When you think about fall, particularly in the South, two things usually come to mind: football season and deer season.
While football season is in full swing by mid-September, Southern hunters are usually anxiously awaiting the opening day of deer season, or that weekend before opening day, when statewide youth hunts are legal.
National Hunting and Fishing Day, recognized annually on the fourth Saturday of September (September 28th this past year) to serve as a reminder that wildlife and wild places exist today thanks to the ongoing leadership and funding from hunters, anglers and shooters.
You may be thinking, what does National Hunting and Fishing Day have to do with Southern forestry?
The answer: everything.
You see, landowners who properly manage their forests to be healthy are providing the necessary habitats for wild game such as deer and turkeys. Managed forests promote biodiversity, an essential element to healthy wildlife populations. Forests are home to 80 percent of wildlife on land.
Take wild turkeys as an example.
Wild turkeys are found in 49 of the 50 states. In the 1930s, the wild turkey population was around 30,000 – for the entire country. Today, there are more than seven million wild turkeys throughout the U.S.
Through active forest management and conservation efforts, wild turkey populations are flourishing.
While National Hunting and Fishing Day may have passed for the year, hunting for the winter season is still going strong in many southern states. If you’re a hunter who owns or leases forestland, consider implementing a forest management program. You and your wildlife will reap untold benefits.