Fire, Habitat and HuntingFebruary 17th, 2017 by Daniel Mallette
Deer season is over and turkey season is just around the corner. That means the work is just beginning.
We have several large prescribed fires planned for the week. Right now, I am sitting in the office catching up on several tasks while the interns mix fire fuel and pack the leaf blowers in the Yamaha. Today we plan to burn several large bedding areas. These areas are designated sanctuaries for our deer herd.
Last fall Flatwood Natives Habitat Solutions sprayed all the hardwood saplings in these areas. The saplings have had several months to die and dry before the prescribed fire. Our goal today is to burn the native grasses and forbs, encouraging new growth this spring. The saplings may remain standing but fire will make them even more brittle and assist in a timely decomposition.
As a wildlife manager and hunter I am very excited to burn these areas. I can’t stop thinking about turkeys. Burned areas make for great bugging areas for turkeys. The terrain is open and turkeys can watch for predators and find great food sources. This can make for some great spring turkey hunting.
Turkeys are on my immediate radar but I cannot forget about the deer. Within a few months these burn areas will serve as great fawning habitat. As new tender grasses and forbs pop up over the next few weeks, these burn areas will also be a great food source for deer. Of course, the hunter in me will be looking for sheds and trails trying to figure out which deer are in the area and how they are using the terrain. These prescribed fires make for some great late season scouting!
We will be very busy today and during the next few months with prescribed fires. Each fire brings a great reward – improved habitat and better hunting. I hope you get the chance to work on your Proving Grounds soon and can enjoy the fruits of your labor come hunting season.