Creating Great Habitat

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In order to create a deer bedding habitat we follow a standard procedure of choose an area, spray, thin fence, plant and maintain.
This unit is about 27 acres with a ridgetop on the South side, a steep bank and creek to the East and thick pine regeneration on the North and West sides. The area had been high graded and is a poor site for growing timber with very little moisture and poor stony soil – typical of Pennsylvania mountain ground near ridges.
I picked this area to create a thicket because of it’s isolated nature. Deer can feel comfortable bedding there as there are several escape routes and very little human activity.
We started with 3 plant species: chestnut oak, red maple and ferns. I sprayed the ferns with glyphosate and waited for them to brown off and touched up what was green. I had a logger come in that was willing to take pulpwood and cut all of the junk out of the stand – which was most of it. I found a few chestnut oaks with good crowns to leave for seed and marked them to leave. I helped the landowner apply for WHIP funding which paid for a deer fence on 17 acres of the unit. It has now been fenced for 4 growing seasons and we are entering the fifth. We also planted vibernum, apple, quaking aspen, american chestnut, sawtooth oak inside the fence. Along with those species we now have red maple stump sprouts 12 ft. high, big toothed aspen, yellow poplar, oak seedlings, blackberry, black cherry, sumac and two kinds of pine in a thicket you could get lost in. This is the best bedding cover anywhere around. I hope to take the fence down soon and move it over to the unfenced area to get it regenerated as well. I am thinking about planting some tall grasses in there along with the brush and trees. The food plot adjacent will be a big buck hot spot if hunted correctly.

If you have any questions or would like a tour of this project or to discuss a project on your property, give me a call or an send an email.

Steve Chilcote

About the Author:

Wildlife habitat manager and consulting forester from Central PA. Studied environmental Agriculture specializing in wildlife management and Forestry. B.S. Agriculture, Masters degree in Forestry. 30 years experience in land investment, forestry and wildlife habitat improvement. Currently working as a Farm Bill Forester for Pheasants Forever on Game Commission and Golden Winged Warbler Initiative.