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  • Writer's pictureSam Bilhorn

Influencing Change: From Deer Deserts to Thriving Whitetail Habitat


In our previous article, we explored the natural process of successional growth in forests and how it can lead to a closed-canopy condition, known as "deer deserts" in deer habitat circles, where the growth of understory and forest floor is limited, and the quality of cover and browse deteriorates. This is not ideal for deer, and they will seek better conditions elsewhere. However, there is a solution to this problem.

timber stand improvement markings

Natural Openings: The Role of Fallen Trees

tree falling down

In nature, when trees age and die or are taken down by natural events, it creates openings for light to reach the ground. This allows new growth to take place, and new sprouts to emerge in the place of the fallen tree. The fallen tree also provides a habitat for various critters while offering browse and cover for a period of time as it breaks down.

Creating Openings: Timber Stand Improvement (TSI)

If we identify that areas of our timber stand are in this low-quality habitat, ‘deer-desert’ condition, we can mimic this process by intentionally cutting down trees in these low-quality areas to create openings for new growth. This process is known as Timber Stand Improvement (TSI). However, it's essential to be selective in the process, taking into account various factors such as location, hunting access, type of timber cut, aspect, slope, soil, species, and existing understory trees.

timber stand improvement cutting


successful whitetail deer hunter

In our next article, we will discuss Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) in more detail and how it can be tailored to meet your specific goals for your whitetail property. When properly utilized, TSI is a valuable tool for whitetail land management, so follow along to learn more!



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