What should I do to improve the habitat at my property in southwestern Virginia?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersHabitat Management
I have 74 acres of south facing mountain land in south western Virginia that was mostly clear cut about 7 years ago. The land is recovering from the timbering and not most of the trees are 20-30 feet tall and still has lots of brush thickets that are full of black berries and short brush type trees. I have planted two food plots of about 5,000 sq. ft. each. One with clover and the other is a annual that I replant every fall.

I have watched may video on hinge cutting (my land is already thick) and foot plots.

My question is, what should I do to improve the land for better deer habitat?
I worry that they are starting to travel in all direction and I can’t pattern them. More importantly, I’m not sure I holding deer do to lack of bedding and food.

If you want to look at the land on a map, go to the link. https://www.google.com/maps/@37.2784723,-81.074285,1415m/data=!3m1!1e3


I always start by analyzing the quality of food, cover, and water on the property where I hunt and adjoining properties within the likely home range of deer in that area.  Remember that the best sources of food, cover, and water likely change throughout the year.  For example, it looks like there’s the potential for lots of acorns to be available on surrounding properties.  Deer could easily leave your property to feed on acorns during the fall.  

Cover is usually my highest priority because that’s where deer, especially mature bucks, spend most of their time.  There should be plenty of cover in the 7 year old clearcut to hold deer.  It doesn’t appear there are many food plots in the area. I suggest taking a soil sample each year and making sure the plots on your property are super productive!  Healthy plants tend to taste much better/attract deer better than malnourished plants.  

Finally, thermals are huge factor in mountainous topography.  You’ll probably need to approach your property from the lower elevations during morning hunts!

Enjoy creation!