Designing the Perfect Brush Landscape
There are many factors that land owners and wildlife managers take into account when it comes to optimizing their land for a better hunting season. They use crop development, and carefully laid out plans for crop planting in order to provide the most help they can to increase the surrounding wildlife’s health.
But before all these steps are taken, one is (at times) overlooked. Landscape design is an art form in some respects. When first owning a property and setting goals in place as to what the owner/manager wants to achieve (i.e., the ideal planting areas, the ideal nesting habitats with streams and proper vegetation provided, etc.), they must focus on the overall layout of that property.
Rangelands may seem endless and perhaps not as plentiful, but because of the domination of brush that will be found in these areas, this type of acreage can enhance habitats tenfold – especially for deer. Using landscape design, a manager makes sure to take into account how the brush will grow in order to achieve the structure and spatial arrangement that best suits the size of their property.
There are many ways of learning proper brush management. A few successful examples that are offered by the U.S. Department of Wildlife include; clearing small acres and planting irregularly-shaped patches of brush, scattering them throughout the landscape. Another is to leave wide corridors between the brush, with areas of tall, dense brush offering a canopy cover. Brush should also be strategically placed along natural drainage areas. It is also important to note that when it comes to landscape design for livestock only, root plowing followed by the seeding of exotic grasses, will not help any deer habitat.
Landscape design is not only an art form, it is also a science. Everything needs to be taken into account by the manager who is looking to make sure that the best screening cover, using areas of diverse, dense brush, is there for the wildlife to use. The habitat needs thermal cover, screening cover, access to water, mast and more; so to be able to learn all there is to know about the very important realm of brush management is a good thing.
It is a fact that many property owners and managers will tell you that without proper planning and proper brush management, severely ill effects can happen to the surrounding herd, which will take away both the hunting value and recreational value of the land.
Some facts to note are the optimum percent canopy cover of woody plants for white-tailed deer habitat. This is one thing that is different when heading from state to state. It even differs when it comes to areas within a state. As an example: In west Texas, deer densities were low (43%), when it came to areas with woody plant canopy; yet, in south Texas, deer densities were greatest in areas with 43 to 60% canopy cover of brush.
Mature bucks prefer areas with canopy cover and dense screening cover; which makes sense, seeing as that a mature buck have been alive for quite some time using his own wiles and the pros of his surrounding habitat. Not only that, but a mature buck can also be very discriminating when it comes to brush species. They prefer areas that have a great deal to choose from. One brush species is more nutritious during one part of the year, whereas another will be needed during another part of the year. And brush species are continuously producing mast crops throughout the year, with different sizes and foliage characteristics that mature bucks approve of.
Natural openings must remain, of course, when it comes to your landscape design. Areas with little or no brush will still serve as morning and evening feeding areas; not to mention, they will be the areas most often used as the core of nighttime activity for the herd.
In the end, it’s not just the avid gardener who maps out his/her landscape. Property owners and wildlife managers must always be thinking of the best way possible to bring that herd coming back year after year.
Source: Sportsmans Life / Baret News Wire