View Full Version : Can we have an argument.....??

March 1, 2012, 08:32 PM
Louann and I spent a couple of days this week in Tallahassee attending a Prescribed Fire for Wildlife class that was put on by the FWC, the Florida Forest Service, the Univ. of Florida and the Wildlife Society.

We had teachers/presenters/leaders from the FWC, the USFWS, the NWTF, the Forest Service and others.....all in all VERY interesting.

So.....here is what we can all argue about......maybe.....

The FWC biologist who spoke on prescribed fire and how it benefited deer made a comment that stuck with me. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, that land managers would produce more and better deer for hunters if the time and money spent on corn was instead used simply for habitat improvement. He went further in that he suggested that by improving habitat, which included not just creating the physical environment deer need but also the more diverse range of plants for them to eat, the nutrition of the deer was better served.

There was more........but the idea that in the long run we as hunters would be better served by simply using our time and effort to improve the land instead of depositing corn and other feed was compelling.

So...............is he right??

March 1, 2012, 08:40 PM
So...............is he right??

He is.

Hunting over bait is ....... counter productive. It concentrates animals unnaturally. That is not healthy for the animals. You do want to hunt/eat healthy animals, right?

If you want to do it, fine, provided it's legal where you hunt.

March 1, 2012, 08:48 PM
I also agree but for exact reasons... Money in controlled burning and replanting native food vegetation would seem better than corn and oat plots in the middle of the woods... Sure farms provide feed but if in the woods, keep woods-like feed vegetation.

Here the "yopon" [sp] holly will take over and be too dense for deer to really use thus minimizing your actual "liveable" sq. ft. of land... But I am no QDM expert to say the least...


March 1, 2012, 09:54 PM
I am not for the burning. IMO, it would be much better for livestock to be allowed in the area to eat down the different vegetation than to burn the area. They won't tell you about the different animals that are severely burned or killed by these so called controlled burns.

I do agree with improving the land and habitat vs. putting out corn. Many feel that baiting and feeders have contributed to the spread of CWD. One thing you want to consider is improving the habitat for the deer, pheasants, etc. but not improving the habitat for predators.

March 1, 2012, 10:06 PM
Livestock graze and deer browse. Therein lies the key that guides wildlife deer management. A burn will prompt new growth of browse vegetation that will attract deer resulting in more deer in a given area.

Even native Americans practiced a form of wildlife management by setting fire to grassland that supports bison. This prompted healthier prairies. Lightning serves the same purpose.

A good example is Mount St Helens in Washington. Mature forests were knocked down by incandescent pyroclastic flows and rebounded with new growth perfect for browsing. Now elk cover the slopes.

Art Eatman
March 1, 2012, 10:50 PM
Not all that many people put out corn all year around. It's mostly just a hunting season attractant.

Habitat improvement is always the best way to go. That, plus controlling the numbers at the carrying capacity of the ecosystem.

March 2, 2012, 12:29 AM
I have no data to cite but the past couple years we cleared additional acres of scrub and planted more green fields. Didn't even use corn this year. The deer that we took this season seemed 'beefier'. Game cam pics after the season ended (of course) showed some sizable 8-10 pointers that were scarce just a while back.

March 2, 2012, 01:08 AM
Planting cover/food source for wildlife such as switch-grass can be very beneficial . Especially where clearings exist in large mature woods with very little natural cover.
So many times people put out feeders etc. when their wooded property is surrounded by acres of soybean,corn etc. farmers plant. Hard to compete with that using a feeder. Creating thick cover close to these farm fields for the wildlife and hunter(:D) works wonders in this scenario.

March 2, 2012, 10:06 AM
I used to hunt a mountain in Maryland that seemed to burn off every few years. The next year it was lush and green and by the second year you really had to look hard to see evidence of a fire. The large tree were left O.K., but the smaller trees were damaged. If the leaves were deep enough the fire would cook the bark off the small trees. The fire went through so fast it left a lot of acorns exposed and the deer were in there at night while it was still burning. On the other side, there were a lot of box turtles there and even if hibernating I doubt they would make it. You could put your hand on the ground days later and feel the heat. The loamy peat kind of stuff burns under ground for days. It does improve a wooded area that is browsed down. One of the first things up is greenbriar and raspberries. Deer love to browse on that stuff.

March 2, 2012, 10:37 AM
Maybe if we're talking baiting and food plots it may have some merits but Iowa's deer heard is healty because of the corn they eat. You give deer around here 10 acres of cover and a 90 acre corn field and they'll be healthier than in any natural timber/cover around. That 100 acres will hold more and healthier deer than 100 acres of any natural type cover. Using feeders does have drawbacks but you can't tell me a certain piece of more natural ground will have healthier deer if you don't feed em some corn.


Art Eatman
March 2, 2012, 01:52 PM
L Kilkenny, remember that there is a time-aspect to this. In your area, the deer are into the corn when it's first heading out, and then on through the growing season and then into spillage from the harvest. That's a lot longer period to build up weight ahead of winter and the rut than where the corn is started maybe a week before season opens.

The food available during summer and fall is what builds deer up ahead of winter and the rut. In ranching country, the only really viable answer is range improvement with the natural growies.

March 2, 2012, 04:01 PM
Have to agree with ART, I worked nights and drove home past a house with a good sized wooded lot next to the driveway. There was one of those huge night lights on a pole by the driveway and I saw deer in the grass every night picking up acorns because they were easy to get at. Across the road was alphalpha and behind the wooded area was corn. The deer were after the acorns for over a week and then I bet they just moved to a better spot. Corn makes fat but I doubt it has much lasting protein.

March 2, 2012, 07:39 PM
Deer like eating shelled corn because it tastes good to them. However, pure corn is a VERY poor nutritional supplement. The biologists are absolutely correct that proper nutritional planting would do a far better job at supplying what they really need.

March 2, 2012, 08:02 PM
Being a government agency employee I have helped burn many acres of land. Indeed they are talking about corn put out as a food source not corn in fields eaten by deer on an irregular basis. Put simply burning does many things, it encourages many different plants to grow and increases the biodiversity of an area which is always good (assuming here that it does not result in an invasion of an exotic species. Deer are primarily browsers meaning they eat a bite there a bite here etc., they love those small sprouts and shrubs with tender easy to reach buds and twigs. They also love many of the native grasses if manged correctly. In the end habitat improvement is always the best thing for wildlife.

March 2, 2012, 08:18 PM
Discern said:
I am not for the burning. IMO, it would be much better for livestock to be allowed in the area to eat down the different vegetation than to burn the area.

Fire was the natural forest cleaner until man created smokey the bear, and started putting out every fire. After a few years of that the forest floor becomes flooded with vegitation that in a natural environment would be swept clean every few years.
The forest service tried to fix it by letting thinning contracts but it's an unnatural solution to a man made problem.
Then we get contolled burns, that strangly enough sometimes become uncontrolled.
God designed the forest well. It worked as it should. Man messed it up.
Let the natural fires do their work. That means a lot of wildfire fighters have to look for other work, but makes for a healthy forest and healthy game.
Win win in my opinion.


March 2, 2012, 11:33 PM
He's absolutely right. I mean the speaker in the first post.

March 3, 2012, 08:56 AM
Discern, you are wrong on this one. Proper burning is very beneficial to all wildlife. Notice I said "proper". If done at a bad time (like my county managers are doing right now during a drought) the trees don't have enough moisture in them and they'll be killed along with the underbrush.

I grew up in Georgia's plantation country. Those are some of the most beautiful and productive woods you'll ever see. They get burned about every other year - but only at the "right" time. In that part of the country the right time is usually late February. Soil and tree moisture is high enough that the beneficial plants aren't harmed, useless vegetation (like young sweet gum tree sprouts) are already up, and good vegetation hasn't yet sprouted. A good burn kills off the already-sprouted bad vegetation and clears the way for the beneficial stuff that will sprout later in the spring.

March 3, 2012, 09:23 AM
I work out in the "flint hills" region of Kansas all year long, and fellas I'm here to tell you that these folks burn these regions yearly, by prescribed methods of course and these areas are some of the best looking hunting areas I've laid eyes on.
Iowa corn farms don't need to be burnt off yearly because the "farmer takes care of the rotation of "groceries" so to speak, but in areas that need burned are ares that no farmer can work them up, it has to be done naturally or as close to natural as can be expected.
Animals move right into these "burnt" areas immediatley when they "green-up" it's amazing what it offers otherwise barren type grounds.

just my buckfitty fellas!!:)

March 3, 2012, 09:39 AM
Though I believe as several have said, as man we tend to screw up what nature already has in place. However a natural burn on our little plot would be devastating.

We strip small sections by hand and allow the forest to produce in those areas. We also plant very small food plots of mixed grains, oat, grasses and red clover.

Are we screwing things up? I don't know but at least we are trying to do something.

What I have observed is these small areas seem to work well as staging areas for individual herds to graze prior to going to neighboring crop fields at night. I am also noticing more bedding areas in the Hemlock groves (that fire would surely destroy) that these mini meadows are planted near.

Some of the areas we leave alone produce huckleberries and tea berries as well as acorns that keep the turkey, bear and other critters happy.

In conclusion: In the short term our strategy appears to be benefiting the majority of wildlife on our property, not just the whitetails. By not encouraging a condensing of deer on our plot but enticing them to stop by and have a healthy snack on their way through.

March 3, 2012, 09:47 AM
OEF-Vet, the type of situation you seem to have needs a burn called a "cold burn". Essentially, you have to do it when there is so much moisture that it is hard to actually keep the fire burning. You use fire drippers to keep igniting small areas at a time until the desired effect has been reached. It may take many of these cold burns over the course of several months to get your area "right". Doing that would preserve the hemlocks that your deer like so much but also removing competition for the new growth.

March 3, 2012, 11:29 AM

We all know that what you call a cold burn is very rare and maybe never done. Most burns are done when birds still have their nests, and the young are not able to yet fly or have not yet hatched. There are several species of birds that nest on the ground, and they need their nests for protection from the weather. Then you have the rabbits and other animals which can quickly spread a fire to where it gets out of control. Land that is burned repeatedly has a tendency to get hard because the organic mater above and below the ground is burned. Hard ground does not absorb water as well. The result can be more runoff and less water in the soil for the vegetation.

OFF-Vet is correct on having a good balance with other animals in addition to deer, but I would do what I could to discourage it being good habitat for coyotes and wolves. Cattle and sheep will eat weeds and plants that deer choose not to eat. Goats can do a very good job of eating down even large weeds.

March 3, 2012, 03:59 PM
What is often described as a "precribed burn" is in actuality a controlled burn. In order to be a Prescribed burn, there must be a burn plan (technically a burn prescription) that lists the area to be burned, the conditions acceptable (upper and lower humidity limits, wind speed and direction etc.) and the intended result. We have to fill them out for EVERY burn. Just burning does not provide the best result, nor does burning every year. If burning to establish and promote Native Warm Season Grasses its every 2-3 years after establishment depending upon conditions. We have intentionally burned when the humidity was high to create a mosaic burn, meaning not all of the area actually burned. Also small simple firelines can be made to prevent burning of non prescribed areas. You must always be prepared for the unexpected, when a sudden gust of wind sends some embers into an adjacent field you bette be ready to respond and know where and what you are doing. To burn properly takes some planning, if the timing and conditions are not within parameters you simply postpone it. Also if you have several areas close together don't burn them all the same year, you take away that escape cover from the wildlife. If burning an area with nearby homes or highways you better consider smoke management too, a poor ventilation that sends a heavy smoke cover over a major highway will usually earn you a visit from the county sheriff or highway patrol around here.

Art Eatman
March 3, 2012, 10:14 PM
Much controlled burning in southern Georgia. But since folks down here are rabid about their quail, rest assured that they know when and when not to burn. Plus, it's generally smallish tracts at any one time and on calm-wind days, so wildlife has plenty of time to move.

March 4, 2012, 07:33 PM
John McPhee's book "The Control of Nature" is based on sound science. One situation that he investigates is southern California's policy on allowing residential development in areas where natural fires are quickly extinguished and terrain is geologically unstable. The result is chaparral build up. Chaparral is like tinder during dry summer months and when fires flare up the roots binding unstable soil are destroyed. Winter rains wash away the unstable material resuling in mass wastage and damage to man-made structures.

Fires do not "harden" soil except possibly in places where caliche or other cementing agents are naturally present. In most fired areas soil is nourished by organic material whose breakdown is accelerated by fire. This results in more permeable and fertile soils.

March 4, 2012, 11:52 PM
Fire does have the potential to harden the ground. If you take crop land that continually has the stubble or stalks burned, this ground is very likely to be harder than crop land where burning is never or rarely done. When you burn the organic matter in the soil, you are burning up material that helps to provide aeration in the soil. Reducing the aeration can also reduce how quickly soil can absorb moisture. More runoff means more potential for runoff and erosion. Burning can also have a negative affect on earthworms which are vital to a healthy soil. You would think that no-till farming would have ground that is harder than farming where the ground is tilled, but just the opposite is true. Overtime, no-till farming will have soil that is softer.

March 5, 2012, 12:21 PM
Hi Discern

As a geologist I view soil hardening differently. Agree with your assessment about the link between loss of organic material and aeration. As I cited earlier, loss of organic binding material results in unstable soil conditions in certain areas.

In SE Louisiana marshes are burned annually to provide for better growth and habitat potential. Great duck hunting here.

March 5, 2012, 03:11 PM
A little tip for 'mushroom' hunters.

Some of the most prosperous mushroom finds are in some areas the year or two after a burn.

Bout eight years ago, I decided I was going to make some kind of use of a 5acre field up on a ridge-top in the middle of the woods. Field was full of nothing but Sumac and poverty grass. Needless to say, extremely poor soil content with an acidic level that was incredibly high.

My intention were two-fold. I wanted to plant forage for wildlife while building the soil. I wanted to do this naturally without the use of sprays/weedkillers. That left burning.

Called our local Agricultural Extension officer. He came out and advised me that due to the makeup of the soil and where land was located(on an unprotected ridgetop), I should not burn. His concern were:

1. there just wasn't enough depth of decent topsoil

2. so much sand in what topsoil that was there

3. the already high acidic ph would only raise after burning due to the ash.

He told me I'd surely have trouble with erosion and said to do a chemical kill.

Wanting to do things my way and not wanting to believe him :o, I then called Ohio State University's extension officer. He came out and said the same thing.

I started questioning him about why some areas were better to burn and some not. In short, if there's a deep layer of rich topsoil located on fairly level ground. Burn. The deep,rich topsoil will support new,rapid plant growth.
On the other-hand, if the topsoil is shallow , not of decent makeup and on un-level ground, do not burn. With the ash and erosion, your already bad soil will only become worse.

I ended up spraying, plowing the field, raking sumac in piles and burning.
Fertilized field, planted Ladino clover to help build ph and to date have spread about 17tons of lime.

FWIW, for those of you that have never plowed out any sumac, when I got done with this 5 acre field, I thought I had plowed 100 acres.:rolleyes:

March 7, 2012, 06:36 PM
the already high acidic ph would only raise after burning due to the ash

This makes no sense? Acidic soils have a pH BELOW 7.0, Basic soils have a ph HIGHER than 7.0.


Here is a study done by CHRIS MITROS, SIOBHAN MCINTYRE, BETH MOSCATO-GOODPASTER, Biology department, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa 50112, USA.

It has some very interesting results as to the effects of fire on soil pH.

March 7, 2012, 11:23 PM
shortwave posted:
the already high acidic ph would only raise after burning due to the ash

Wyoredman posted:
This makes no sense? Acidic soils have a pH BELOW 7.0, Basic soils have a ph HIGHER than 7.0.

:o You are correct Wyoredman

My statement should have read:
the already high acidic level would only raise after burning due to the ash.

The study you posted is very good information but as I understand the concept of burning land, the posted study is not the same across the board for all land. As the Ag. Extension officer showed me a different parcel of woods on my property that would benefit from burning if I would ever choose to select/clear cut. The layer of topsoil was deep, rich and of much better quality from the years of rotted organic matter.
The study you posted if I read correctly was based on burning in Oak woodlands and would mirror that of what the Extension off. said of the above property

Whereas the field he suggested I not burn, was apparently farmed to death at one time. Soil not taken care of and had very little, poor quality topsoil. Also, the ash from the poverty grass and sumac I would be burning would create more acid.

March 17, 2012, 07:38 PM
Kansas is burning their prairies as we speak, and the places that were burnt two weeks ago are lush, with two and three inch tubors coming up. The whole landscape will look immaculate, in about two more weeks, and the game is already chilling in those freshly burnt areas...:)

March 17, 2012, 09:38 PM
My Mother was from an old farm family that went way back. Where I grew up, spring burning of the fields was the norm. Her father told her that an added benefit was the burning took care of a lot of insect eggs before they hatched.

Art Eatman
March 18, 2012, 06:59 AM
Lotsa burning in south Georgia, right now. But, not a lot of understory causing the temperatures to be high. Some native seeds won't germinate without the heat from such "sorta natural" fires. It's the buildup of understory from the Smokey The Bear mismanagement which causes devastation such as the Yellowstone and Montana fires of some years back.

The regrowth of native vegetation benefits all wildlife...