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You had asked in the Habitat thread for some pics of the habitat around our farm. I got them taken before the snow. But I'm just getting to sit down and post them. Sorry for the delay.

Here's a little creek bottom leading up to a 1/2 acre pond:



Some edge/slope area adjacent to a foodplot field:



Corner of a 1/2 acre sorghum/milo/millet/buckwheat plot:



Looking across the last plot and across 3 acres of brassicas/turnips/kale and 3 acres of clovers into the woods. Note the redtail in flight 2/3 of the way up the pic dead-center. Had to toss that in just because.




Hillside of WSG's, MFR, goldenrod, white pine, red-briar and blackberry:



Another milo/millet, etc plot undersown with chickory. Fencerows left to grow right into the plot.



Woods to the left of the previous pic where I have made what I call a "red maple mess". The maples are basically worthless except for where I can drop them into brushpile messes and open the canopy for young succesional growth to begin.



Looking back into the big foodplot field noting how the corners, edges, whatever are NOT cleaned or cleared.



A long, weeded/brushed ravine with apple, hawthorn, briar and grapevine.







Top of the draw looking back down.



All greenbriar/briar/grape tangle fencerows and edges are left intact.







Another corner area.



Top level of a 3-tiered field. Un-cut timothy hay.





Looking downslope from the far end of the field in the last two pics toward the middle tier.





And the slope dropping off the end of the last two field pics. Total acreage in the last 3 sets of pics (the 3-tiered field is approx. 20 acres.







 

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Thanks for posting the pics. Looks like there should be some bunnies there. I would try to clear cut an area where you have trees and let the downed trees grow up with thick briars. For rabbits the thicker the better. Edge cutting along fields is also great habitat for rabbits and grouse. A chain saw is one the best small game habitat tools there is.
 

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Lynn is right about the the chain saw. We made better habitat last year and saw great results in the number of hawks and owls that were drawn to these improved hunting grounds. Even with great habitat game can not survive in the numbers of the past,due to predation, look how the pheasant restoration is going.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Lynnappelman said:
Thanks for posting the pics. Looks like there should be some bunnies there. I would try to clear cut an area where you have trees and let the downed trees grow up with thick briars. For rabbits the thicker the better. Edge cutting along fields is also great habitat for rabbits and grouse. A chain saw is one the best small game habitat tools there is.
Time didn't allow me to walk the whole place off and get all the pics I would have liked. But there are areas of just what you describe. I have clearcut everything that is of no timber or mast value. It makes A MESS !! Trees laying every which way immediately and briar growth beginning the very next spring. There's actually a good area of it just a few yards or so off the second bird plot I pictured.

The PGC habitat crew actually came into another area on the property years back and did some border cutting. We have done other cuts just like them and have more slated for the coming year(s) as time permits.

Still........ you would be aghast to see how little small game you could find in stomping the place off with dogs or even just looking for tracks in the snow.
 

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I almost never see rabbits but I see their tracks in the snow. We have resident hawk and owls on our property.

Awesome looking property
 

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bpottorff said:
Lynn is right about the the chain saw. We made better habitat last year and saw great results in the number of hawks and owls that were drawn to these improved hunting grounds. Even with great habitat game can not survive in the numbers of the past,due to predation, look how the pheasant restoration is going.
If this theory is true, why are there posts here with tailgates full of rabbits? For some reason, hawks and owls have not wiped those rabbits out. Just like the pheasant plan, it is a habitat issue with a habitat solution.
 

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The best way to test your habitat quality is retake some pictures after the snow we just had. If you still have some thick areas that you can't see through, that's the good stuff. I am a huge switchgrass fan. Plant it at 10 lbs/acre and control weeds the first two years. The more acres the better.
 

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Strut - Thanks for the tour. Some pretty country and nice habitat. Looks like lots of soft maple that needs to be cut, which you said you're working on. I certainly would think you would have plenty of rabbits. Keep at it. Maybe a disease has set them back? Either way, stopping the habitat improvements certainly won't help.
I have plenty of rabbits, saw more this year than ever in the past. Also noticed more woodcock and grouse. Habitat is the key. And yes, you are going to lose some to predators.
 

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Lynn, those tailgates are full, could be an area that has a high rate of westnile that lowered the avain predators. Could be an area that is covered in heavy multiflower rose. This also could be a once a year deal and they had a good day. I remember a long time ago when you could kill 40 or 50 rabbits off on a farm in a season and still leave some for seed. And this was done on the same farms for years. By the way how are the pheasant numbers doing in the restoration areas with all the great habitat that is in place.
 

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bpottorff said:
Could be an area that is covered in heavy multiflower rose.
So you agree with the right habitat rabbits do just fine?

The pheasants in areas of good habitat are doing great. There just aren't enough of those areas yet. I am sure you'll agree that 80 wild pheasants flushed from a 60 acre field is pretty good pheasant density.
 

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Sufficient suitable habitat, available 12 months of the year,is a key component for the survival of any species.

The 60 acres of cover, mentioned above is the best/only winter pheasant cover available for miles around. However, it does not have a desireable food source nearby.

Five years ago, I met the adjoining property owner and he was in the process of placing shell corn out for the 75 pheasants that were trying not to starve that winter. The weather dumped 4" of snow and then rain put a glaze or very hard crust on the snow.

This covering prevented the birds from finding any available food, other than the end of the harvested corn stalk. The property owner counted these birds when they came out of his brothers 60 acres of switch grass and were attempting to eat the white pith in the stupple of the cut corn stalk.

The PA Game Commission(PGC) has a copy of a scientific report that indicates a wintering flock of pheasants will increase their spring survival rate from 60% to 90% if maze (corn) is available within 300 m (meters) of their winter roosting area.

With all the work put forth, by the PGC and Pheasants Forever (PF), it appears the suitable desireable food source (CORN) has been over looked in the pheasant restoration plan/efforts.

The PGC's plan first determined that warm season grasses were the keystone to successful restoration of the pheasant. Now, switch grass is going to be the savior for the pheasant in PA.

However, it appears, to me at least, the restoration efforts would be more succesful, if the pheasant had source of corn available to it's winter roosting area.

Both groups, the PGC and PF are to be commended for their efforts in restoring the pheasant.
 

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Dean,

We have had this discussion before, although I will certainly agree pheasants like corn, we have decided to use sorghum as our main food source. The main reason being is that sorghum provides better overhead cover into the winter than corn. Deer also like corn and tend to clean it out before mid winter when we really need it. I was talking with one the people at the PGC pheasant farm about this issue and he told me his pheasants will run over corn to get to the sorghum. This was a suprise to me as I knew pheasants would eat sorghum but I actually thought they would prefer corn. He tells me just the opposite is true. I am not opposed to planting some corn and we mixed some corn in with the sorghum this year. The sorghum did so well it shaded the corn out and we got very small ears on the corn but there is some in there.
 

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Here is a picture of an area I passed on the road yesterday. It looked good for rabbit cover for a couple or reasons. The main reason was a 30 yard long brush pile that was created when somebody cut down a hedgerow. It was also surrounded by a fallow field of goldenrod and some smaller brush piles. I kicked up four bunnies just walking out the hedgerow from the brush pile. Notice in the first picture a power line that usually has a redtail or two on it.



This second picture was taken two days after the last snow about 30 yards from the brush pile. If you have good habitat, you'll have good production. For rabbits, brush piles are hard to beat and like switchgrass for pheasants, the bigger the better.

 

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Lynn I don't think anyone on this forum will argue that habitat is the most important ingredient. When some talk about controlling predatation, mainly avain as we can already control the others legally. Some of you with blinders on keep repeating habitat habitat habitat. Well I agree but we could do so much more. You take a couple pics of extremely thick habitat and some rabbit tracks and you think that sells your point. Well I can take some pics of habitat thats exactly like I use to kill rabbits in and show you pics of no rabbit tracks. You show me a pic of a huge brush pile and earlier in this post mention thick areas of multi flora rose and tell us see there its all habitat. Now ask yourself why today does it take a huge brush pile or a vast area of multi flora rose to have rabbits. By your description of ideal habitat ( thick and nasty) proves what some of us have been saying. Thats what it takes to survive avain predatation.( common sense ) Didn't use to be that way. When I ran beagles I din't need to hunt cover that was thick and nasty to kill rabbits.

Out in southwestern Montana where they introduced the wolf the elk herd has been decimated. What would you tell those people, More habitat?

The wolf is an efficient predator but no more efficient than the Great Horned Owl. Its just much easier to record his kills.
 

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Penn, the idea of removing predators so prey species can increase is just common sense as you say. The problem is, birds of prey are protected by International treaty and will be a big uphill climb if you think you're going to get it changed. Please feel free to try. What I am trying to explain to you and others that you can increase prey species by improving habitat and that is something we CAN actually do. So instead of crying about the hawks and owls, who the rabbits have managed to survive with for hundreds of thousands of years, that your efforts would be better served by grabbing a chain saw and improving the situation. I have hunted small game for 45 years and hawks have been protected for most of that time. I don't think that you have any more right to that rabbit than the hawk does. His life depends on it and you still have the grocery store if you come home empty handed. If you have to eliminate all the competition to be successful, what does that say about your hunting ability :)
 

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Very well said Lynn. "Habitat" is a complex word. Good Habitat is rare, and good habitat will help balance predation. Many many people look for easy solutions to complex problems.
 

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Lynn Never did I insinuate eliminating predators. All I insinuated was the need to control them. Why is that so difficult to talk about. Your theory doesn't hold water. Man survived for thousands of years as the hawk and owl did on wild game. Why control man now. Looking through your eyes why kill the trees. What did they do, they have the same rights as the rabbits and hawks. If you have to kill trees to be successful whats that say about your hunting abilities? Getting kinda ridiculous aint it. But you chose to go there.
 
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