Much national attention has been focused on the health and future welfare of wildlife animals and birds by wildlife management conservationists and hunters who want to preserve a valuable American resource: the population of wild animals and wild game. Increased planting of inedible crops like cotton and tobacco has reduced wildlife food supplies. Urban expansion has rapidly reduced forests where wildlife food once grew, and very efficient grain harvesting has left only a little corn or wheat in fields for wildlife food browsing.
Until recent years, the feeding of wild game animals and wildlife game birds was done by either letting the animals feed on the native plants and flora or by supplementing the food supply by planting strips of land with food plots of various annual grains each year. Some wildlife management academics suggested planting small fruit trees, berry plants, grape vines, and perennials to avoid the expensive problem of replanting annuals every year. These suggestions worked sometimes except for the fact that planting small oak trees often required 10 years or more of growing to produce the first food supply of acorns. Many small trees died the first year, because of the small root systems, and the stress of transplanting into a hostile neglected environment.
Planting large fruiting size trees for fast wildlife food sources has become very popular, because of the high rate of livability and first year fruit production, such as with large mulberry trees, Japanese persimmon trees, and blueberry plants. Planting big fruit trees of bearing size appears to be an enthusiastic way to get wildlife food faster and less expensively in the long run.
The United States government passed a law, the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937, to protect wildlife resources that collects an excise tax of 11% of the cost to buy any firearms, guns, or ammunition. This 11% excise tax is sent to the Department of Natural Resources of each State to protect the wildlife habitat and food plots. Over two billion dollars of funding to preserve wildlife habitat has financed wildlife welfare since 1937.
Animals and birds can only live if their energy levels are met to grow, to escape predators, to reproduce, to survive long migrations, or to survive severe winter temperatures. Wildlife animals and birds must have shelter to protect them from bad weather or to hide them from predators. Dense foliage and vegetation are the most common shelter retreats, but some animals burrow in holes in trees, logs, and in the ground or in log or rock piles.
Serious competition to wildlife for food and habitat can only lead to overcrowding that weakens wildlife resistance to disease and wild predators. Wildlife cannot survive unless sufficient water, food, shelter, and space is available. Migratory animals move from one place to another in search of food, better climate, or other environmental factors. Winter food shortage is the most important limiting factor for many wildlife species. Wildlife food plots of nut trees and fruit trees are termed, “hard mast.” The fruit trees include apple, persimmon, crabapple, pear, plum, and quince; nut trees include pecan, hickory, chinquapin, walnut, oak, and beech. Wildlife browsing for food is termed “soft mast,” include fruit and berry food from dogwood, viburnum, mulberry trees, elderberry, blueberry plants, muscadine and scuppernong grape vines, raspberry bushes, and blackberry bushes. To establish deer food plots, wildlife shrubs, trees, and vines are best planted along fence lines on the dense edge of woods, bushy pond edges, or near plots of thick grass.