Conservation // 5 min Read

Lunch with a Wildlife Manager

Written by Megan Shannahan

Aug 14, 2019

Justin Hardy, Palmetto Bluff’s Land & Wildlife Manager, is arguably one of the busiest people on property. From answering wildlife questions and calls, planting food plots, and prescribed burning each day is different. We got a chance to sit down with Justin during the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy’s “Lunch with ...” series to learn more about what he does here at the Bluff.

What is a Wildlife Manager?

A Wildlife Manager is a person who manipulates a natural environment in order to maximize resources for wildlife. Here, at Palmetto Bluff, we have chosen to gear our management toward the eastern wild turkey. Our reasoning is the fact that almost all Lowcountry critters benefit from turkey management.

What made you want to become a Wildlife Manager?

I’ve always spent my time outdoors. Coming from a tiny town… it was my only option for entertainment. I am incredibly grateful to have grown up the way I did. Entering college, I knew I wanted to choose a career path that would embrace my love for the outdoors, so I majored in Geology at Georgia Southern University. Working for Palmetto Bluff Conservancy was my first job after college. Since then I have gone from a temporary technician to a full-time Land & Wildlife Manager and couldn’t be happier.

What brought you to Palmetto Bluff and what keeps you here?

My first time on Palmetto Bluff was for my job interview. I fell in love with the place immediately. How could a person not? The people, the wildlife, the diversity, the views…I could go on for days.

What are some of your responsibilities?

I have a very unique bag of responsibilities. In the winter months, prescribed fire management is the name of the game. Yes, they let me light the place on fire. Spring and summer are all about early successional management. That’s fancy lingo for providing food for wildlife. Fall is for hog and deer herd management. All of this, of course, is woven through the multitudinous programs, events, and good times that can be expected from the Conservancy.

Talk me through an average day for you on the Bluff.

There really is no such thing as an average day. I arrive every morning at 6:50 AM. Generally, I will have a plan for how the day will proceed. Weather, animals, and nature frequently have a different plan for me. For example, we could be out in the wilds of Palmetto Bluff working on field fences or filling corn feeders or road maintenance when we get a phone call about … oh… I don’t know… squirrel in an attic or a raccoon in a guest house (you name it, we’ve seen it). I guess the takeaway is that my days are variable but always fun.

What are you hoping to learn from the land here at the Bluff?

Palmetto Bluff has taught me so much about the natural world. I have learned a great deal about myself out here as well. I don’t have any expectations about what I will learn next. I just know to keep my eyes open.

At Palmetto Bluff everything starts with the land, and thanks to Justin and the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy team, we can keep that at the center of our values.

Mark your calendar for these upcoming talks:

Explore PBC: Snakes of the Headwaters Trail: August 16th

Brown Bag Lunch Lecture: Walnut Grove Plantation: August 21st