At this time every year, I receive complaints from hunters concerned that active logging operations will ruin their hunting season.
Yes, deer may leave the immediate area while the job is active (sometimes not, see pic below), but they generally return as soon as the equipment stops and the people leave. More times than not, you’ll see fresh tracks in the harvest area and around the equipment where the deer have come to explore after work has ended for the day.
Last week I marked the leave trees in a Union County, North Carolina, thinning. When I finished marking and started back to my truck, I walked by a recently-cut oak top in an adjacent clearcut area. Out popped two bucks who ran a short distance before stopping to check me out. I had been marking trees no more than 150 feet from them, with the cutter operator felling trees less than 300 feet away, and a skidder driving by them repeatedly.
Talk to most anyone in the timber business and they’ll confirm with a similar story. Deer in the Carolinas are accustomed to the activity and curious to boot, meaning they don’t stray too far from an active job if it is in their normal home range.
While you may not be able to hunt while the job is active, there is usually plenty of time in the after hours and on weekends to hunt the timber sale area. Plus, the harvest will create an improved habitat that enhances your deer hunting in the years to come.
Deer season comprises one-third of the year. It is usually not feasible to exclude this time from your timber sales contract without potentially impacting the price you receive. If you are adamant that there be no harvesting in season, you need to make sure that term is in your timber sales contract.