Local business restores native habitats across NYM area
By Tucker Henderson
Deer hunters from around the state of Minnesota and surrounding areas are out on stand this week as rifle season opens up the opportunity to tag a big buck and provide some meat for the freezer.
Many of these hunters are experiencing the benefits of higher deer populations and more success in the hunt this year thanks to Sam Tumberg of Purpose-Filled Habitat Management. Tumberg calls the New York Mills area home and has been providing services to landowners for the past eight years.
Tumberg provides services targeted towards landowners that are interested in having their properties hold more deer and provide a wider range of success during archery, rifle and muzzleloader seasons.
“The landowner’s goal is always, they want to see more deer,” said Tumberg. “They want their property to hold more deer and they want to have more success when they’re hunting. Those are the big things that they’re generally looking for.”
Through restoring the native habitat of Minnesota’s three major biomes, Tumberg is able to achieve those goals for each individual landowner. He works towards eradication of invasive species, improving forested acreage, and even plans out stand and food plot placement on a given property.
“My big mission is to restore the native habitat to what it was supposed to be,” said Tumberg. “When we can restore the property to the native state, it results in more deer and more hunting success.”
Through two main services, Tumberg has built a side-business with a thriving demand. A school social worker by trade, he enjoys the relational side of the business, often keeping in contact with many of the landowners long after his work on their property is finished.
“I’m a relational person, and doing this, I get to connect with guys out in creation and get to know guys,” he said. “Not just from a hunting standpoint, but get to hear about their stories and things like that, I really enjoy it. I’ve made a lot of great connections, just within the hunting community. I’ve met phenomenal people through it, that’s the best part of it.”
Tumberg’s primary service starts with a day of walking through an entire property with the landowner. Throughout the day, he will discuss all of the possible habitat improvements available to the property, as well as work on some hands-on habitat work together to get the landowner started. Afterwards, Tumberg will draft a written plan as well as map out the changes for the property in question.
If a landowner wants Tumberg to complete the habitat management work, he is also able to go through his written plan and complete the work outlined within it. This includes everything from invasive species control, general spraying, cutting in bedding areas, tree planting, trail maintenance, timber stand improvement and some food plot work among other miscellaneous habitat work.
“There’s a lot of stuff with a chainsaw,” he said. “For hands-on work, generally my typical day is working with the chainsaw. I’m out improving the forested acres, I’m out cutting.”
Tumberg’s experience with habitat management started in 2015 when he moved back to his hometown of NY Mills from the Twin Cities and had access to the family farm, though his passion for the outdoors has been around as long as he can remember.
“I’ve always been really into deer hunting,” he said. “I remember being five-years-old and standing at the window waiting for my dad to get in from rifle hunting because I couldn’t wait to hear what he saw. When I got old enough, deer hunting quickly became a passion of mine.”
On New Year’s Day in 2019, Tumberg decided to create a Facebook page and a YouTube channel to share his passion for habitat management and all of the pictures, stories, and progress that it entails.
“My buddies were getting pretty sick of me texting them pictures of trees and things like that,” Tumberg laughed. “I needed an outlet for all of this information that was rattling around in my head, not with the intention of making it a business, just as a way of sharing what I was passionate about, but from there it just kind of snowballed.”
Tumberg devotes many of his weekends and the summer months when school is not in session to complete his habitat management work. His furthest job was in Green Bay, Wis., but has had requests from as far away as Michigan, Arkansas, and even Georgia.
“If I get enough in one area, I might consider making a point to go out for a week or two and travel a bit,” Tumberg said. “My sweet spot is the upper Midwest, mostly just Minnesota and I’ve went to some of the neighboring states. If I can get work within a couple hours of home, that’s nice, so I can still tuck the kids in at night.”
Within a year and a half, Tumberg’s management requests became so time consuming, that he had to start asking for a fee for the work he was doing.
“Throughout 2019, I actually had a lot of guys reach out who wanted me to come out to their properties and I was doing it for free, just because I wanted to build my experience,” he explained. “But then in the middle of 2020 it was kind of at a point where I started taking a fee. That’s when the business actually turned into something legit, I made it an LLC. Last summer, I had as much work as I wanted doing it, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Tumberg said that his favorite part of the job is definitely meeting the new clients and helping them manage their property and meeting the needs of their hunting and habitat goals.
“I love that moment when a landowner’s eyes are open to the possibilities that their property holds, I always say that as deer hunters, we get really fixated on the 10 percent of our land that we put into food plots, but we don’t pay attention to the 90 percent of land that isn’t,” said Tumberg. “Where I come in I really focus on that 90 percent of land that’s untouched and unmanaged. So when I can open their eyes to all the possibilities that they can do with that 90 percent of their land, that’s the true game changer for them in having their property hold more deer and hunt better. I really love that moment.”
Interested individuals can find Tumberg’s work on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram under Purpose-Filled Habitat Management or get in touch with him through his website at www.pfhabitat.com.
“Something that really excites me, when I’m working with a landowner that is not just looking to build up the habitat because they want to kill a big deer, but they want to build up the habitat because they want to leave a lasting legacy for future generations,” he said. “They aren’t just looking one, two, three years down the road, they’re looking 10, 20, 30 years down the road and they may be doing improvements that they never actually get to see the benefit of, but their kids and grandkids are going to see that benefit.
“That really excites me,” he continued. “That’s part of the reason why I named the business ‘Purpose-Filled Habitat Management’ because I want there to be a bigger purpose to the work we’re doing through connecting with the Lord and being good stewards of the land we’ve been blessed with, so that’s a huge part of it. I share my faith on my page, I love being out in God’s creation. It’s nice to be able to experience that time alone with the Lord.”