Whitetail Land Management with Shawn Luchtel

It’s no secret that most of us bowhunters do everything we can to aid the deer herd year-round. These Winter/Springs months have become my favorite time of year to put in the work. Between prescribed fire, timber stands improvement projects, shed hunting, and other land management work, we stay very engaged with the many “offseason” objectives.

A frequent question I’ve been asked over the years is why do you burn? There are several reasons:

  • Improved Habitat Quality - specifically for whitetails, fire improves bedding and native forage.
  • Enhanced Forest Health - fire can help control invasive plant species while promoting desired species.
  • Goodbye Ticks - ticks do not do well with fire. Studies show fire will drastically decrease the parasite population, positively affecting the deer herd.
  • Increased Plant Biodiversity - with fire, the local plant biodiversity can thrive which trickles down through all wildlife, including deer.

Prescribed fire is the most cost-effective tool for promoting better habitat on your hunting land. With that being said, it can also be very intimidating and dangerous if you are not familiar with the proper ways to complete a prescribed burn. I would encourage you to research, take a course on appropriate prescribed burning safety and ensure you have plenty of help before burning. Notifying your local fire department and obtaining a burn permit is also crucial.

Combining prescribed fire with proper forest management through Timber Stand Improvement can benefit the deer herd. In my opinion, habitat improvement can be more crucial to a thriving deer herd than any food plot we plant. The habitat often goes unmanaged, where a deer spends most of its time. This is why I feel it is essential to focus on these areas during this time of year. It is highly rewarding work that gives me a sense of pride knowing I am helping improve the land for the deer and all local wildlife.

NDA’s Deer Manager(s) of the Year -

Shawn Luchtel, Heartland Bowhunter