When you think about fall, particularly in the South, two things usually come to mind: football season and deer season.
While football season looks a little different this year, Southern hunters anxiously await the opening day of deer season.
This coming Saturday, September 26, is National Hunting and Fishing Day, recognized annually on the fourth Saturday of September to serve as a reminder that wildlife and wild places exist today thanks to the ongoing leadership and funding from hunters, anglers and shooters.
What does National Hunting and Fishing Day have to do with Southern forestry?
The answer: everything.
Landowners who properly manage their forests to be healthy are providing the necessary habitats for wild game such as deer and turkeys. Managed forests promote biodiversity, an essential element to healthy wildlife populations. Forests are home to 80 percent of wildlife on land.
“Sound forest management practices and wildlife improvement go hand-in-hand,” said Russell Bozeman, Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) state forester. “It’s only through proper land management that a landowner can hope to see improvements to their wildlife populations.”
Take wild turkeys as an example.
Wild turkeys are found in 49 of the 50 states. In the 1930s, the wild turkey population was around 30,000 – for the entire country. Today, there are more than seven million wild turkeys throughout the U.S.
Through active forest management and conservation efforts, wild turkey populations are flourishing.
“Whether you hunt your land or simply enjoy watching the wildlife, a key component to ensuring quality wildlife populations is implementing a forest management plan,” Bozeman said. “The programs offered by the MFC will allow you, and your wildlife, to reap untold benefits.”
If you own forestland and are looking to improve the wildlife populations, the MFC offers several programs to help private landowners make the most of their property.