Criteria for Buying Hunting Land

Show Notes

In this podcast, Jon Teater (Whitetail Landscapes) and Tim Russell (Green Fire Forestry & Wildlife Services) discuss what to consider when buying hunting land. Tim explains how to think differently about your forest and what trees might be most meaningful from a wildlife or economic standpoint. Tim and Jon discuss site indexes and the benefit to timber.  Tim provides resources that help evaluate property quality and gives an idea where the best location is for food plots. Tim discusses GIS and how to evaluate changes in the forest and what areas have the potential for future timber. Tim discusses the importance of doing remote analysis on properties before stepping foot to do the legwork. Tim and Jon explain diversity on these properties and Tim identifies the type of property he would purchase.

Tim explains the importance of access for equipment and hunting. Tim discusses how to manage property and what he would choose if he had an option of field or timber. Both contributors assess property in increments and steps, explaining important criteria to valuing property. Tim explains the importance of thinking through the money and time elements of a property before purchase, and not pushing land buying budget without thinking about improvements. Also, Tim explains why smaller properties might be a better option for buyers. Jon discusses the importance of solar radiation and how it influences deer movement and forest stands. Tim and Jon discuss the benefits of water sources on the property, how to utilize water as a friend and increase deer usage in specific areas. Jon discusses drought proofing your property and how you can improve elements of your property to be more productive. Tim breaks down and provides clients options to consider when weighing timber improvements but not losing focus on hunting.  Jon explains how to break down and evaluate a field and improve it with different ways to better support deer utilization.

Show Transcript

Jon Teater: [00:00:00] Welcome to Maximize Your Hunt, the podcast dedicated to those who want the most out of their hunting property. This podcast explores land management habitat improvement and hunting strategies that will help you maximize your time in the field. Follow along as industry professionals that live and breathe whitetail deer, share their secrets to success.

And now the founder of Whitetail. Your host, John Teeter.

Hi, I'm John Teeter with Whitetail Landscapes. This is Maximizer Hunt. Welcome back everybody. I am excited. It's been a while. I've got one of my buddies back on here. Tim Russell. Tim, how you doing? I'm all right. How are you? I'm good. It's been a while. I've seen you recently, but it's been a while since you've been on the podcast.

And we need a forester's background here, and I think it's important to take your perspective on things. I like the way that you [00:01:00] view the landscape and I think we all have different perspectives, either if, education, general experience, and I think it's good to get into details of this topic, which is gonna be focused right.

How to buy land from a forester's mind. And you know you're a hunter, so let's not put that aside. We're gonna talk about that in the conversation, but we're gonna talk about timber. We're probably gonna talk about land diversity. Spreading out the different types of vegetation we prefer in the landscape.

Your preferences. So I want you to kick it off if those don't remember you. You've been on prior episodes and we've done a lot on managing the timber for deer, et cetera. But why don't you just get back into yourself case, explain a little bit about you before we get into this.

Tim Russell: Sure. I'm a forestry consultant and I'm an S A F certified Forester.

I offer a range of services to landowners in New York. Management plan development. I mark timber for sale and put it out to bid. Oftentimes I'll. Cruise a woodlot, meaning I'll [00:02:00] go out and take some forest measurements to determine what's out there in terms of species composition and structure and all that.

But often with the timber cruise, we're looking at how much timber is out there of a particular species and volume in order to determine what the timber value is. And that's something that's often done before somebody sells land or buys land. Apart from that, I do some forestry herbicide application and, other related services dirt forestry, basically offered to all sorts of landowners

Jon Teater: in New York.

Yeah, no, that's good. And a lot of background. You do a whole host of different things. Let's get into detail. Let's put ourselves in the mindset of a buyer. You're in the market. And or maybe you're, you have land and you're assessing your land for quality and quantity, and you're thinking more specifically about, what the land provides to you.

The land is a resource. It's not always just for hunting. There's income potential. There's a lot of things to look at, and there's a lot of decisions to make, and there's [00:03:00] criteria that we typically want to go through. So from a forester's mindset, what do you start?

Tim Russell: So I, for one, I always start with the with the client.

I'm not really in the land business so much as the people business, so certainly I wanna find out what that person values in terms of aesthetics hunting, what species they wanna hunt and if they have some interest in timber and thinking. Cruising a wood lot as we call it, sometimes I'm headed out there to determine how much wood is on a piece of property in terms of timber.

What the volume is like, what the value is based on species and quality. And then also what potential is there. What problems might exist, right? Is there erosion? Are there trails that are washed out? Are there trails at all? But in looking at timber value, you can have a stand that.

Let's say is older and maybe not in great condition, that the timber value ends up being similar to a younger stand that's got just smaller trees on it, right? But that has a lot more [00:04:00] potential to grow into something more valuable, even though it might have a comparable value to a very different forest stand

Jon Teater: out there.

Let's slow down and let's talk a little bit assessing value. We look at site indexes and we look more specifically. Trying to qualify and quantify the volume of trees and the landscape and their potential value. Now, until you cut a tree, you don't actually know likely what it's gonna, what economies it's gonna gain.

But from the standpoint of just cruising and thinking about this, like more specifically, what are some of the landowner can do? What's a simple, layman's approach to looking at, trees, tree value, that, that type of thing in volume. May, maybe there's something that you can do.

Tim Russell: I guess I would caution landowners or prospective landowners from making too many inferences on a personal basis about what the timber might be worth out there without involving a forester. You're right that the value of an individual tree can't really be. Determined just by looking at the outside of it.

[00:05:00] Cuz once you start cutting into it, you've got more information. Does it have defect inside? That sort of thing. But what we do with a timber cruise is to scale not every tree in the forest right? But take a sample so that we can do some statistical analysis as far as. How much volume is out there on average and, from what we can tell, looking at the outside of the tree, looking for defects, things like that.

And then using current stumpage values that, you know, in New York, a good resources. D e c publishes stumpage price reports to tell you. What timber prices are looking like. On average, they do it about twice, a twice a year. And they give you a kind of a price range by different species. So you know that's one thing that landowners might look at is the D E C Stumpage price report.

But other than that, it is a little bit of a. Niche skillset to be able to go out and accurately scale either an individual tree or to be able to go out and actually conduct a cruise and come back with some reasonably accurate [00:06:00] timber volumes on which those stumpage prices can

Jon Teater: be applied.

Yeah, it's hard to do that without having the experience and knowledge and skill set to apply it. But you could break the force, stand down into sub-components, and then from that, you could get a rough estimate of volume. There's some, we've talked about that previously on other podcasts, is just assessing the volume and quality.

And again, like we said, you gotta cut the tree and know what its quality is. And then knowing the market, right? And your local markets are gonna be all, based on the economies, where people are shipping things to. There's a lot of, international opportunities with certain timber, et cetera.

All right. Let's let's talk a little bit about maybe site index considerations and evaluating that. I know that's left field we haven't hit on this before, but, there's an aspect of kind of sun and soil in that equation. How do. Measure productivity indexes. Are there things that people can look at?

PE people might not know what that actually means, so I want to get your take on, [00:07:00] assessing thinking in the future, right? We're thinking today, this is what I have currently. We can have a desired outcome of improving that. But we also are fixed somewhat on the geology and the type of species that are present and we could change the forest types as well.

I'm wondering your perspective on that just at a high level.

Tim Russell: Sure. Just to touch on site index, cuz that phrase came up. Site index is basically about seeing. How tall a tree of a particular species will grow over some period of time. So it, it is specific to a tree species and to some degree you might even say, Break it up more finally than tree species and say provenance.

Because from the same tree species that covers a wild, a wide geographical range, you might have a tree from one place that has different, growth habits, that sort of thing than a tree from another place. Site index usually involves taking the height of the tree and knowing how long it's been growing for, and then using that to determine how good is this growing site for that [00:08:00] particular species of tree.

Good resource that I use in terms of determining site quality is web soil survey. Foresters love it. I think some wildlife biologists love it too, cuz you can log in online, look at your property, zoom in and get a map of your property from NRCS that. Shows you what the soil map is for your area, so you can determine are you looking at well-drained soil, somewhat poorly drained soil.

What's a typical profile look like? Depth to restrictive features like frpa or bedrock or something like that. And that, that's a really valuable resource, not only for foresters, but I would definitely recommend using web soil survey if you're trying to decide where to put some food plots.

Jon Teater: Let's jump ahead a little bit.

And let's think about, somebody's buying a particular property or they wanna buy a particular property and they're looking at it beyond the timber. And we can get back to the timber if you wanna talk about more things along those lines. But they're going down the road of, I want a hunting property.[00:09:00]

Now the element of this that I would consider as a landowner is, yeah, but is there potential? Is there timber potential on that I need to preserve? Thinking ahead, right? Because that resource, economy will help me maybe pay for taxes or improvements, could be an offset to some of my expenses, and I want lay that into the equation.

So Tim, from your perspective, buying land, how do you approach this topic where hunting is paramount? But timbers an aspect of it, it's, it may be in a valued, and I would say maybe not as much as hunting, but it's still important. How would you look at the forest in that setting?


Tim Russell: In, in that case, and really in any case, I try to do as much as I can from my office using GI S and looking at maps, because nowadays there's a lot available. We've got recent aerial photographs, we've got old aerial photographs that might show us some things that the recent aerial photograph can't and realize Hey, this all looks.

The same type of forest [00:10:00] on the recent aerial photograph, but I looked at the old one and I can tell, Hey, that area is a lot older than this area. And I've got soil maps topographic maps, many different things I can lean on there. I can't tell everything that I'm going to need to know from the office.

I typically wanna put boots on the ground, but in looking at a hunting property of just looking at the map, Is it all wooded? Is it all field? Does it have some of both? If it has some of both, is it broken into large blocks or are there many smaller blocks that are in interspersed that can be advantages?

Are there brushy areas? Basically anything that I can determine. Sometimes I like to play a game where, Of course, I've gotta put boots on the ground and I know I'm going to, but I try and make guesses about what I'm going to find when I get out there. And I get a little bit better with it at ti you know, over time as far as saying, what's, am I gonna find older woods, younger Woods, big Timber?

Am I gonna find Oak? Am I gonna find Maple? And, I don't always get it right, but it makes it fun and it sharpens my ability [00:11:00] to. Determine some things from the office. You could tell a lot about how a property lays. So this is more thi this is also something you have to look at more when you get out on the property.

Access, is it very narrow access, getting onto or off of the property looking at the topography. Can you guess maybe how the deer would move across the landscape? And just. Timber management, if you're gonna actually manage the property, you wanna look at access in terms of your ability to get equipment on and off the property.

Sometimes you've got road frontage and then you've got a wide creek or a wetland or something like that. And very narrow access getting back into the property, but also thinking about access in terms of how you're going to hunt that property. And if you say, Hey I could tell this is how the deer are gonna move across the land, and this is where I'm gonna wanna place a hunting stand.

Are you gonna be able to make it to that hunting stand without spreading scent through the areas where you expect deer or upwind to the areas where you expect deer? [00:12:00] You can find out quite a lot by just taking a look at things o on a map. But of course you want to be able to get out there on the property in the end and

Jon Teater: see what's out there.

Yeah and lot of information you just provided there. And I think it does start with a map, alternatively, there's advent of drones and, you can, look at your property through drone imagery or to get realtime data. I would, I recommend a lot of people consider that.

That'll allow you to kind look at that interspersion kinda layout that Tim was talking about a few minutes ago. You brought up an interesting point in. In that remark related to the interspersion of different vegetation types and balancing that we've talked before about breaking, management areas up on your property and then, identifying a purpose and then, serving that purpose with kind of managing the vegetation.

Take, mature forest and turn into sh charland. It's very hard to take a mature forest and turn in a wetland area, especially when it's in a terrestrial site. But there's elements of change and, the disturbance that we're talking [00:13:00] about just briefly is really important.

The other piece you brought up is, terrain and kind of understanding how the terrain involves, certain species or certain. How they transverse the landscape. And when I go to a property, I generally know where the beddings going to be. Just looking in a map. And now once you get there, things change, right?

You look at the composition and how it's been managed, right? It's land usage and you get really detailed and specific. Then you get even more specific when you start to design it. The other aspect of this is diversity is having an element of. We're talking, mature, younger forest.

We've, you and I have talked about younger forest on this podcast, struggling field settings, herbaceous layer, that tiered looked across the property and massaging it. So it lays out in different elements and in different management zone and thinking in some semblance and organization of that, and I think about this kind of in layers.

Everything is in layers and in those layers I [00:14:00] want a lot of diversity. So each management zone's gonna have its own kind of diversity across the, and it's gonna be preferential to the soul type. And what species would prefer to grow in those areas. And I think looking at the landscape, Tim, your little game that you play in your head, which is funny cuz I do something similar what's gonna show up here?

And then from that, trying to make some decisions on how to best approach, the issue or topic you brought up erosion earlier. Those are all really important things to look at. All right, I'm gonna, I'm gonna go down the road, the next piece of this. The income aspect of this, and I know that's important for some people.

One thing to consider is we spend a lot of money on land, right? So what's your budget? And then thinking your annual costs, whether it's your taxes or maybe it's, recreational things. In this case it's, what's your disposable income for improving it for deer hunting, right? And so are there offsets or things that we can do?

How important is that weigh in your equation of buying land and, having, I guess we'll say this [00:15:00] resource that's leveraged and how much percentage would you say on most deer hunting properties would you want to be a mature forest that's somewhat managed or up we'll say, Forest and a status of either harvest or future harvest.

Just to be a little bit more specific, what would you like? What would you like from a percentage standpoint? I

Tim Russell: guess I don't have a typical percentage, but I guess it, I would say that it should be fairly balanced. It's pretty often that I work with somebody who bought a rural property for hunting and that it's like upwards of 90% forest.

And as you touched on, that could be advantages in some cases where you've got timber, which might help pay for the bills. But many times that's not the case. It could be, a site that wasn't great or a stand that has good potential, but it's just too young. It's not time to harvest. It could be that it was cut over in the past or has had.

Issues with insects or diseases that the timber value might just not be there to carry a whole lot of work. And so this doesn't necessarily sound like what a [00:16:00] forester might say. If I had my choice to manage a property for deer specifically, and I could either go with. Entirely field or entirely forest.

I would go with entirely field because most of what we're trying to give to Deere is within, five or six feet of the ground. And even if you've got a forest that's got some timber value, but now you've got a huge percentage of your property that is mature forest, in terms of, thinning is nice and you can get some understory vegetation.

Doing some clear cuts can, as a regeneration method can certainly be nice and create a lot of woody forage there. But if you want to give deer more of what they. Of what they need. Like just thinking in terms of food plots, herbaceous growth. If you wanted to go and try and convert a portion of forest on a largely forested property to something else, there might be timber value there.

But even in a case where you've got really nice timber value, once you start thinking about not only cutting the trees, Cutting all the trees, [00:17:00] including the ones of no value, having them removed from the site, pulling out roots, rock, raking, lime, fertilizing. The cost of trying to convert forest to field could quickly eat up the revenues from timber, where spending a little bit more maybe and making sure that you've got an even balance with field is a lot.

A lot more valuable and in many cases it's a blank slate when people say, Hey, what it's, there's either the circumstances where things are like, covered in beach and there's no timber value and you don't know what to advise people because it's gonna be an expensive intervention.

And then fields are like the other side of the spectrum where, It's almost, it could be a little bit harder to give people a direct answer as far as what should I do? Because if you've got a good growing site and it's field it, it's a blank slate and your mind's going in so many different directions.

You could do food plots, you could do native warm season grasses, you could be planting trees, you could be planting shrubs, you could be putting in so many different things. I don't have an exact percentage. I guess if I'm gonna spitball one, I'd. A quarter to [00:18:00] a third at a minimum being field would be nice.

And if it's more than that, then no trouble with

Jon Teater: that either. Yeah. Yeah. That's funny because it's, totally opposite of your professional your area of focus. But that's very true, and that's very objective in your point of view. So I think everyone should listen to that.

I. One of the things I always start with is soil and the value of soil. And if I'm gonna buy a property, I'm gonna look at that number one, right? What's the quality of soil across the landscape, and what's the diversity of that soil? The type of soil over the range. Excuse me. The next thing I'm gonna look at is terrain, features and variation of topography.

I'm gonna take my property, for example, all right? My property was about 95% wooded, okay? Great soils, a lot of diversity and terrain features, but generally north sloping, I would value that property very low because of the north slope. And so it's thinking about these like criteria and [00:19:00] maybe coming up with a, either a flow chart or just a table and sitting and I have this cuz I've done this with clients, is looking at your property and putting value across this and then coming up with a computation.

This property is better than that property. And you brought up the point earlier about access, right? That's really critical to that. Just Absolutely. Land use access is huge. And then thinking about the historical usage of that land, like the point you brought up earlier of fields I'd rather have that field than a state where, maybe it was previously agriculture and it's, it's 10, 15, 20, 30 years later.

And you have this site that has a lot of likely, young pioneer trees. There's diversity in soil, so you just, you get a lot of range of vertical diversity. And the other aspect of this that I think's really critical is you're just looking at, what your climate is. In the Midwest they deal with drought a lot.

And then in the northeast we do not have those issues in most [00:20:00] instances, right? So I don't have a limitation in water. It may be my growing season shorter. And so as a result of that, I'm limited to what plants I can Dr. Grow, and I have to really work really hard to manage those plants in a short window of time.

So there may be more work on the landscape. But I was in a situation recently with a client where, it was a 50 year old, abandoned agricultural property. There were sexes over the agriculture. It was a complete mess. It's in a high traffic. So as a result of that, Tim, there was a ton of invasive plants, so we had to go in there with a mulcher.

We're doing a reset on the property using a mulcher. It's the only way to get in there to reset the property. And, after 10 days of using a mulcher, we're finally at the point where it's navigable, right? The deer usage was like an all time low. So if it's not managed over time, and it goes from a field, Into a young forest or maybe middle-aged forest.

You may be [00:21:00] dealing with complexities that make, I guess the property a little more difficult to manage. And so it's thinking through each one of these and evaluating how much time and effort you're willing to put into that. I don't know if that echoes with you, that's a problem.


Tim Russell: And one point on that, in terms of budgeting you're thinking about how much you have to spend on the land and the upkeep costs, but also the money you might. To put into improvement and your, how much time are you gonna put in what equipment's available? It's better to get that 50 acre property that's got the diversity and ha has the potential and still have some budget left over to improve that property than it is to push the limits of your land buying budget because you want to get.

More acreage, right? And have a hundred acre woods that you can't do much improvement on, or you know that the deer are running right through because you don't have much of an understory. In terms of looking at the property for. The potential for a successful hunt, better to go smaller and a little bit better, or a little bit more potential and have [00:22:00] a little bit more money left in your budget.

Jon Teater: Yeah. Yeah. I agree. And the other piece of this is dealing with, a lot of my clients are either building a cabin on the ho on the property, so it's thinking about, those location. Any land restrictions too. I dealt recently with a land restriction issue with a client. Wetlands.

That's a good example. Something to consider if you have wetlands and the limitations, right? Depending on how it's tiered, what can you do in those areas, type, sure type of plants. Just a bunch of different considerations. The other thing I wanna touch on real quick, Tim, and I don't know if so I, I call it warm in hotspots and cold spots.

So we talked a little bit about terrain and thinking about, the solar aspect of this, right? How do, how does the sun hit the landscape, right? And then thinking about how deer are going to benefit from that, right? There's a direct correlation to, the sun. Hitting the ground and producing food, warming the ground, warming the animals, and these warm cold spots, and having more warm spots than [00:23:00] cold spots.

I just brought up the North Slope thing on my property, right? So there's a window of usage that's. High and then eventually later in the season it goes down. Now, there could be a bunch of different things you'd have to look at a macro level and look at the general slope of the properties in those areas and how they're facing, et cetera.

But, a property that has warmer side hills or slopes, whether it's west facing or southwest facing, et cetera, that diversity in terrain is really important. I'm not saying you can't have a few north facing slopes on your property. And there isn't a benefit to that.

There absolutely is. Especially during certain times of. The deer utilize those at certain times of the day and certain times of year seasonally. And that's critical to think about when you're laying out a property. But I want a lot more warmer sites than cooler sites. I don't, I dunno if that's something you've thought about when you're kinda looking at that.

That's something I

Tim Russell: think about commonly in relation to like forestry and how the plants are gonna grow because we talk so much about shade tolerance when there are species we [00:24:00] wanna grow or we don't want to grow, how heavily we cut our forest. Have to do with how much shade or how much light we're trying to get to reach the ground.

That definitely relates really well. And as you touched on, you want to think about aspect, but other things that of course are gonna affect that are like your latitude, the time of year. If you've got an opening that you're cutting, what is the shape of the opening, right? Like you might get more sunlight to the ground in a circular opening than a long rectangular one.

Thinking about the heights of surround. Trees if you're doing an opening. And also what types of trees, right? There are some species that are gonna offer a lot of thermal cover and ones that won't. So that we think about that in terms of


Tim Russell: trees. But the same concept applies in terms of creating or, having warm spots, cold spots on the property as it

Jon Teater: relates to Deere.

Yeah, I like to think of it really simple like that. Water sources. What do you think about having a water source on the property? Good.

Tim Russell: I'd say good and maybe not bad if you don't have one. So [00:25:00] I haven't dealt with installing water sources specifically myself, and for the most part as far as meeting their biological requirements, your deer will probably be fine if you don't have a water source on the property.

That said, It can be good to have one. There's some evidence out there that large bucks will drink water after eating a lot and before bedding down. And so that might just be one component that makes them more likely to hang out on the property. But Yeah, I haven't myself dealt with installing any.

I'd kinda to get into it. I see a few folks out there, and in some cases it's the only choice cuz of the drainage of the soil. I guess it's popular to put a tank into the ground. And in many places in New York, because of our agricultural history where forests was cleared away and tilled, we've lost a lot of the hummocks and hollows that.

Put what we call vernal pools all across the landscape. These little, these small little wetlands that you might find in [00:26:00] the understory of the forest. It would be neat to see more of those being restored. I know there have been some projects like that out there. And then you also get all sorts of other wildlife that maybe get to use that a little bit more than a stock tank that.

Jon Teater: Buried to ground level. Yeah. I'm not big on stock tanks at all. And ship Todd Chippy and I, we had our debate, I think on this podcast No. To water Tank or not to water tank. And in our climate where I am specifically, it's a little bit different, right? I think you have to think about, how much rainfall, precipitation on the landscape, what's your climate like, where to place those, why, et cetera.

If you have existing. Sources on the landscape, how you amplify those for utilization. There's certain things you can do in stream management zones to increase interest. We've talked about a little bit about that. I think I talked previously thinking about the water table and your, your food plots relationship to the water table.

There's processes to irrigate. How to create more water infiltration on the landscape. We talked [00:27:00] about swes and ditches, and we talked about the issue of erosion. Again, thinking about that all in context and then being very pragmatic with, what your opportunity is and how much efforts required, if you have ponds, we talked about this with Perry Batten about, they had to do some irrigation this year.

They had big water tanks. They ca you know, just dropping tons of water. Cause they had drought. Like, how could you drought proof your property? There's certain ways to drought proof the properties in some capacity, that's the lifeblood of the plant life is water, right?

So without water, this whole land use thing and the decertification or the landscape out west of how they got these just, I guess soils that are just disappearing because they don't have any. They don't have any plant life because, they're struggling to keep, I think a Montana is a good example.

They're struggling to keep water in the landscape and then they don't get the water volume that we do. We're very fortunate. Our growing seasons are short in the Northeast, but the water. Benefit that we have is really good. And I don't worry [00:28:00] about that as much in my region.

So I just wanted to add to that a little bit. Yeah, it

Tim Russell: hasn't really been a problem as far as what I've run into in New York. And I guess I would add, of course plants need water too, but if it comes down to it, deer can get a lot of the water they need from the food they eat.


Jon Teater: Potentially. Yeah. And that's going to increase. There's another piece of. Capillary action. So capillary action's really important, right? Thinking about the water table and the landscape and how that relates to, the plant life that's adjacent or in the same area, right?

The benefits of the water going up and down, infiltrating in the soil and the plant, taking that water or having that water available to it. Plants are likely gonna be more fruitful to the animals, that are utilizing those areas. So it's thinking a little bit more in depthly about just the whole ecology and kinda layout and landscape aspect of this.

I want to get into one other topic with you in assessing vegetation. I don't know if you do this with your clients, but I'm starting to do this a little bit more as taking an area and saying, [00:29:00] okay, this is good or bad. Or maybe actually putting a value to it and say what's, good but, or best kind of thing.

Do you go on the landscape and say, okay, for this management zone what we're doing? We'll just say, Timber stand improvement. This is an area where you want to do timber stand improvement and here's why. This may have a small food component value to it. Do you do anything li like that where you walk them through an evaluation?

Tim Russell: Sure. And sometimes we do this roughly if it's more like going out for one day with a landowner and looking for some practical things that, that landowner can do over the course of some weekends. But in developing a land management plan an important step is delineating the property into separate management units like forest stands or like fields that are different enough from those other areas to be considered separately, but homogenous.

Within themselves to be managed as a unit and to apply a treatment with some degree of uniformity. And each treatment having a desired outcome, [00:30:00] right? How are we gonna change this area? But things that, I'm looking up if it's in the woods, I'm looking up in the overstory and seeing what's there in terms of tree species and size and quality and all that.

But I'm also looking down and. Is the understory bear, does the understory have things that I want to grow? Does the understory have things that we don't want on the property? And how is that gonna be affected by whether it's, cutting or some other type of treatment? How's that gonna change?

Which it's just as important to avoid some unintended consequences as it is to, implement something with a desired change. And for landowners looking to go at it on their own and do some things on the property that are gonna be an improvement without either wasting time or creating more problems.

One of the best things to do if you're not very good at identifying plants or knowing what's out there, is to get out there with a field guide and see if you can figure out what are you looking at, right? Instead of accidentally releasing some invasives or doing something that's potentially counterproductive.


Jon Teater: [00:31:00] I'm gonna, I'm gonna walk down this road really quick, and I like two things that you brought up. The homogeneity of a particular area, particularly if you're managing for timber, and segregating that separately from all these other, I guess we'll say microclimates, based on all the other things we considered then.

I'm gonna take a field, for example, and I'm gonna apply this. So I have a field setting where I'm walking in and it's golden rod, right? And we see this very commonly across the landscape boards. This monolithic crop. It takes over everything and it, it becomes valued only at certain times.

It becomes a great cover source, but it's food source degrades over time. There's not a lot of diversity in. And you're thinking about that as, okay, it's an old field, right? Maybe it used to be agriculture. It's no longer, in that set, to u utilization is change. And as a result of it, what's its value, right?

And my buddies kill me on this topic because they go crazy over these like ginormous golden round fields. We used to a lot of, we used to a lot of deer drives, and they're out there and. And then there's not a strawberry component. There's not a young forest [00:32:00] component, but it's actually drilling down a little bit further, and you just hit on this topic, is looking at the species specifically.

Like for example, you're gonna see this more in, forest that stands, but pokeweed is an example, right? Which you clearcut area. Like in our areas we get a ton of pokeweed. I've been on properties, that's a high valued plant, produces a lot of seed. It's great for birds, they distribute it across the landscape.

It proliferates an area pretty easily. In the old fields, Astros having a lot of various, as Astros, excuse me, that, provide food value over time. Again, another good perforator, birds utilize them thinking about wild lettuce, blackberry, right? We think about these blackberry briar bushes and having those in.

Though they're typically segmented I can think of an area where I was just at their beach plum. So thinking about American plum thickets in the landscape, cutting those back over time, right? Cutting them in the wintertime, letting them re sprout. And those are typically in pockets. They provide cover and food.

Partridge p talked about how to have. These herbaceous plants that are vine that climb up, different STEMI plants just thinking about this diversity and landscape, [00:33:00] okay, in each example, I'm increasing its value as I add diversity into that equation. So that old field, whether you burn it right, you disk it you just apply herbicide, you mow it, it's okay to mow guys.

And thinking about, I think mowing really from a path movement standpoint, by the way, Tim, but it's just thinking about. These techniques and then thinking about what results, occur based on that and what plant life, ends up, coming to light. So I just wanna throw that in, in here as equation as okay, I'm taking a valued property, one to 10.

It's five in the field because it's just this mono crop of goldenrod. And now I'm converting to something more value. And one last point to that, if you have invasive plants in those areas, trust me, they're all over the landscape. And if it's a shrub component, In that field setting, it's, if it's gonna be replaced naturally, it's gonna take 5, 7, 10 years.

Maybe you plant something instead of that plant and or maybe you leave that plant and kill it. [00:34:00] You leave the structure there and you plant things around it that'd be a good way to attack that particular issue. So I just want to try to take the equation of thinking about. A particular management zone and then giving it value, improving it, right?

Seeing how they utilize it more. Does my return on investment? Do I get a return on investment based on the improvements that I'm making and what's the result of that? What type of plants am I getting in those areas? And not thinking of it just from a Deere perspective. We're thinking that in this case, the conversation I just had was about deer, but I did bring in birds into that equation.

Just something to consider, Tim. Yeah. Yeah.

Tim Russell: Th those are some very good points. And one thing that you kinda touched on there that people should be aware of is things are gonna change whether you change them or not, right? Succession happens, so you look at the earliest successional stages in a field, you might have a lot of annual weeds that.

Really preferential deer brows. And over time they get overtaken by perennial weeds, right? Because they might not move on to the site the quickest, but once they start establishing a root system, that [00:35:00] gives them a headstart the next season. So you'll see this shift from. Annual weeds, which are maybe the most preferential brows toward perennial weeds.

And then you start to get encroachment by shrubs and you start to get young forest. If you leave a field long enough, any of these stages of development might have value, but they all offer something different and. If you're not the one to make the change and decide what's going to be there, something's gonna change with

Jon Teater: time regardless.

Yeah. And way to be a little more articulate than that. I was thinking that point through as I was talking. But I think that's an important consideration is thinking about that su successional state where you're at, what the timeline is. It takes a little bit longer to grow, certain plants in certain areas, just based on your climate.

And then we talked a little bit about, your soil type. So thinking about that in this equation. All right. What else? Do you consider any other buying property guidelines, any other things that are just sitting on your brain that you gotta get off? We

Tim Russell: touched on access and when I'm walking a property, of [00:36:00] course there's some that I could tell from the desk, but if there's a stream and for either management or hunting, you're gonna have to cross it.

I go out to those areas and see how deep, how wide, what sort of bridge would have to be there for an ATV or what sort of bridge would've to be put there for a skidder to pull logs over. I like to get along the property boundaries cause. It can be a real pain in the butt when you get out there and there hasn't been anything marking the property lines and nothing discernible for a long time.

But if you can find barbed wire and the property line was marked in the past, that can really help. But in thinking about access and not just how you're gonna get onto the property and how you're gonna get equipment onto the property if you're gonna manage it, I also think of access in terms.

Unwanted access to the property. Are there lots of trails? Is there a lot of road frontage in different trails that people can get onto the property? Are there gates, that sort of thing? Is it gonna be a property that it's difficult to keep trespassers off of, is what I'm getting at there. So I think about that

Jon Teater: too.

Yeah. [00:37:00] And I'll bring up two last points for me. The biggest three points. The biggest thing is what's this proximity to? Home, right? How long does it take me to get to this property? Because it, there's another element of this is managing it and watching it over it as it relates to other people.

Right Now, obviously you can have remote access to your property to some degree from, trail cameras, et cetera. So you can observe and keep note of things, but learning what your neighborhood's really the most important and trying to get that detail, that information that gives you that most recent information on what people are doing and why.

I've talked a little bit on the podcast about, Building a relationship with your neighbors. I've talked a lot about this with my clients of how we build relationships, basically strategy to market yourself. And that's really important. And, being close, like my property's a mile from my house, right?

That, that proximity is really ideal for me. I can drive my tractor down there, I can do, when I get home from a client job, I can go work a couple hours at night. It just is very convenient and [00:38:00] minimally, Tim, most clients I'm saying, a 50 acre property you're on there just doing maintenance work, 15 to 20 days a year.

That's, those are full days, and that's quite a bit of work and most times, we're just focusing on the hunting aspect of it. But to get to the hunting aspect, to be more successful, that, that work side of it's really important. Thinking about, the volume and time you.

And how much freedom you can get to do that. That's the most difficult. And we're not all retired or independently wealthy it's trying to figure out, how many weekends or nights you can get there and do the job you need to do. Ideally you're living on the property.

That's the ideal situation. But we don't all have those conveniences. Absolutely.

Tim Russell: And likewise, you might find that a good hunting property costs more the closer and closer you get to a major city for for those reason.

Jon Teater: And endless supplies of money like you and I both have. That's no big deal.

I I'm happy that I just own land and in this economy today, the prices per acre have skyrocketed and, it's tough to see that because I'm asking myself in these areas that have, these economies [00:39:00] that are just dwindled, how can you ask for that?

The city prices seem to proliferate across the landscape and, just because of this boom, it's been a difficult scenario. All right, so let's let's end on anything else, Tim, that you think is relevant. Any other topics, any other considerations from your perspective?

Tim Russell: Don't shy away from calling a local forester or wildlife consultant to walk the land for you, or what if you're considering two different properties and get that impression because you're about to, if you're about to spend quite a bit of money on land, getting a day or two of consultation could really be worth

Jon Teater: it.

Yeah, I agree a hundred percent. If you're boiled down a few parcels and you need to make some decisions, I think it's doing your homework. You can do as much research on your own, paying a professional, help you kinda look through it and think more specifically about, what am I trying to achieve, right?

What are my goals? How am I objectifying this property where I can get. The maximum return, I can maximize my hunt. It's thinking through all that and I think it's important [00:40:00] to consider. I think we laid out quite a bit here and if you didn't have a chance to take a pen and paper to listen to this and we didn't dialogue it and kind of order, but there's orders that I look at and waitings and thinking more specifically about what you want, what makes a good deer hunting property is.

It's in the eye of the beholder. There's certain thresholds and I was trying to push him to be very specific and say, okay, if this homogeneous area, how do you want to manage it for timber? I have percentages in my head of what I look for. It's just because I've seen properties that function really well.

And based on that experience alone has given me some perspective of, what percentages of landscape type do I. You know what habitat preferences do I have for this particular species that get the most utilization. Increase my probability of success and it's thinking indepthly about what those percentages are.

I won't share that on this podcast cuz it evolves consistently, based on every property that I look at. But I do have an idea in my head, and I think for those people that have [00:41:00] that observational experience, Tim. I feel apply that, right? If you've seen like a big hardwood force setting doesn't work for you there's a reason why it doesn't work for you.

And thinking about its value to your goals, that's really critical. And not shying away from, maybe that's maybe not the most ideal state, because these are my preferences. I want to have a successful hunt. And it's, again, the lemine factor. In most instances. Most of my properties are. I don't, I would say at least 80% wooded.

That's I looked at my percentage and out of that 80% wooded, I think probably 70 to 90% of that is mature forest. And in that percentage, it's very difficult. We want diversity, so it's, Resetting, creating disturbance. It's all these things that we talked about here, so hopefully I encapsulated everything we discussed.

Okay, Tim, it's been a while, man. You got a lot going on in your personal life. You got a baby coming up, so you're busy. I hope we get you back on soon. Probably it'll be after that, but I know that you're gonna be busy. [00:42:00] Anything else you want to end with? No, but

Tim Russell: I look forward to being on again. It's always a good time.


Jon Teater: thanks John. Hey, Tim, real quick, we didn't mention your business. I want to just plug you what, just restate your business.

Tim Russell: Green Fire, forestry and Wildlife Services. Okay. Check me

Jon Teater: Awesome. Thanks man. We'll talk soon. See ya. Yep. Bye John.

Tim Russell: Bye. Take care.

Jon Teater: Maximize your hunt is a production of whitetail.

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