I was invited to tag along and walk a 12 acre parcel of property.
The house is built on a rise. The rise juts into a swampy area that is approximately 1/3 of a mile wide and mile long. By "swamp" I mean ground that is too wet to farm in row crops. Sometimes that means that the ground simply dries out too late in the spring to plow-and-plant three years out of ten.
The ground drops off from the rise to the northeast. The property is scheduled to be logged off. The owner is playing around with ideas to make the property more amenable to deer and turkey hunting.
The plan is very fluid and dynamic at this point.
1.)The owner is currently leaning toward planting Norway Spruce along the spine of the rise to enhance the windbreak effect of the bowl that lies to the northeast. The spine of the rise runs north-south and hooks to the east along the back (south end) of the property.
2.) His current thinking is to add an orchard starting 30 yards from some natural places to put deer blinds. The orchard will be downwind of the spine. His party favors crossbows. The plan is to have the rows in the orchard synched up with the range pins of their bows to make ranging a snap.
3.) The current plan is to grid off the bottom of the bowl into 6 blocks and to virtually level one block every two years to increase the density of the brush down to within 8 feet of the ground. Another way to look at the cutting plan is to think of it as each patch being on a twelve year rotation.
4.) Mast producing trees are to be identified (he has Shagbark Hickory, Burr Oak, Northern Red Oak (?) and American Plum trees) after the property is timbered off. The fear is that identifying the trees before the cutters come on-property is that they might think they are supposed to take the mast producing trees. The mast producing trees will be exempt from the clear cutting plan.
5.) The brush is surprisingly thin. Additional nitrogen in the form of urea will be looked at to see if it will accelerate the growth of the most desirable cover species like Red Osier Dogwood. Various forms of hazel nut will be looked at to see if they can survive the damp feet.
6.) Some mast producing trees that can tolerate wet feet are penciled in to be planted in the bowl. This is where I come in. Quercus phellos (Willow Oak) has the potential to be a turkey magnet in the spring when high quality mast is scarce. If Willow Oak does not survive, then Shingle Oak (Q. imbricaria) and Pin Oak (Q. palustris) are then nearest northern equivalents.
Words cannot describe how much I enjoy these kinds of projects.