Burn, burn, burn! As most followers of GrowingDeer know, burning is not only a major tool we use to improve habitat but it could easily be one of most beneficial ways to improve the habitat quality on any property. Prescription burning is inexpensive, controls unwanted plant species, provides highly desirable forage, and includes a countless number of other benefits to wildlife. And did I mention turkeys?!
One result from years of prescribed burning is the flourishing population of turkeys we have on The Proving Grounds. Turkeys were few and far between when Grant purchased this property 15 years ago. However, after many years of improving the habitat through burning and increasing food sources there is now a thriving, huntable population of turkeys that call The Proving Grounds home.
Fire eliminates old growth and stimulates the growth of new, beneficial forbs and grasses. By reducing the amount of fuel on the ground, the soil surface becomes exposed and allows turkey poults to easily move across the land while foraging for insects. Bugging habitat is crucial for young turkeys and the insect populations that prosper on these burned areas provide the nutritional requirements poults need to grow.
The exposed seeds, insects, and newly growing forbs on burn sites provide a smorgasbord of food for turkeys. These areas become turkey magnets during the spring and summer! Our Reconyx trail cameras show high turkey activity in the burned glades on the property as proof. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly for hunters, these burned areas often produce excellent spring turkey hunting. The crops of the turkeys we harvested this spring were full of new vegetation that is growing prolifically in our prescription burn units. This is just further evidence of the benefits burning provides for turkeys.
If you are not burning on your property and love to chase gobblers, maybe this information will convince the land manager in you to burn next year! Take a fire class, gain some in-field experience, and witness the benefits of prescription burning yourself.