Access to your favorite hunting spot can be as valuable as the gold in Fort Knox. The trails, whether they are large enough for your 4x4 or simple walking trails, have a great importance for the overall usability and value of your property.
As with all land improvement projects, creating goals and plans is quite important. An effective trail will enhance your property but will not jeopardize its attractiveness to the native wildlife. Roads that you plan to drive vehicles on should avoid locations with standing water and follow the natural contour of the land whenever possible. Walk the area and hang marking tape on trees to mark your intended pathway. When possible avoid the removal of large mast producing trees.
There are implements that are a necessity for road creation and maintenance. Of course, a bulldozer and excavator are awesome tools, however a tractor with a frontend loader can do the job if you have the knowhow and the land isn’t too steep. Establish a level road and don’t remove more soil than necessary. Beware using a chainsaw to clear a pathway for your eventual roadway. The small stumps can puncture tires which can be quite costly. A scraper blade or box blade can be used on tractors with a three-point hitch. Each can help you level the roadway and remove rocks and roots as you work. After completion, you’ll want to invest in a bush hog to keep the roads mowed and free of overgrown vegetation.
Overcoming Wet Areas
While constructing larger roads there’s a chance that you’ll deal with wet areas. If you encounter a wet place, you can use filter fabric and/or corrugated drainpipe to alleviate the issues of ruts and mud. To install filter fabric, you remove the most unstable soil, roll out the fabric in the problem area and cover it with gravel. The fabric will allow water to go down but not allow the muck to rise again to the surface. Corrugated drainpipe is installed by digging a narrow ditch beneath the roadway that drains away from the problem area. Cover the pipe with a layer of gravel before finishing the fill with the remaining soil. Using pipes to create culverts over ditches can eliminate problem areas as well.
The Finishing Touch
Once a roadway is established you should sow them with hardy grass such as fescue. Getting a good stand of grass on the trail can limit erosion and can even create a fire break. Much like when you create a food plot, make sure the soil is loose before you broadcast the seed. Do not till the roadway if it is on a slope or you’ll create an erosion problem and negate your hard work. Broadcast the seed and drag it into the soil by pulling a treetop across it lightly.
Start simple and understand that anything worth having usually requires a lot of effort. Creating a roadway on your property may be hard work, but the returns will be great as you improve the overall accessibility to your favorite hunting spot.