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  1. #1
    Bronze Member
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    Sep 2012
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    Knoxville, tn
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    Kubota L3200 (2012)

    Default clearing understory - can I avoid the turtles?

    I love that there are box turtles in my woods.

    My woods are absolutely full of honeysuckle and invasive privits as an understory. On the floor is pretty much blanket of English Ivy. I'm ok with the Ivy.

    Also, there are these 5" high box turtles...I'd like to avoid them.

    I'll be buying a 30hp tractor with a front loader to knock the understory down and push them into a pile. I'll also be using a bush hog.

    I've never operated a tractor before, but can a bush hog be used at a level high enough (and yet, level) to avoid turtles?

    It's not like I can guarantee no turtle harm, but if it is too low, it could be bad.

    I just don't know about bushhogs at all and how they are adjusted.

  2. #2
    Super Member texasjohn's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
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    5,041
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    Central Texas, Jarrell
    Tractor
    Kubota 5030HSTC

    Default Re: clearing understory - can I avoid the turtles?

    There are two height adjustments.
    The 3pt hitch and top link combination set the basic height while the tail wheel is also adjustable and attempts to keep the blade from digging into the ground when following uneven ground....

    I'd be worried about several things...different bushhogs have different amounts of tail wheel adjustment...go for one that will give you a lot of vertical lift.
    typically, driving a tractor around in confined spaces results in the wheels covering a lot of ground = squished turtles unless you spot them first.
    Joy is having the tools you need and needing the tools you have!

    Kubota 5030 HSTC, BB, Danueser PHD, LA853 QA HD FEL w JD toothbar, 3pt chisel, 3 pt disk, 6' shredder, Kubota FEL hay spike, 3pt hay fork w carryall, Kubota RTV 1140

  3. #3
    Super Member
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    Apr 2000
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    5,657
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    Cedartown, Ga and N. Ga mountains
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    1998 Kubota B21, 2005 Kubota L39

    Default Re: clearing understory - can I avoid the turtles?

    The turtles are there because of the habitat, remove the habitat and they will be gone anyway. More to your question I think it would be hard to avoid them just driving through the area.

    MarkV

  4. #4
    Member Kapnfriday's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
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    43
    Location
    Raleigh, NC and Lansing, NC
    Tractor
    Kubota B7610

    Default Re: clearing understory - can I avoid the turtles?

    I built some trails through similar type terrain - woods with understory of a lot of honeysuckle and autumn olive. I only used my FEL and box blade. Unfortunately I wasn't able to avoid a turtle. Ran over him with probably a back tire. The worst part was he didn't die. About 1/3rd of his shell was crushed in and I think there might have been some organs exposed. I didn't have anything to put him out of his misery. Ever try to chop a turtles head off? It disappears as soon as you grab them. The next day he still wasn't dead. I took him to the NC State vet school where they have a turtle unit - who knew? I doubt they saved him but at least they could put him down easy.

    I shared this story with a friend who bush hogs about 5 acres of pasture several times a year and he said he'd had the same experience. I think it's unavoidable if you're tractoring in turtle habitat.

  5. #5
    Elite Member /pine's Avatar
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    Default Re: clearing understory - can I avoid the turtles?

    Be aware...killing any turtle will bring you some of the worst Karma there is...!
    Slash Pine
    blunt and succinct but sincere...in the immortal words of Popeye..."I yam what I yam"

  6. #6
    Bronze Member
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    Sep 2012
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    Location
    Knoxville, tn
    Tractor
    Kubota L3200 (2012)

    Default Re: clearing understory - can I avoid the turtles?

    Oh, I'm aware of that Karma problem.

    My intentions are to create turtle friendly areas (and maybe improving it).

    I do not think the honeysuckle plays a role in their habitat. The honey suckle is basically 15' trees.

    What these turtles like is the damp, very shady environment.... the shade will remain. Also, honeysuckle and privet are not native anyway.... but the turtles are.

    I'm thinking of teaching my girlfriend to use the tractor. Then, I'll walk ahead of the tractor as it slowly creeps through.

    Accidents are unavoidable.

    Interestingly, I created trails through the woods last year (by hand and using my riding mower as a kind of bushhog). In the spring, I saw plenty of turtles on the trail. Its almost like they appreciate an open area to walk without having to crawl over everything. I bet the English Ivy is a real hassle for a turtle.

  7. #7
    Veteran Member
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    Jan 2012
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    1,081
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    Ma
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    Kubota b2920

    Default Re: clearing understory - can I avoid the turtles?

    I would just do it by hand, thats the only way to avoid them for sure. Unfortunately turtles and big machines don't mix well. I'd love to have some turtles in my woods, but they all stay by my pond except for egg laying season when an army of them digs up the yard.

  8. #8
    Super Member Gary Fowler's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
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    6,519
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    Bismarck Arkansas
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    2009 Kubota RTV 900, 2009 Kubota B26 TLB & 2010 model LS P7010

    Default Re: clearing understory - can I avoid the turtles?

    Quote Originally Posted by ohbehave View Post
    I love that there are box turtles in my woods.

    My woods are absolutely full of honeysuckle and invasive privits as an understory. On the floor is pretty much blanket of English Ivy. I'm ok with the Ivy.

    Also, there are these 5" high box turtles...I'd like to avoid them.

    I'll be buying a 30hp tractor with a front loader to knock the understory down and push them into a pile. I'll also be using a bush hog.

    I've never operated a tractor before, but can a bush hog be used at a level high enough (and yet, level) to avoid turtles?

    It's not like I can guarantee no turtle harm, but if it is too low, it could be bad.

    I just don't know about bushhogs at all and how they are adjusted.
    You don't list the size of the lot you are clearing, but you can do away with vines and small brush pretty easily with a weedeater. For tough stuff get one with a saw blade on it and just walk thru it. It has to be a straight shaft type to use a saw blade. Stihl makes a really good one with two handle controls, just slightly less expensive than a tractor but might last just as long. I used one (not a Stihl) to clear the fence line and road ditch at my place last summer. The saw blades are awesome. You would be moving slow enough that you could see your turtles and they could crawl away also and you can pick your height to cut. You can cut 2" diameter trees with them easily, but you still might have to come in with the tractor to pile it all unless you can just let it lay and rot.
    In the tractor use, lets say you have a 30 HP with 12" wide tires x2= about 2 feet and the tractor is going to be about 5 feet wide. So you are going to be laying rubber down 2 feet out of the 5 so those poor turtles have about a 60% (3 out of 5) chance of not getting squished. I sure as heck wouldn't play that game of Russian roulette with them if I valued their lives.
    NOW as for myself, when driving on the road or bush hogging, if I see one I will avoid him but don't shed a tear if I do happen to squish one either.
    AS for you, If I were in your shoes, I would use the FEL on a tractor to push thru those vines and pile them up. If you happen to pick up a turtle, he is less likely to be hurt by scooping him into the FEL bucket. When you have a loaded bucket, lift it high and dump it slowing to sift the turtle out and let him crawl away. Put one of those Piranha tooth bars on the FEL bucket and it will shear those vines and small saplings off.
    2010 LS P-7010C 20F/20R gear tractor & FEL, 2009 Kubota B 26 TLB, RTV 900 Kubota,17 foot Lund boat with 70HP motor, 2012-20 ft 12k GVW trailer, 2011- 52" Craftsman ZTR mower, 3 weed whackers, pressure washer, leaf blowers, 7 foot bush hog, 8 foot landscape rake , 8 foot 3 PH disc, 2 row cultivator, 350 amp CC AC/DC welding machine and all the tools needed to keep them all repaired and running.

  9. #9
    Bronze Member
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    Sep 2012
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    Location
    Knoxville, tn
    Tractor
    Kubota L3200 (2012)

    Default Re: clearing understory - can I avoid the turtles?

    Thanks. I'll check into the piranha bars.

    My plans also included a small series of ponds designed just for the local critters (with plenty of cover). I don't have any ponds right now.

    Many times, I can just push honey suckle over just by hand.... the roots are wide, but shallow as heck. Some are too stiff.

    But on 6 wood acres full of honey suckle....that's a lot of work.

    The tractor is primarily to clear the big stuff. Remove the huge and almost dead black walnut trees...there are tons of felled trees.....and then use a post hole digger to re-forest the areas that I have cut with more desired trees... like pecan trees, hollies and native, robust trees.

    I hope to use many of the old, downed trees for firewood and use some of it to create a funky area with the dead would further back for habitat/hiding areas.

    Then, I want to figure out how to plow and plant a crop using a tractor. I have no idea on that stuff nor do I know anything about the essential implements for it.

  10. #10
    Gold Member
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    John Deere garden tractor 111 john deer garden tractor model lt155 john deere garden tractor x728

    Default Re: clearing understory - can I avoid the turtles?

    I would think a bush hog would raise them up with the blades acting like a suction or the movement or noise of the blades or blade making them try to get out of the way and get hit anyway.

    Rob

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