18. July 2010 06:52
One thing I knew my property needed was more bedding areas. I basically had two options, create thicker areas in my woods or replant my 5 acre CRP field in Native Warm Season Grasses. I have done some work to my woods to thicken a few areas, but my main goal was to kill off the fescue in my crp field and replant it with Native Warm Season Grasses, which can reach a height of 6 ft or more. The fescue just didn't grow tall enough to make it attractive to the deer to use.
In the early fall of 2008, when the fescue was actively growing, I hired a sprayer to come in and spray the whole 5 acres with round up. Within a couple of weeks the whole field was dead. Then I did the same thing again in the spring when the field started to green up. It usually takes a couple of sprays to kill out fescue. I received my seed fron the IDNR through their Acres for Wildlife Program. It included Big Bluestem, Sideoats Gramma, Blackeyed Susan, Purple Cone Flower, Purple Prairie Clover, Partridge Pea, Timothy Grass, Korean Lespodesa, Red Top and a few others I forgot.
In late May the conditions were right for planting. First I lightly disced up the field, not going too deep, I just wanted to have some loose soil on top. I then went over it with a cultipacker and drag to even out the soil and pack in slightly. Next I spread the seed mixture. Planting a mix of cool season grasses around the outside for a fire break. They will be green in the spring later when I need to burn off the NWSG. In the middle by my trailer I planted a patch of clover. I didn't want the NWSG in that area because you need to burn it off every few years. The rest of the field got the mix of forbs, wild flowers and NWSG. After seeding I again went over the field with my cultipacker to push the tiny seed into the ground to make contact with the soil.
The forbs and wildflowers took off right away and I had a beautiful blooming field the first year. The NWSG takes a bit longer to establish. The first 2 years it mostly estabilishes it's root system, but there were signs of life that first season. Now in the second year I can see more and more of it showing up in the field. Even without a whole lot of NWSG there I have a 4-5 foot tall stand of flowers and forbs where I have chased a few deer out of just driving to and from my trailer. They are definately using it as bedding cover. The NWSG is in a small sheltered creek bottom. So they should use it in the winter also to get out of the howling winds and soak up the sunshine as it warms the field. Next spring I plan on doing a burn to cut down on the amount of weeds in the field and this should really allow the NWSG to take off during it's third season.
Driving in to my trailer
You can get an idea of the height in this picture.
Clover planted where I don't want to burn.
Ideally this is what the field should look like after I burn it next spring. Mostly NWSG with less weeds.
Mostly weed and forbs, but still great bedding cover.
Here you can see the green cool season fire boarder.
The hunting strategy for this fall is to setup inbetween my new bedding area and my established food plots on top of the hill and intercept the deer traveling between the two. Or catch a buck checking the field for hot doe bedded there. At least that is how it is supposed to work. Hopefully by creating the new bedding areas I can keep more deer on my property and by letting the little bucks walk, they won't walk in front of a neighbors bow or gun.