Dissecting The Piney Woods

To the casual eye, the piney woods of the South look uniform and monotonous, but in terms of deer habitat, they are deceptively dynamic.

If you don’t own property in Dixie, you hunt on heavily pressured public land or join a club that leases industrial timberland. That means monoculture, even-age pine plantations over which hunters have no influence about habitat management. The landowner cuts timber and plants seedlings. Those are the only noticeable alterations.

Between those conspicuous events, however, occur dramatic and subtle changes that profoundly affect deer behavior patterns. After you’ve hunted a piece of land for a few years with air rifle, you’ll notice these patterns unfold as the timber rotation advances through its cycles. You’ll observe consistent patterns from season to season, but you’ll also notice distinctive shifts as timber parcels cycle in and out of whitetail suitability. When you identify their unique activity arcs, you can increase your success exponentially.

You’ll even learn to consistently kill mature bucks in places where they are notoriously evasive.

Continue reading “Dissecting The Piney Woods”


Redfish Assessment Raises Red Flag

The long-awaited red drum stock assessment was recently presented to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and initial results show cause for concern.

The spawning potential ratio (SPR) for the southern portion of the stock (Florida, Georgia and South Carolina) and the northern portion (North Carolina and points north) should be at least 30 percent of an unfished stock, but the estimates show the SPRs in both regions are considerably lower, just 17 percent and 9.1 percent respectively.

These estimates, if correct, indicate Atlantic Coast redfish populations could be slipping below a level needed to maintain healthy stocks. Anglers across the region now worry about the status of the red drum popula­tion, but ASMFC commissioners are not yet ready to take action. The stock assessment model used has never been applied to red drum before. It has been problematic since the begin­ning, requiring extensive collaboration between the reviewers and assessment scientists to complete, delaying the stock assessment results for months due to pervasive questions. Continue reading “Redfish Assessment Raises Red Flag”