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Talk me out of/into creating more bedding in the middle of our property

Hoytvectrix

5 year old buck +
I'm looking for some guidance on what to do with the middle portion of our property. For some context, we own essentially a ridgetop to a ridgetop of a valley in Northern Missouri. Total property size is 160 acres. This is what the surrounding area looks like:
1612075088261.png

You'll notice the ridgetops on either side of the valley is where most of the timber is, with agriculture and/or foodplots located in the valleys. My goal is to try and make more bedding/cover on the property, and I'm proposing to do this in the outlined area.

1612075215034.png

The area in question is outlined in red. This is an old ag field that holds a fair amount of moisture throughout the year that we are choosing not to crop, mainly because we have enough food for the deer in the area and we have very few deer bedding on the property. The area in red is right around 5 acres. Here is what the area looks like (looking west to east):

1612075361994.png

Most of this open area is covered in reed canary grass, and provides very little cover for most of the year. The reed canary grass is typically less than 3 feet tall from about October to May, and deer pretty much never use this area during daylight for most of the fall/winter.

Here is what I am proposing:
1) mow the reed canary grass in early spring down as low as possible
2) Spray it out with glyphosate as it greens up in the spring
3) Keep all woody plants including cedars as they are
4) Spray simazine over area immediately before step 5.
5) Drill in Kanlow and Cave in Rock switchgrass after a sufficient kill of canary grass (likely to be late June).

The idea is to really thicken up this area. Right now, you will notice there is essentially no cover in the entire valley in the middle of our property. If we can't get deer to bed, maybe they will at least be more likely to use the area during the rut or cruise through it during the daylight hours.

My concerns are that I will be doing this work for basically no benefit. I have read on here or in other places that bucks will typically not bed in valleys or low spots and that they prefer to bed on ridgetops where they have an advantage of wind.

I'd love to hear any feedback some of you more experienced habitat guys and gals have for my plan. Thanks!
 

Native Hunter

5 year old buck +
I can't talk you out of it. I agree that they may not bed in the low area if they have preferred bedding spots on higher ground. However, you should still carry out this plan. My NWSGs are a magnet for travel in the fall and especially at rut time. Hunt the edges and watch for places where they enter and exit. I have a wall full of big deer that came from NWSG fields.
 
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bwoods11

5 year old buck +
Deer will be bed in low spots, depending on the type of cover around it. We have planted Willow, , tamarack, black spruce, pine is wet spots with some success.

Grasses are a bit more difficult..
More cover will help I think.
 

BenAllgood

5 year old buck +
Yeah, I'd go with adding cover. When I switched from hunting flat land to hunting hills and hollows, I thought bedding was just on ridge points and top thirds. I learned different the first year. Bucks will bed where they have an advantage. I have them bedding high and low. Here's a bed surrounded by rubs at the bottom of a hollow.20201127_144806.jpg
 

willy

5 year old buck +
Does gly kill rcg or just the top growth? If it don't kill it, I'd mow it as short as possible, in spring like you plan, spray oustxp on it to kill it when it greens back up, keep it dead until fall, spray oust again in fall and then drill or broadcast the switch you have planned. Spray gly in spring prior to Swtich sprouting. Your cedars will survive the oust and gly spraying.
 

Hoytvectrix

5 year old buck +
Does gly kill rcg or just the top growth? If it don't kill it, I'd mow it as short as possible, in spring like you plan, spray oustxp on it to kill it when it greens back up, keep it dead until fall, spray oust again in fall and then drill or broadcast the switch you have planned. Spray gly in spring prior to Swtich sprouting. Your cedars will survive the oust and gly spraying.
I've read that reed canary grass is difficult to kill with glyphosate, but I've had pretty decent luck with it in two sequential applications spaced about 4 weeks apart. I like your idea of Oust and will look into using it.
 

Hoytvectrix

5 year old buck +
Yeah, I'd go with adding cover. When I switched from hunting flat land to hunting hills and hollows, I thought bedding was just on ridge points and top thirds. I learned different the first year. Bucks will bed where they have an advantage. I have them bedding high and low. Here's a bed surrounded by rubs at the bottom of a hollow.View attachment 33424
There was a 205" buck that was bedding in an area identical to that on my brother's property that is nearby ours. It was in a deep draw of some thick timber, and basically impossible to get to. I know many of the bucks around our place typically bed up on the ridgetops, but I am hoping that is because we have few other options available. One of the reasons I brought this up and am asking for advice is because I wanted to see if anyone else has been able to create bedding on the interior of their property with NWSGs - a place in our case that is not particularly difficult to get to. Everyone dreams of creating big buck bedding areas, and the more I think about this I think this plan is to improve the area for the rut.
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
I'm looking for some guidance on what to do with the middle portion of our property. For some context, we own essentially a ridgetop to a ridgetop of a valley in Northern Missouri. Total property size is 160 acres. This is what the surrounding area looks like:
View attachment 33418

You'll notice the ridgetops on either side of the valley is where most of the timber is, with agriculture and/or foodplots located in the valleys. My goal is to try and make more bedding/cover on the property, and I'm proposing to do this in the outlined area.

View attachment 33419

The area in question is outlined in red. This is an old ag field that holds a fair amount of moisture throughout the year that we are choosing not to crop, mainly because we have enough food for the deer in the area and we have very few deer bedding on the property. The area in red is right around 5 acres. Here is what the area looks like (looking west to east):

View attachment 33420

Most of this open area is covered in reed canary grass, and provides very little cover for most of the year. The reed canary grass is typically less than 3 feet tall from about October to May, and deer pretty much never use this area during daylight for most of the fall/winter.

Here is what I am proposing:
1) mow the reed canary grass in early spring down as low as possible
2) Spray it out with glyphosate as it greens up in the spring
3) Keep all woody plants including cedars as they are
4) Spray simazine over area immediately before step 5.
5) Drill in Kanlow and Cave in Rock switchgrass after a sufficient kill of canary grass (likely to be late June).

The idea is to really thicken up this area. Right now, you will notice there is essentially no cover in the entire valley in the middle of our property. If we can't get deer to bed, maybe they will at least be more likely to use the area during the rut or cruise through it during the daylight hours.

My concerns are that I will be doing this work for basically no benefit. I have read on here or in other places that bucks will typically not bed in valleys or low spots and that they prefer to bed on ridgetops where they have an advantage of wind.

I'd love to hear any feedback some of you more experienced habitat guys and gals have for my plan. Thanks!

I'm not sure I'd use that area for bedding purposes. Where you have topography, deer seem to favor west facing slopes around here. Vegetation can be manipulated but topography is pretty well fixed. I would consider timbering some area on west facing slopes and executing controlled burns every few years to keep them in early succession.

Just something to consider...

Thanks,

Jack
 

MN Slick

5 year old buck +
There was a 205" buck that was bedding in an area identical to that on my brother's property that is nearby ours. It was in a deep draw of some thick timber, and basically impossible to get to. I know many of the bucks around our place typically bed up on the ridgetops, but I am hoping that is because we have few other options available. One of the reasons I brought this up and am asking for advice is because I wanted to see if anyone else has been able to create bedding on the interior of their property with NWSGs - a place in our case that is not particularly difficult to get to. Everyone dreams of creating big buck bedding areas, and the more I think about this I think this plan is to improve the area for the rut.

I have a farm in North MO that we converted from cool season CRP to WSG in 2012, 100 acre farm 60 CRP/40 timbered draws. We converted the 60 acres of WSG cover that was once knee high to WSG. Overall I haven't seen bucks or does bed in the more open WSG without structure but we do have many more does bedding on our place than before. Most relate to heads of draws, the change in cover from grass to timber, and relating to islands of trees, etc. Most of the mature bucks still bed on the neighbors where they always have. I do recall one buck that was likley 3 that bedded in a low spot right on an access path I mowed. Again he had some structurel, this time up against some finger thick willows. He was consistent enough that he had the area stunk up with rut smell. I bumped him up one morning and was able to get a good look at him from 20 yards...nice 9 point but not a shooter for me. A week later he got out of that bed and walked along the path I mowed right to a partner's buddy who gunned him down. Oh well.

That said I'd highly recommend getting WSG established as the deer love it. Lots of chasing in it during the rut. I'd add some groups of cedars and shrubs too.
 

Hoytvectrix

5 year old buck +
I have a farm in North MO that we converted from cool season CRP to WSG in 2012, 100 acre farm 60 CRP/40 timbered draws. We converted the 60 acres of WSG cover that was once knee high to WSG. Overall I haven't seen bucks or does bed in the more open WSG without structure but we do have many more does bedding on our place than before. Most relate to heads of draws, the change in cover from grass to timber, and relating to islands of trees, etc. Most of the mature bucks still bed on the neighbors where they always have. I do recall one buck that was likley 3 that bedded in a low spot right on an access path I mowed. Again he had some structurel, this time up against some finger thick willows. He was consistent enough that he had the area stunk up with rut smell. I bumped him up one morning and was able to get a good look at him from 20 yards...nice 9 point but not a shooter for me. A week later he got out of that bed and walked along the path I mowed right to a partner's buddy who gunned him down. Oh well.

That said I'd highly recommend getting WSG established as the deer love it. Lots of chasing in it during the rut. I'd add some groups of cedars and shrubs too.

This is really good feedback. We currently have some early successional growth of cedars and shrub oaks taking over the field, but the reed canary grass is slowing that progress. When you converted to the NWSG, did you start to see quail move in? I know that Union Ridge WCA converted some of their old pasture ground and I see quail on the road there every time I drive by.
 

hesseu

5 year old buck +
I'd be curious as to what the whole outline / property boundaries of your farm is. Our open land is also in the middle of our farm. We have sprayed to eradicate fescue, and have some small food plots located in it. Total area is around 25 acres of creek bottom that is open. We have done, and are currently is the process of major TSI in the wooded areas (targeting SE, S, SW, and W facing slopes specifically) and this has been a huge benefit.
 

MN Slick

5 year old buck +
This is really good feedback. We currently have some early successional growth of cedars and shrub oaks taking over the field, but the reed canary grass is slowing that progress. When you converted to the NWSG, did you start to see quail move in? I know that Union Ridge WCA converted some of their old pasture ground and I see quail on the road there every time I drive by.

I haven't seen any quail. I talked to a quail biologist and he said big blue and switch get too thick for quail so the recommend little blue with forbs for guys that want quail habitat.
 

J B

A good 3 year old buck
I bought a property 10 years ago that had a nice draw in the back corner. It had a bunch of big, tipped over boxelders down there. I cleaned it up and burned them to plant switch grass and food. The deer use the switch some in the spring and summer, but it just funnels the deer the rest of the year. I would have been way better of leaving it alone and/or planting shrubs like red osier dogwood, I think. I have some ROD ordered to plant down there this spring.
 

j-bird

Moderator
All I will say is that you can NEVER have too much secure cover for deer in my opinion. The big thing is does the location work for your hunting efforts or does it hurt them? Sometimes you need "dead zones" on your property so your scent can be in a direction to not alert/educate deer. Maybe this area is a place for you to add some sort of different type of habitat for diversity. Just figure out what works WITH your plan...
 
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