Outdoors Column: Be Careful What You Wish For

A well managed parcel of timber provides a healthy environment for wildlife.  There is the added advantage of growing a stand of trees that will have value as lumber and firewood during the process of improving the timber.  I am in the beginning stages of a timber management plan.  The whole process started out innocently enough.  My son, Damon, and I were sitting around wishing we could improve hunting on the farm.  Our primary concern was not so much increasing the deer or turkey populations, as there is more than enough of both.  Rather the problem was how to grow bigger and better specimens and make it easier to get them.  One of our first decisions was to make shooting lanes.  These would be strips cleared of trees traversing the woods.  Since it is difficult to shoot more than twenty-five yard in any direction, we thought this would be a good solution to that nagging problem of deer running quickly out of sight into the timber, and never being seen again.  Strips, cleared of trees, running in parallel lines, would not adversely affect the food supply or cover, but would greatly improve the shooting.  It took a very few days to determine, there are a whole lot of trees in a straight line through any section of woods.  The cleared strips were supposed to be twelve feet wide, so they could be mowed with the brush cutter.  There are approximately fourteen million trees per mile in a twelve foot strip.  The fun did not last long when after a couple of days, we saw the progress made measured against distance remaining.  If we spent every weekend, for the rest of our lives, including deer and turkey season, one of us might live long enough to see the other side.  We decided to alter the plan.  A road meandering through the woods would be a good thing.  Dead or junk trees could be removed and the road could continue lazily around, presenting good shooting lanes in random places.   If a fine specimen of a tree was in the way, we would not be forced to cut it down and spend two days cutting it up.  We could simply wind the road around it, as though this was part of the grand scheme.  As we progressed, we noticed an ever increasing pile of firewood building beside our newly made road.  I do not burn wood. Damon burns wood but not enough to use up the pile we had amassed.  He came up with the brilliant plan to advertise firewood for sale.  We could supplement our incomes and continue to improve the area.  I thought this was a great idea.  People needing heat and wildlife needing improved habitat could both receive a benefit from the work involved with improving the timber.  The day the ad hit the classifieds in the Save Ottumwa/Post, his phone began to ring.  That advertising stuff really works.  As I write this, I am brushing off the saw dust from cutting and Damon is still out in the timber.  Everyone seems to want to be part of our grand wish. We will have suitable habitat and hunting areas before we know it if we fill all the orders and live to tell about it.