Wildlife and the Outdoors
There Are Twelve Months in a Year
By Joel D. Glover, Certified Wildlife Biologist
As a wildlife biologist, the question I am asked most frequently is, “What should I plant for wildlife?”
 I usually begin hearing this question in August and continue to get it through September. Of course, this coincides with the time of year when landowners and hunters are planting wildlife openings for deer. Planting openings is a beneficial practice in that it normally facilitates deer harvest and viewing opportunities. However, contrary to popular belief and a lot of hype, plantings do not provide sufficient nutrition to support a deer herd. They are a supplement at best and should be viewed as such.
A major problem of focusing on fall plantings is that it draws attention away from the remainder of the year. Although many landowners do an excellent job of providing supplemental nutrition for the tough winter months, they must also remember wildlife requires food and cover 12 months of the year. Without realizing it, many land managers dictate that wildlife must fend for themselves for the majority of the year. While wildlife is accustomed to surviving on what nature provides, good holistic property management can greatly improve their ability to find the resources they need.
As mentioned earlier, wildlife plantings supplement the diet of many species. However, the majority of the diet is provided by naturally occurring foods. The amount and quality of these foods can be greatly enhanced through proper management. Wildlife openings are a great source of food for many species when they are managed for natural early successional habitat. Lightly disking one-third of an opening during winter each year will facilitate the growth of natural forbs and legumes used by many species. In addition the area disked during the previous years, will provide adequate nesting habitat.
Another excellent management technique is prescribed burning. Prescribed burning in pine stands and in open fields will generate new growth favored as browse by deer. Additionally, it creates nesting habitat for quail and turkey as well as feeding opportunities for these species and others. Prescribed burning also returns nutrients to the soil, which can stimulate tree growth and reduce forest floor litter. This can help protect the stand from wildfire. Financial assistance for this type of management may be available through your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office.
Wildlife requires food and shelter 24/7every month of the year. A well-managed, diverse habitat will support more and healthier wildlife. Remember when providing for wildlife on your property, there are 12 months in a year.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Patrol, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.