Going to start food plots and habitat improvements need ideas

Discussion in 'Whitetail Management' started by tw911, Dec 16, 2018.

  1. tw911

    tw911 New Member

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    Good evening, We want to put in food plots and do some work to improve our habitat. First let me give a brief description of our farm.
    We have just under 375 acres of land in Jones county. About 100 acres are in timber. Crop fields on 3 sides ( north south and east) a gravel road to west and neighboring timber and crop fields. Of the timber the main timber is about 80 acres with 2 " Fingers as we call it" that border with the neighbor to the east which is also timber. We put in a 1.5 acre pond in the NE corner of the timber. It has lot of mature trees. Oak, Walnut Maple Elms and more. The timber is appx 300 to 400 yards wide. We had a problem with oak wilt and had those areas harvested of the trees 4 years ago. The problem we have is in the winter you can see from the road all the way thru the timber. We get great deer movement and have shot lots of 140 to 170 class deer. But....they are all deer passing thru. We cannot get deer to hold in our property, this is do to lack of ground cover. We are going to start hinge cutting some trees after Jan 10th to hopefully create more ground cover for bedding areas.
    What can we plant along the timber on road side to better hide viewing into the timber? Also going to do this on north and south side too. We want to also put food plots in several locations on east side away from prying eyes. Also we have several waterways that are grass. We want to put some type of food plots in these also but closer to the timber. They are all grass of some sort so what do we use and how do we do these? The crop ground is all leased out. No food plots will be on neighboring property lines. Getting our timber to thicken to create a home/bedding area is goal #1. I do not want to feed deer at night so they go to bed next door. Normally we let our neighbor cut and bale the waterways but we let him do that at N/C and that can stop when we do food plots. Food plots work will be done via our Polaris UTV with attachments. We are going to put in food plots as follows, 1 on North side appx 10k sq feet. East side 2 plots by timber appx 600 sq ft each. 1 on backside of pond where the tube drains into about 700 sq feet. 1 in waterway by fingers about 250 sq ft the ones in the bigger waterways aill vary from 300 sq ft to 13k sq ft. The ones in waterways will only be along the sides with breaks in between them. They will not be continual. We plan on doing smaller ones closer to the neighbors and getting them bigger as they get closer to our main timber.
    I know this is along post but we need some thoughts and ideas. There will be no hunting in waterways or within 100 yards of the pond food plot of big food plot on north end. The other 3 will be hunting on travel routes and not over the food plots. This is about better habitat and giving the deer food sources they need in the cold months. The waterways I am thinking they can be used for spring summer fall, helping the does, fawns and of course for antler growth. We do not want to go in and cut down our mature trees unless there is a disease that dictates the need to. We have 4 bow hunters and the same 4 for guns. The timber is hills and valleys, spring fed creek thru middle which goes to pond. Pond is 15 ft deep. Was 17ft 5 years ago.
    If you want a aerial photo email me and I can send on. File is too large to upload here
    m.kleinsmith@mediacombb.net
    Thanks
    Mike
     
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  3. deadeye

    deadeye Member

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    I have a similar disappointment with some timber stand improvement I have been doing. Had the Forester out and he said get on the invasives. Got after the Autumn Olive, honeysuckle, and Barbary. Now there is hardly any cover. Maybe I am impatient but it doesn't seem like anything native is coming in its place. Deer liked the honeysuckle and bedded by Barbary. Hope it thickens up next year.

    Asked about hinge cutting but he didn't have much to say about that. What kind of trees would be good to hinge? What time of year is best?

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  4. Wi transplant

    Wi transplant Active Member

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    Hi mike ! My first sugestion is to put bedding where they would want to bed anyway ! Create thick areas adj to some food for your does and create thick spots on ridges and points where bucks like to bed. Plant switchgrass around all perimeters if possible ! 20ft wide creates a great barrier ! But your first step is to plan your entrance and exit from stands !!!! Because if you cant get in and out clean all your improvements are for nothing !!

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  5. Wi transplant

    Wi transplant Active Member

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    Tsi for forestry is different than tsi for habitat improvements!!! Skip sligh has a great video on you tube about tsi for deer . i think just serch skip timber stand improvement and you should find it !!!

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  6. Hardwood11

    Hardwood11 Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like Skip could give you advice (TSI)

    I’ve seen it work first hand
     
  7. tw911

    tw911 New Member

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    I was told to hinge cut non money trees, edleberry was one they said for sure. Hinge cut when trees are dorment (sp) which is winter time. they said cut 5-6 feet up 3/4 thru tree and push over to the south south east. We have 0 barbary or multi floral rose. about 10 years ago cattle were allowed in timber. Where the trees were logged from oak wilt has grown some but not much (5 yrs ago). Good luck
     
  8. tw911

    tw911 New Member

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    Thanks for the info. Do you need to do much to prep ground for switchgrass? Can it be put in partially into the timber? the farmer plants very close to the timber edge. Currently all of our stands are easy to get to from the road side and we can walk pretty easy into them. We rarely bump anything due to lack of deer bedding in there. So everything usually comes from the fields thru our place and goes to the neighbors across road to bed. During rut the run everywhere, almost got run over this year dy a doe, spike and 10 pt chasing her. 10 yards away while walking in to hunt in afternoon! Bedding areas will be put close to but easy for us to get to. Travel routes will used for stands with no hunting in bedding or food plots.....dont want it to be too easy! gotta earn that deer!
     
  9. tw911

    tw911 New Member

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    I will check it out. Thanks.
     
  10. tw911

    tw911 New Member

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    I should add.....We get lots of deer from the neighboring farms in at night. The south, west have lots of timber the east and northeast is pasture and crop fields but not alot. Every night the North east is a hot bed in our crop field. Anywhere from 10 to 30 deer by sunset. Our 1st goal for next year is better habitat to hold deer and a few food plots. The better the cover the more we can add food plots. We need to find ways to provide better security for the deer. We have tons of water ways and we are gonna stop the mowing in them mid August so they have some height to them. Mowed to ground this year.
     
  11. Sligh1

    Sligh1 Administrator Staff Member

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    Great info above! A lot of info to go over here!! To add to above, start here...
    https://www.iowawhitetail.com/forum/forums/dbltrees-corner.45/
    Look at 2 things above.... edge feathering & bedding Areas and timber stand improvement. Most comprehensive info u can find. & all the stuff on plots & anything else too!

    Second thing.... which u did.... get forester out. **Deadeye... I’m surprised they had u eradicate the invasives but not do timber stand improvement or discuss planting something else to take its place. Ya- that’s going to be pretty bare for a long long time. U need a combo of replanting native species & also doing a lot of tsi. U will be battling the invasives as they pop up from seed again but far easier to manage. To anyone: timber stand improvent, hinge cutting, etc is just such a game changer & sooner the better when done correctly!!!

    Native grasses - same- above link. Dbltree is a real deal legend who’s work lives on. Natives are another big can of worms. All these things - timber, plots, natives, tactics on hunting the farm before & after the projects- lots of details but absolutely a very doable process on figuring it out. U did the right thing by getting input from guys who have done it. Get some folks out there who know how to do each of the things u r wanting to do. Expertise will save u a lot of headaches long term. Be a lot of guys on here with some fantastic knowledge.
     
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  12. Wi transplant

    Wi transplant Active Member

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    My other concern was size of your food plots ??? Did you mean sq yards or sq feet ? A 20x30 ft =600sq ft is not very big ? Im thinking if possible at all your will need several acres of food to have anything left to hunt over buy late fall ?? Just my thoughts .

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  13. IowaBowHunter1983

    IowaBowHunter1983 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    That's a damn good start! ;)
     
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  14. HybridCam

    HybridCam New Member

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    If you are comfortable with a chainsaw and doing things against the safety manual you can do a T-cut on your hinge tree. Do a vertical plunge cut perpendicular to the direction you want the tree to fall about 1/3 the way back from the fall side of the trunk, and then cut the back side (2/3) of the plunge cut to release the tree. That seems to help keep the hinge from snapping and controlling your direction of fall. Be very careful if you do with with all PPE as plunge cuts are very prone to kickback.

    If you just want to make one, safer, cut, cutting the back side at a downward angle seems to work well.

    Cut and hinge your maples, they will make an impenetrable canopy if you let them, The deer really like them for browse, so get them down on head level to provide food and cover.
     
  15. Hardwood11

    Hardwood11 Well-Known Member

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    375 acres in Iowa... you should be in “the chips”
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
  16. deadeye

    deadeye Member

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    Zero maples...

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  17. deadeye

    deadeye Member

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    Sorry skip not sure how that Frost thread is related... I actually had the Forester out again this fall and we marked some trees to girdle. However he didn't say anything about hinge cutting when I inquired. He said to keep after the invasives. We have made a lot of progress on that. I have ordered and planted a bunch of seedlings from the state nursery but he kind of indicated it was wasted time and effort without much more sunlight.
    In the backyard I am trying to establish clover but the deer eat it down. Next fall plan to try some purple top turnips in the clover for late season food and a little more tonage.
    We have some native dogwood but that doesn't seem to spread much. Not sure what to try to replace honeysuckle with in the timber that would grow.
    Have some crap trees - elm that maybe I will try to hinge. Have a decent amount of oak hickory and black cherry. No Walnut either.

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  18. Sligh1

    Sligh1 Administrator Staff Member

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    Foresters usually aren't going to say anything on hinging. They are looking at: future forest growth (no invasives), forest health & growing quality logs, etc. They generally don't care about "deer cover" or having thick areas, sanctuaries, beddinng or Thermal cover - which is HUGE. So, you didn't get bad advice, you just didn't get someome who has intent or knowledge to implement all of your goals.
    Let me be VERY CLEAR!!!.... You can do KILL 4-8 BIRDS WITH ONE STONE!!! You can keep your forester happy.... Free canopy space for good crop trees, removal invasives, etc. You can also plant desireable wildlife plantings in your timber. You can hack down junk trees, hinge some, create bedding, make a mess - as long as you are cutting the right stuff. You simply need a far more comprehensive plan.
    HINGING..... Loaded frigin topic there. I'll add to this. I cover hundreds of acres per year, I've probably done 4,000+ acres of billed TSI work in my life... a staggering amount that I would NEVER recommend another person taking on (borderline stupid). I do still hinge but I don't have the need to get super fussy about it and if I'm topping off junk or double girdling big stuff.... a TSI job done PROPERLY will leave a forester extremely thick. The times when it's not thick.... I've seen it happen.... guys are lazy, don't cut enough, don't have the knowledge or just did the minimum. A TSI job done right, hinging or not.... Will usually create ground that's "too thick" in some ways and need some maintenance. Maybe trails, maybe cutting back invasives as they grow, whatever. TSI done right will give you: massive cover, thermal cover, insane levels of browse, infinitely more bedding & safety areas, massive advances on mast production, around 2x the growth rate of some crop trees, ridiculous long term gains on timber value, etc. Like I said, done right & comprehensively, 1 stone kills 5-8 birds. LONG SUBJECT!!!!! Start with Dbltree's section.

    3-4 food sources & varieties that have something there or growing almost all 12 months of the year. Grains & then 2 greens like the dbltree rotation + areas of clover/alfalfa. Any waste ground doing nothing: Native grasses or tree/shrub plantings.

    LOW PRESSURE & LAYING OFF THE TRIGGER..... Low hanging fruit & sounds common sense BUT.... A group goes out and hunts day after day after day with too many guys and entrances/exits aren't perfect (even if they are).... It's just gonna take a toll. Common sense. Push deer off, mature bucks especially or make em nocturnal. Last, guys might do EVERYTHING perfect, land is deer paradise. But, the lead & arrows continually take out the best genetic up & comers before maturity...... No surprise & very easy a farm will not have great deer. Really simple & obvious YET - those 2 things happen on, I'd guess, 75% of farms where guys claim they want great hunting and big & old deer. It's a head scratcher. Not saying this is anyone here, just talking generalities. Anyways, good luck guys! Love seeing these project farms get molded & made into their potential!
     
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  19. tw911

    tw911 New Member

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    You have alot to say here and I love it! Lots of good advice. We ( our group ) have been following a antler/age restriction rule for around 20 years. Does for meat or genetic screwed up bucks. Antlered out past ear tips and hopefully 4 1/2 yrs and up. I passed on a 8 pointer last year but after watching the video I took of him as he walked 15 yards past me and showing it to our resident expert on how many inches a deer is was shocked I let a 160- 170 inch walk. I thought he was smaller....Im old and blind! Anyway I got the hinging idea from a forester that lives around the corner from our property and also is married to my cousin, but still charges us full price when we had him do a walk thru and found oak wilt. But like you said....they care about the $$ of trees and how to make them better and not about the hunting. Another fortunate luck for us is 3 of us work for City government and we are going to have our forester from work come walk thru with us and help us identify which trees we need to hinge ( non money trees ). Well maybe a few as we are not into logging them unless disease warrants it. We all have been thru chain saw classes and know that hinging is dangerous and are going to restrict the size we do it to. Bigger ones we will barrell cut and let nature take care of it when its time. That will help let light in.
    Now as far as seeding can we do switchgrass in the timber? And we have a spring fed creek that runs thru the middle of our place. I thought that would be a great place to do also. We have 5 spots along the timber for food plots planned 3 smaller maybe 1/4 acre and 2 that are more like 2 -3 acres each. Do you have any thoughts on the grass in the timber? We dont hunt very heavily. Weekend warriors and sometimes we miss weekends completely or just 1 day....Iowa football ya know!
    Thanks for your response.
    Mike


     
  20. tw911

    tw911 New Member

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    I like your idea on the vertical plunge cut! We all have been thru multiple chainsaw training and safety classes. Were City workers (3 of 4) who sometimes are required to use chainsaws. We were planning on 2/3 to 3/4 cut and use wedges if needed. None of us are good with tree id but we managed to get our forester from work to agree to come up and do a walk thru to help us mark and identify trees for us. What helps is to know which one will be best for the wildlife for canopy and to browse on.....ie maples.
    Any others you can help with would be great! Thanks for the response and for having our safety in the forefront of your response.
    Mike


     
  21. tw911

    tw911 New Member

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    Why zero maples? They make good canopy for cover?

     

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