First Look: Deer Hunting Property Management through the Eyes of a Landowner
May 05, 2016
Land management practices that work one property doesn't necessarily mean it will work on another; initial plans for new ground will need to be fine-tuned and altered to fit the area and deer herd needs
There’s just something about calling a piece of land your own. It may not be fertile river bottoms of the Midwest or oak hardwoods flats of the Northeast, but when you own a piece of property the limitations seem to fade.
If you have followed my column, you know I’m deep rooted in my Pennsylvania hunting traditions. Born and raised in a hunting family, it was somewhere around 20-straight years of deer camps I experienced.
But education and career led me to see new things, new states, and over time, miss some of those long-running traditions. But, as luck (or fate) would have it, my wife and I just purchased a new home in Pennsylvania. With it, 27 acres of mountain land.
So the story, and journey begins. For many, 27 acres would not even be enough to consider managing for deer or potentially even hunting seriously. For me, it’s a place to have my two sons develop and hone their skills as outdoorsmen. A place for them to have the potential to escape a bad day at school, and enjoy the feeling of the outdoors.
This is not a gloat piece. I’m not here to say I own land and you do not, or my land is better than yours. This is an introduction to a journey I want to take you through over the next 10 months. From the beginnings of literally learning the property, to improving the habitat and hunting, to actually hunting the property.
As with any new piece of ground, there will be a lot of unknowns, and likely a lot of disappointments and challenges from trespassing to lack of deer sightings. But the entire journey is what makes it so great.
For me, this is an opportunity I’ve always dreamed of, and one I will enjoy sharing with my friends, family, and of course the Outdoor Channel online community.
About the Land
This property is nestled in the Laurel Highland Mountains of Southwest Pennsylvania. Primarily all timber, there are very few existing openings. The rocky terrain and lack of openings will make food plots tough, but I will do my best to establish some.
The property was logged in early 2000s, but there are quite a few large oaks left for acorn production. On my first walk, I also located several large American Beech, which if you didn’t know, is a great mast food in the fall for deer, turkey and black bear, which are in the area.
The property borders large chunks of privately-held and public hunting areas, it will be interested to see if this is a benefit or problem-producer in the fall. With the timber cuts, there is an abundance of native browse including greenbriar, which we will continue to promote for high-quality deer food.
I already have the first trail camera out to see what shows. Along the way, I will share tips and strategies for what has worked and what hasn’t.