QuietKat all-terrain e-bikes
Creating High Quality Cover on Ag Land
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
splittine 11-Sep-18
Eagle_eye_Andy 11-Sep-18
Habitat 11-Sep-18
Dale06 11-Sep-18
Eagle_eye_Andy 11-Sep-18
MK111 11-Sep-18
Hans 1 11-Sep-18
MK111 13-Sep-18
DEMO-Bowhunter 13-Sep-18
splittine 13-Sep-18
splittine 13-Sep-18
splittine 13-Sep-18
splittine 13-Sep-18
splittine 13-Sep-18
Eagle_eye_Andy 13-Sep-18
DEMO-Bowhunter 13-Sep-18
South Farm 13-Sep-18
Quinn @work 13-Sep-18
splittine 13-Sep-18
MK111 13-Sep-18
Linecutter 13-Sep-18
Genesis 13-Sep-18
buckhammer 13-Sep-18
W 14-Sep-18
Thornton 14-Sep-18
Meat Grinder 14-Sep-18
Stressless 16-Sep-18
splittine 17-Sep-18
Stressless 17-Sep-18
Single bevel 26-Sep-18
splittine 27-Sep-18
WV Mountaineer 27-Sep-18
WV Mountaineer 27-Sep-18
Bow Crazy 01-Oct-18
Single bevel 01-Oct-18
Habitat 02-Oct-18
From: splittine
11-Sep-18

splittine's DeerBuilder embedded Photo
splittine's DeerBuilder embedded Photo

I recently purchased an 80 acre property in MW ohio that I am excited to get working on. I am just going to post an image of the property and see what pointers people have on how it should be set up. It is the parcel in the center of the image with the river running through the center from E to W and a house on St. Peter road. I assume the element that is lacking on the property is cover since there are a lot of small open crop fields currently. I am willing to do what it takes to add as much cover on the property as possible. Planting trees and native grasses to doing some hinge cutting and maybe even just letting a few spots grow on there own. I plan on having a few strategically placed kill food plots (1/3 acre or less) and one main food plot that will be 3-5 acres. I also plan to have a large sanctuary near the center of the property.

Question#1 Does anyone have any pointers on how to set up this property for best deer security and hunting or know of anyone that could help me? I am kind of networking here.

Question#2. I have heard that it is good to plant switchgrass with clusters of trees scattered within but there is one major concern I have with this. How are you supposed to do a controlled burn when there are trees scattered around. Firebreaks everywhere...Sounds like a nightmare to me.

Question#3. There is always a ton of information on planting food plots and hinge cutting for bedding areas but none on how to create good cover on a more open property. Maybe I am crazy for trying this but I am 28 y/o so I do not need something fast. Looking for the best long term solution here. If anyone has any pointers please let me know.

Any help will be greatly appreciated!!! Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks,

11-Sep-18
I recommend a good place to start is at your local NRCS office and inquire about any CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) options for your farm, maybe buffer strips along the river or other options to get the ball rolling. They can provide ideas up front on cover that's appropriate for your area as well as trees and then help determine if the site is feasible for CRP. If it is feasible, the cost share and rental payment IMO are worth it if you are willing to put up with the management requirements in your contract. Focus on diversity in any seed mix or planting you do. Prescribed burning is a great tool and with respect to trees depending on the timing, maturity and species of trees may not affect them at all, however simple yet careful prep can go along ways to making a burn successful, i.e., disking, wetline, backburn etc.. If it were me Id want to focus on planting that island of cropland in the middle of trees to Native Warm Season grasses and wildflowers (bedding/security cover), plant a 120ft buffer along both sides of the river/creek(s) or go with a Riparian buffer and plant trees to increase the size of your timber footprint. Just my few cents

From: Habitat
11-Sep-18
On most programs you have to own a year and hopefully past farmer did crop history so that counts.I would surround the fields in CP33 if possible which is up to 110 ft of NWSG.That will give security and bedding,think about where your stands might be and allow for good entry.I would do this on at least north and south sides and maybe the field in middle to add bedding cover

From: Dale06
11-Sep-18
CRP sign up is dead or virtually dead in my area, western Ks. And I believe that is the case nation wide.

11-Sep-18
It is Dale hopefully new farm bill will breathe new life but oftentimes NRCS can point him into other programs or get the planning out of the way.

From: MK111
11-Sep-18
Welcome to deer heaven.

IMO your property isn't big enough to hold deer on it. If you get deer on the property and a little pressure it given the deer will leave.

However I'm a firm believer that if you plant a large selection of food plots the deer will come to the property and give good hunting if not pressured too much that the deer just turn into a night time feed pattern.

I would plot year around food plots to keep the deer into a year around feeding pattern.

I have a farm in SW OH that adjoins a 110 ac hay operation. We have 20-30% brush areas here so it's not possible to hold deer on my farm. So 6 yrs ago I took a 3 ac cattle pasture out of service and planted year around foot plots. This plot adjoins my neighbors hay field and woods. I watch deer come out of his brush areas and walk none stop across a hay field and feed in my clover, oats, and turnips.

In 21 yrs I never seen over 3 deer in a group on my farm. Now I see up to 16 deer at a time feeding.

But remember I don't see big bucks feeding like on TV but during deer season the bucks are on their feet looking for does to breed. Where there are girls the boys will come a looking.

Where there is good food the deer will come to feed even in prime farm areas. I look at as if you place candy in front of young kids and give them the choice of candy or green beans the normal kids will take the candy. I feel deer are the same and offer the deer candy they will came.

Like was said a wide patch of high plants on both sides of the river for the entire length would add a lot to deer security.

From: Hans 1
11-Sep-18
On a small place like that I would plant a thick perimeter screen of switch grass either Kanlow or Cave in Rock. About 75-100 feet wide then inside the remainder I would plant corn perfect crop for food and cover. This will allow the Switch to have a year to get started then it can be increased the second year. I would concentrate on the West and south fields.

From: MK111
13-Sep-18
I would recommend getting Steve Bartylla book White-tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvement.

I'm reading it now and it has the info you are seeking. Cost $28 on Amazon and free shipping.

13-Sep-18

DEMO-Bowhunter's embedded Photo
This is a drawing that took me 20 minutes to make. There are multiple ways you could go about your layout, but get your layout set first.
DEMO-Bowhunter's embedded Photo
This is a drawing that took me 20 minutes to make. There are multiple ways you could go about your layout, but get your layout set first.
Cover, cover, cover, food, cover, cover, cover... Did I mention I like cover? In large ag areas, cover is king, let the farmers feed them, use just enough food to funnel the deer past your stands.

On a property this size, proper access and stand placement will be the difference between an average hunting experience and a great one. I wouldn't step foot on this property until a cold front in late October and then be very selective how much I hunted it until the rut was in full swing.

I'd plan on an access trail (Blue) on the outside of the property, plant three rows of Norway or White Spruce as a living screen just inside that trail (Light Green). Then I'd plant the big open fields to a mix of native warm season grass (Big Blue, Indian Grass and Little Blue) over switch. I'd use switch in areas or plots that I wanted to screen and then only do it in 6-10' wide swaths. Plant a couple of the small fields into a mix of white pine and white spruce (dark green) for thermal bedding cover. And then place the stand sites around the perimeter with a few on the interior that are only going to be hunted once or twice a year and with the absolute perfect wind.

Once I had the layout figured out, I'd pick out my future tree stand trees, mark them to remain and then harvest and sell as much timber as I could. It will give you cash to finance your deer hunting habit and also create better bedding areas.

This property has a ton of potential and you could shoot one or two good bucks off of it every year with the right plan. Also, if you haven't joined QDMA yet, get a membership, there is a bunch of info in their magazine that will help you down the road.

From: splittine
13-Sep-18
I have read the book already! I obviously dont expect to hold deer exclusively on an 80 acre property. I do believe I can potentially have my property be PART of a home range for a couple of doe families and possibly a few bucks. Hunting pressure in my area is high so if I can offer good cover and stay out of bedding areas by using good access routes I may just be able to accomplish this. I currently hunt an 18 acre woods just north of the property with my cousin and we stay out of the back 8 acres. Granted the woods is good cover but we have a nice 10 pointer that calls this spot home (most of the time)....I get pictures of him multiple times a week and may other bucks as well. What is lacking in my area is cover and security so it can go a long way....especially during hunting season when deer get pushed out of every other woods in the area.

I contacted my local NRCS office and they set me up with a biologist with pheasants forever. I am also looking at having Jake Elinger come check out the property but I may see what the biologist says first. I like the idea of the tree and grass buffers. Hopefully the farm bill breaths new life into CRP.

Thanks and keep them coming!

From: splittine
13-Sep-18
Demo-Bowhunter I didnt see you message until I after I sent this last one. I like the way you think...I was thinking kind of the same thing too! Just one question. Why do you prefer shorter warm season grasses over switch?? I have heard quite the opposite for deer. Or am I reading this wrong?

Thanks,

From: splittine
13-Sep-18
Demo-Bowhunter I didnt see you message until I after I sent this last one. I like the way you think...I was thinking kind of the same thing too! Just one question. Why do you prefer shorter warm season grasses over switch?? I have heard quite the opposite for deer. Or am I reading this wrong?

Thanks,

From: splittine
13-Sep-18
Also....What trees would you look at removing? There are a few large oaks on the property but I believe there is regen below. Is it ok to take them and let the regen go? I also have a lot of thorny locust trees. Those need to go but I doubt anyone wants them lol.

From: splittine
13-Sep-18
Also....What trees would you look at removing? There are a few large oaks on the property but I believe there is regen below. Is it ok to take them and let the regen go? I also have a lot of thorny locust trees. Those need to go but I doubt anyone wants them lol.

13-Sep-18
Big Bluestem and Indian grass will grow taller than Switch just not as thick. A mix of Bblue, Indian, Switch, little blue, sideoats is excellent for bedding, once again diversity! Don't overlook the benefits of Shrub thickets or shrub rows as borders too. IMO on trees I would cut every Chinese elm, black locust and mulberry I could reasonably cut and destroy! And leave all the oaks, walnuts, maples, ash as possible. If you have any black locusts or Chinese elm then expect to deal with their evil offspring in your native grass plantings and new tree plantings! Provide your objectives to the PF biologist and listen to him/her!

13-Sep-18
Andy outlined why I like a WSG mix over straight switch pretty well. Switch can also grow to thick and the deer can stop using it.

I logged any tree of value and then some that had no value. I wasn't really concerned about leaving oaks. Acorns are good, but cover is better. Also with cover comes a huge variety of browse species that offer way more food than a few oak trees.

Hire Jake and let him help you with the plan. It will be some of the best money you can spend in the early stages of property layout. Jake is a really great guy, has a bunch of insight on habitat and will be a ton of help getting your property going. Tell him I said hi!

I didn't look up where in NW Ohio your property is, but my property is North of the border by only 9 miles in Pittsford, MI. I could definitely show you some of the things we have done to transform our property over the past 15 years. I planted my first tree in 2003 and now have planted over 60,000 trees for wildlife habitat and set up a bunch of trails systems and food plots. I enjoy the habitat side of it more than the hunting!

From: South Farm
13-Sep-18
I think your bigger question should be access...that property doesn't lend itself to quick covert access, especially for am hunts. I'd let some of those fields grow over to offer you more cover. You walk down the little available tree cover and you blow 'em out, you walk across a tilled field they see you. You need more cover and less food imho. You're surrounded by food, so make your land a sanctuary and create trails that allow you access alternatives.

From: Quinn @work
13-Sep-18
Looks like a nice place you bought.

Do you know the neighbors? If not go meet them and talk hunting. That would be my first recommendation. You may do a lot of work and then during hunting season find out that a few neighbors hunt that 80 like it's theirs.

From: splittine
13-Sep-18
Scott I would love to hop up there sometime and take a walk on your property If you would have me. It would probably be better in a few months after hunting season so I dont disturb your hunting. Would a couple of cases of beer persuade you? What kind of beer do you drink?

My property is just east of Fort Recovery ohio in case you wondering.

From: MK111
13-Sep-18
I'm not a believer in letting the nearby farmers feed the deer. I did this for 21 yrs after buying my farm and never seen more than 3 deer in a group during deer season and that is when the neighbors kicked them and they moved.

But after putting in year around food plots 6 years ago I have deer feeding on my property everyday. I have up to 16 deer at a time feeding and this is during deer hunting season.

If the deer are feeding on nearby farms they are not on your property.

IMO too much hunting pressure on this property and deer will only be there after dark.

From: Linecutter
13-Sep-18
In Northwest Ohio I would suggest as mentioned cover "thick" cover, stuff that will cause a wind break for the animals, I think Red Cedar is a non-invasive species that planted in patches would help with that. It is heartier than white pine you see planted a lot. Think of the winters up there, the land is flat small wood patches/lots, most of it is plowed fields and there is a lot of wind. If you plant food plots, plan mostly for winter food plots, to carry the animals through till spring, plus plants that are a good winter browse. Planting trees is a good idea but it may take years for them to produce a food source. See what trees are suggested other than oaks. Chinese Chestnuts I don't think take as long as oaks to start producing and I hear there are hybrid Chestnuts that are blithe resistant. Beech trees may be another good choice. If planting hardwood trees there are ways to make them grow vertically faster. Might look at fruit trees persimmon and crabapple come to mind for that. Things to KEEP OUT Brush Honey Suckle and Multiflora Rosebush. What you want is a food source and areas of protection to keep the animals on "your land" after the crops come off and help carry them through the winter and early spring months. DANNY

From: Genesis
13-Sep-18
What habitat and Hans1 said........ Create a couple of crossings on the creek so you can access the north from south and vice versa. For a small tract you have a very interesting property with a lot of potential if you don't love it to death by your presence

From: buckhammer
13-Sep-18
I also own an 80 acre parcel. Several years ago I took a 6 acre piece out of farming and planted it to Norway spruce. I planted them in 12 foot rows, 12 feet apart within the rows. Best decision I ever made in creating cover and a sanctuary. This 6 acres is off limits to all human activity. I never as so much as even let my scent drift into it. I only go into the pines once in the spring to look for sheds or if by chance a wounded deer enters it. But even then I keep my distance from the pines so if a I shoot a deer it will hopefully die before it gets back to the sanctuary.

From: W
14-Sep-18
CRP has been a good program for us. Understand that it’s hard to get signed up now. We also enjoy our farming neighbors feeding the deer in the summer. We only plant winter plots.

From: Thornton
14-Sep-18
Sounds like to much work for just an 80. That's all I own and I probably have fewer trees than you and I'd never dream of hinge cutting. My little place is a buck magnet and all I ever do is stay the heck out all summer and let my farmer plants beans or corn. I did let ten acres grow up in tall blustem and they bed there all the time now.

From: Meat Grinder
14-Sep-18
I don't own property (yet), but for the past few years I've been helping a friend manage his 40 acre parcel for deer hunting. He has woods to the west, north and east of his place, with crop fields to the southwest, south and southeast. There's plenty of corn and beans around for the deer, and with too much pressure the deer don't have to go far to avoid the property altogether. Our strategy has been to give the deer something they can't get anywhere else, giving them a reason to be on the property.

There's one small food plot which is usually planted in a mix of clovers and chicory. We've also planted a variety of apple trees which will produce at different times in the late Summer and into Fall, pear trees and Dunstan Chestnuts. The apple and pear trees have started to produce, but aren't yet large enough to produce in abundance. We fertilize some of the white oaks near good stand locations, and have also established a mineral site.

I realize all this doesn't have anything to do with your question about establishing cover, but it's something you might consider as you're planning your layout. The deer can clearly eat dinner in any of the several fields surrounding you, but you can entice them to come to your place on their way to/from those fields for dessert. Good Hunting!

From: Stressless
16-Sep-18

Stressless's DeerBuilder embedded Photo
Stressless's DeerBuilder embedded Photo

Splittine, lots of great thoughts one here. I have 100 acres in East Central OH been working on mine for a number of years. I hunted a buddies farm in Nebraska last fall that had a river (North Platt) right thru it.

Here are my observations:

- Put about ~5% of your in perennial food plots, plant what they don't have around you clover's chicory, late winter etc, center mass of your land. - Your wind will be predominately W, NW,N so plan for that but have access for S, SW : Unless you hunt inside a bubble, stay inside and watch movies with an East Wind. - Def go with ceders that grow in your area, plant is clumps for therma cover (the Pine icon_ - Def go for the grasses talked about here rather then switchgrass - EXCEPT for the yellow areas to break up the large plot and access cover - Can that creek be crossed, if not put rock in so you can cross at strategic locations - DO the deer cross it? don't cross where they do - Make big cover areas, as you pointed out and what I've seen looking in GE that is missing - Block viewing access add cover with ceders on your borders - First planting should be to block/cover your house, shed, etc about 100' thich otherwise every deer on the property will know when you pull in, get up ,etc.. - Make a sanctuary in the back unreachable area, use the center plots as a draw. Blue area. - EVERYTHING is a trade off, the center plots will be a bit hard to access without bumping but IF you put the thermal cover, acres of grasses etc.. they won't leave if you are covert, stand or ground blind planning will be key. - Leave the SE field go, that's your primary access and you don't want to hold deer there - Use the creek ditch, steep edges to your advantage, you're 28, use sweat equity to cut paths below the visible bank ad use that as your primary access into the stand areas by the plots

I saved the KML file if you want, PM me with your email and I'll send it you, Google Earth Pro is free and has the polygon function to give area and things - I Love it for helping me plan

From: splittine
17-Sep-18
Robert, Thanks for the management plan. Would the back blue area be grasses or trees or both in your opinion?

From: Stressless
17-Sep-18
Look at the symbols, cedars for a screen at the edge and grasses in the middle with forest aound the perimeter of the grasses. All of it would be a sanctuary.

From: Single bevel
26-Sep-18
Random thoughts... Do not leave the ash. If you have ash, and its still alive, it won't be for long. The Emerald Ash Borer is wiping out literally millions of ash trees. If you don't ALREADY have EAB,just wait...its on the way.Harvest all ash at the 1st sign of EAB. Waiting will only make it dangerous or impossible to cut them. Cutting dead or dying trees is a death wish. And ash are brittle and prone for widow makers. Black walnut...all parts of a tree produces juglone which prevents a lot of other stuff from growing. The list of juglone sensitive plants is extensive. Neal Dougherty said to decide if you are gonna manage a small property for timber or for deer. Sometimes those 2 goals are not compatible. Ernst Seed in NW PA is a great source for native plantings and advice. When it comes to conifer screens, do not plant a mono culture. One pest or blight will destroy a mono culture and years of development in short order. Blue Spruce have a pest now and millions of trees are dying. Hemlock has the Woolie Adgelid(sp?) that threatens that species. Plant a variety to guard against a crash in the species. LEARN PLANT IDENTIFICATION!!! Be able to identify an unwanted invasive and do not let it take hold! My current nightmare is Mile-a-Minute. Its an absolutely horrible demon. I wish I identified it when it 1st appeared. I didn't and now I have many years of battle ahead of me. Last thought...yeah, you dont have enough acreage to totally hold deer but the important thing is to hold them during DAYLIGHT hours. Give them safe bedding cover and micro plots that are screened from each other. Keep bucks busy ON YOUR LAND when the get out of bed. By the time they get done checking multiple plots, for multiple doe groups, and they also run around checking dozens of mock scrapes, it will be dark. Who really cares where they do after hours. Just give them secure bedding to return to. Ever heard of Tony Lapratt?

From: splittine
27-Sep-18
Thanks for the info. Yes I have seen his website. Have you had a chance to work with him?

27-Sep-18
Cover, cover, and more cover. One 3 acts plot with a brassica or high starch food, with the rest being allowed to regen in natural habitat. Keep access trails cut and maintained. Prepare to hunt the those as deer Travel areas.

With only 80 acres, anything else will leave you subject to yearly influences like adjoining food sources, neighbor activities on their land and how that will impact your hunting in an open area of food plots, etc.... Give deer security and their feed is included. Add something to draw them late season when other food sources are drying up. And let their sanctuary be your land. God Bless

27-Sep-18
I’d add some apple and chestnut trees too

From: Bow Crazy
01-Oct-18

Bow Crazy's Link
Having a written document like a management plan is crucial to improving the quality of your deer hunting property.

Here is a FREE and easy to use Deer Management Plan Template from QDMA.

BC

From: Single bevel
01-Oct-18
Thanks for the info. Yes I have seen his website. Have you had a chance to work with him?

I visited his property several years ago. The habitat work and manipulation he has done is astounding. His 55ish acres hunts like 300.

From: Habitat
02-Oct-18
You are right about doing control burns where you have trees planted,doesn't work well.If you do a riparian through the nrcs they will want trees then shrubs then NWSG.Looks great but same problem grass spreads to shrub and tree area so now you can't burn.I did the cp33 around my fields and it worked well with the 120ft strip of nwsg.If you want the best grass mix in blackwell or kanlow switch or just use switch.Nice thing about switch is you can broadcast with regular broadcaster.Plant light crop of wheat where you want the nwsg with no fertilizer and then in early spring spray wheat and broadcast or drill switch and keep mowed to a foot high first year.Plan for burn breaks around grass

  • Sitka Gear