When it comes to whitetail deer habitat, the most overlooked component is grass. I guess the fact that a deer’s diet consists of less than 10% grass means that this type of vegetation is not important to deer, right? Wrong! Grass makes great screening and bedding cover, and it’s much needed by fawns and other wildlife. species. There are a number of ways to create thick bedding cover for deer using grass.
You can start making your property better for whitetail by planting native, warm season grasses. Grasses such as big bluestem, Eastern gamagrass, Indiangrass, and switchgrass stand from about 4 to 8 feet in height, so they can provide excellent cover for wary whitetal. Keep in mind that a deer is only about 3 foot tall at the shoulder. This is a great way to improve habitat and get fast results. In fact, you can reap the rewards of a new deer bedding area during the first hunting season after the grasses are planted. Of course, you need to get a good stand of grasses where previously only an open area existed.
Establishing these native grasses as bedding and screening cover for whitetail deer can be hard, especially if cut steps. Trust me on this one, there is not shortcut to establishing good grass. First, spray the field to be planted with a combination of glyphosate and Plateau herbicides. The glyphosate will kill any weeds that are already growing, and the Plateau is a residual herbicide created specifically for native grass plantings to cut down on weed competition down the road. Plant your native grass seeds 1/4 inch deep mid to late May using a no-till drill for best results.
Seeds of native grasses are very difficult to plant with a conventional planter. In fact, even broadcasting seeding can be difficult–although not entirely impossible. In addition, you can apply the above mention herbicides and plant immediately afterword, so you can get a lot accomplished relatively quickly. Finally, if you broadcast the seeds make sure to use a cultipacker or a light drag to ensure that the seed gets good soil contact.
It will take some effort, but nothing worth having comes easily. It may not be a part of a deer’s diet, but tall grass will not only make better whitetail deer bedding cover and screening cover, but it will hold more deer on your property. This will improve whitetail hunting and improve the overall value of your land to all wildlife species.