I have 40 acres that borders the Shenandoah National Park, so my "backyard" is thousands of acres of forest. I can't hunt in the park. My 40 acres is a mix of a dying apple orchard, some medows that have creeks and streams, and forest bordering the park.
I keep 9 acres in conservation reserve, and let that grow with little grooming other than controlling the multiflora rose and fertilizing some patches of honeysuckle. Another 8 acres is old apple orchard that I keep mowed. The main things that I do to change the property are (1) dropping some trees up in the forest area that borders the park to increase biomass and cover on the forest floor, (2) controlling aggressive species like the multiflora rose, (3) cutting trails thru the densist areas, and (4) fertilizing honeysuckle to attract and feed the deer. I also put out mineral salt licks in very secluded areas where I want to encourage deer to visit.
There are a couple of reasons for cutting trees in the forest. First, the forest is mature, and the deer eat most of the seedlings, so the forest floor is like a desert, with no understory and little cover. Second, I am trying to encourage growth of more oaks in an area where maples survive better than oaks. I cut the maple saplings that grow in areas where I dropped mature trees, and leave the oak seedlings.
I planted hundreds of oaks in my conservation area about 15 year ago, and about 20% of these are now maturing.
I read years ago that deer like honeysuckle, and if it is fertilized, it's protein content is over 20%. I have seen deer browsing dense patches of honeysuckle in an area of the park where I can't hunt, and have also seen that they use these dense patches for cover as they migrate from the mountain park land to the lower fields daily. I've tried to design my property to encourage this daily movement. I fertilize selected honeysuckle patches in order to attract deer into these patches.
When I put the 9 acres under conservation, I had three patches of about 1/2 acre each around three creeks. These grew up into very dense shelter areas. Since they have creeks running thru them and heavy canopy, they are cool in the summer and provide dense cover. The deer generally come down from the park around dusk and then use these three areas as shelter while they are browsing the apple orchard and conservationn area.