Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Making Good Browse for Deer

As much as we love the idea of warm weather in February, it worries me a little. It could backfire on us if Mother Nature starts thinking spring has come early. Then all of a sudden there are early blooms and buds and all of a sudden an awful cold spell comes along. Uh-oh! The fishing goes to heck!

The white oak acorn crop can be devastated by such a situation and nothing is more important to wildlife in the fall and winter of next year than those acorns. But even if it happens, red oaks won’t be much affected by such cold this year. Their production will be clobbered the next fall. 

It is a difficult thing to explain, but I believe it is nature’s way of ensuring there will be at least some acorns most every fall. When you look at smaller wild creatures that have less biological potential, or survivability (life span), than the larger ones, I think nature ensures their survival in the same way. If a huge rain or spring cold spell limits the spring production of creatures like quail, rabbit, dove or even wild turkey, the late hatches which occur in June, July and August insures the survival of the species. It almost makes you think some great mind was involved in the planning of it all! 

I received a letter from someone last week talking about how the cutting of timber by logging contractors working on our public wildlife management areas and conservation areas through the Missouri Department of Conservation was a good thing. He wrote that my criticism of the moneymaking butchering of our state owned lands failed to take into account the fact that removing the timber could be a good thing for deer because it created more browse.

It left me shaking my head, wondering if there might ever be a time when our citizens can think on their own instead of buying some of the hogwash the MDC feeds them to justify whatever they do. Are there thousands of people out there so ignorant to the ways of the wild, and the situation in natural areas that they think deer in Missouri need more ‘browse’? It is likely the letter-writer can’t even adequately understand what the word means. He is someone who wants to be assured that the MDC is more interested in wildlife than money. They are not! It was that way once, but not now.

We need more browse for deer like we need more cow manure for turkeys. Deer in Missouri need nothing. They are not hard pressed in the worst of the Ozarks winters because browse is plentiful… everywhere. In those forests, being rapidly destroyed on lands we all own, deer and turkeys depend more on the acorns than anything else. 

What else needs the browse we create by destroying a hardwood forest…flying squirrels, screech owls, pileated woodpeckers, woodcock, foxes??? What else? Those species make no money for the MDC and those who feel assured that the destruction of our woodlands is a good thing likely know nothing of those dozens of species of birds and mammals that live there, and decline as the trees are cut. 

Destroying a forest won’t endanger the deer. If it did, the MDC would be worried, because deer make them tens of thousands of dollars. Acorns, squirrels and woodpeckers make them nothing. They will allow outside logging companies to cut every valuable tree in the areas they supposedly ‘manage’, if they can receive a good percentage of the profit, which they do.

For those who doubt me, go around the state and look at their real interest, which is board feet of lumber over wildlife. More and more, the conservation areas we all own are showing the devastation, as one area is stripped and another areas looms in their sights.

For those who have never seen it and do not want to see it, here is a letter from a fellow Missourian, Chuck Banks who describes what has happened in his area…
My family bought our farm near Coldwater back in 1985. We love to hunt, fish, hike, and do just about everything you do in the outdoors. We were excited that our farm adjoined the Coldwater State Forest. The forest offered opportunities for family and friends to interact with Missouri hardwood forest whether they hunted or not. We adjoin about 3/4 miles of the forest. My Boy Scout troop spent many weekends hiking and identifying trees and birds, non-hunters could photo the mature forest and its inhabitants; it was just plain beautiful.
Then the Missouri Department of Conservation changed the forest to a conservation area and began selling the timber. Until then, I had always admired and trusted the MDC. Block by block, some clear cut, some select cut, the forest has been destroyed. None of the original forest remains. The last block was cut last summer, and a new method was used.
This sale allowed for the timber men to cut all unmarked trees. This meant that the Department’s people marked remaining trees by painting a red stripe around the tree about breast high. Some of the perimeter trees have a smiley flower painted on them as well. Now that the cutting is done, EVERY remaining tree has a red painted ring around it. The rest of the block is the usual mess of tops and ruts.
The trails that once meandered through the forest have been destroyed. I now call this it the graffiti forest, because it will take decades for the red spray paint to wear off the bark. The once beautiful forest is now a strange, almost industrial looking disgrace. The trails are gone; the beautiful stands of oak and pine are now defaced. I thought that diversity would include at least some untouched forest, but they left nothing. NO one would want to go there. The Department should be ashamed.

Don’t be so disheartened Chuck… think of all the deer browse you will have in a few years! Mark Twain said that lies can travel around the world in less time than it takes for the truth to get its boots on. If you believe everything the Conservation Department tells you, you are being duped. This state department is nothing like the one we had thirty years ago when we passed that one-eighth cent sales tax that turned them in to an agency filled with corruption. I only want the truth about what they are doing to be heard. Don’t take my word for it. Just go out and look for yourself.

I hope some of you will find our February-March issue of the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Magazine and read the Common Sense Conservation section. If you don’t choose to keep your eyes clamped tightly shut, you may begin to learn what is happening in the Ozarks.
My address is Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613. The email address is lightninridge@windstream.net and my website, where you may enjoy seeing my outdoor pictures, is www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com

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