Timber Stand Improvement Techniques to Increase Wildlife and Property Value | Great Days Outdoors

When discussing buying or selling timberlands for hunting and fishing, specific items and projects need to be considered, such as timber stand improvement techniques, that possibly may increase the value of those timberlands, particularly by expanding the amount of wildlife on them. 

Why Buy Raw Timberlands You Can Improve for Wildlife

To get a better idea of how to improve the value of timberlands by increasing the amount of wildlife and other projects on the property, we talked with Hunter McPherson of Timber Creek Habitat Management, a nationwide company that specializes in working with landowners and potential land buyers to evaluate, improve and increase the wildlife on any property. 

“Timber Creek Habitat Management is a one-stop place for anything that improves recreational properties, including building roads, food plots, lakes, ponds, duck marshes and lodges and creating wildlife openings and green fields,” McPherson explained. “Our management group can make it happen. Timber Creek Habitat Management also offers a consulting branch that can travel with you to look at any property you’re thinking about purchasing and tell you what you can do with that land to make it more suitable for wildlife and also give you a cost estimate for each project you’re considering. 

Most outdoorsman would love their own piece of recreational property, for whatever that means to them.


“Recreational property has different meanings for various outdoorsmen. Some individuals may want to buy 5-10 acres or 50 acres and make those a recreational property, while others may view a recreational property as being 1,000-2,000 acres or even more. Our company has worked with landowners on all sizes of land who want to develop that land for wildlife.

“Timber Creek Habitat Management’s consulting service can help you identify projects and prioritize those projects with estimated costs and different timelines to improve the amount of timber, wildlife and fish you want on that property. Then you’ll have a well-thought-out plan on how to develop your land for wildlife and fish,” McPherson said.

McPherson suggested that shoppers should consider the following list of items before making a raw timberland purchase.

  • “Determine where you can improve road access.
  • “Decide where you can plant a green field(s) that’s relatively close to a deer-bedding site. Be sure to know how you’ll reach that green field during hunting season without spooking the game you’re trying to take. Always have a favorable wind when hunting. You don’t want to put a green field where you have to walk through or close to a deer’s bedding area to reach that green field, or where your approach to your stand will carry your human odor into the deer’s bedding area. 
  • “Does the land offer a site that’s appropriate for a duck pond, if you hope to build one? Does it have the soil type needed to hold water once the area’s flooded? Is there a way to release that water during the spring and summer to plant food for waterfowl in that pond? 
  • “Make sure that the land has roost trees, nesting areas and bugging places available to increase turkey populations on the land – not only for the hens and gobblers but also for the young poults. After being hatched in the spring, the poults need to be able to feed in enough cover to protect them from predators. 
  • ”Learn what our consultants may recommend about the type of fish your region can grow the best, and how many approximate pounds of fish that pond can produce in a year –  with and without feeders placed on the edges of a pond – if the water on the property is already contained in a pond or a lake. This information is important if you want to grow and catch trophy-sized fish, and/or if you want to offer a place where family and friends can fish for fun and have the best chances for success. 
  • “The advantage of having a consultant come in before the purchase of timberlands’ property is that he can point out exactly where these projects can be built that will increase the value of the property for wildlife and fish, what potential the land has for wildlife and fish, and what possible costs will be involved to increase the amount and the sizes of wildlife and fish on that property, if you buy it.” 

Go to www.timbercreekhabitat.com, https://www.facebook.com/timbercreekhabitat/ and or email hmcpherson@timbercreekhabitat.com.

How to Finance Your Raw Land’s Improvements  

Depending on the size of the land you want to buy, and the amount of ready cash you have designated to spend for the purchase of that land, most of us still will have to borrow the money to accomplish that project on a long-term loan. When you speak with a loan officer, tell him you’re proposing to improve the value of the land over a specific number of years. 


Taylor Hart, the branch manager of First South Farm Credit in Opelika, explains that First South is a rural lender. 

“We lend money to people for anything they want to do in the dirt – whether that’s row cropping, timber farming, raising livestock and/or farming for wildlife.  One of our marketing slogans has been, ‘What Does The Farm Mean to You?’ and as such, we do lend money to finance timber stand improvements for wildlife on rural property,” Hart said.  

Hart points out that the collateral for First South’s loans is the land itself. 

“If a landowner wants to do anything to enhance the value of his or her land, including timber stand improvements, clearing roads, planting green fields and/or cleaning up the property to make it more accessible for potential buyers, First South can help him or her do that,” Hart reported.  “We can loan money to build ponds, thin timber, clear-cut timber and plant trees and shrubs to increase bedding areas for deer and/or turkey.”  

Land loans can be had for numerous types of raw land improvements, such as adding a pond like this one.

Hart further expanded his points in saying, “First South can loan money for just about anything a landowner does to grow the value of his land.   For example, conducting a controlled burn on the land and planting native grasses and small grain crops for quail, or designing green fields for wildlife after a timber harvest is complete.  And, if you’re getting ready to sell your property, First South can lend money for putting in roads that enable potential buyers to see the entire property or for cleaning up some of the underbrush to better identify locations on the property where a new landowner can build a pond for fishing or duck hunting.” 

According to Hart if you decide to build a log home or hunting cabin on your property, that First South lends money for those types of improvements, too. “Absolutely, we can make construction loans and, if needed, can turn those loans into long-term loans. Some landowners are building secondary homes, hunting cabins or lodges, and others want to put their primary residences on 20 to 30 acres. Perhaps that person wants to sit on his or her back porch and look at a pond, so First South makes loans for pond construction as well. First South can make loans for anything a landowner wants to do to develop his property or its habitat or the amount of wildlife there. If you’re playing in the dirt, we want to be in there with you, as long as you’re improving the value of the dirt, which is the collateral of the loan.”

Some of the “out-of-the-box” type of loans that Hart mentions that First South has recently provided are lending money for a grass-fed dairy farm in Russell County, Alabama, which also increased food and habitat for wildlife. 

“To meet the qualifications for a grass-fed dairy farm, there had to be proof of no chemicals being used on that land for the previous nine years. Also, there had to be some clearing of the timber on that property and planting different types of grasses for the landowner’s dairy cattle, which also improved habitat for deer, turkey and quail,” Hart explained.“We made a loan to a farmer who didn’t raise crops in the ground. He was a hydroponic farmer and raised his crops in water. Although this loan didn’t benefit wildlife, we could make this loan because he was improving the land. This loan once again fit into our slogan, ‘What Does The Farm Mean to You?’” 

So, for whatever The Farm means to you, First South can likely loan money for what you want to do on that farm, which includes farming for wildlife and improving raw timberlands,” Hart added.  

For additional information on financing your land improvements, contact Taylor Hart at 334-826-2563 or jhart@firstsouthland.com

How to Sell Raw Timberlands

If you have raw land to sell, here are some projects to do that will help you promote selling your land.

Clint Flowers, a broker on the Gulf Coast with National Land Realty, a nationwide concern that specializes in buying and selling farms, ranches, timberlands and recreational lands, emphasizes, “If you improve timberlands aesthetically and provide more-abundant wildlife, the value of that land grows more than its value will be if you don’t improve the aesthetics of that land and make it more wildlife friendly. The most important developments for raw timberlands that you can do that raises the value of the property are to:

  1.  “Put in roads, so that all parts of the property can be accessed.
  2. “Manage the understory of the property beneath the trees by cleaning up the brush there, so a buyer can see the potential of the land he wants to buy.
  3. “Make wildlife openings, and plant trees and shrubs that offer soft mast for wildlife.
  4. “Improve the water features on a property. If a creek, a stream or a river runs through the land, make sure that the stream banks are cleaned off and/or don’t have any litter on them. If a lake or pond is on the property, cut the grass around the edge of the land and along the dam, and even the backside of the dam. Then the potential buyer can see there’s plenty of access to that pond.
  5. “Develop wildlife habitat and food and water availability for wildlife.”

“Preparing raw land to sell is similar to getting your house ready to sell. You need to clean up the house, remove all the junk, possibly improve the landscaping, enable the buyer to be able to see all the different rooms of the house, have easy access to each of the rooms and be able to show off what the potential of the house.” 

By implementing some key timber stand improvements techniques, you can make raw land into an attractive potential purchase for prospective buyers.


For other recommendations and additional information Flowers can be reached at 855-657-5263, or write info@nationalland.com.

If you own raw land, a timber property, a large farm, a big ranch, swamp lands or arid desert land you want to sell, here is a list of upgrades from Timber Creek Habitat Management’s McPherson to consider before you offer that property for sale.  

“Having a good road system allows a potential buyer to see the entire property, which will help to sell a property. Buyers can’t see that property quickly and easily on a side-by-side four-wheeler without good roads available in all sections of the property. A good road system definitely adds to the selling price of the land and shows off how-many acres of land the landowner wants to sell – whether that’s 5 or 5,000 acres. 

“Cleaning up the undergrowth is a valuable timber stand improvement technique. Thickets and brush will help the potential buyer visualize the potential of the property he’s thinking of purchasing. Timber Creek Habitat Management will suggest you leave some thickets for possible bedding areas for deer, plant some field edges with native grasses and shrubs for turkey hens’ dusting and bugging areas and provide wildlife openings where turkeys can strut, bug and breed, and/or where quail can roost and hide from predators. 

timber stand improvements

Getting out with some tools and clearing undergrowth is an easy timber stand improvement technique.

“We recommend that the seller be able to show on the property also where food plots can be planted, where duck ponds can be created, where lakes can be built, where gardens can be planted, and where pastures can be created and fenced for livestock. The land doesn’t have to have all these amenities before it’s offered for purchase.  However, if a seller can show a buyer the potential of the property, depending on how the buyer wants to use the property, this information can have a major bearing on the selling price of the property and how quickly the property will sell. If a potential buyer can visualize what he can do with the land, then that property becomes more appealing to that purchaser. 

“Improving the access to any water already available, if the property has water running through it, or a lake already is built on it is vital. Any water available on a property is a huge selling point, especially for recreational use. For instance, if a pond is on the property, we will recommend you clean up the edge of the pond to enable the potential buyer to see the pond better, and so he can determine where to put fish feeders or a duck blind for harvesting ducks. Then if the pond’s big enough, we’ll recommend places for a pier and a boathouse. 

“Ponds that are overgrown with weeds, bushes and even trees may cause the potential buyer not to purchase a property. So, use a weed eater, a lawn mower or a bushhog to keep the pond’s edges clean, and mow the back side of the dam. Our company often does initial clearings around ponds and stream edges to make maintaining those waterways easier for the landowner. 

timber stand improvements for wildlife

Keeping the edges of your ponds clear of unsightly weeds, brush, and overgrowth is key to showing off potential value.

“Remember that another advantage to having water on the property you’re hoping to sell is that often you can use the overflow from a dam or divert some of the water from a stream to create a duck pond, depending on the land’s topography and soil type. Many times, you don’t have to have water running through your property to build a duck pond. If you’re on the downhill side of a pond or a stream, Timber Creek Habitat Management can build a berm that allows the area to be flooded and hold water. We may even be able to let that property dry up in the spring and summer, so that the landowner can plant corn, millet and/or milo before reflooding the region just before waterfowl season arrives. Then the waterfowl will have food standing in the water on which they can feed.  

“Pointing out the places where a buyer can use timber stand improvements techniques for wildlife, and where a buyer can increase the amount of wildlife and the fishing potential on the property will increase the value of the land.  If the timberland buyer doesn’t fully understand the value of hunting and fishing and isn’t interested in making some or all of the suggested improvements for wildlife, then these potential developments may not increase the value of the land for that purchaser,” concluded McPherson.

Final Timber Stand Improvement Techniques for Wildlife 

1) Cleaning up timberlands to sell or to make more suitable for wildlife may include removing a large number of non-valuable trees, so the ground can receive more sunlight, and a buyer or a seller can see more of the property.

2)  If the property has some extremely thick areas, or an abundance of litter is present under pine stands, you may want to do a controlled burn, which may be financed by your lender. 

Sometimes, a controlled burn is the best way to clear out rather thick undergrowth.

3) Before you start any timber stand improvement techniques, you need to have a soil test and to know the reasons that this site is best for attracting deer, turkeys and other wildlife. 

4) Having a sanctuary for deer on the land you want to purchase may be a critical factor to attracting more deer to your lands and being able to harvest more deer each year.

5) After the first timber thinning, pine plantations are opened up where deer not only may travel and bed but also can be harvested.

6) Fertilize what native plants you have on the land to increase the property’s value for wildlife. 

7) Building a pond or clearing the vegetation around an existing pond, so that the buyer can have more access to the pond is an improvement you may want to consider making.

8) Wildlife corridors provide critical access to and from fields and food plots on your property.

9)  Regardless of how small the property is that you’re considering buying or selling, having green fields or places where green fields can be planted definitely will improve the property and its value.

timber land improvements

Green fields are necessity for any worthwhile piece of land.

10) Planting green fields on the firebreaks is a worthwhile timber stand improvement for wildlife, that also provides bedding areas and travel corridors.

11) If the property you’re considering buying has long leaf pine stands, there’s generally enough diffused sunlight to plant green fields under those pine stands. 

12) If you don’t have enough thick cover for bedding areas, you may want to consider “hinge cutting” non-commercial trees to create thick-cover sites where deer can bed.

13) You may have some wild plums on the property you’re considering buying that will attract deer for early-season bowhunting food sites for deer.

A property with wild plums is a plus for bowhunters.

14) If you live in a state that permits the use of feeders, you may want to put out feeders to distribute feed where they’ll be most effective during daylight hours to show a buyer. 

15) Make sure when you’re considering timber stand improvements techniques,  that the company you’re contracting with to do this work has the heavy equipment needed and also has set with you before beginning the work priorities of what needs to be done first and the costs involved.


Stay Updated

Get outdoor trends, data, new products, and tips delivered to your inbox.