Deer Hunting Tornado Damaged Habitat


Deer Hunting Tornado Damaged Habitat

John J. Woods
Magnolia Outdoor Communications


In many deer hunting locations across the country it has been a bad season for tornadoes. The latest area hit was Oklahoma, but many other white-tailed deer habitats have been destroyed or heavily damaged by twisters.

My own hunting land in Central Mississippi was hit by a F3 tornado back in April. It came right up the highway, right through the rural town and across our neighboring deer hunting club. The entire 680 acres sustained some type of damage or another, worse in some areas than others.

Direct tornadoes are not good for timber. The trees are either pushed completely over leaving huge root balls and deep holes exposed, or the tops are twisted out of huge oaks. Pine trees fly apart like toothpicks. The high quality oak trees are twisted like a licorice stick from the base all the way to the tops. This twists the wood beyond any value other than firewood, as the wood cannot be cut for board timber or construction materials. It is ruined.

The deer habitat looks like a giant stepped on it. There is, however, salvation for the deer. If a deer managed to survive the falling trees and blowing limbs, which is most likely, then this new habitat is not really bad for the deer. They adapt quickly. Within days they are likely munching on the lush green tops of the oaks, some with green acorns just starting to form. In terms of timing, this storm generated a brand new food supply that came at a time when deer needed it most especially the does bringing on new fawns. Does with young ones need high quality fresh browse to produce nursing milk and bucks need it for antler development.

As for the hunting terrain, it may be obscured now by a lot of downed trees, but this gives the deer lots of cover to hide in and move around in. Within a very short time the resident herd will have already started charting trails around all the obstructions. Bucks will find blow downs to move into and bed in. For the deer, this new terrain structure may seem perilous, but they figure it out quickly.

As to hunting this mess, the trick is to wade right in. Locate the new trails and passage ways through the maze. Erect new stands in spots where views allow a high vantage point looking down into the downed timber. Set up a ground blind at trail crossing spots and sit tight. Make sure you work with prevailing winds and control your scent.

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