Do we really know if clear cutting is bad for hunting?
Any timber company will tell you clear cutting timberland is harmless. In fact, the term ‘renewable resource’ will often be thrown around.
The problem with this logic is that most timber companies will harvest old growth hardwoods and replace them with only hybrid pines. The purpose of this kind of ‘tree farming’ is that hardwoods take longer to grow (upwards of 60 to 100 years to full maturity), while pines grow quickly and can be harvested after only 20 to 30 years.
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In some cases, timber companies are barely regulated. They are allowed to remove hundreds of acres of hardwoods and replace them with non-native hybrid species.
We can talk forever about deforestation, tree growth and carbon dioxide for days, but how does it affect hunting?
Removal of Stable Food Source
Not all hunters are foresters. Most don’t fully understand why clear cutting a wildlife habitat is so damaging to the ecosystem and the traditional food sources local wildlife depend upon.
The removal of hardwood timber tracts eliminates trees such as White Oak and Hickory that deer and other animals depend upon for food. Without the nut crops produced by these trees, animals that rely on them are forced to work harder and travel further just to survive.
This means hunters who are suddenly faced with the loss of timber on their hunting land must learn to adapt to different travel patterns and hunting setups than what they were used to with standing timber tracts.
Loss of Cover
After clear cutting, with such an open area, wildlife is extremely cautious and tends to avoid spending time in that area if possible. The only good way to hunt fresh clear cut is to set up around the edge, where hopefully there are still some standing trees or other natural habitat areas still available.
Of course, it is easy to see game as it moves across the open space left behind by clear cutting. However, just as game is easy to see, so are the hunters who chase them. Hunters have to adjust in order to succeed.
But you can use it to your advantage at times. Learn about natural DIY blinds here.
It’s a Different World
There is an entirely different atmospheric feel to hunting an old growth hardwood stand than there is to looking out over hundreds of acres of young hybrid pines. For those hunters who hunt the same area, before and after the cut, there is a definitive difference.
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Some states are better at clear cutting regulations than others, but many laws favor timber companies. Hunters are forced to accept the inevitable. Hardwood timber tracts will continue to disappear in the face of fast growing hybrids. Hunting areas will continue to change and hunters will be forced to constantly adapt. It is the way of the world, and it has been for generations.
What’s your take? Does clear cutting drastically change hunting for the better or worse?