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06/30/18- Burn, baby, Burn

By Meaghan English, TrueSouth Properties Wildlife Specialist

As many landowners know, there ae several methods or techniques used to achieve management goals or objectives. For example, to enhance existing wildlife habitat for wildlife, some landowners may choose to focus on food plots while others implement prescribed burns routinely. Still, others utilize both to reach their management goals.

Prescribed burns are one of the greatest arts of wildlife/habitat management. It sounds pretty simple: find your inner pyromaniac and set fire to the woods! This, however, is a far cry from what a prescribed or controlled burn actually entails. First and foremost, a burn plan must be created by a burn specialist. This dictates everything about the burn; when it should be conducted based on a certain temperature, wind speed, humidity, moisture and other weather conditions. A burn plan is NOT universal. One plan is specific to a certain property or parcel of land. The burn plan must take into consideration the types of trees and vegetation that are being burned and what temperature the fire must reach in order to eradicate certain species, yet prolong the life of others. Prescribed burns can be used to destroy unwanted understory in established forests, regenerate natural vegetation and help reduce the spread of wildfires. All of these things also enhance the overall forest health and provide desired nutrition for many wildlife species. Most importantly, by burning unwanted understory species and leaf litter, fuel for wildfires is reduced and native trees and vegetation are able to thrive. I understand that the aftermath of a prescribed burn can be a little shocking at first (a lot like a thinning or cutting of timber) but the benefits are worth it! It is important to not only keep our forests and wildlife as healthy as possible, but to also reduce the risk of a large wildfire destroying acres of valuable land.

If you have never burned, it is time to give it some serious thought. There are many companies and agencies that provide burn services and would be more than happy to help local landowners enhance the longevity of their native forests and wildlife species.

By: Meaghan English

My name is Meaghan English, a wildlife specialist with TrueSouth. I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management and I have grown up with a passion for hunting. I knew from an early age that I was not only interested in the harvesting of wildlife, but I was also very interested in their biology and management. I decided that I not only wanted to be a wildlife enthusiast, I want to be an educated wildlife specialist. I will be using that grand education as a member of the TrueSouth team contributing wildlife blog articles!

My first hunting memory flashes back to when I was six or seven years old. Like any other Saturday during deer season, my dad had told my mom to get me ready because we were going hunting. Of course I was ecstatic! I was not ecstatic about the hair bow my mom made me wear with my camouflage (she wanted everyone to know I was in fact a fashionable girl). The entire way to Perdue Hill, Alabama, my dad told me that today would be the first day I would actually shoot my first deer and I knew I was ready. We pulled up to the camp, unloaded, and fed all the “camp cats”. Before we headed to our stand, I had spotted three kittens that I simply could not leave behind so I stuffed them in my jacket. After walking what seemed like five miles, we finally made it to the “Pressbox stand” (with my smuggled kittens) and sat down. Dad continuously pestered me to be quiet, but I wasn’t that worried about shooting a deer, I had kittens! Eventually, the sun began to sink behind the trees and a spike (without olfactory senses) entered the field. When it was safe to quietly move, dad handed me the gun and I handed him my three kittens. I slowly pulled the gun up and placed my cheek against the stock. Dad told me to breathe slowly and pull the trigger when I was ready. Sure enough, I pulled the trigger and the spike hit the ground. We high-fived, exchanged kittens again, and climbed down to see the kill. It certainly was not a wall hanger, but a huge chapter in my life was started that night. My dad and I still hunt together to this day and we practice quality deer management at all times.

My ultimate goal is to provide clients with a survey of flora and fauna that currently inhabit a specific tract of land and, if desired, how to properly manage that land for the species that are found there. All feedback is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you!

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