View Full Version : Timber cut on hunting lease

May 10, 2002, 08:00 AM
The owner of the land I lease is cutting the mature timber. Not a clear-cut, just thinning.

What effect will this have on the deer population/habits? Will it improve or screw up hunting?



May 10, 2002, 12:12 PM
Probably help. Removal of the big shade will allow more graze crop to grow.

Once they get unspooked from the cutting.


ballistic gelatin
May 10, 2002, 12:25 PM
I suspect that only time will tell. I agree that after they calm down and make their way back to the area it could be productive. More firing lanes opening up is always a plus.

Art Eatman
May 10, 2002, 04:54 PM
Overall, more food = more healthy fawns, so aside from fatter deer next fall the population density should pick up some.

You might give some thought to putting out a few mineral blocks. Might even consider asking the wildlife-agency folks about any other "growie" that would be helpful to the deer, planting them in the thinned areas.

More forest-edge is good for deer, but opens up songbird nests to predation.


May 10, 2002, 07:17 PM
Hawkman, I understand your concern because the land I hunt is owned by a friend but lorded over by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. :( Your concern over what your lease will be like after the selective cutting is valid.

More sun light hitting the ground the better for new growth. If the timber company comes in and gets what is marked, destroys relatively few other trees, cleans up some of their mess, repairs the damage caused to the roads and trails, burns or hauls the limbs and other unwanted items they produce you might be in good shape next fall.


May 11, 2002, 01:57 AM

As a professional Forest Engineer, I can safely say that nearly every time, timber management enhances wildlife populations. Food sources are more numerous resulting in healthier deer. Where the problems come in is when access is not controlled, and everybody in the area wants to drive in on the new roads because there are new clearcuts, and hence more deer.

The roads themselves are not problems...animals usually use them instead of trails or the timber. It just helps when they are gated or blocked off and access is controlled.

Joel Slate
Slate & Associates, LLC

Art Eatman
May 11, 2002, 07:23 AM
Well, let's say that proper timber management can enhance wildlife populations. One obvious problem is the definition of "proper".

Replacing mixed hardwoods and softwoods with a pine monoculture isn't particularly helpful. Squirrels like pinecones, but deer and turkey prefer acorns. Gotta have the paper to fill out those Gummint forms, right?

Studies in the Ozarks indicate that small clearcuts of some 40 acres or so indeed enhance deer numbers. Howsomever, the detrimental aspect of increasing the amount of edge-habitat is that it opens up more areas to cuckoos (and their laying eggs in songbird nests, pushing out the songbird eggs) and to the smaller predators such as raccoons and feral cats--also harmful to songbird nests.


Bwana Earl
May 14, 2002, 11:02 PM
I have hunted southern "pine plantations" for many decades, and I agree with the responses posted. Typically, harvesting either selectively or clear cut results in logging roads and or fire breaks cut around the harvest area. These become excellent food plot areas and stand locations if you like to hunt from ambush. The owner generally wants these to remain open (but check your lease agreement). These trails can be maintained with a bush-hog or (even better) a disk or harrow. Seed with your favorite stuff and fertilize heavily. Forest floor is usually not very fertile. Also, the increased mineral uptake and lusher growth makes your plot preferable to the natural floura nearby. I have noted that fertilizer spilled while loading the spreader acts like a super hot salt lick.

Art Eatman
May 15, 2002, 07:12 AM
Bwana Earl, limiting this to pine plantations for the moment: Do you know whether the "growies" within "semi-mature" pulp pines actually provide food for deer? (Herbs and forbs, of course; deer are browsers, not grazers.)

When the pines are first planted, all manner of vegetation is fairly rampant. It appears to die back after three to five years, however. The pine is harvested at age 13 to 15 years, so it appears to me that there is a dead time of some eight or so years...

For those who might be unfamiliar with the pine plantations of the south: Seedling pines are planted quite close together. By the fourth or fifth year, hardly any sunlight ever hits the ground between them.

Mature pine forests have been thinned, and there is quite a bit of understory. Fire is used to control the amount of understory and buildup of pine needles/cones and there is an annual regrowth of "fresh veggies" for grazers and browsers. However, the lack of hardwoods (oak, etc.) and the relative lack of dense cover outside of creek or river bottomlands reduces the amount of hidey-holes and winter food. Acorns can make quite a difference in the carryover through a hard winter.


May 15, 2002, 07:35 AM
Thanks for all the input, guys. The cutting is supposed to be finished by August, with the season opening in late Oct. early Nov. Guess I'll have to wait and see about this year, but in the long term the cutting should be a GOOD THING.:D


Bwana Earl
May 15, 2002, 11:24 AM
Art Asked: Do you know whether the "growies" within "semi-mature" pulp pines actually provide food for deer? (Herbs and forbs, of course; deer are browsers, not grazers.)

If the annual moisture is adequate , we see deer feeding in these areas on low growing browse that includes young dogwood and willow, poison ivy and sumac, autumn olive and privet. Some vines including muskedine (spelling?), honeysuckle, and ivies manage to catch hold and their fresh growth is pruned regularly. Wild grasses and planted strips of clover, rye, wheat and oats are opportunistically "grazed". Fungi abound and are favored in season. Any struggling broadleaf plant (shrub or grass) has its new growth pruned. It appears almost barren, until you look closely. We have a fairly large lease that is almost entirely pine plantation and it supports a herd of 80 to 100 deer per square mile (after fawning census). We are trying to manage that at closer to 60 per sq mi for a healthier herd, but we don't harvest enough does.
Yes there is mast in the creek bottoms, but they are cutting that too. The honeysuckle and privet remain green all year, but food value drops in winter.

Art Eatman
May 15, 2002, 03:01 PM
Bwana, one more question: Roughly, what's the tree spacing? Here in south Jawgia, the initial planting for pulpwood looks to be no more than six-foot intervals, at most. It's great for deer to travel through, of course. But looking on the ground, there's little there in the way of any "growie" after the fifth-ish year.

Much of northwest Florida appears to have pulpwood plantings in the same general style.


Bwana Earl
May 15, 2002, 05:32 PM
Our lease is owned by Whomever has the Georgia Pacific land management gig this decade. They are now literally plowing up rows with a D-10 sized rig and planting the row tops. Just guessing, but the rows seem to be spaced about 12 or 15 feet and the seedlings about 6 feet. After 3 or 4 years they thin the rows (side bushhog) leaving about every third tree, depending on seedling success. At 12 to 15 years they cut pulpwood, leaving trees spaced about 20 feet to grow for sawlogs and/or power poles (which bring premium $) while the next seedlings are starting. I know they have tried herbicides, but don't know if it is proving economically viable. Generally, fertilizing is not worth the cost, but they may find direct application on the rows will prove cost effective if they kill out competing vegetation- otherwise known as deer food. The Game and Fish biologists killed 4 or 5 doe on our lease this spring to test general health and reproduction ratios and we ordered pathology tests to see if the herbicides are affecting the deer. We hope to hear back this summer. We are in a program whereby we provide detailed harvest info including a jawbone from all kills except trophies which we age ourselves. In exchange we get extra tags to harvest the excess deer without it counting against our individual annual limits.
The rows will make harvesting simple. The plots range from 40 to 600 acres depending on terrain. In short, I think our spacing is wider and thinning is performed earlier, thus providing more browse. All of this is subject to the next management theory and the timber market. The upshot is deer as thick as rabbits, but not a lot of body or antler size unless they are (selectively) heavily hunted.

Art Eatman
May 16, 2002, 07:51 AM
Quite a difference between farming for mixed pulpwood and timber and farming for just for pulpwood, isn't there? G-P is mostly in the timber business. Can't really blame them, with 2x4 studs selling for $2.56 at Lowes.

Shoot lots of does...

:), Art