We have had many prospective and existing clients that are concerned about the affect of restoration practices on deer hunting, especially in regards to prescribed burning in their woodlands. A monster buck, along with 2 other bucks, were all harvested opening weekend 2016 in a freshly burned open oak woodland (pictured below)! This woodland was burned the week before opening weekend and it did not adversely affect the hunters on this property from shooting 3 nice bucks in the areas that were burned. In the pictures you can see the freshly burned forest floor that we refer to as “the black.” This woodland has had most of the invasive brush removed, so it is open in structure.
Occasional fire is what shaped the landscape of SW Wisconsin before European settlers began suppressing wildfires. Oak woodlands, savannas, and prairies are historically what covered our landscape and are all fire-dependent ecosystems. Prescribed burning is a way that we can return fire to the landscape and begin to improve the health of our lands.
When burning in woodlands, the fire behavior is much different than the fast moving 15+ foot flames that are common in prairies. In woodlands fire is much more subdued with an average of 2-4′ flames and a much slower rate of spread. This low intensity burn helps discourage herbaceous invasive species, thin out brush and young trees, and consume some of the dead and down woody debris which helps return nutrients to the soil. The brush and young trees that are “top-killed” will re-sprout the following year, producing young shoots that can provide a food source for deer and other wildlife. Prescribed burning is a great tool to help restore your woodland and improve habitat for deer and many other wildlife species.