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Managing Native Habitat: Release the Potential (632)

Improving the native habitat is a very important tool for wildlife managers. See how to create a diversity of plants that are palatable throughout the year to provide high quality forage and cover. Release the potential of the land for improved wildlife habitat and better deer hunting! Through the years we’ve shared how we’ve taken poor-quality habitat here at The Proving Grounds and converted it to high-quality habitat with abundant wildlife populations.
Much of the poorest quality habitat here at The Proving Grounds was covered with eastern red cedar. Those cedars were allowed to take over areas that used to be open due to overgrazing and suppression of all fire.
In many areas, there’s a great base of native seeds, but it just needs to be released by removing the current vegetation and the use of prescribed fire.
As a wildlife manager, we see many advantages to restoring habitat to the conditions it was pre-European settlement. Native plant communities are obviously adapted to that site and are extremely diverse, which allows them to be productive even during harsh conditions, such as long winters or extreme droughts. Having portions of a property managed for native browse production can reduce the amount of pressure on food plots. If you take degraded habitat – unless it’s been intensely plowed and that seed bank really messed with – if you use prescribed fire or whatever the appropriate technique is for that habitat, usually the natives will recolonize that area. This is not like an ag field where we want a monoculture – I don’t even want a monoculture there. But we want maximum diversity here. I’m like, talking like a hundred plus species out here. We want a lot of diversity that’s feeding a lot of different critters and improving the soil at the same time.
Think about the thousands or millions of tons of roots going down in this soil. And on the annual plants, of course, they’ll die, and they’re building soil. And when you do a fire on top, that does not harm that area. So, we can actually build soil even in shallow, rocky places like this by managing appropriately – following the natural plan. About GrowingDeerTV Our episodes show what we are doing in the field, our hunting and management activities, week to week. A new episode is released each Monday, 52 weeks a year with no repeats. We occasionally share special mid-week episodes on Thursday or Friday if we’ve had an action packed week of hunts or habitat management projects. All our episodes are available for viewing anytime at episodes will include action packed hunts, proven hunting strategies, food plot and trail camera techniques, practical advice for common problems and the gear it takes to get it all done.

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