Author: Emily Courtney
One fall afternoon many years ago, my dad and I were walking to our stand for an afternoon hunt on my grandpa’s farm in south Mississippi. He stopped and pointed at a deer track on the ground, looked up and smiled, and said, “You know, I remember the very first time I saw one of these.” He launched into a story I had actually heard a time or two before, but I let him tell it anyway. When my grandpa bought the 140 acres in the early 60’s, there wasn’t a deer track to be found. The Mississippi deer population was in the process of recovering, and apparently none of the introduced whitetails had quite made it to that part of the state. The tract was mostly cattle pasture, interspersed with a few stands of hardwoods, a small pond, and a creek running along the north property line. My grandpa raised cattle on it, farmed it, and worked it in just about any other way he could to help provide for his family. As deer populations boomed throughout the state due to restocking efforts, and hunting seasons were reinstated, he began to shift his focus from livestock and crops to wildlife. Then one afternoon as he was walking the creek bank, he spotted a track. He made a beeline for his truck, and headed to the schoolhouse. He checked my dad and uncle out of class early and took them to the farm to show them the first deer sign they had ever seen. A few more years passed before the population reached a huntable level on the place, but as soon as it did, they took full advantage. Our family has spent countless hours hunting there, and taken a quantity that my grandpa describes as “a pile” of deer and other game.
When my grandpa first told me that story, and then in subsequent tellings by my dad, I was too young to fully understand what was so special about the event. In later years, as I grew older and wiser, I made an effort to really listen to those stories and ask everything I could about the old days. It was then that my grandpa told me that he always intended for the farm to be a wildlife haven. He bought it with the hope of providing a place for his children, and one day their children, to hunt. At that time, hunting was a way of providing. But he didn’t want it to just be a place that would supply an extra source of income or food for the table. He wanted a place where he could create memories for his kids, pass down a legacy, and share all of the other intangibles that make up a meaningful life.
Like my grandpa, most new landowners have a vision for what they want their property to be. Turning that vision into reality, however, can be a bit overwhelming. Nature’s Eye can guide you through the process. Naturally, the first step is deciding what you want. Consider why you purchased the land in the first place, and how you picture you and your family using it into the future. Did you buy the property to produce income by farming, ranching, or growing timber? Do you want to grow trophy whitetails or draw in mallards? Or do you simply want a peaceful weekend getaway for your family? You may have a singular vision in line with one of these; you may want a combination of the above, or something else altogether. Many landowners have ideas about what kind of property they want, but are unsure about what that will actually look like or how to make it happen. Nature’s Eye can help translate the vision in your mind to results on the ground. When defining your vision, you should be as specific as possible. It is important to define specific goals and objectives to ensure that your management activities remain in line with your overall vision. Once you have a clearly defined vision, the next step is constructing a detailed plan to achieve it. Your vision, coupled with our knowledge, expertise, and resources, will unlock your property’s full potential.
My grandpa had a vision for making his farm a special place for his family to enjoy and carry on the hunting tradition that he so valued. He made that vision a reality for me and his other eleven grandchildren, and created a legacy we will pass on to ours. With a little planning and effort, you can do the same for your family.