What practices can be used to improve a 40 acre parcel of land in northern Wisconsin covered with mature trees?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersHabitat Management
Hey Grant,

First off, I really enjoy the show and appreciate all the work you guys do for public knowledge. I love that I am able to access your show and learn something new every week! My question relates to habitat improvement in the Northern Hardwoods of Wisconsin. I bow hunt on a 40 acre parcel of land (I attached a picture) that is mainly old growth eastern hemlock, white pine, and silver maple. There are a few White oaks on the property but I could probably count them on two hands. There is also a small pine plantation (red pine) that is on the property along with an ag field that is usually corn or alfalfa. The property does not really hold deer so much as serves as a transition area for them. We see deer moving through daily, mainly does with their fawns with a yearling buck every now and then. There are plenty of other big ag fields around to the south and the East of the parcel. Deer usually have ample amounts of corn until harvest season in late October to mid November. To the North and West are just more hardwoods for pretty long tracks of woods, maybe a couple hundred acres both ways. With the wooded parcel of the 40 acres basically being a biological desert at deer level, what sort of both immediate and long term improvements would you recommend? What are some of the fastest ways to make a forest that is primarily tall standing timber into a useful land for deer management?

Thank you for taking the time to help out,



The property is in a good location if deer are passing through it daily!  I’m not surprised many don’t spend much time there given you didn’t describe any cover.  Cover is often the resource deer seek during daylight hours.  Hopefully the pine plantation is ready to be thinned as this would allow more sun to reach the soil and cause cover to grow.  

If you have permission to cut a lot of trees (say a minimum of five acres), you can create a lot of cover!  If that’s not an option, can you create some smaller openings for tree and food plots?  Planting fruit trees in areas where not many are available often creates a very sought after limited resource.  I really like tree plots combined with a quality forage planted in between the trees.  For more information about fruit tree species appropriate for your area contact the folks at http://www.FlatwoodNatives.com.

Enjoy creation,


February 7, 2016