“I have $100, do I have $110?” the auctioneer hollered from the podium at a recent benefit auction I attended. I raised my number once again. It’s not every day you have a chance to bid on five hours with a forester.
“I see $110, how about $120?”
The guy behind me proved to be a worthy opponent. I wondered if he knew he was bidding against a guy that doesn’t own any land to speak of. My wife hid her head. Everyone at my table wondered what I was doing. “Are you guys thinking of buying some land?” a friend asked.
My mind was spinning with the possibilities. If I were to win, I could totally use this as an excuse to buy some land. I mean, why have a coupon for five hours with a forester unless you have land? I’d hate to waste the donation. Or, I do have a friend with land and he could really use some advice, that’s for sure. I’ve hunted on his food plots occasionally and never once seen a deer. I’m beginning to think he sprays them with repellant before extending the invitation to hunt, but it could just be bad management practices. A forester could probably help him.
“I’ve got $120, do I have $130?” the auctioneer droned on while staring through my soul, hoping I’d up the ante.
I know, I could turn my backyard into a wildlife paradise! Sure, it’s small and surrounded by roads and houses, but I’ve got a wide range of habitat possibilities there. My little slice of heaven consists of a triangular shaped .68 acre. Half of that is yard, house, driveway and kids stuff strewn about. The remainder is a mix of early growth forest as a result of clearing that was done for the house ten years ago, along with a bunch of eighty-foot tall pine trees mixed with some other tree type plants. My knowledge of trees is limited, another reason why some time with a forester would be time well spent, at least for me. He’ll probably regret donating his time. If he’s reading this, he probably already is.
Sam and I have often spent some time overlooking the future wildlife paradise. From the yard, the undeveloped portion of the paradise drops steeply away, so it’s empowering to stand on the edge to dream of the possibilities.
In one of our dreaming sessions, Sam, always one wanting to learn, asked, “What type of tree is that?”
“That’s a needle tree, son.”
Satisfied, he continued his questioning, “How about that one?”
“That’s a leaf tree. They lose them in the fall.”
“That’s cool, Dad. You sure are smart. What about that one?” he said as he pointed.
“That’s our Christmas tree from three years ago,” I replied. “Owning your own wildlife paradise that drops steeply off from the edge of your yard is a very handy thing to have when it’s time to get rid of your Christmas tree each year. Look, there is our tree from last year over there!”
I raised my bidder card and heard the auctioneer again. “I’ve got $130 right here! Now I’m looking for $140. Do you want to go to $140?” he asked the other guy. There was a long pause.
My excitement grew. “I might just pull this o—,”
“I have $140 in the back!”
I think my groan was audible. I’m not sure if groaning audibly at benefit auctions is acceptable, but I did it anyway. Decision time.
I recently read an article on Realtree.com titled, “7 Ways to Kill Bigger Deer on Small Properties.” It was very enlightening. I don’t want to spoil it for everyone, but the seven suggestions are:
- Hunt where they are.
- Move your stands.
- Stay away.
- Provide food.
- Create bedding areas.
- Shoot does.
- Know what’s missing.
Numbers one and six will be very difficult for me because there are no deer currently there. The only wildlife I’ve seen is the occasional fox passing through on his way to the neighbor’s chicken house, skunks, birds, and neighborhood boys building forts and mingling with the deer ticks.
Number two also will be tough. I don’t have any desire to hang stands in my back forty since there are no deer there. I’d rather drive thirty-five minutes to my friend’s property with the food plot to do that. Staying away will also be tough. The aforementioned neighborhood boys have free reign, and where else would I stash my Christmas tree each year? So, I’m 0 for four, but there is hope for the remaining three.
I could provide some food for the deer. My own food plot! Too bad I can’t even grow grass in my yard. This too will be a challenge, but it is a possibility. Creating bedding areas should be a cinch. I’ve read some articles on the Quality Deer Management Association website about this very topic. They are big into hinge cutting trees to help provide cover and are very confident in their advice. They are the deer experts, after all. I can hinge cut trees all day long. The deer will love it and so will the neighbors.
The last suggestion is arguably the most important. Know what’s missing! That’s exactly why I need five hours with a forester. I felt my hand raise the yellow bidder card. My friends shook their heads. My wife’s head slumped into her hands.
“Sold! $150 to the idiot in the front row!”
“This is going to be so worth it,” I whispered to her.
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