April 22, 2011
Controlled Burns Rejuvenate Whitetail Grasslands
By Scott Bestul
In one of my recent posts, I discussed using a chainsaw to create deer habitat. This time our tool will be something equally effective; fire. Whitetails are, of course, primarily woodland animals, but they’ve also adapted marvelously to prairies, marshes and other treeless environments. And even where forests grow, deer will use tall grass for bedding, fawning, and escape cover.
Just as logging maintains the young-growth forests where whitetails thrive, fire is what rejuvenates prairie grass. In earlier times, prairie fires were a fairly common natural occurrence, and Native Americans also set them on purpose, realizing full well the benefits that fire held for grasslands and wildlife.
These days, smaller “controlled” burns are used to manage and maintain stands of prairie grass, and I was lucky enough to tag along with my friend Ross Greden—a habitat and food plot expert—as he did a small burn near my home. This video illustrates that enjoyable day. By the way, if you’re contemplating a burn and have no experience, please get some professional help first. This is hot, deadly business, and there are few small mistakes.