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Author Topic: Blacktail food plot  (Read 4333 times)

Offline jamesfromseattle

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #45 on: January 25, 2018, 08:38:38 AM »
I’m a little late to the conversation here, but am glad I found this thread—lots of good info.

I’m up near Marblemount in a relatively dark river bottom. Found some critters up in the hills above us, but haven’t seen a single deer on the property yet. Dumped some apples, various commercial deer supplements, and mineral blocks in a few spots just to see what’s out there. So far, nothing but a coyotes on the apples.

I’m thinking that I’ll need a pretty radical change to make a difference because there is just not much naturally on my property that deer seem to like. Thinking about doing a couple cherry trees, a couple plum trees. and then a couple each of two types of apple trees (an early and late fruiting variety). The theory is that if one of these things are fruiting at all times between late June and October, they will have something to munch on the whole time and stick around.

Major problem with this plan is that my place is pretty dark. Pretty certain it doesn’t get enough sun for the fruit to taste good to humans. Any insight on whether deer will still be interested in fruit that never really gets ripe?

Offline lokidog

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #46 on: January 25, 2018, 11:08:10 AM »
Cherries are pointless unless you want to feed birds.

If there are no natural travel routes through your property, especially with little natural feed, it will be take longer to get anything coming in even after your food sources are established.   :twocents:

Offline fishnfur

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #47 on: January 25, 2018, 02:01:07 PM »
JamesfromSeattle - Loki is right on the mark with his comments.  You'll need cover to hide deer movement and provide escape routes back to safety if you want them to linger in there during dawn and dusk hours.  Close conifer plantings provide thermal cover once they get some size to them, but you can never bet that they will hold deer with any regularity.  Western Hemlock or possibly Pacific Silver Fir are the best bets in very low light areas

Dark river/creek bottoms are perfect for growing shade tolerant species that deer love, such as Salmonberry and Elderberry.  Those plants need at least medium amounts of light.  Alder bottoms areas like this allow enough light to the forest floor to keep those edibles growing, and deer will hit them hard in the fall after many other plants have flowered and withered.   If it is really dark, you're probably stuck making a clearing first and then replanting, or just finding a better spot that gets more light.  If it is a noisy watercourse, then the deer may avoid it because they'll have problems hearing potential predators. 

My guess on fruit trees in a shaded site is that you'd be lucky to get much if any fruit production at all.  Most (possibly all) require full sun.  Probably something like six hours of full sun per day is minimum.  Mr. Google probably knows for sure.

In my experience, winter is a tough time to attract animals with salt and bait.  They are in energy conservation mode and feeding close to home.  They're not travelling to find food.  Once the buds start breaking in March/April, the deer will be out looking for higher quality forage and will find your apples and salt.  Down here, salt licks are not very effective past mid-spring.  The deer stop hitting it and let the other critters go at it. 
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 02:29:10 PM by fishnfur »
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Offline jamesfromseattle

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #48 on: January 25, 2018, 02:27:32 PM »
Thanks for the info, guys.  That all makes a ton of sense and fishnfur, you correctly identified a number of issues we have.  The river is probably a Class III rapid around our property and is quite loud, so that makes a ton of sense as to why a deer wouldn't be comfortable there.  All the deer I've seen in the general area have been a ways away from the river.  We also lack any close conifer cover on our property or anywhere near it.  For about half a mile around our place the forest is very old second growth, so the trees are very large with a low bushy understory (lots of huckleberries and some devils club).  The back side of our property, though, is all Alders.  I cleared some big dead trees out of there this fall, so it gets some sun and sounds like a good place to give some salmon berries a shot.

When I bought the place I fully understood that we may not have many deer right on it (fortunately we have Sierra Pacific land nearby), but once we had it I couldn't resist the urge to try to attract some deer.

Offline fishnfur

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #49 on: January 25, 2018, 02:34:18 PM »
That second growth is probably where the deer are wintering.  Often, Huckleberry and Vine Maple twigs are prime winter forage for BT.  Any efforts to attract deer might best be near that area in the winter, and perhaps the Alder later on - depending on the amount of sign your finding.
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Offline fishnfur

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #50 on: January 25, 2018, 11:56:09 PM »
Rumors are correct, but the pics are closer to HC cabin

Interesting....  Evergreen Huck dominates, right?  I hate that stuff to death.
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Online cougforester

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #51 on: January 26, 2018, 08:23:07 AM »
JamesfromSeattle - Loki is right on the mark with his comments.  You'll need cover to hide deer movement and provide escape routes back to safety if you want them to linger in there during dawn and dusk hours.  Close conifer plantings provide thermal cover once they get some size to them, but you can never bet that they will hold deer with any regularity.  Western Hemlock or possibly Pacific Silver Fir are the best bets in very low light areas

Dark river/creek bottoms are perfect for growing shade tolerant species that deer love, such as Salmonberry and Elderberry.  Those plants need at least medium amounts of light.  Alder bottoms areas like this allow enough light to the forest floor to keep those edibles growing, and deer will hit them hard in the fall after many other plants have flowered and withered.   If it is really dark, you're probably stuck making a clearing first and then replanting, or just finding a better spot that gets more light.  If it is a noisy watercourse, then the deer may avoid it because they'll have problems hearing potential predators. 

My guess on fruit trees in a shaded site is that you'd be lucky to get much if any fruit production at all.  Most (possibly all) require full sun.  Probably something like six hours of full sun per day is minimum.  Mr. Google probably knows for sure.

In my experience, winter is a tough time to attract animals with salt and bait.  They are in energy conservation mode and feeding close to home.  They're not travelling to find food.  Once the buds start breaking in March/April, the deer will be out looking for higher quality forage and will find your apples and salt.  Down here, salt licks are not very effective past mid-spring.  The deer stop hitting it and let the other critters go at it.

Could also consider some western red cedar. If you plant and cover them with plastic tubes for a couple years, they will be tall enough to sustain pretty heavy browse. Elk and blacktail love them. Plus they're extremely shade tolerant.

Offline fishnfur

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #52 on: January 26, 2018, 09:24:28 AM »
CougForester is of course correct.  That's his job!  I left those off the list because of my seven year experience trying to grow WRC in the semi-shade.  It survives, but growth is really slow in moderate to heavy shade areas.  Deer and elk are pretty quick to pull  the tubes off the trees and browse the trees down to the stems.  A single cow elk can walk through a plantation and top the leader off twenty or more trees in a single pass.  You'll loose an entire year's growth in a single night.  Seven years after planting, I've got trees in some areas that are still less than five feet tall.  Even when they're eight feet tall (and you think they're finally safe), the elk might just grab the main stem with their mouth and twist their heads to slide up to the top of the tree and pluck off the top eight inches or so.  I've been completely unsuccessful (and given up growing WRC under a closed canopy alder stand. There's just too much browsing pressure - the animals thrive on it in the winter.  Then there's the bulls, and we all know what bulls do to small trees.....

If there's not much animal traffic though, and you can get some decent sun in there, you can add WRC and Grand Fir to the list.
“When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.”  - Will Rogers

Offline JimmyHoffa

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #53 on: January 26, 2018, 09:35:59 AM »
The hemlock needs some large hemlock nearby.  Since it can be fed by sunlight, it gets fed from the larger hemlocks that can mingle roots with it.

Offline jamesfromseattle

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #54 on: January 26, 2018, 03:07:00 PM »
Awesome, thanks again for the suggestions. You all are on a much different level than I am with this. Going to take another look at the property based on this info, and come up with a plan. 5 years down the road, keep an eye out for some whopper blacktail game cam pics.

Offline Mallardmasher

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #55 on: January 26, 2018, 08:41:04 PM »
Loads of good advice, this weekend we will start pruning a lot,not all of our slalaha and huck, concentrating on the higher out of reach browse, bringing the new growth down to edible levels, going to start thinning some alders also, to increase light and we are considering, clover along with our natural browse fertilization.
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Offline fishnfur

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #56 on: January 26, 2018, 11:45:47 PM »
I love doing forestland management for deer, though it takes some time to see if your efforts actually had any effect.

If you thin those alders to 12 - 13 foot spacing and/or open the canopy to 30 - 50%, you'll get massive succulent regrowth of the understory brush layer.  Creating small clearings might be a great idea too ( - maybe with a few fruit trees).    Sadly the salal and Evergreen Huck will grow into impenetrable masses in the increased light, if that is the predominant brush.  Cut 'em down to the ground and spray with herbicide, if you hate them as I do.  Replant with something more delicious and nutritious.  Picking Thimble Berries, Trailing Blackberries, and perhaps Salmon Berries (for moist areas) and burying the seeds in desired areas might be worth a shot in trying to establish better browse.  These three plants are wonderful BT attractants, though the Thimbles seem to need full sun. 

When thinning, I cut alders at waist to shoulder level leaving high stumps in hopes that deer might feel hidden by them and be more willing to linger in low light.  I found that opening things up too much can turn a great spot into a night use only spot pretty quickly, though the understory often responds quickly and fills in the missing cover.  I don't prune low tree branches anymore for this very reason.  I also tried hinge cutting Cascara trees on hillsides in attempts to improve bedding areas.  Some worked, some didn't.  The trees always died, which was not intended.  They are not as shade tolerant as I believed.  Vine Maples would certainly work better for this purpose.

Good luck MM.  Look forward to hearing about your progress.
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Offline Mallardmasher

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #57 on: January 27, 2018, 01:14:43 PM »
We have great security zones and old alder covered skid roads, area was severely thinned 12-15 years ago, with no timber replanting, So alders filled in among the remaining firs and cedar, loads of huck, Salal and ferns galore.
With a swampy pond on one corner, and the old skids, where cut lower and seem to be damper.
We plan to trim in random patches of huck and salal, to waist height, thin alders along old skid roads, plant salmon berries, and loads of fire weed in bright areas, and in the damp alder bottoms plant some skunk cabbage. And randomly, plant dull Oregon grape.
Along with our Supplementation and broad fertilization with an evergreen shrub and bush fertilizer by Scott’s
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Offline fishnfur

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #58 on: January 27, 2018, 02:10:25 PM »
Interesting.  Two questions though:

1) Do you have a feeling for how much the deer browse the Huckleberry?   I've got 10 acres of reprod near Vaughn.  I get no indication that they are hitting the stuff at all.  They seem to prefer young scotch broom.  Many deer on the Peninsula seem to prefer the tips of sword fern to many other items available.

2).  Do you have a source for fireweed seed?  I've been thinking that is a good choice as well, but gone no further in pursuing it.

“When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.”  - Will Rogers

Offline JimmyHoffa

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Re: Blacktail food plot
« Reply #59 on: January 27, 2018, 02:38:30 PM »
I used to just get fireweed from the roadsides in late summer/early fall.  It really likes the sunny ditch areas.  Just grab the little puffs off the ends of the plants.  But there is a website called outsidepride.com  that seems to have the best fireweed and clover prices that I've found so far.

Sidenote, there is an old report on blacktails from British Columbia and the biologists claim fireweed to probably be the most important browse species for blacktails.  It's also one of the first to go when herbicide is sprayed...

Here's the research stuff from BC.
https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfd/pubs/docs/srs/srs05/Srs05_Chapter2.pdf
« Last Edit: January 27, 2018, 02:51:39 PM by JimmyHoffa »

 

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