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Kyle’s News And Reviews

Last week I was out one afternoon visiting with a farmer, he told me that they were itching to get back into the field and start spraying some burndown for the upcoming year.  He complained that everything was so wet that he didn’t know when they would be able to get into the fields.  

I hate to tell them but judging from the weather forecast this week there will be no outside work.  Tupelo news channel has called for up to seven to 10 inches of rain this week.  Lets certainly hope not or we might have to pull out the boats to get back and forth to work. 

Most of you that read this article know that I call myself an avid outdoorsman and consider myself a land conservationist.  If there are any wildlife type trainings that I can attend in the area I usually try to go. Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend a prescribed burning class as a management tool over at the Black Prairie Game Management area around Crawford.  

For as long as I can remember, my family has been a fan of burning and used it as a management tool to reduce thatch buildup and help control seedling outbreaks in pasture type ground.  Traditionally this burning was done at the end of February and the first of March.  At this training there were around 40-50 individuals that were in attendance that had used the same regiment with fire at the same time.  

There were several presenters with the Department of Wildlife, Forestry Commission, and one Mississippi State researcher at this training.  The department of wildlife guys gave some of the same presentations that I had seen before about how beneficial burning was and the many ways it is beneficial to the wildlife.  

The Forestry Commission presenter talked about the liability associated with burning and the permitting process.  The researcher from Mississippi State got up to talk and the first few words he said, “I’m going to shake up all of your beliefs about burning.”

I thought this was an interesting statement but had my doubts.  As he started talking he told us that everything in his presentation was backed by 15-20 years of data collected by his team on this topic.  His data showed burning in February or March is a somewhat effective but the absolute best time to burn to maximize benefit for wildlife is in May-June.  

When this statement was made hands across the room went up.  There was an older lady on the front row who was almost in tears asking about the effects to fawn deer, turkey nests, and baby quail and so on.  

He explained that when using this May-June schedule do not burn your whole property, instead take a smaller tract like 10 acres, using a checker board grid across this property.  Using this method could end up killing a nest or even a fawn but the amount of food that is created by this far outweighs the negative.  

The researcher showed data from a property that he had been tracking for over 15 years, this property was 400 acres of pine plantation that had been thinned.  The data was collected by radio tagging deer and turkeys in the area and using over 100 game cameras.  The property was burned in May-June on a checkerboard cycle with each spot being burned every five years.  

On this property this was the only management tool used so no food plots or supplemental feeding done at all.  The deer antler sizes grew on average by 50 percent over the course of the study and deer daytime feeding activity increased by 80 percent.  

Also, on the turkey data the activity increased by over 80 percent.  The data went on to show that the deer were using this property exclusively and using neighboring food plots at night only.  This data was extremely eye-opening to me especially when they revealed a recipe to keep the deer and turkey population on your property and off your neighbors’ land.

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