Let Diversity Dictate - By Tom Lalond
The one general improvement every hunter should focus on for their property is the increasing available edge habitat. Well that is, if you want to see more deer, turkeys and wildlife. This focus means setting diversity of available food, cover, and security as top priority. Now good edge habitat is going to be messy, disorganized, and unconventional. There will also be many different forage and cover species in that disordered utopia. All the habitat work you do should increase the available cover, forage, or security on your property, and increasing and improving edge habitat will do that!
This is what an abrupt edge would look like. This is an area where you'll often find afternoon or evening travel because there's not a large amount of security for the deer.
Good quality whitetail habitat doesn't look like most people would think of for a good place to live. So open your mind to a new way of thinking! As deer are a prey animal they will stay in a place where they feel more secure verses another option. That secure feeling comes when they are concealed and can escape quickly. They want to see you before you see them, then be able to sneak out the back door without you knowing. In order to produce that type of environment we need to look lower. Squat down and look in the 0-3ft. range above ground level throughout your hunting area. Can you see straight through for +25 yards? If so you need some vertical diversity.
Keep in mind that sometimes you may have to search a little more for the high traffic edge habit critters call home. A goldmine stand location could be a nice feathered edge, like this narrow opening, right along an abrupt edge, like the swamp in the background.
When you plant your food plots are they a clover patch on the rocks or some turnip trails of monotony? Here we're obviously playing around, but the 0-3 foot rule still applies. If you'd like to have great wildlife habitat on every inch of your property make your area a security blanket for the critters. Even in the food plots! The best food plot mixes will have many different seed species; mix options would be clover, chicory, and tubers, peas, sunflower, and sorghum. With a high diversity mix like that, planted at the right time, deer find it useful year round; they've got early season protein options, fawn bedding protection, fall food, and late winter grocery choices. So investigate and find what deer prefer in your area during a certain time of year. Then select or create a mix that provides an all they can eat! A great option I like for my home state of Minnesota is Frigid Forage. Their Monster Magnet, Wild Game Buffet, or Wall Hanger The soil will thank you as well, because when you plant a high species diversity mix each one of those plants are bringing all kinds of different nutrients into your soil. Then the next year you have a great fertilizer package already planted, and it's free! Even while it's growing your clover is fixing Nitrogen into the soil for all your other plants to use right away that will save you cha-ching right there. To recap today's lesson on great wildlife habitat; first wrap them up in a security blanket in order to eventually wrap them in bacon. Next get on their levels, that's 0-3 feet, and make it messy. Finally, when planting food plots, give the critters what they want! They want year round food and cover; give them what they want and they won't have a reason to leave!