25 January 2010


"What's the best thing to plant for wildlife?" is one of the most frequently asked questions that we hear, second only to: "just what do ya'll do anyway?" In answering the latter question, part of my answer is, "we also do the farming work on game-lands...", which usually leads right in to the former question.

In order to give a good answer, one must turn the tables and ask the inquirer a long list of questions: What kinds of animals are you trying to attract/feed? What time of year do you want to plant? How much acreage do you have available to plant? Is it an upland or bottomland site? Does the area get full sunlight or is it mostly shaded?What kind of equipment do you have available? What kind of vegetation is currently present? What will the grazing pressure be like?

Many entire books have been written on the subject, and there is no way to give good advice on planting for wildlife without knowing all of the above information (and more.) The agricultural work that we do involves managing the openings on game lands for the benefit of all forms of wildlife. For example, some openings are managed mostly for the benefit of small game, some are managed with the goal of providing quality forage for deer and other herbivores, and some are planted mostly to attract doves or other birds. Planting itself is only a small part of the work done in managed openings, other work includes plowing or disking, fertilizing, spraying, mowing, burning, managing the field edge, and removing rocks, stumps, and other debris.

Last year we planted a total of 86.5 acres on District 7 game lands. These plantings were done in seven months of the year and consisted of an amazing variety of crops. Here is a list of the different plant seed that has passed through our "seed room" and has been planted on game lands in recent years:

American Jointvetch
Arrowleaf Clover
Austrian Winter Pea
Berseem Clover
Big Bluestem
Birdsfoot Trefoil
Black Eyed Susan
Browntop Millet
Crimson Clover
Crown Vetch
Durana Clover
Eastern Gammagrass
Egyptian Wheat
Grain Sorghum
Hairy Vetch
Illinois Bundleflower
Kobe Lespedeza
Korean Lepedeza
Ladino Clover
Little Bluestem
Maximillian Sunflower
Orchard Grass*
Partridge Pea
Predovic Sunflower
Proso Millet
Red Clover
Small Burnett
Timothy Grass
Weeping Lovegrass*
White Dutch Clover
Yellow Sweetclover

*note that these grasses are generally not recommended in wildlife openings, we only use them in erosion control situations.

Above is a photo of the interior of our seed room.

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission used to provide seed in annual and perennial mixtures that was intended for use as a small game food and cover planting. This program ended in the early 1990's, we no longer have any seed available to the public.

06 January 2010

Perkins Game Land - Directions

Perkins Game Land

The Perkins Game Land is located in Davie County. Perkins is not a state owned game land but is leased from Duke Power.  There are three parking areas to access the Perkins Game Land on Riverview Road.  To access the Perkins Game Land:

From the intersection of US Highway 64 and NC Highway 801; travel south on NC Highway 801 approximately 1.3 miles to Riverview Road on the left. After turning onto Riverview Road, travel approximately 100 yards to the gated parking area on the right.

 35°51'22.14"N   80°26'41.50"W
To access the other the other two parking areas continue traveling Riverview Road approximately 1.9 miles to the end of the pavement.

35°50'22.48"N   80°26'49.93"W
And then from there continue on the graveled section another 0.6 mile to a gated parking area.
 35°50'6.41"N  80°27'19.42"W

For an online interactive map of Perkins, please visit the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission website @ www.ncwildlife.org or click HERE to link to the interactive maps.

A detailed map of Perkins in PDF form can be found HERE.

04 January 2010

THE D7 crew repeats as "duck banding champs"

During the summer of 2009, THE D7 Crew again claimed title to the Coveted GOLDEN ROCKET award by banding more wood ducks than any other Wildlife Management crew in NC. THE D7 crew banded 327 wood ducks, 233 more ducks than the Andrews crew, who was this year's runner-up. All other crews across the state combined to band 421 wood ducks over the summer. The "preseason" wood duck banding effort proved difficult for all crews as repeated flooding occurred in areas that had seen low water levels for the last few years. Several of our best duck trapping sites were simply gone, washed away or flooded throughout the trapping season. We were able to adapt by seeking out new sites and employing our new productive trapping technique of "drop netting". The drop net can be employed where there is not enough space for the traditional rocket net, and can be left in place and employed as soon as high waters recede at a flood prone site. Here are some examples of sites where we caught and banded ducks using drop nets.
Above is a "lean-to" drop net made from river cane poles.
Above is a small "hoop" net suspended from a cable, and the two pictures below are of larger hoops suspended from overhanging trees.

Above is a hoop suspended from a wooden bipod over a particularly challenging site to trap, and below is another very small hoop suspended from a tree.

Our goal for next year is to reduce our time invested in wood duck banding by 1/2 and still retain this MAJOR award here in our trophy case.

What has THE D-7 crew done lately? (October-December 2009)

October 2009
- Crewmember assisted with youth hunt and collected data from three deer.
Crewmembers collected data from eight deer from meat processors and sportsmen.

-Spread 80 tons of gravel on public parking area on Three-top Mtn. GL.

-Performed routine depot, yard mowing, and site maintenance tasks.

-Mowed 3 miles of road edges on Mitchell River GL.

-Repaired and replaced rear tires on TL90 tractor.
Performed maintenance and repairs on bulldozer.
Performed maintenance and repairs on Truax planter.
Painted temporary bridge components.

-Cleared 1/2 mile of firebreaks on Mitchell River GL.
Reconnoitered layout of firebreaks for future burns on MRGL.
Installed two temporary stream crossings on MRGL firebreaks.

-Removed rocks, stumps and debris from 2 acres of openings on TCGL.
Sprayed 13 acres of openings on TCGL.
Planted 21 acres of openings on TCGL.
Planted four acres of openings on Mitchell River GL.
Removed rocks, stumps and debris from 1.5 acres of openings on MRGL.
Mowed 2 acres of openings on Mitchell River GL.

-Routine office work, purchasing, and reporting.
Crew attended regional meeting in Marion.

-Treated 342 Hemlock trees for Hemlock Wooly Adelgid control as follows:
Treated 32 trees on Buffalo Cove GL
Treated 42 trees on Mitchell River GL
Treated 186 trees on Thurmond Chatham GL
Treated 82 trees on Three Top GL
Jim applying pesticide to control HWA

-Replaced stolen battery bank in tandem and 2-ton dump trucks.

November 2009
-Crewmembers collected data from 212 deer at various meat processors.

-Performed routine depot and site maintenance tasks.
Hauled off trash and recyclables and scrap tires to landfill.
Crewmember met with state fire marshal for depot inspection.

-Repaired washed out culvert on MRGL.

-Maintained various non-highway equipment.

-Constructed 1.3 miles of firelanes on MRGL.

-Reviewed burn plans with regional forester and prepared burn plans.

-Routine office work, purchasing, and reporting.

-Maintained and inspected dump trucks and 10 & 20 ton trailers.
Maintained pumper unit truck (PM3579).

-Crewmember hauled Huntmaster trailer back to depot from Morganton depot.
Prepared, demonstrated, and signed out Huntmaster for NWTF handicap hunt.

December 2009
-Crewmembers collected data from 235 deer at various meat processors.

-Performed routine depot and site maintenance tasks.
Repaired depot security lighting system.
Plowed snow to provide access to depot.

-Repaired and performed scheduled maintenance on three tractors.
Repaired and maintained Alamo mower.
Repaired and maintained depot air compressor.
Repaired and maintained Honda ATV.

-Constructed temporary bridges needed for firelanes.

-Inspected, cleaned, and maintained 30 wood duck nest boxes at Hunting Creek waterfowl refuge.

-Inspected tracts to be burned on Perkins and MRGL, and prepared burn plans.

-Crewleader attended regional meeting at Marion depot.
Crew completed mandatory training regarding e-mail policies.
Routine office work and preparing reports.

-Had pumper unit truck inspected (PM3579).

-Prepared, demonstrated, and signed out Huntmaster for two handicapped hunts.

19 November 2009

Mitchell River GL road repair project

A few months ago, we discovered some serious damage happening on a road on Mitchell River Game Lands. This road was constructed by a local land swindler/developer who was only interested in getting a road in there, getting the timber out, and then getting people in there in order to buy parcels of property. Needless to say, great care was not taken in this road construction. Since becoming game lands, we just closed out this road to the public and use it for administrative access only. We pretty much knew that this road would create problems eventually. Twenty or more feet of poorly supported and connected culvert pipe was left extending out far above grade.

This created a 25 foot high waterfall, which over time, eroded the ground beneath it until culvert sections were left unsupported. One culvert section broke off and the process started over again at the next section of 20' culvert, until the resulting erosion shown in the photo's below threatened the stability of the road.

We came up with a fix for this area with the advice of an engineer from our Engineering Division who came out one day to observe our work. Our first task was to remove two of the extended culvert sections. The one that had broken off was pulled from the gully with the dozer winch, the next one was excavated with the backhoe.

Next, we needed to convert the very steep banks of the "cut and fill" used to create the road in this section into a better designed drainage area. The easiest way to do this was to shove soil straight down the embankment with the dozer. After careful assesment of the risks involved, Jim strapped into the dozer and shoved down the steep embankment using the mound of soil that he was pushing as his emergency brake. At this grade, the dozer just kind of slides downhill on a one way trip, a path was pushed beforehand as a way to climb back out.

The drainage basin continues to take shape, the spillway is lined, and rip rap is placed...

Some matting is placed on the steeper sections.

We lined most of the waterway with heavy fabric, installed a few log check damns, hand placed several tons of rip rap, and a large pile of brush in the bottom of the basin to help stabilize the soil and slow down any heavy water flows. We then seeded the entire area down with a mixture of grasses and crown vetch.

Finally, we mulch down the site with straw. We completed this project in less than a week.