By: Carly Neumann

Larry Becker has been an outdoorsman, conservationist, and hunter for over 40 years. It was 15 years ago when Larry learned from a friend that a property on which he had previously hunted was coming up for sale through an auction. Larry decided to purchase the 115 acre property in Wyoming County and his son purchased the adjacent 85 acres. While Becker is not entirely sure of the previous land-use of the property, he believes that the land may have been used as a dairy farm at one point due to what appear to be abandoned fields and pastures. Today he lives on the property with his wife, Carol.

Becker's management strategy and activities over the past 10-15 years have created a property that he doesn't foresee changing much in the near future as he is satisfied and has accomplished his management goals. The property is about 70 % hardwoods and 30% conifers and features several food plots for deer and other wildlife as well as shallow ditch ponds. Becker's primary woodland management strategy revolves around his passion—hunting—but he and his family also enjoy spending time hiking and bird-watching on the property.

Becker recommends utilizing educational and professional resources available before embarking on any forestry venture to prevent wasting your own time or money. For example, he works with his local DEC forester Patrick Marren and also participates in the New York Master Forest Owner Volunteer program.

Wildlife are key in Becker's management strategy, especially managing for deer and turkey for hunting. The land was posted for the first time in 1997 and since then hunts have been limited. Safety is the Becker's primary concern when managing their property for hunting. He began a Quality Deer Management Program in 1999. The main goal is to maintain a "trophy buck" population within the herd. He limits turkey hunting to three spring toms and three fall juveniles per year. Small game has been off limits until recently in order to establish a sustainable population. He has also worked to reduce the predator population.

Larry has worked hard to create and maintain wildlife habitat on his land. The property now hosts two to shallow ditch ponds that he has stocked with fish. He also installed wood duck and blue bird boxes on the property. He has reclaimed several meadows as well as releasing wild apple trees. He logged part of the property in the winter of 2006 and has also conducted thinning on different plots.

Currently Becker is planting shrubs to replace the viburnum lost to viburnum beetle, which also decimated a planting of cranberries. The most successful of his tree plantings have been those of Sargent Crab Apple. Becker's other concerns include the striped maple on the property, which he has been controlling by manually pulling them out with the help of his son Todd. They also remove all the beech that they can and spray the base with Round-Up to prevent cloning.

The management plan developed by Becker has evolved over the past 15 years and he is satisfied with the end result. He doesn't foresee changing his strategy other than possibly adding another shallow ditch pond to attract more wooducks, wildlife, and amphibians.

Becker's hard work has paid off; he won the National Wild Turkey Federation's "Wildlife Management Excellence on Private Lands" both in the Northeast Region (2003) and Nationally (2004). He also received Tree Farm Certification by the American Tree Farm System in 2009. Becker is very passionate about his conservation work, conservation being one of the most enjoyable parts of owning his woodlands. "If you're a hunter you have a responsibility to give back to the environment and help animals in other ways."

Carly Neumann is a Forest Resources Extension Program Assistant at Cornell University, Dept. of Natural Resources, Ithaca, NY 14853. Dr. Shorna Allred is the faculty advisor for the Member Profile Series.

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