More than 1,000 acres of pine forest in the Bienville National Forest are being felled due to beetle infestation, and that could impact hunting on its three WMAs — Bienville, Caney Creek and Tallahala. 

The U.S. Forest Service does not attempt to sell the infected trees or trees in the immediate vicinity. They trees are cut and left to rot, even though some are more than 80 years old and 38 to 40 inches in diameter. 

But don’t be sad for the lost forest, especially if you are a deer or turkey hunter. The openings will be a boon for browse that has been dormant for years. As the openings become thickets, deer will use them as bedding areas and feeding sites. Turkeys will use them for nesting and bugging locations.

Black bears may find den sites among the fallen logs, and the rotting wood will produce the grubs and beetles bears love to eat.

So don’t think of the timber as being lost; think of it as being repurposed. The next 10 years should see a very real upswing in wildlife numbers across the board, and perhaps to another change and this time an increase in doe limits.