This past weekend I made a quick scouting trip to the back side of my hunting property. I had a general idea of where I was going and what I wanted to do. To say that my recent hunts have been uneventful would be an understatement. The deer sightings were down, as expected during the late season. While many hunters were pursuing waterfowl or hunting other game, I knew an evening spent overlooking a swamp could produce the results I was looking for.
This particular swamp hadn’t experienced any hunting pressure this year so a couple of days after scouting, I slipped back into the edge of the swamp and sat down in a makeshift ground blind. The hunt resulted in a great young buck sighting but due to his age, no shot was fired. Coupling that with the other wildlife activity I observed, I was very pleased with how wildlife flocked to the swamp.
Unlike marshes, which lack timber or woody debris, swamps are a dynamic ecosystem comprised of many types of vegetation that contribute to the wildlife’s use of that particular swamp.
The living and dead trees, aquatic vegetation, and the water flow are all components that are factored into the success of a swamp from a wildlife standpoint. While most hunters prefer to hunt stands of timber and open agricultural land, many hunters understand the benefits of having swamps on their property. While usually not as valuable per acre as woodland or crop land, some hunters seek out flooded timber for hunting. Others may already own land with a swamp situated on it but are unsure of managing it. Regardless, there are many benefits of having a swamp located on your property.
As my observations of my recent hunt can attest, swamps are used by a variety of wildlife. While most hunters associate swamps with waterfowl hunting, there are many more wildlife species that use these flooded areas. Black bears, especially in eastern North Carolina, gravitate toward swamps for feeding and denning. Whitetails are known to be edge species and commonly use areas where two different types of cover meet. The edge of a swamp is no exception and scrapes and rubs on the perimeter are a great indicator of such usage. Of course, waterfowl utilize swamps for foraging and nesting also.
Wildlife habitat management has taken off in the past few years, resulting in more properties implementing habitat management plans in order to increase the wildlife value of their land. What many people may not know is that swamps can be managed just like other types of habitat. They provide sanctuaries, forage, water, nesting, and denning sites for a plethora of wildlife.
If you had a tough time seeing deer this season, prepare for next year by seeking out the nearest swamp and see how the hunting goes. It may give you the edge that you need to fill a few deer tags or reach your waterfowl limit. Also, if you are interested in managing or finding swamp land for hunting, contact me. In my upcoming blog entries, I will outline a few standard management techniques that can be applied to increasing the productivity of swamps for multiple wildlife species.