Land management goals

Want more turkeys on your property? You’re not alone.

“That’s probably what I hear from landowners more than anything else,” said Matt Weegman, NWTF wildlife biologist.

Building your turkey population is a noble objective, but reaching it can be a long, complicated process requiring knowledge, money and hard work. That’s why setting goals and spelling out desired results can give you a clear, concise purpose that helps you stay motivated through the process.

DEFINE YOUR GOALS

First, said Weegman, define your end goal. What do you hope to accomplish? Attract more turkeys, deer or quail? Create better wildlife habitat? All of the above? That’s a good start, even if it seems vague.         

“You have to start with the big picture,” Weegman said. “That is your destination. Once you have that, you can start planning the specific route necessary to reach that destination.”

Getting to that finish line takes careful consideration and a detailed, deliberate plan that involves a series of incrementally smaller goals. Getting from Point A to Point B entails tackling a series of tasks along the way, each of which can be broken down into smaller components.

Attracting more turkeys to your land, for instance, may require creating better nesting and brood habitat, but exactly how do you do that? Depending on your situation, it may require such tasks as converting a pasture to early-successional habitat, planting food plots or thinning timber.

It can seem overwhelming at first glance. Weegman said the trick is to treat each necessary task for a larger goal as its own goal. In other words, killing fescue is one step in converting a fallow field to nesting habitat. Planting wildlife-friendly grasses and shrubs is another.

“By setting smaller goals, you can make incremental steps that slowly, surely help you reach your long-term goal of attracting more turkeys or deer or whatever you hope to accomplish,” Weegman said. “Each time you check one off, you will feel like you are getting closer to your end goal. Most of us just don’t have the time or means to do all the work necessary at once, so checking off each smaller goal over a period of time is more realistic.”

WRITE IT DOWN

The best way to spell out final objectives and the steps necessary to get there is crafting a management plan. The plan is a written, detailed road map of the journey, spelling out tasks that must be accomplished. The best plans provide specific timelines for those tasks.

“There are definitely better times to carry out some activities,” Weegman said. “Spraying, disking and planting have the best results when they are done in the right seasons. That’s why you should not only define each task, but the best time to accomplish them.”

GET SOME HELP

If you’re unsure where to start, don’t worry; help is just a phone call away. Various state, federal and nongovernment organizations, such as the NWTF, have experts ready to assist. Many state wildlife agencies have private lands biologists on staff whose sole job is to help landowners improve their habitat. They will meet you, discuss your goals and even walk your property with you before writing a management plan. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (www.nrcs.usda.gov) also provides technical assistance. The NWTF’s staff biologists can provide advice, as well, and they can point you toward the available resources in your area. 

– David Hart

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