Bestul: Improving Deer Habitat with Power Tools

Food plots are all the rage right now, but when it comes to long-term deer management on a property, you get more bang for your buck working on habitat. My friend Dave's farm is a perfect case in point. It's 80 acres of deer ground in a very good neighborhood (I shot my biggest archery buck there last fall), and between Dave's food plots and local farmers, the whitetails have plenty to eat. Trouble is, bedding and security cover (as well as natural browse) remain scanty.

Last week Dave decided to improve the latter. Dave sought technical advice and manpower from Tom VanDoorn, a friend of mine from northern Wisconsin who's also a timber harvester. The three of us walked Dave's property, looking for a spot where we could improve bedding cover. We settled on a 4-acre patch of aspen (popple) trees. This stand had long ago reached maturity, and Tom noted that a clearcut would result in a small slice of whitetail heaven. Aspen is not only a sun-loving species, it also sucker-sprouts; meaning young saplings would naturally regenerate from the roots of trees we cut down. So for the better part of a day, four guys (we were joined by my friend Mark Stimets, who's not only a deer nut, but one who loves to run power tools) dropped aspen trees. In 4-5 months, aspen saplings will regenerate in this clearcut. By fall, they'll be 5-6 feet tall and provide dense security cover and browse in an area that once resembled a park. Better yet, that cover will benefit deer for at least a decade. Try getting that kind of return from one day of food plot work!

When I wasn't running a saw, I was videoing with my handy new VADO pocket video camera. This handy little camera takes HD video and very nice still photos, and also fits in the pocket of my shirt. This is my maiden voyage with the VADO, so please excuse any glitches in production quality. The screen-appeal of I and my co-stars I can do nothing about....