I have a section on my property approximately 5 acres with mature oak and maples 18 to 20 inches, well spaced, but the understory is a combination of beech and ferns. I have cut some beech and sprayed some the ferns with mediocre success. I do not anticipate logging the area, but if it were to be logged in the future what might regeneration look like.
Great question. The short answer is that after a canopy disturbance such as harvesting (or ice storm), the next forest looks like whatever is in the understory. In your case, the next forest would likely be dominated by beech and ferns.
The broader insight is that beech and fern often dominate when there are too many deer. Deer won't usually browse beech and fern so those increase while the species deer browse are reduced or eliminated. Hunting might help, but in many areas there is insufficient hunting pressure to truly reduce deer impact. Shooting a couple deer won't be enough. If you were to harvest trees, you would also need to limit the impact of deer (e.g., fencing or slash wall) and also take care of the legacy effect of deer that you see now as beech and fern.
I hope this helps. Feel free to follow up with more questions and/or pictures.
Peter, I thought that would be the result. I did a pellet survey a few years ago on the area surrounding my property and came up with about 15/16 deer sq. mile , not a lot but just enough to affect regeneration.I tried dmap, but unfortunately I have to combine my property with another to qualify. Doe permits in 9r are almost impossible to get even though I get one every year and usually take a doe. I 'll try spraying and may eventually have to plant some seedlings. Thanks for the reply