Found some fascinating information about the Pineywoods of East Texas.
Looking at the Pineywoods as a whole, TPWD officials note that in most areas, the virgin forest has been harvested several times over the last century.
A TPWD survey indicated that 22 percent of all timberland was classified as pine plantation. Most (72 percent) plantation establishment was on forest industry lands. The 1992 survey indicated that approximately 71 percent of the plantations were less than 20 years old.
That is worth explaining because some of the very best areas in the state are around fresh clear cuts (and up to a few years old) that are used to make way for these pine plantations.
“The woods in the region are so different than they were 100 years ago. The reason you see deer feeding alongside the roads so much is because that’s where a lot of the broadleaf forbs they eat can grow. It requires sunlight for them to grow and in much of the woods, there is not enough light for that to happen,” said wildlife biologist and deer hunting enthusiast Chris Godfrey.
Godfrey said that’s why hunters would be wise to find those fresh clear cuts.
“As aesthetically unpleasing as they are, there is no denying they produce a lot of the woody browse and allow for broadleaf forbs to grow which is very important to deer. Some misinformed hunters move their stands when their area gets clear cut but the reality is they should be staying there because there will be a whole lot more deer activity than before,” Godfrey said.
Broadleaf forbs are essentially weeds that grow in open areas and are what often give farmers and gardeners a big headache. In fact, most of the time deer are seen in fields feeding, they are eating these forbs, not the grasses. Find a weedy pasture along a pine thicket and you’re likely to find lots of deer.
“We have so many super thick areas but some of the very best you can find are some of the spots in the national forests that are managed with fire where the underbrush is kept low and you get a lot of the forbs growing and a lot of sunlight penetration into the forest.”
(Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)