MONTGOMERY >> When David Boocock, of Montgomery, enrolled in a program with the state to improve his land for wildlife, he was hoping the enhancements would boost his odds during the fall deer hunting season. But he never realized that the payoff would come so quickly, or be so impressive.
Three years after he completed a habitat management program with Vermont Fish & Wildlife biologist Dave Adams, Boocock got a 10-point, 181-pound buck on his land. The buck was taken under the same wild apple trees that Boocock and Adams had worked to recover as part of the larger habitat improvement plan for his property.
The deer was the largest Boocock has ever harvested, and he attributes his success directly to the habitat improvements.
"The work they did on my land certainly made a huge difference," said Boocock. "Not only did I get this nice buck, but there's another 10-pointer that I'm chasing right now. There were six rack-bucks that were taken within a half mile of my land last year. I don't believe they'd be there if it wasn't for these habitat improvements. I've seen more partridge since then too."
Adams says that landowners interested in doing similar habitat management work on their land should contact him about signing up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The program covers a wide range of habitat work, from managing forests for game populations to restoring fields and wetlands for songbirds. It is funded through the U.S.D.A.'s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
"This habitat improvement plan is a success story because not only was Mr. Boocock able to feed his family from the meat, but many other species are also thriving as a result of the habitat improvements he made," said Adams. "I'd encourage other landowners to get in touch with us to see how we can help you manage your land for wildlife or forestry. We'll work with you to develop goals and then provide the planning, funding, assistance, and expertise."
Depending on the goals of the landowner, biologists may suggest cutting sections of forest to promote habitat for game species like grouse, woodcock, and deer. They can develop a plan to improve old forest roads to reduce erosion and water pollution, or create habitat for songbirds such as warblers. Interested landowners can contact Adams directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (802)-324-6529.
"This program is a great chance for landowners to manage their lands for wildlife. We can help you create a legacy of conservation on your property that will live on for generations," said Adams.