequently occur. For instance, before roads and developments, lightning fires might strike in north Florida and continue to spread north through south Georgia because no roads existed that would stop blazes. Click for Larger ViewThe fires covered huge areas on a much-more frequent basis than we see today. Later landowners generally spotted large quail populations in these burned regions.”

Disadvantages to Prescribed Burning:
Ron Herbster, a forest-fire-management officer for the USDA Forest Service, says prescribed burning also has disadvantages. “We’ve had to chase hunters out of the woods to do a prescribed burn. We try to notify hunters about the prescribed burns. But a lot of hunters keep their hunting spots secret. Click for Larger ViewWe’ve disturbed people’s hunts before, while trying to manage the forest.” Also, Herbster mentions that some people disagree about the proper time of year to burn. “But we do
prescribed burning almost year-round,” Herbster reports. “We do lose ground nesting birds at times. But we believe the conditions we create benefit the larger population of wildlife than the few we lose.”

By working with the landowner of your hunting lease and the forester, most wildlife biologists believe you can improve wildlife habitat, increase food availability for wildlife, enhance hunting conditions and better manage timberlands through periodic prescribed burnings.

Tomorrow: Have Healthier Deer and More Quality Habitat by Using Trail Cameras

Check back each day this week for more about "What to Do on Your Hunting Lands Before Deer Season Starts"

Day 1:Install Stalking Lanes in Pine Plantations to be More Successful Hunting Deer in the Fall
Day 2: How to Install a Stalking Lane to Hunt Deer Better
Day 3: Burn Land to Improve Wildlife Habitat for Deer, Turkeys and Quail
Day 4: Species that Benefit from Prescribed Burning
Day 5: Have Healthier Deer and More Quality Habitat by Using Trail Cameras


Entry 570, Day 4