A local outdoorsman is on a campaign to get Chinese Chestnut trees flourishing in the area. Wayne Pruett began several years ago distributing seedlings he had started growing from seeds he gathered locally.

His goal is to improve the Whitetail Deer’s habitat. The nuts are a valuable food source for deer and wild turkey.

Six years ago, he planted five trees in his backyard and those trees are now producing chestnuts. Along with the help of family members, he planted 60 seedlings on property owned by his father-in-law in the Fairfield community. Approximately 50 trees have survived that planting and are producing chestnuts.

When he was approaching retirement from government service in 2015, he began thinking about what he could do as a project. He is a passionate hunter, and one day a project popped into his head. He would work to improve the Whitetail deer’s habitat.

He set a goal of helping to plant 1,000 Chinese Chestnut trees by planting seedlings himself and distributing seedlings and chestnuts to others who were interested in establishing the trees on their land and/or hunting locations.

He has shipped 21,400 chestnuts since 2015. He never ships less than three chestnuts in case one dies because it takes two to pollinate and produce chestnuts.

Pruett said, “I have shipped to 26 states in the Eastern United States. While I am not making money, I am giving back to the Whitetail Deer.”

The American Chestnut tree began disappearing at the turn of the century when a blight fungus hit the trees and they began dying. The trees were used in many ways by the early settlers. The nuts were used to feed livestock.

Planting the Chinese Chestnut tree is an effort to replace the loss of the American Chestnut tree, which was also a valuable food source for Whitetail Deer.

Pruett has started gathering chestnuts this fall to give to those who wish to grow trees, saying it is his way of giving back and leaving the world better than he found it. Seedlings are easy to grow because they only need water, a growth media, and oxygen. Pruett will include directions for growing the seedlings.

If you are interested in obtaining some chestnuts from Pruett, you may contact him at (615) 517-4873 or email at wbpdeer@att.net.