We have to live more on the edge.
A contributory factor in Western Maine’s declining wildlife, is the LOSS OF EDGE. We are gradually losing our Rangeley area fields. Laws passed in the 80’s discourage clear cuts by logging companies. A clear cut helps to establish new saplings and shrubs, creating forage for wildlife, including song birds. Fields are turning into forests, and well-meaning land owners are letting their property’s woods mature without management. Only a small percentage of wildlife thrives in a mature forest.
Along the edges of fields grow small trees and shrubs that create “soft mast”, berries, moutain ash, apple choke cherries and etc. Beech trees and Oak produce hard mast, which are picked by wildlife from the ground. Grouse, deer, bear and turkeys all compete for mast. Buds and catkins of trees and shrubs are eaten later in the fall.
Mast-producing trees and schrubs are intolerant of shade, and need sunlight. Poplar, or big-toothed aspen saplings, a popular winter food source will not flourish if shaded by mature poplar. Most wildlife need a succession of young forest to provide food sources.
The best thing a landowner can do is to identify any schrub or tree producing mast. Much of these shrubs may be on the edge of your lawn You can remove any competing tree or schrub which causes shade. Fertilizing any fruit tree can greatly enhance fruit production. There are many wild apple trees being choked out by competing forest. Rangeley once had abudant apple orchards.
You can also take a chainsaw and create small clearings in your woods. Create a new clearing every year. A chainsaw is a deer’s best friend! You can also buy some “Rangeley Seed Mix” available at the River’s Edge Tackle Shop and plant it on your septic tank, trails, logging roads or throw in your ditches.
Remember, its good to live on the edge.
Thanks to a great volunteer crew, about 85 % of the apple trees we released are bearing fruit. Photos of these apples were taken last week. This fall, we will attempt to do some more pruning in this orchard. Get your chain saws and pruners ready!
BEFORE GROUND PREPARATION, HERE LIES AN UNTAMED WINTER ROAD
Seven Islands requests Jack Searles to excavate and prepare the mile long winter road for a food plot
And who is this at the Kabota helm? None other than retired minister Bill Carter. Still making the world a better place. But this time, it is for those who without a voice.
Below is Rick Baker spreading seed on the winter road. Note the seeds radiating out of the hopper. This mile long road was seeded in 1/2 hour! Thank you Rick for the many hours you put in this summer.
Next, Rick Baker drags the ash to evenly distribute it. Just to remind you, ash sweetens and fertilizes the soil, which enables our specially designed seed mix to grow into high-protein forage. Deer and wildlife needs this to fatten up for our sever winters.
rake the ash into any empty spots. After that, its seeded. If it wasn’t for our volunteers, this project would be nowhere.
We had new challenges this second season. M & H stepped up to the plate in many ways. They donated time and equipment to “scrape off” the debris and unwanted vegetation to prepare the plots for seeding.
M & H Construction drove their bulldossers along challenging gravel roads to prepare these remote plots.
M & H also used their trucks to stand for hours, allowing the ash to slowly fill from Boralex’s hoppers. This clean woodash created from biomass was then trucked and dumped to the new food plots. Thanks to Maine Environmental, part of this job was financed. Maine Environmental, a eastern Maine environmental waste company that specializes in beneficial reuse helped facilitate this new relationship.
On the right photograph, is Shannon Giles, from Maine Environmental in Herman, Maine who is helping M&H truck driver to get ready to dump the ash.
On June 6th, 2011, we walked Two Mile Plot, and were amazed by the lush carpet of clover. This mix works superb for erosion too. Notice the deer tracks. There is no doubt that the forage mix and wood ash are successful to provide forage.
Did you know that, without the small land-owners help, the deer herd is not expected to reach normal levels in 30 years! If we, as land-owners get busy, maybe we can acheive l980 levels in 10 years!!! If you are a land-owner, and enjoy the presence of deer, than you can’t afford to miss this workshop.
Rangeley Region Guides & Sportsmen’s Club is proud to host a free workshop for members and the public on managing own’s property to enhance deer sustainability. On Saturday, March 12, 8:30-12:00, this workshop is designed for the Upper Kennebec Valley chapter of SWOAM. What is SWOAM? It is an organization of small Maine land-owners meant to teach the owner management techniques of forest sustainability. It also educates about tax breaks, provides informative newsletters, easements and profit-making.
Anyone is invited to attend this Saturday workshop at the Oquossoc Clubhouse. Coffee and cookies available at the Clubhouse 8:30, followed by a 9:00 talk on deer ecology and timber management techniques with IF+W Biologists Chuck Hulsey and Bob Cordes. The participants will then tour the work the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust folks have done to increase deer habitat on Trust land. This is a great workshop for those who would love a little more guidance on how to manage their land to encourage deer, or those just interested in deer ecology. Foresters will also be hand to discuss spruce/fir management relative to deer habitat.
Please dress for the weather and bring showshoes if you have them. The outside portion will involve a short walk. This workshop is sponsored by the SWOAM, the Rangeley Region Guides and Sportsmen’s Association, IF+W, and the Maine Forest Service.
Directions: Once in Oquossoc , Continuing West on Highway 4, turn left at the 2nd intersection past the Oquossoc Post Office. Drive 2 blocks and you will see the Club House on the right.
Any questions, contact Marcia at 864-3351 email@example.com or Patty Cormier at 592-2238 , firstname.lastname@example.org.
This fall, both projects, Apple Tree Release and Food Plots received much attention. One of our active volunteers, Andy Nagle accompanied Steve Goodwin, Dean of U. Mass. Dept of Agriculture and Natural Science. Dean Goodwin was especially interested in our Apple Tree Release Program, and has offered any help. Thanks to his department, we have learned that the Quimby Pond apple trees are called “winter banana”. The ones we ate, were surprising sweet and delicious for stressed trees. We have now completed the first phase of clearing more sunlight for 34 apple trees. We await another consulting visit from Steve’s colleague in the spring, to determine if the larger competing trees should be professionally removed. Bob Cordes, deer biologist from IF & W,, has made two trips to our Rangeley plots. He was impressed how much deer and moose use the Cross-Town plots. He felt that the clover is solidly established and will produce adequately the next few years. He recommended we replant with the annuals, buckwheat and oats to help the does produce strong offspring this early summer. He thought over-planting forage turnip along the periphery next year would help the deer’s winter endurance. On a second trip, he visited the Flat Iron Plot, and confirmed late-season deer usuage, as the deer migrate through this area on the way into Oqoussoc. Planting the annuals, Turnip and buckwheat will be considered here as well. The control plot did fairly well, probably germinating 30% because its soil ph was pretty good to start with. Bob, you will recall, was the biologist that helped Marcia to design the Rangeley Seed Mix. In the picture, he is looking at some of the ryegrass, and pleased with the obvious success of the plots. We are lucky to have such close access to the expertise Bob Cordess and Chuck Hulsey.
Bob and his little girl, Madison, accompanied Marcia, Ron Ray and Kent Cummings to visit some new potential plots for next year.
Bob agreed with Ron Ray, Guide and Moniter, that these plots met all the criteria: south-facing, along the winter deer corrider, good drainage and good cover. Ash will again be used. This location will be proposed to Seven Islands.
Our visitor, Andy Weik, grouse biologist from Ruffed Grouse Society gave us a very educational presentation on managing grouse and woodcock habitat. This can be done maintaining habitats of various ages. Ruffed grouse are most common in patches that are covered by trees 5-15 years old. The land-owner should strive to maintain forest of different ages. Harvesting a 5-10 acre every 10 years easily provides a mix of age classes. So folks, remember that small clear-cuts are the best thing we can do for all our wildlife. Another excellent technique is cutting down strips of alder to give woodcock more access to earthworms, their main food source. A chainsaw is the best friend of most wildlife. While touring our plots, Andy recommended cutting a few narrow corriders entering the plots. This would better serve woodcock and other wildlife. He also discovered that rabbits have been browsing the plots that had good cover. Prior to his presentation, Andy also got a chance to hunt grouse with Rick Baker. If any of you are interested in learning more, please join the Ruffed Grouse Society 888-564-6747. The quarterly magazine is really excellent.
This stealth camera, shown here being installed by Rick Baker was stolen. Several days later, another camera , owned by Lynn Hewey, was stolen. In the latter case, the tree was cut down, in order to remove the locked camera. These personal cameras were being used to evaluate how much the forage was eaten on the plots. It was discouraging to all of us who are trying to do some good for our wildlife.
When Jared Austin heard about this misfortune, he contacted Stealth.cam. This company stepped up to plate and donated a camera to the club. They also gave Rick and Lyn a large discount to replace their cameras. Such kindness helped those of us who were deeply disillusioned by this act. I hope you will consider Stealth.cam if you buy a game camera in the future.