Creating the perfect bedding area


A good 3 year old buck
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Just my 2 cents here - I would think several smaller areas would hold more deer than one larger one. The reason I say this is because even though deer are fairly social, they still prefer their own groups and a dominent doe group could rule a single area, where you could potentially reduce the chance of that with several smaller areas so each group has their own "island". Just a thought. Consider the rut and a buck woul dhave to travle more (potentially) checking several areas vs just one larger one - that may or may not be something to consider as well. Like I said just my 2 cents.
First question I would have is how wet is it really? Standing water for how long during a given year? Are you willing and capable of fencing areas for establishment of plantings? Do deer bed in there now? Once those and possibly other questions are answered you would have a better idea of your options. Multiple smaller areas would be the way to go with this, due to the reasons j-bird has given and others. The key will be to find the highest, most likely spots in that swamp for the location of your "bedding islands". A 6" to 1' rise may be enough to be successful.
It sounds like a great buck bedding location. Build small humps that are a little bigger then a deer, and they will use it. I have read about hay/straw bails, old pallets, and how about logs?
You will need some for single deer and some for family groups. I would like to see a tamarack or spruce on every one, with a ring of spruce around the larger ones. Reed canary makes great bedding if the ground is dry and there are trees, willow, or even felled trees for structure. Structure helps the RC to keep standing. When it gets too wet, RC is a struggle. My islands would be no bigger than 50 X50 and some only 6 by 6.

I have been thinking about two things with some plastic snowfence that was given to me. What if it was laid flat on the RC with a few logs or fenceposts to hold in in place? Maybe two or three layers of it? Would it fill in and make a high spot? What if a standing snowfence in a C shape was made with the open end of the C extending up stream in a RC flat. Would it collect debris over time and fill in? Would snow and dirt blow into the C and help fill it in? Our old fencelines have dirt almost 6 feet high in places.
It's soggy year around in most locations. Some standing water year around in other areas. There are natural high spots. I just want more of them. Without a doubt,the deer bed in there now especially if pressured. Fencing off as an bet.

With multiple areas, how large should they be in square footage? Spacing between lifted areas? Type of plantings?
As far as sq ft, it depends what you want bedding in that area, chances are on 15 acres of tag alder and RC which I assume is fairly open for the most part, the best you could hope for as far as mature bucks go is one or 2 at the most and they would have to be away from each other and any bossy doe groups or they wouldn't use the area much anyway. In those instances, a 6'x6' or 8'x8' area with a lone tree or bushy shrub or a very small cluster of willows would be sufficient. It would have to be somewhat open in the immediate area around the tree, as they will not use the bed if the grass near it is too thick or too tall. As for the does, areas could range from 30'x30' on up to 50'x 50' or even a bit larger, but keep in mind that those larger areas are that much harder to "build-up" to keep them from being too wet. If you haven't seen the post in the link, it describes a couple of projects I helped some guys get set up in their RC swamps, check it out. The areas we did on these 2 places range anywhere from 20ft wide by 35ft long to 50'x75' on the bigger high spots. The areas we were working in were only really wet for about 2 months of the year though, so it seems like yours is a bit more wet than the ones I helped work on. IIRC, the 2 places were like 22 acres and 18 acres(it was a while ago, so I'm not 100% sure on the acreage), so I don't think they were much bigger than the one your speaking of. I would think you would want about 1 bedding area on every 3 or so acres, you could create more areas, but i wouldn't count on them all getting used. Good plantings would be tamarack, northern white cedar, black spruce and possibly balsam fir for conifers. Willows, dogwoods, button bush(highly recommended), mulberry, high-bush cranberry should all be good in your situation, but many of these plantings would have to be protected from browse.
You're likely exempt from the WCA, as long as it's under 10,000sf and you're not close to a lake (which I don't think you are IIRC).

Some kind of structure would be good for building the mounds on. I was looking for broken plastic pallets for the same type of project, but was unable to source any. The pocket structure of the "egg carton" style of those would anchor the fill nicely.

Art's snow fence option might work to keep some of the fill from sinking, but I'd hesitate using it because it might creep out and become unsightly (and obviously not natural). An upside down wooden pallet might work too. They're often white oak which is naturally rot resistant. I had some pallets in my swamp which took several years to break down even exposed to direct air. Under dirt, the wood won't decompose as quickly unless there's water flowing next to it.
I don't think you'd have much trouble establishing if you seeded when building the mounds. Fencing seems unneccessary.
I would not use fencing for the normal things I would plant. You should plant for cover and not feed on these tiny islands.
Do you have a plan with islands and connecting higher travel lanes to focus deer movement to specific stand locations?

I have heard and used the 10,000 foot exemption in the past.
While fencing might be unnecessary with your pathetic deer populations, the plantings wouldn't necessarily be for feeding the deer in those areas. Those plantings represent variety and create unique edge features and are also good all around deer plants, not just food. I have found deer beds right under mulberries in the past, both at the base of shrub mulberries and at the base of 25' mulberry trees. I also notice deer bedding around high-bush cranberry and especially button bush. The caveat is, as with any small un-established planting of any browseable species, it would need to be protected until it was able to set a good root system and withstand browsing pressure. If you want deer to use those areas year around, diversity is the key, the issue is when planting into those marsh-like conditions, only certain plants will thrive there. Unfortunately, many of those that will survive are also preferred browse. It is a Catch-22 in many respects.
If we're talking about grasses - I think they'd establish before deer would start using the beds.

Trees and shrubs might need some protection.