2019 Habitat Improvement Plan - 21 Acres in SW Michigan

MattDDO

5 year old buck +
Hey everyone. I've been doing some habitat work on my 21 acre property in SW Michigan over the past year or so and I've REALLY come to enjoy this stuff. This year, I decided to lay out a map and a plan for 2019 (which will probably take me more than 1 year to complete) for my property. 21 acres, southern Michigan, mix of woods, flooded timber and a creek system/cattail marsh/swamp. I'm surrounded by ag fields, 2 of which are N and S of my property. My property has primarily been a "pass thru" property the past few years and I'd really like to get it holding some deer. My goals for harvesting deer are 2.5+ year old bucks and I'd like to get enough does using my property that I can take a few to fill my freezer each year.

Let me know what you think! Constructive criticism welcome!

 

bjseiler

5 year old buck +
Are you sure the deer aren't in the flooded timber because it is flood timber or maybe because it is so close to your house? I'm just over the border from Berrien county in Indiana and our deer do travel through and use the flooded timber quite a bit.

Anyway, I was just thinking why not move the barrier closer to the house so you have more deer usable acres.
 

MattDDO

5 year old buck +
Are you sure the deer aren't in the flooded timber because it is flood timber or maybe because it is so close to your house? I'm just over the border from Berrien county in Indiana and our deer do travel through and use the flooded timber quite a bit.

Anyway, I was just thinking why not move the barrier closer to the house so you have more deer usable acres.

I could move the barrier for sure. I say "they don't use it" based on what I've seen hunting it the past few years. I've never seen them walk through it while hunting and we've only had 1 deer at the edge of our backyard in the 4 years I've lived here. Maybe they do use it some, I just haven't ever seen it. But, moving the barrier back isn't a bad idea. My only thought of having it closer to the dry land was that I could walk on the other side of it traveling to some of my stand locations.
 

FarmerDan

5 year old buck +
It's a nice video and a well thought thru plan. But, I wonder if you might be trying too hard to do too much? You said, if I got it right, your land is a pass thru as deer head from their bedding areas to ag fields. Seem like a perfect set-up to me. If you succeed in your plan to hold (more?) deer on your property, do you also create a risk of running them right off you property as you move in and out of your preferred hunting areas? I don't have an answer.

And I wouldn't give up on the flooded timber. It could be great sanctuary. I think I have about 200 acres of it on my farm - and I like it! Maybe this applies to flooded timber and to the marsh along the creek. You mention wanting to build up some areas for bedding. Did I get that right? I too have the same challenge. I've always believed that within the flooded timber and marshes there are natural humps that the deer will bed on.

I map. We now have one-meter LIDAR derived digital elevation data for most of Virginia. I looked and most of Michigan is covered, too.
https://catalog.data.gov/dataset/us...adable-data-collection-from-the-national-map-

If you can figure it out, you can probably find those natural high spots - if there are any.

I don't have an example here, but it's really cool stuff. Most of the wettest areas are 66 to 67 feet above sea level. The digital elevation data reveals a number of hums 68-69 feet islands set in the wet areas. I'm still studying it, but with a few exceptions, when the water levels is right (not totally flooded) one might be able to get into and out of the swamp without touching a whole lot of wet area, and, if that's true, the deer have already discovered those paths!
 

FarmerDan

5 year old buck +
Me again with more alien spaceship stuff. In MattDDO's video he talks about building, and I'm paraphrasing, humps around his adjacent stream marsh grasses in the hope that bucks will use them for bedding areas. If I've misstated that, I apologize. I, too, have some interest in the subject. I hunt a lot of flooded timber and swamp. Last year was a nightmare what with all the rain. So, with the flooding, we assumed all the deer would get pushed to higher ground, but what if they found enough dry ground in the swamp to ride it out? Is it a crazy thought?

I have some map (geospatial) data to help, maybe, understand a little more of what might be possible.
It's one meter LIDAR derived digital elevation information. Never mind what all of that means. I just see it as stuff we've never had the opportunity to see before! Now what to make of it?

For reference, here's an aerial image of one part of the farm / swamp / flooded timber. Leaf-on imagery from August, 2018.
NAIP.jpg

Here's my elevation information. Explanation to follow....
TheFarmElevation_version1.jpg

Each pixel, or dot that makes the image covers one meter on the face of the Earth. It makes the detail quite impressive. In the past we worked with 30-meter, then 10-meter, and finally 3-meter averages. Now we are down to one.

The elevation here ranges from less than 64 feet above see level to over 75 feet.
The white areas are, normally, always flooded -- < 64 feet above sea level.
Dark blue is one foot taller.
Light blue is one more foot taller.
The continuing rise in elevation continues, orange, brown and green.

So, what I'm looking for are small islands of higher elevation in low elevation areas. Oranges and browns tucked in the vast blueness. Greens in the oranges and browns.

I have no answers. Only questions, or maybe one question. Will a whitetail deer use these little mounds to escape human pressure and rising water levels? And if so, how does that change my strategies?
 

bjseiler

5 year old buck +
FarmerDan - how/which links are you using on the site you referenced to get those images? I tried but on arcgis I just get The layer, 3DEPElevationIndex, cannot be added to the map.
 

FarmerDan

5 year old buck +
FarmerDan - how/which links are you using on the site you referenced to get those images? I tried but on arcgis I just get The layer, 3DEPElevationIndex, cannot be added to the map.
Oh, I didn't use that to make my maps. I just wanted to provide a source for digital elevation models in Ohio. Everybody servers data differently. Do you use ArcMap? ArcGis or arcEarth? There may be a way to add it to Google Earth, but I'd have to spend some time to figure out how....
 

MattDDO

5 year old buck +
It's a nice video and a well thought thru plan. But, I wonder if you might be trying too hard to do too much? You said, if I got it right, your land is a pass thru as deer head from their bedding areas to ag fields. Seem like a perfect set-up to me. If you succeed in your plan to hold (more?) deer on your property, do you also create a risk of running them right off you property as you move in and out of your preferred hunting areas? I don't have an answer.

And I wouldn't give up on the flooded timber. It could be great sanctuary. I think I have about 200 acres of it on my farm - and I like it! Maybe this applies to flooded timber and to the marsh along the creek. You mention wanting to build up some areas for bedding. Did I get that right? I too have the same challenge. I've always believed that within the flooded timber and marshes there are natural humps that the deer will bed on.

I map. We now have one-meter LIDAR derived digital elevation data for most of Virginia. I looked and most of Michigan is covered, too.
https://catalog.data.gov/dataset/us...adable-data-collection-from-the-national-map-

If you can figure it out, you can probably find those natural high spots - if there are any.

I don't have an example here, but it's really cool stuff. Most of the wettest areas are 66 to 67 feet above sea level. The digital elevation data reveals a number of hums 68-69 feet islands set in the wet areas. I'm still studying it, but with a few exceptions, when the water levels is right (not totally flooded) one might be able to get into and out of the swamp without touching a whole lot of wet area, and, if that's true, the deer have already discovered those paths!
Very cool. I'm going to have to check this out for my property. Thanks for the suggestions! I think I "could" turn some of my flooded timber into bedding/sanctuary. Only problem is if i do that, it could make access from my house difficult. There is one area on the SE side I could try though.
 

soavejas

A good 3 year old buck
If you're planning on trying to establish dogwood cuttings I would recommend Silky dogwood as opposed to the Red Osier dogwood that you mentioned. Silky dogwood seems to propagate much better from cuttings while still growing well in swamps, ditch banks, stream edges etc...

Oh and you might want to try and protect the stuff, deer really like to browse the new growth. But it doesn't have to be fenced or caged, even some well placed tree tops on top of your cuttings could kill multiple birds with one stone.

Good luck and have fun!
 

Livesintrees

5 year old buck +
Trying to hold deer on 21 acres when a lot of it is under water seems like an exercise in futility. The fact that you have north/south movement dictated by food is all you need. A pit stop small food plot before they hit the Ag fields may be all need to hold deer long enough for an opportunity. Trying to get does to live and bed on that land doesn’t leave you much “depth of cover” as mentioned above (jess sturgis term). But you know the land better then any of us so only you can make that determination
 

4wanderingeyes

5 year old buck +
21 acres isnt much to work with, but I have just a tad more then that, and I have doe bedding on my land from spring, until early winter. Basically have food, with thick cover around it, doe will bed there as long as they dont have a lot of human pressure. As for your high spots you are trying to get deer to bed in, if deer want to bed there, they will be already. You may be able to clear off, and add some over head cover to make it more enticing, but if deer dont want to travel in the water to get to those high spots, there isnt anything you can do to force them too.
 

MattDDO

5 year old buck +
If you're planning on trying to establish dogwood cuttings I would recommend Silky dogwood as opposed to the Red Osier dogwood that you mentioned. Silky dogwood seems to propagate much better from cuttings while still growing well in swamps, ditch banks, stream edges etc...

Oh and you might want to try and protect the stuff, deer really like to browse the new growth. But it doesn't have to be fenced or caged, even some well placed tree tops on top of your cuttings could kill multiple birds with one stone.

Good luck and have fun!
Thanks for the recommendation on the Silky Dogwood, I'll have to do some research on that. Main reason I was focusing solely on the red osier dogwood is I already have some on my property, so gathering cuttings and sticking them in the ground would be free.
 
Top