Honeysuckle

Discussion in 'Whitetail Management' started by Brett Morris, Feb 2, 2020.

  1. Brett Morris

    Brett Morris PMA Member

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    I’m curious what everyone’s opinion is on honeysuckle. I’ve got an 80 acre farm that’s got significant honeysuckle pressure. What’s unique is the habitat is significantly different on different parts of the farm.

    The NRCS and NWTF are telling me to irradiate 100% of it.

    The main concern I’ve got is a semi-open cedar thicket on the south end of our property. It has some mature hardwoods but it’s 75% cedars. It’s open enough that if I take out all the honeysuckle it’s going to be WIDE open, I can’t imagine deer bedding in it significantly like they are now. I’d love to do some TSI work but there just aren’t enough trees to create ground cover & keep anything standing. Has anybody dealt with an area like this? The other concern is that it’s my only point of entry to the farm so we’re always moving through the area. Currently they hold tight a majority of the time due to the visual screen created by the honeysuckle.

    Any & all help is super appreciated!!
     
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  3. Daver

    Daver PMA Member

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    I have not dealt with honeysuckle, but I am not surprised to hear that you are being instructed to eradicate all of it from what I do know about it. But if you knock it out and you have cedars there...I would think that you could get native grasses growing there and if so, mixed with cedars, you would have excellent bedding area real quick.
     
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  4. Sligh1

    Sligh1 Administrator Staff Member

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    I’ll give a few different answers.....
    1) for oak regeneration & forest health - you should eradicate it.
    2) if eradicate it and don’t thicken up in other ways- ur hunting & habitat will be hurt drastically

    so where does that leave us?!?!?!? Kill it and then open the canopy is a start but then u may have it come through again if u do nothing else. So- the bottom line: kill it but replace with native thick growth...... whether it’s interseeding other stuff, hinge cuts, continually killing to allow native plants to take its place, etc.

    There is no easy answer to BHS. I guess there is according to government or if u want an oak savana or don’t care about deer.

    I guess here’s how I’d handle...... I’d go do 10-20 acres a year.... kill all in that area...... interseed cedars, shrubs, grasses or whatever. I’d do massive tsi as well. After the tsi is done & BHS is killed- I’d keep interseeding & keep pounding back any new BHS u see (quicker now for maintaining) & stay on it until new thick native growth takes over. Move to next section. When u are finally finished.... u will have sections u had simply been maintaining & lots of different successions of new native growth. Lots of diversity. For the next “20 years” u will still be fighting it but it can be pretty easy after u pummel it the 1st time & then Maintain.

    I get both sides of this so just consider a “kill & replace” model where the replace literally could have 10+ different examples of what & how u replace.
     
  5. IowaBowHunter1983

    IowaBowHunter1983 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I actually like a little bit of it. But that's the problem....its like a damn virus. Actually some benefits to deer in moderation but trying to keep it that way is the struggle.
     
  6. BJohnson

    BJohnson Well-Known Member

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    I do not have much honeysuckle on my farm but am starting to notice it some in a few areas. What is the options for removal. Hack and spray larger ones and dig out if small enough. I saw a you tube video about removing BHS using a Mattock and it looked pretty slick if done in the spring when the soil is moist.
     
  7. Brett Morris

    Brett Morris PMA Member

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    So what's your recommendation on what to replace it with? Skip as you're aware my entire farm has been pastured for 20+ years and the cattle just got pulled out in early November.

    I'm really wanting to drill 10-12 acres of CRP habitat but I'm being told by the NRCS that I absolutely have to wait a year to begin the process of establishing it to get a quality product. They said let it grow this year, mow/spray it really well this fall. Then spray again next spring (2021) and drill in the CRP blend I'd like. Would you agree with that? I'd love to establish that into the cedar area but terrain isn't going to make that a possibility.

    I'll add a photo to highlight the different areas. The light blue is the area with the most honeysuckle intermixed with the cedars.

    The yellow areas I plan to establish a CRP type of habitat. Within that CRP habitat should I clear every tree? There are no quality trees in those yellow areas: just locust and a few elm.
     
  8. Brett Morris

    Brett Morris PMA Member

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  9. eiowaarcher

    eiowaarcher Member

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    I would leave locust and elm if possible. Not high timber value but great wildlife value.


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  10. abell3

    abell3 Member

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    Brett my thought. I would Work on clearing out the thick HS in the blue and maybe plant "the Wall" on the east side of the cedars in blue. Why? because of your access. You only have one point of access on this farm so take advantage of that. Its going to take years but I would work on making the North end of your farm the best habitat as possible. If you can get it to where you're not walking by deer as you walk in then thats a win. Do you have any south facing slopes? if you follow the sun and plant/grow habitat around the sun you will attract deer no doubt. I like your idea of planting CRP. In the blue area maybe hinge-cut areas where you don't want deer moving. if it has HS right now you can make it pretty think and gnarly.
     
  11. IowaBowHunter1983

    IowaBowHunter1983 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    If it was me I'd make the bottom two yellow areas food. NW area that is open to cover. Play into north, west, and northwest winds.
     
  12. DannyBoy

    DannyBoy Well-Known Member

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    Has there always been cattle on this piece, or is there crop history? I ask because I have dealt with similar situations many many times and SOMETIMES, no seed is required. A few late spring burns OR a mow, spray, burn might encourage some good stuff that is hanging on.

    That being said, I can usually predict if it is worth giving it a year or two to do its own thing based on what I see for current vegetation. I obviously cannot see your place in person so I cant help you there but to curtail on my fire recommendation above, be prepared for those open areas to explode since the cattle have been removed. Fire and/or mowing can help keep that in check. Good luck!

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  13. Brett Morris

    Brett Morris PMA Member

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    I'd love to do exactly that. What you can't tell from the aerial image in the terrain, so unfortunately food plots aren't an option there. The yellow areas have some pretty serious slopes. I just checked topo maps, the open areas have over 75' of drop from the highest point. (This doesn't include the additional drop in the draws). The NW area is relatively flat so it's going to be 7+ acres of standing corn/beans/turnips & radishes. Doesn't work well with the winds but it's about my only good option.

    It's been grazed for the past 20-30 years. The cattle pressure has been high, it's eaten down to almost nothing. Existing grass is extremely short. My buddy wanted to buy it for pasture ground and was deterred because of the lack of grass. He described it as "being as short as a golf course". When you said it could explode, what do you mean?
     
  14. IowaBowHunter1983

    IowaBowHunter1983 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    How are you going to get back the the NW corner to hunt it? Ideally gain access from west neighbor. If not, that needs to be well thought out as part of your plan such as dozing a path in along west boundary and then making the east side of it a hard edge.
     
  15. Brett Morris

    Brett Morris PMA Member

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    It's less than ideal but topography helps with access. I'll try to add a photo that gives a better idea of the terrain. Access from neighbors isn't an option as everyone else hunts. I'll have standing corn for a visual screen. This year I used our Ranger a lot for access and it seemed to work well. Many times we'd pass turkeys/bedded deer and they'd hardly move so I'm hopeful that quick access & hunting from blinds will help.
     
  16. Brett Morris

    Brett Morris PMA Member

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  17. Mr. Deeds

    Mr. Deeds Member

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    Similar to slighs, and going off no real knowledge of the farm, IF it were mine -

    Start by selecting a portion of the farm and eliminate it down close to the soil, preferably 1/2-1" of vegetation. Rent/buy/borrow a plug aerator from someone if you have the ability and begin with the soil, preferably as soon as the frost gets out of the ground and broadcast some native grasses over the dirt. I would suggest big/little bluestem, switchgrass, versagrass, indian grass etc. But use rye as a cover crop to get everything started and eliminate as much weed pressure as possible. You would have to mow the rye off during the late spring early summer to allow other grass seedlings to begin to be able to work through, but this would provide a great start.

    If applicable, I would edge the new seeding with your choice of shrubs. Can also plant egpytian wheat or a sorghum sudan grass blend to seclude your travel in and out of your stand locations.

    As for the cedars, I have a love hate/relationship with them. In small managed quantites they can be a great tool in your conservation methods on your farm, but if left alone, can take over and cost you money down the road in a few short years. I would suggest removing some of the older cedar trees, allowing the new younger easier to manage one comes through, and in doing this plant rows of the trees of your choice. There are several oak species that do very well for the terrain of ground it sounds to me you have explained.

    Hope I could help a little!

    - Ryan
     
  18. DannyBoy

    DannyBoy Well-Known Member

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    Cattle have been keeping succession from taking place in those open areas. When you take that grazing disturbance away, the cycle begins and if left alone, those areas will generally blow up with woody species that are hanging on in the seed bank. Often your locust, piss elm, hackberry, raspberry, etc... Keep an eye on it.

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  19. deadeye

    deadeye Active Member

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    Very interesting. I have a small backyard habitat that was loaded with BHS. In the wet spring I would hand pull the small stuff by the roots. Larger stuff I cut and squirted. Property is now too open. I was hoping natives would take off but it seems very slow to happen. I suspect opening the canopy more would help but would hate to make a mistake and make things worse. Forrester had indicated it was a waste of time to try planting seedlings with lack of good light. So I too am a bit stumped on how best to improve my situation.

    Prior to removing the BHS deer were in it bedding and feeding. I took away cover and a food source. Not yet seeing any benefit with it give.

    We had a fair amount of dogwood but with removing the BHS I swear the deer are rubbing and killing off more and more dogwood every year.

    In my area the deer get hungry in the winter. My clover is gone in Nov and then it becomes a ghost town. Not a big enough area and not sure I can get anything better to grow.

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  20. Daver

    Daver PMA Member

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    By the sounds of what you wrote, you may not be getting enough sunlight to stimulate natives. That's a guess, not a declaration. :)
     
  21. smithhunter1975

    smithhunter1975 New Member

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    I have a similar question. I have a south facing slope that is fairly thick with cedars, locust, honeysuckle. I have been cutting the cedar limbs off up to about 5’ so that i can move around in there. Once i get those limbs cleared out i am going to girdle the bigger locust trees, i may girdle some cedars as well to get sunlight to the ground. I would like to establish some grass on the hillside to create bedding. This hill is off the south end of a 3 acre food plot and the area i am working with is about 1.5 acres. What type of grass is most likely to survive a fairly shaded south facing hill?
     
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