Creation of Wildlife Openings
Our land managers begin by laying out the wildlife opening based upon the existing forest characteristics such as tree type, tree quality, soil types, slope of terrain, and natural timber type lines while taking into account the landowner’s goals and objectives. Our land managers and foresters will generally create an irregular-shaped wildlife opening. These irregular-shaped openings create additional wildlife “edge”. “Edge” is defined as a key piece of wildlife habitat in which two timber types, age classes of timber or habitat types, come together thus providing a variety of options in regards to food, shelter, and water.
These openings are simply created by first removing sub-merchantable and/or merchantable trees followed by bulldozing and stump removal. Two options are now presented to our landowners: Option 1) Allow the wildlife opening to naturally regenerate to native grasses and food species, i.e. raspberries, or Option 2) Implement an aggressive site preparation, fertilization, and wildlife seeding to one of our wildlife seed mixtures. Cost-sharing assistance may be available through the Forest Land Enhancement Program (FLEP) and/or locally raised cost-sharing funds. These openings benefit Whitetail Deer, Wild Turkeys, Ruffed Grouse, and Black Bear, in addition to numerous non-game birds and animals.
Whitetail Deer Habitat Improvement
Annual Whitetail Deer Seedings
Following proper site preparation (herbicide, lime, and fertilizer applications), our land managers will seed these forest openings to a variety of annual crops based upon soil-site factors and the landowner’s goals and objectives. Annual whitetail deer seedings can be any combination of certified oats, rye, brassicas, turnips, and chicory. One of our favorite combinations is an August seeding of brassicas and turnips which provides plenty of green top forage into October. As the month of November nears, whitetail deer will then utilize the sugars and starches of the 3-4 inch diameter turnips. See Purple Top Turnip Picture.
Perennial Whitetail Deer Seedings
Perennial wildlife seedings are generally established to provide a source of long-term, high-quality whitetail deer food. These perennial seedlings are a combination of clover, alfalfa, and perennial ryes. Upper Michigan Land Management recommends the establishment of small “hunting” plots in and around one large central food plot. These long-term perennial food plots can be a combination of your favorite seed type. Upper Michigan Land Management has had very good success with Biologic, Imperial Whitetail products, and local seed mixtures. We recommend seeding a variety of products to provide the greatest diversity with a source of high-quality food lasting from May through November. Remember, the success of perennial wildlife seedings is relevant to your site preparation and your annual food plot maintenance program. Hunting over perennial food plots allows for a safe hunting environment with adequate time to field judge the health of your whitetail deer population, buck to doe ratios, and antler development.
During the September youth hunt of 2004, Jake Nicholson of Rapid River, Michigan shot his first whitetail buck. The 2 ½-year-old buck was taken over a perennial wildlife seeding of clover, chicory, and rye. This buck came from property located in Delta County, Michigan which is being successfully managed for forest sustainability and wildlife habitat improvement. We feel confident that wildlife openings and perennial seedings provide a safe hunting atmosphere and wildlife viewing area all the while creating a healthier whitetail deer population.
Mineral Licks For Antler Development
The establishment of mineral licks in combination with other whitetail deer management strategies may ultimately produce a healthier deer herd resulting in high-quality bucks. Whether you have 10 acres or 10,000 acres, it is crucial the non-industrial private landowner implement a macro/micro mineral lick program in conjunction with high protein food plots, shallow water wildlife ponds, and timber harvesting practices.
Locate the mineral supplement at strategic places throughout your property. We prefer areas adjacent to natural travel routes, bedding locations, and feeding locations. The mineral supplement should be established during the winter months and then reapplied every four months depending upon weather conditions and soil-site conditions.
The number of mineral licks required will vary from one property to another. Upper Michigan Land Management recommends establishing 2-3 mineral licks per every 40 acres. The size and mineral amounts will vary depending on the site location, deer populations, and soil types. Utilize aerial photographs and soil maps when establishing mineral lick locations.
Upper Michigan Land Management has developed its own mineral lick recipe or you can try any number of mineral lick products.
Wild Turkey Habitat Improvement
Upper Michigan Land Management & Wildlife Services, Inc. has developed a long-term working partnership with Bays De Noc Gobblers, Michigan Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation. Since 1999, we have established numerous annual and perennial wild turkey seedings throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This working relationship has led to an improvement in wild turkey habitat and an increase in wild turkey populations.
Annual Wild Turkey Seedings
The NWTF’s Conservation Seed program provides year-old seed to wild turkey chapters and its members for food plots and habitat projects on private land with minimal cost. Annual seeds like corn, sunflower, oats, and soybeans plus 2 Michigan Mixes (a special blend including corn or soybeans, sunflower, buckwheat, and Japanese millet prepared specially for the Michigan climate) are available. This annual seeding was completed in 2007 on property owned by a Michigan Wild Turkey Federation member.
Perennial Wild Turkey Seedings
The Northeast & Midwest Strut & Rut Mix contains a mixture of alfalfa, annual ryegrass, medium red clover, Persian and white clover. The BioLogic Premium Perennial Mix contains several varieties of New Zealand Brassicas with several varieties of clover and chicory. This perennial seeding was completed in 1999 on property owned by a Michigan Wild Turkey Federation board member.
Wild Turkey Tree & Shrub Plantings
Upper Michigan Land Management and the NWTF recommend several tree and shrub species which are well-adapted to the upper Midwest and should provide excellent wild turkey food and cover. The seedling tree and shrub package include Northern red oak, Bur oak, Red Splendor Flowering Crabapple, Black cherry, Arrowwood, American Highbush Cranberry, Chokecherry, and Nannyberry. These species have been selected for their ability to provide food sources for wild turkeys, provide cover from heavy snow, and to re-establish riparian zones.
The Michigan State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s purpose is to develop, restore, and maintain wild turkey habitat and populations. The Michigan Chapter objectives are to establish, maintain and promote lectures, entertainment, and exhibitions concerning wild turkeys, our hunting heritage, and other areas of related interest for the general public and for chapter members. The National Wild Turkey Federation is a not-for-profit organization.
Without the efforts of State and Federal agencies, concerned sportsmen, and organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation, the wild turkey would be extinct in the state of Michigan. In the few decades since the wild turkey was reintroduced, they have flourished and now occupy nearly every county in the state and their numbers have increased to over 200,000.
As of September 30, 2007, there are 96 active chapters with 6,878 regular and sponsor members, 1,699 Women-in-the-Outdoors members, 2,211 Wheelin’ Sportsmen members, 5,145 JAKES youth members, and 2,484 Hunting Heritage members for a grand total of 18,417 members in the Michigan State Chapter.
Shallow Water Wildlife Ponds
Shallow water wildlife ponds provide an ideal environment for ducks, geese, birds, and mammals. These ponds are usually ¼ to 1 acre in size, irregular shaped with a maximum depth of 10-12 feet. The side slopes are often seeded to a mixture of native grasses. Cattails often line the edges of the pond which is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.