Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I get more of a specific animal on my property?
- Why should I manage my pine plantations for more than just wood production?
With proper planning and an understanding of silviculture practices including the effects on wildlife habitat, land managers can tailor timber management to enhance both timber and wildlife objectives. Economic benefits are realized in the forms of timber sales and fee or lease hunting in these stands. By proper thinning, sunlight reaches the forest floor where desirable wildlife food plants grow more abundantly becoming available to foraging wildlife in pine plantations. See the pine forests page for more information.
- How can I participate in cost-share programs?
Many conservation programs are available offering incentive payments to landowners through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). For more information on programs such as CRP, WRP, WHIP, and others, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs. While searching the website, locate NRCS agents in your area and call them for a meeting to discuss programs which are suited to your land needs.
- How do I plant a food plot?
Food plots should be targeted to specific animals species and a part of an overall land management plan. Visit the Food Plots page for detailed information on the planning, planting, and management of food plots.
- What types of plants are good for deer?
Deer have a large and varied diet eating over 700 plant species depending on season and availability. In spring and summer, American beautyberry, blackberry, blueberry, dogwood, greenbrier, honeysuckle, huckleberry, persimmon, and wild grape are important soft mast producers for white-tails. In the fall and winter, plants frequently used by deer include Alabama supplejack fruit, forbs (vetch, milk pea, beggar ticks, annual lespedezas and sweet clover), and honeysuckle which is high in crude protein. For more information on deer food plants visit the white-tailed deer page.
- How many deer should I harvest from my property annually?
Maintaining harvest numbers is necessary to keep deer populations in balance with their food supply. Sustained annual harvests may range from 30-40% of the total deer population annually in a healthy. Most wildlife biologists agree that once a deer herd is established, at least one-third of the fall population must be harvested each year to prevent overpopulation and declines in deer quality. For more information on annual deer harvest, visit the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Park website.
- What is DMAP and how can I implement this in my land management plan?
The Deer Management Assistance Program, (DMAP) is a comprehensive deer management program, consisting of data collection and cooperator education with which the MDWFP tries to put the landowner/cooperator in a better position to manage their lands for a healthy deer herd, while maintaining habitat integrity.Visit the MDWFP DMAP website for more information.
- What is the main cause of the loss of bobwhite quail in Mississippi and the Southeast in general?
Decreases in bobwhite quail populations are thought to be caused by changes in land-use practices resulting in habitat loss, long-term weather trends, predation, and disease. Natural predation, hunting, disease, exposure to elements, and other factors take about 80 out of 100 birds from one fall to the next. For more information, please check out the northern bobwhite quail page.
- Are there any cost-share programs involving habitat management or simple plantings strictly for bobwhite quail?
In 2010, USDA Farm Service Agency's (FSA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Northern Bobwhite Quail Habitat Initiative is aimed at creating 350,000 acres of habitat for the northern bobwhite quail. The initiative introduces a conservation practice intended to create 350,000 acres of early successional grass buffers along agricultural field borders. The initiative partners FSA with landowners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 32 state fish and wildlife agencies, Quail Unlimited, the Southeast Quail Study Group, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and other conservation groups, including local conservation districts. For more information, please visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov Where can I find more information on dove hunts occurring in Mississippi which are also open to the public?
- Why do I need a habitat management plan for my property, and is it the same thing as the business plan prepared for bank purposes?
A habitat management plan differs from a business plan but may still prove useful when borrowing money for an outdoor recreational enterprise. A habitat management plan contains specific information on managing habitat areas for wildlife species including plantings, disturbance, flooding, and other conservation practices. A business plan is structured for presentation to a loan officer. It contains business proposals, budgets, financial information of borrower, and future plans normally including a five year expectation proposal for the business. For more information, visit the writing a business plan page of our website.
- Where can I find more information on dove hunts occurring in Mississippi which are also open to the public?
Many hunters are pleasantly shocked to learn that Mississippi has so many wildlife management areas (WMAs) with available dove-hunting options and seasons of one kind or another. It is suggested that hunters visit the MDWFP Web site as the season approaches to determine which WMAs will be offering dove hunts this year. A call to individual WMA area managers to find out if the doves are using the designated fields open for the hunts is also recommended. For more information on the locations of hunts on public land this season, visit the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks website. Follow the links for Hunting/Wildlife, then Wildlife Management Areas.
- What is the difference between a pond and a lake, or are these terms used interchangeably?
From a regulatory viewpoint there is no distinction between a lake and a pond. Both are surface waters of the state and subject to the same water quality standards. From a naming convention there is no precise difference between a lake and pond, although water bodies named "lakes" are generally larger and/or deeper than water bodies named "ponds".
- I do not have wild pigs on my property, but I understand the problem may be coming my way, how can I monitor my land for signs of pigs for proactive management?
Damage to crops and rangeland by wild pigs is easily identified. Rooting in wet or irrigated soil is generally quite visible, but can vary from an area of several hundred square feet (m2) or more to only a few small spots where the ground has been turned over. Rooting destroys pasture, crops, and native plants, and can cause soil erosion.
Wallows are easily seen around ponds and streams. Tracks of adult hogs resemble those made by a 200-pound (90-kg) calf. Where ground is soft, dewclaws will show on adult hog tracks.
- Are there any legal poisons to kill wild pigs which are a nuisance in a cropland or other area?
No toxicants or repellents are registered for legal use to kill wild pigs. Many times when poisons are illegally used to control hogs, a non-target species, such as white-tailed deer, turkey, and black bear are killed by eating toxic bait, usually corn.
- I have about 75% pine trees and 25% hardwoods and want to manage for wild turkey, what is the best way to accomplish this at the lowest cost to me?
Generally, suitable turkey habitat includes a variety and abundance of mature mast-producing hardwoods, mainly oaks, including smaller hardwoods in the land mix that will eventually replace those which become over mature. A mixture of mid-story trees, such as dogwood and wild cherry providing food and cover are also needed for successful turkey management. Areas of green plants and seed heads in areas with an abundance of insects are important for poults. Managing hardwood areas for maximum acorn production with a dense mid-story is preferred and economically feasible. Pine stands may provide roosting and escape cover for turkeys but are not optimal for foraging habitat. For more information on the needs of the wild turkey, please visit the Eastern wild turkey page of our website.
- Is there a way to hold doves on your fields in Mississippi to provide hunting opportunities even in the last season which ends in January?
Dove hunts should be limited to one hunt per week during the season, whether split or continuous depending on state. Early morning and afternoon hunts may be conducted but not both on the same day. Shooting during the last couple of hours before sunset should be avoided to allow doves to feed undisturbed. Leaving grain stubble and allowing voluntary plants to grow later in the year by using no-till planting methods, or disking fields after dove season allows for a greater amount of bare ground and seed available for dove foraging during the last portion of the season normally ending in January in Mississippi. Learn more about mourning dove management by visiting the mourning dove page of our website.
- Is there a season associated with blackbirds, or is it legal to shoot nuisance birds as needed during all times of the year?
Blackbirds are native migratory birds, and thus come under the jurisdiction of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a formal treaty with Canada and Mexico. Blackbirds are given federal protection in the United States. They may be killed only when found “committing or about to commit depredations upon ornamental or shade trees, agricultural crops, livestock, or wildlife, or when concentrated in such numbers and manner as to constitute a health hazard or other nuisance,” as stated in federal laws regarding migratory birds (50 CFR 21). Some states have additional restrictions on the killing of blackbirds.
- Will a mother bird leave or ignore her squab/fledgling if I touch the baby bird to put it back in the nest, or should I put it back in the nest?
When finding a young bird on the ground, the commonly suggested practice by wildlife biologists is to simply leave the fledgling bird alone. The little bird is attempting to fly and leave the nest and will eventually take flight or find cover on the ground. Placing the bird back in the nest will not cause the mother to abandon the young birds in the nest because she has invested much time and energy to nest building and hatching young. However, the fledglings will continue to fall out of the nest to the ground no matter how many times it is returned.
- What are the benefits economically and ecologically of preserving wetlands on my property?
Ecologically, the dwindling wetlands are essential to the health of our environment. Bottomland hardwood forests are ecosystems supporting plants and animals found no where else on earth, and 43% of all endangered species need wetlands for survival. Wetlands act as traps holding back floodwater and slowing down flow into major creeks and rivers lessening the impact of floods. Wetlands improve water quality because of their ability to remove toxins from the water supply. Economically, wetlands are desired hunting locations providing income in the forms of fee/lease hunting; but also, a great setting for wildlife watching which has an economic impact of $700 million annually to the state of Mississippi. Conservation practices (CRP and WRP) provide incentive payments to landowners enrolling in conservation programs for improvement of water quality and wildlife habitat. For more information on Farm Bill topics, visit http://www.usda.gov/farmbill. For specific information on conservation programs, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs.
- Are there any benefits of fertilizing my existing honeysuckle for deer, or should I just leave it alone?
Most honeysuckle present in the Southeast is Japanese honeysuckle which is a non-native species. Honeysuckle can become invasive in some areas covering trees and other plants shading out sunlight, but it is very high in protein and preferred by white-tailed deer. If choosing to encourage Japanese honeysuckle for deer by fertilization, pick less productive areas in case honeysuckle becomes invasive. Japanese honeysuckle is very hardy and grows well without fertilization or any encouragement.