175 acres.. what to do?

cyclonenation10

New member
Hello all,

Our family recently purchased 175 acres of land in eastern Iowa with the intent to enroll as much as possible in different programs. The only focus of this property will be for pheasants.

A creek winds through the entire property and there are only about 50 acres or so not considered to be in the flood plain. Along the creek, there is plenty of very thick shrubs/iron weeds/slough grass etc. I don't think that there is any lack of wintering cover, but outside of that, everything else has been in crop ground. My thought is that nesting cover is where our primary focus needs to be. There are a few birds on the property right now, which will be good for seed.

My question is, where would you start with a property like this? Is there a way to try and get the hens to nest on the parts of the property that don't typically flood? IF so, what would be the best way to go about doing so?

There are also a number of trees on the property that look like ideal spots for predators to perch. Would it be worthwhile spending some time with the chainsaw and knocking down these trees? Where would you start with this?

Thanks for any input, I am interested to see what we can do!

Here is the google map image, the white lines indicate the borders, the west side border is the road

View attachment 7785
 
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Makintrax73

New member
Join Pheasants Forever if you haven't already and contact the regional biologist/habitat specialist to help put a plan together. They help with applications to USDA/NRCS also. Big help for my project.
 

cyclonenation10

New member
Let's say that there are roughly a dozen birds currently using this 175 property. It really lacks quality nesting cover, and over half of the property is picked corn. Their is ample winter cover already on the property. With proper management, and current crop ground put into quality grasses, how quickly could you expect to see that number increase?
 

McFarmer

New member
Most enrollment in CRP is closed. Look into a conservation easement with the DNR can be permanent or 30 year.
 

Roosterslayer

New member
come on clone, can't be blacking out the road names. we need to do a physical inspection of the place to give you our advice lol. I would look at native grasses (crp enrollment), 10% for food plots, cut trees that may be used by perched predators for a start. good luck with your habitat improvements and may the birds be plentiful from a fellow clone/former Iowan/current iowa land owner.
 

Prairie Drifter

Active member
In any management plan you have to look both inward and outward, micro and macro. From the view you have provided with the supposition that we can readily discern the boundary, it looks like you own most of the perennial cover in that vicinity other than the continuation of the riparian corridor and a limited number of waterways and borders. If you recognize that you need nesting, brooding, escape, roosting and feeding covers, you can start checking off what your area (inward) provides and what the surrounding land (outward) provides. Nesting cover would include both native and introduced grassland, any wheat, and any legume that can be left for the duration of the primary nesting season. To better evaluate your nesting cover, we would need to go micro and discuss plant species included and how it is being managed. Next, is brood-rearing cover. This is usually best if low on the plant succession continuum in the form of native forbs and weeds as well as legumes that could either be crops or wild. Again, how those are managed during the nesting season is of utmost importance as well as is their distribution and juxtaposition to the nesting and escape cover. You have indicated you have plenty of thick shrubs, ironweed, and slough grass. This can sure fulfill the niche of escape and roosting cover. Some of this would be dependent on management and successional stage, but management is easier and cheaper than establishment. The feeding cover is possibly covered on the "outward" adjoining land dependent upon how clean the harvesting is, what tillage is done post-harvest or overwinter, and what crops are provided and how they are managed. The decision has to be made if you are going to rely on the outward habitat for any certain niche, knowing that those provisions will change annually, if not seasonally. Also, how any perennial covers adjoining are managed will also modify how you manage your own and/or if you want to establish your own habitats inwardly. Overall, from the small glimpse of the adjoining habitat, the local population is largely dependent on your habitats to fulfill the total need of that population. You have to maximize the limiting factory for this local population inwardly in order to maintain a stable population. In as much as riparian habitat is often as good or better habitat to predators as it is for game birds, you must also do some management to maintain some balance there. The removal of raptor roosts, furbearer brush piles, old buildings, deer feeders, etc that will increase the predator population/fecundity will need to be considered. Before I blow any of your cerebral veins or arteries, please let me know what questions you have. It will be harder to speak to the micro where we don't have that ability to judge your habitats. Do remember, food plots do not "make" more birds. Nesting and brood-rearing habitat does that. Food plots may carry over more of the birds you produce or carry them over in better condition. However, they may also make them more susceptible to harvest and there is a loss there. The fact that most hens are protected will balance some of that.
 

Prairie Drifter

Active member
I'm guessing that there are no immediate questions. If we look at micro, I probably need comment further on what is present. Is there a serious cool-season exotic component? Is there any NWSG? How much of the perennial portion of the tract usually floods during the nesting/brood-rearing season? What tree species are present? What management is ongoing, grazing, haying, fire? What are you doing on your crop acres? Do you rent out the ground, or do everything yourself?
 

Prairie Drifter

Active member
Back to micro. A significant benefit could be achieved, drawing nests up out of the flood zone, by planting native grass strips on your eastern border in the existing crop fields. These could be enhanced with significant forb components and some "pollinator" plots could be planted alongside as brood strips. In your neck of the woods, I would avoid overzealous grass species like Big Bluestem, Indian grass, and Switch grass, concentrating on Little Bluestem and Side-oats Gramma. If your wooded area has lone trees in what might be used as nesting or brooding habitat, I would turn those into brush piles designed for birds. A bird brush pile would be built by cutting 1 tree 4-5 feet off the ground, then cutting all the limbs and placing their butt end up on that stump. The final result would be a ring of limbs that are dense on the perimeter and more open in the center. It does look like there may be some brush components in the property lines that might be good to maintain. You can plant food plots if you choose but, from the look of things, you may have that in surplus dependent upon how that is managed in the winter.
 

Prairie Drifter

Active member
If you want more information than just me typing, go to: www.bringbackbobwhites.org . Lot of good info there in written form as well as video. Might even see me on a few videos if you look! Might want to wear eye protection! :D Of course this is more oriented to quail, but many facets of it will discuss appropriate habitat development and maintenance.
 
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Kismet

UPH Guru
I am often heartened or refreshed by the comprehensive information, offered freely, on this forum. So much knowledge is shared, inquiries made to elicit more precise information, and potential problems not-yet in evidence discussed, that it becomes a practicum on land management, and other hunting-related issues.

Salute to you folks, you help me balance out some of the rest of the world.

:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

Prairie Drifter

Active member
Thanks Kismet, Rusty! Folks have limited $ for management on their ground. It is important that they make the best use of it toward their goals. Too often folks get caught up in what's popular or what's being advertised as the cure all and end up providing more of what was already there in abundance. Giving them the tools to make better decisions and the techniques to accomplish their manipulations helps the birds we all love and the sport we enjoy! If I can do that here, more than just that one person can benefit from the knowledge and, hopefully, our upland bird populations will be the beneficiaries!!!
 
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