Upland Habitat Projects for the off-season?

cyclonenation10

Active member
For those of you fortunate enough to own your own slice of pheasant paradise, what habitat projects do you have planned between now and next Fall?

For me, it will start once the weather warms up with some ongoing tree hinge cutting along riparian areas and fence lines. The goal - reduce the habitat for avian predators while creating/winter habitat via downed trees/branches.

In the spring, we will start planting some food plots, primarily sorghum and corn, along with a sunflower plot which will be mowed for dove hunting in Late August.
There are also a couple of small burns we will do to keep reeds canary grass at bay, along with helping out some of the landowners (where I hunt) with their prescribed burns.

We will likely be expanding our young shelterbelt (currently about 4 rows of cedars surrounded by 3-4 rows of plums/button bush/dogwoods on either side. Hoping to add a few rows each year. Currently the shelterbelt is very young and does little for habitat, but within 4-5 years it should be a winter haven.

What does everyone else have planned? Anything in particular you have noticed pays large dividends for the birds?
 

remy3424

Well-known member
Food plots are always well used. I don't think we will even try any corn next year, all sorghum maybe a few sunflowers. The ground squirrels dig up the corn kerrnels as soon as they sprout, this has been a real issue the past 2 years.

I prepared a strip of ground for a row of wild plums inside a newer belt of mostly cedars. Half the row, I planted seeds this fall (without the pits) and I have seeds in the refrigerator that I will get in the ground as soon as the frost is out...not sure if any will grow, but I am curious. I have planted the entire pits before and never saw one grow.

We will need to burn the last 3rd of the crp in the spring, this will include all the switchgrass. It will be a good opportuntiy to get after any canadian thistle patches there.

Might get a few more fruit trees in the ground. Would like to put in a big culvert and back-up a little water...not sure the old man would will be OK with that, he is worried about the tile line not draining....shouldn't matter, it is all grass now...could use some wet areas.

Did you ever figure out what program your crp was in and if your contract allows for mowing trails and riding ATVs?
 
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cyclonenation10

Active member
Food plots are always well used. I don't think we will even try any corn next year, all sorghum maybe a few sunflowers. The ground squirrels dig up the corn kerrnels as soon as they sprout, this has been a real issue the past 2 years.

I prepared a strip of ground for a row of wild plums inside a newer belt of mostly cedars. Half the row, I planted seeds this fall (without the pits) and I have seeds in the refrigerator that I will get in the ground as soon as the frost is out...not sure if any will grow, but I am curious. I have planted the entire pits before and never saw one grow.

We will need to burn the last 3rd of the crp in the spring, this will include all the switchgrass. It will be a good opportuntiy to get after any canadian thistle patches there.

Might get a few more fruit trees in the ground. Would like to put in a big culvert and back-up a little water...not sure the old man would will be OK with that, he is worried about the tile line not draining....shouldn't matter, it is all grass now...could use some wet areas.
With regards to the wet areas, I wonder if it is a losing battle? Our farm had wetland ponds dug (several thousands of dollars in escavating) and the ponds only hold water when it floods - and there would have been water there regardelss of the ponds or not. However, just this past year with the dry conditions they were bone dry all season. Had been trying to get some cattails established, but I'm afraid the drought did them in.
 

remy3424

Well-known member
This past year was an anomaly for sure. Hopefully they will hold water in normal years. We have a little creek cutting across one corner, it ran all year, it doesn't pull water for much over a mile in any direction. I kept expecting to see it dry, but still has water flowing all year long....and it was DRY here. It was a good year to dredge.
 

Huede

Member
Scissor cut some fence line trees and make small brush piles. The birds seem to bury themselves in late winter in these and the cover grows better where the trees were. I am going to experiment and spray a few small draws to kill some broam grass and some other grass that doesn't provide much cover to see if something else may grow. My boys claim they will plant a couple clumps of cedar trees this spring.
 

matto

Active member
We had a crp contract expire a year or so ago. It was fairly small, 10-15 acres and a lot of it is unsuitable for production. Before we owned the ground parts of it had become dominated by western wheatgrass. Last spring we tilled up the worst areas of western wheatgrass and planted sorghum. This spring we're going to reseed with NWSG and forbs into the sorghum residue.

In Kansas we have little need for trees/shrubs as winter survival cover. I spend far more time thinking about removing trees than planting them. My trench warfare against black locust continues, but that's an early fall activity. It seems I've also had a sprinkling of young cottonwoods appear that. I'll attack those this spring.

Also in the fall we'll be discing some strips into native grasses to set them back and encourage forb growth.
 

Prairie Drifter

Well-known member
My 2022 plans are Optomistic! I have 1121 acres on the spring burn plan and 556 on the summer schedule. I plan to go through each burn after they start to green up and cut any trees out in the grass as well as the ones refuged in the middle of tree rows and plum thickets. I have a new NAWCA grant approved so I'm hoping to get 5 new marshes built though that could be put off. We are girdling locust and elms and also cutting plenty of them with the Marshall saw. I've been working on the purchase of 494 neighboring acres to add to the wildlife area since September 30 of 2016 and finally am optomistic that it will be accomplished in 2022. With that I gain a 150 acre crop field. Back a couple of decades I moved about 60 pheasants on our side of the fence to this property, so I am planning a crop rotation that I hope will make that an annual occurance. 100 acres of the new property is out of contract CRP. They have it grazed too short, so I plan to rest it and cut what trees are growing out in the open. Our wetlands are in need of some serious Reed Canary control. I hope to get a young body hired that will take that up as a challenge and make room for some better species. While they are getting gregarious with the sprayer, I will have them do the deed to a bunch of cattails and Phragmites that are squeezing out some really nice open water. I have a 20 something young man working right now. I am going to get him on that girdling and also controlling some understory cedars that are needing to be horizontal. I have a contractor to build fence. He should be here soon to put up a 2-wire electric fence to put the last 320 acres of grassland on the area into our grazing program. That should allow us a significant increase for the quail on those acres. We did a tree removal project below the lake dam to protect the dam from root intrusions. I hope to burn those log piles before they raccoon, skunk or possum motel sign up! I won't go into the maintenance or infrastructure projects, that is the more mundane part of the job!
 

Golden Hour

Well-known member
Below is an aerial map of the spot I manage for my boss. The purple lines that the black arrows are pointing to are three row tree belts on the NW and SE parts of the large slough on the property. I planted the NW rows this past spring. Unfortunately, the conservation district forgot to get in and put in matting after the fact. The belts are False Indigo and Sandbar Willow. The belts rise slightly in the middle, so rather than one species the whole length, I've got the willows in the lower/wetter edges and the indigo in the higher/drier areas. Despite not being matted, the trees did very well for their first year, especially considering they had to compete with the weeds. I will do the same on the SE side of the slough. And I will never plant trees before matting is put down ever again. lol

My boss purchased a small, food plot planter and we're really excited to put small plots into tiny places. I'm going to put sorghum and millet where I've indicated with the red circles.

Lastly, there is a 6 row tree belt where the green line is. I started in 2018 with three rows of Eastern Red Cedars on the west, two rows of Laurel Leaf Willows and then a Plum on the east. The soil is very sandy/dry and the Willows and Plums have failed to get established. So, this spring I'm going to put Eastern Red Cedar in those rows, but will leave a small area in the middle without trees and maybe put in some clover or other greenery. See the second picture for reference.

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Golden Hour

Well-known member
I've also really wanted to start a program with the local GFP to put in trees/food plots on public land in the area. Sadly, I haven't found the right person who will help me get the ball rolling. I think a lot of local hunters would be willing to put in a couple hours some Saturday to plant a hundred trees.
 

remy3424

Well-known member
We had a crp contract expire a year or so ago. It was fairly small, 10-15 acres and a lot of it is unsuitable for production. Before we owned the ground parts of it had become dominated by western wheatgrass. Last spring we tilled up the worst areas of western wheatgrass and planted sorghum. This spring we're going to reseed with NWSG and forbs into the sorghum residue.

In Kansas we have little need for trees/shrubs as winter survival cover. I spend far more time thinking about removing trees than planting them. My trench warfare against black locust continues, but that's an early fall activity. It seems I've also had a sprinkling of young cottonwoods appear that. I'll attack those this spring.

Also in the fall we'll be discing some strips into native grasses to set them back and encourage forb growth.

Matto, you sound like my father, at 85 years old he has a continous war on Mulberry trees. He wiped out 2 patches of cottonwoods last summer, took about all summer, but he got them. Thistles are my nemesis, Milestone is my weapon.
 

remy3424

Well-known member
Golden, in 10 years, you will really have something there. I think I saw you bag a limit there in one of your videos. Your "Boss" in this case, isn't your "wife" is it? Those food plots should really be a magnet for the birds. Looks like fun work!
 

Golden Hour

Well-known member
Golden, in 10 years, you will really have something there. I think I saw you bag a limit there in one of your videos. Your "Boss" in this case, isn't your "wife" is it? Those food plots should really be a magnet for the birds. Looks like fun work!

No, my actual boss, owner of the business I work for. His father purchased a lot of land back in the late eighties/early nineties before they put the extra zero at the end of the price per acre. The family has several areas that they work on to develop habitat and this property wasn't having anything done on it, so he asked and, obviously, I jumped at the chance.

Yes, that is the place with the small cedars on my videos.
 
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matto

Active member
Matto, you sound like my father, at 85 years old he has a continous war on Mulberry trees. He wiped out 2 patches of cottonwoods last summer, took about all summer, but he got them. Thistles are my nemesis, Milestone is my weapon.
Remedy and diesel on the bark of the locusts. It works pretty well, but the drive time to and from makes any habitat work, no matter how easy/quick, into a "thing." Tordon on the stumps of the cottonwoods.

I haven't seen many mulberry trees out in Kansas pheasant country, but I'm sure they're there. My dogs loved the berries in my old back yard and there's a stretch of sidewalk where I walk the dogs that gets stained purple every fall. They won't bother me unless they grow thorns and start sprouting new trees from shallow roots.
 

cyclonenation10

Active member
Any easy resource you guys use to identify “crap” trees? Outside of dead elm trees (which I can identify from mushroom hunting), I am pretty useless with tree ID. Seems like google searches and such can take me down rabbit holes, second guessing everything.

I think we are dealing with alot if soft maples in our farm. Made the mistake of cutting a ton of them down a couple of years ago but didn’t treat any of them and no they are growing back.

What’s the best time of year to treat?
 

ab5528

Member
My plans include:

Spraying the 2 acre patch of plateau tolerant mix we planted last year at my parents place.

Adding rows of American plum and Sargent crabapple to a spruce windbreak at my place as well as burning a 10 acre section there.
 

remy3424

Well-known member
The locusts are not a thing here but the mulberrys must be tordoned after cutting them off, I am sure he uses it on the cottonwood too. The ash trees need it also. I have a long 8 miles to get to our's. With the long days of summer, I can get out and get a few hours of work in after work.

Those maples might be tough to kill with foliar herbicide with the established root system (unless they are a in your yard, then a sniff of anything will kill them). Tordon right after cutting them of I would say.
 
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