How to increase Whitetail Deer & Wood Duck populations on your land, and on public lands , & more.
Updated: Sep 19
(And some ramblings on about hunting experiences.)
By Amber Nestor - Hunter & Professional Land Broker for Tennessee
Monday, September 5th, 2022
At the bottom of this post, I will share some beautiful photo galleries I captured of wildlife, and lof beautiful views and landscapes, from our most recent hunting and scouting on and around the lakes.
In regards to public lands, like TVA and TWRA lands, or any other shared hunting land or nature preserve (WMA), the 2 best things you can do are:
Read the entire yearly publication on eRegulations, and follow the rules.
Contact TVA & TWRA, and ask if there are any projects you can volunteer with, or help with, that enhance, strengthen, or study the wildlife populations.
My business partner did this for a period of time as a volunteer with TWRA several years ago. He helped with banding geese on Panther Creek, and studying the populations of salamanders and frogs. The health of our aquatic creatures is at the very core of the health of our water resources. Most of my study of wildlife (plants and animals) I did in the past few years while living in Townsend, TN, and then in Roane County, TN, most recently. Prior to that, in Blount County and Maryville, TN, I spent 3 years studying organic gardening techniques, and experimenting with soils and soil composition, and seed sprouting techniques, and opened a Garden Center where 90% of my plant inventory was grown from seed, and where my germination rate was 99%. I also studied plant adaptation. My current favorite categories of plants to study are ephemeral plants, ferns, and native trees.
Now that we have quickly covered public land strategies, let's discuss private land management strategies to strengthen wildlife populations.
The first step is observation. You can read about TWRA or TVA or other organization's wildlife populations studies in and around your area. You can put up high quality trail cameras throughout key points on your property. And, you spend a great deal of time observing in person, walking, scouting in a boat (when applicable), or in blinds of a variety of sort.
One of the easiest things you can do to intensely aid the deer population is to carve walking trails by up-scaping branches off a trees to make walkable paths with slightly more sunshine, and minimizing underbrush in those path networks. This is a technique that will astound you every time. Your deer traffic will increase tremendously. And if you create a good strategic route, may increase the population, and will definitely increase sightings.
Purchase a few good books on land management which contain lists of trees, food, and plants, nuts, and berries that are well know, and little known, that deer love, and watch for those on your property. Do what you can to strengthen the those plant and tree populations, and you will help the deer in your area. Consider incorporating plots of organic strains of blackberries, which are one of the easiest to grow, and come back stronger every year, and other popular plots, in your fields and wide open spaces.
Be selective about which deer you choose to take, if any, off of your property each year, based on studying the counts and sizes and antlers of the populations that are present, and make water source access a must for your deer. I can't emphasize this enough: read lots of land management books. You will pick up on all kinds of little techniques that different hunters and farmers, and land managers have figured out, and it really gets to be fascinating the more you learn about this beautiful creatures and what they love to eat, as well as their habits.
Learn how to build wood duck homes, and put them up. Read about their favorite things to eat, and purchase books on their habitat preferences. If you have water, pond, river, creek, shoreline on the lake, of course this is something you will need, then you can do a great deal to enhance the populations of this beautiful waterfowl! You have a unique opportunity to help increase the population of a duck that is exceptionally interesting to look at because of it's beautiful patterns and colors, but also, many hunters, including famous Phil Robertson of the famous Duck Dynasty, insist that Wood Ducks are the best in regards to taste for eating. My business partner, Mr. Cadman, and hunting companion, also agrees with this. And his has spent his lifetime duck hunting, deer hunting, and well, everything hunting.
I feel very blessed to have an excellent hunting companion like Mr. Cadman. Jefferson, Hamblen, Hancock, and Grainger Counties were his stomping grounds. He spent his childhood hunting and fishing these regions, including Douglas and Cherokee Lakes. He hunting the lake, public lands, and private lands with his father, in-between Army Deployments, and with his friends of the family. But often went hunting by himself, and had his Mother drop him off at key locations, then, would hike deep into the wood alone. I've smiled a lot listening to them retell memories of her picking him up with his deer harvest, or of him missing school to prepare meat. Other funny memories have been shared of falling asleep in the woods, and snagging a deer before school in the morning.
Due to a younger than typical passing, I never had the opportunity to do any hunting with my Father, who was an absolutely incredible man. But I have fond memories of him standing in the Little River in Townsend behind St. Francis Church on the River. When I go there, I can almost see him still, steady in the river, footing firm in his waders, casting and fly fishing, all for the peace and beauty of it.
Mr. Cadman recalls shooting his first deer at the age of six, and recalls bagging other animals even younger. His first goose and duck kills within that year as well. His first duck kill was a Green Winged Teal. On my first hunt with Mr. Cadman, we nabbed 2 deer with a gun he's had since he was a young boy. He also spent a period time as a gun-smith in Wyoming, and if you catch him on the right day, he will out-talk any gun enthusiast or old timer about weapons. I have yet to see a man who knows more about guns than him just yet. I have laughed a few times at the weary-eyed look that has grown in the eyes of other men, having tried to keep up with his knowledge on the subject, and been entertained by the ones who managed to keep up for a while.
I've enjoyed hearing the conversations about his memories of hunts, and kills. As I have enjoyed stories told by other hunters over the years. All hunters seem to have a similar experience in that they can seem to recall in striking detail almost every key hunt that was productive. The memory of that deep connection with the land and what it provides is a strong memory indeed.
Mr. Cadman also worked with the Wounded Warriors Project, in which for a period of time he helped take War Veterans Hunting, as a guide. He enjoyed working with that project a great deal. His Father served, and both of his Grand-Fathers served, as did both of my Grand-Fathers.
Turkey Talk TV with Brenda Valentine featured him and his Father on an episode of their programming when he was a young man, and I have heard some hilarious stories about the filming of this escapade. They were presented with a special limited edition Hunting Rifle, and told to go on a shopping spree at a Bass Pro Shops, which as he recalls with a great deal of laughter, he deeply regrets being so humble and modest in their spending that day, having not purchased very much.
Mr. Cadman also maintains quite an impressive gun and ammo collection, and equipment collection, which makes boating and hunting extra enjoyable. He recently advised me on a gun to select for my next purchase to invest in my personal collection, which I am tremendously thankful for.
We are currently planning our next hunt. Well, we are always planning a hunt. And it's a wonderful way to live.
To fall in love with the land and wildlife is a beautiful experience. To connect with the earth and it's history, and slower pace of living, is truly humbling, and brings a person to feeling very close to God. It also brings a clarity and simplicity into life, and how one thinks about it. A deep sense of gratitude also abounds with each experience.
Our modern life keeps us so often interrupted, distracted, and moving quickly. But, it is a slower more beautiful, peace-filled pace connecting with the Earth and the wildlife. To study it's creatures and all it produces, to encourage the populations, and to select carefully one's take: it is a process which is fun, rewarding, memorable, educational, and very much conservation based.
A common misconception of hunters is that we only take. But, for those of us who are serious, we are constantly considering the encouragement of the growth, strength, and health of all that is native, and of all the Earth's resources, water purity, etc.
I pray that God blesses you with health, wealth, and peace. If you interested in buying, or selling, land, home, or real estate of any type in TN, text and call me at (865)617-4783.
If you are considering booking a guided hunt, or fishing trip, with Mr. Cadman, prices start at $1,000 per person. Send me a text, and I will put you in touch with him. He does not do these very often, because we stay very busy. But, it doesn't hurt to ask.
Just a few photos from our recent hunts and scouting are below.
Whatever your real estate goals may be ( buying or selling ) ( unrestricted, hunting land, farm land, homestead, vacation home, getaway, primary residence, lake house, river access, timber or orchard, creek, spring, waterfall, cascade, luxury home, investment property, fix n flip, land flip, gated communities, etc. ), give me a call & send me a text at (865)617-4783 anytime.
I pray God blesses you with health, wealth, and joy.
Amber Nestor - Broker