Habitat for Wildlife's Link
This Micro Project is going through some big changes, one of which will be broadcasting rye into standing beans at the end of summer. I thought documenting it here might be informative or useful.
This micro project is located on our 3.1 acre home lot in a rural development. Our property backs up to a creek drainage which is a natural travel corridor. I took advantage of this and planted a little over 1 acre of native grasses after a couple of years of food plot varieties to encourage wildlife to use the property.
Robin always had flower beds around and adjacent to the NG, which attracted birds, butterflies, deer and turkey. The last two years I have taken out all of the beds, upon her request, due to her knees not being able to perform all of the needed maintenance and upkeep.
The drop off in wildlife frequency has been noticeable. So, the project goes on! Here is the story as it unfolds throughout the summer into Fall.
Two thirds of the NG which was mostly Big Blue, Little Blue, Switch , Indian, Side Oats and forbs was tilled once after burning, and then a second time last week.
Here is the dramatic burn. When I lit this the wind was 5mph, but increased to 12 almost immediately. The NG was completely surrounded by green fescue and so the fire remained contained.
This is the aftermath of the burn, which was hot enough to eliminate all of the "trash".
The intent is to have this be a clover plot which should help attract some deer and birds back to our property. Bees should also like it since most of the flowers are now gone. I am planting RR soybeans so I can spray a couple of times this year. This should eliminate most of the weed competition helping the clover get a better start. Fall plantings of clover have worked better for me than Spring plantings, the clover roots need as much time as possible before the above ground grows vigorously.
I will try and keep this updated with pictures so you can see the results first hand. This is a small bean patch, but the deer only really use this property when moving along the creek drainage. At one end of the drainage is a nursery surrounded by agriculture, and all agriculture with cover at the other end. I planted beans once before and they were not over-browsed.
I will also take a deer or two this fall if the results show that is possible. We have been doing this micro-habitat management in our yard since 2002 when we first purchased it. I hunted once in 2007 and harvested a doe. I hung a stand last year and harvested two does. Other than that the property has not been hunted, but it is very enjoyable walking out our back door and settling in to a pre-hung stand, especially as I have aged:)
But, the main purpose besides helping the wildlife is being able to sit on our screened-in porch and watch the wildlife. So, if the hunting causes only nocturnal use, I will pass on hunting.
Thanks. The only thing better for me would be getting some of that rich Iowa dirt under my fingers!
Last year I had a hen nest in this small patch of NG. It wasn't that long ago that biologists believed turkeys needed large expanses of timber to thrive, so either they were mistaken or turkey are learning to adapt. I wonder if this hen is the same one as last year's? She will be disappointed to learn most of the NG is gone.
From this picture you can see some of the homes on our cul-de-sac. We are on 3-12 acre lots, but they look closer here due to the cul-de-sac. It is amazing to me what a little habitat management can do, bringing wildlife in this close.
I just put my cameras out as I started this project. Deer are 100% nocturnal right now on this property, but I suspect that will change after plants start to grow. For nearly a decade I have had a doe drop one of her two fawns along the creek on my property. Hope I did not harvest her last year, LOL.
This should be fun, I hope!
You can see that the tilled area had some growth, and so I sprayed yesterday with a two percent solution of gly.
I used this "home built" sprayer that I pieced together with a 4.1gpm sprayer. It works great for small jobs.
Come on up, Frank! I’ll put you to work on some of my projects. I wouldn’t even charge ya anything! ;-)
Keep us updated!
The amount of hummingbirds, butterflies and other wildlife these flower beds enticed into using our yard was phenomenal. Hopefully a clover plot will bring some of them back. I have several deer tracks cutting through the tilled area, no doubt scavenging the yard for what used to be!
I started this thread because someone asked me about broadcasting rye into standing beans. I posted this picture on another thread and realized this monster was standing in that field. You can see the standing beans. By November, the beans looked like they were planted in green carpet because the rye was thick.
Deer are really visiting right now. If the rain holds off, I will try and till one more time and plant the beans tomorrow.
-The rye is about the last plant to stay green in the fall and the first to green up in the spring
-Rye is very good for weed suppression as well
Thanks, great point about the weed suppression! Rye also builds the soil pulling nutrients from down below to a depth your next season's plants can take advantage of. I like it much better than wheat as a cereal cover grain, and I have noticed no difference in whitetail preference really.
Went heavy on the seed for a number of reasons...
Broadcasting requires more seed as the planting depth is not consistent, it is a small plot so some will be lost to deer and rabbits, because of weather I am the first soybeans planted in the area so they will be targeted, and the 4 does/3 bucks are visiting nightly. This is more than we have had in the past.
PH and fertility are good. My cultipacker is at the farm but we are expecting heavy rains and if they develop that should do the trick.
This reptile reminded me of the encounter. This was headed into the NG by our sign.
Can you elaborate a little on your Gamma grass? Looks like it is doing great. How was it established? Reason for planting it? Etc.
What’s the game plan if the big rascal in the trail cam shows up in your beans/rye field this fall?!?
EG does better in moist soil, and being a low area near the creek it is thriving. I established it by broadcast method also. It is not a chaffy seed, so it is planted about .25-.50" depth. It took three years of stratification before I had enough plants to know it was going to work.
The big boy above was harvested in 2017. But, I had a ten pointer, 150 class, using this plot last year. He made it through rifle season and I had him on camera in January. I will be more excited to catch my first fawn picture of the year.
About 10 years ago I collected a five gallon pail of acorns from our farm. I hand tossed them along the 5 miles of walking trails in our development. It worked enough to make it worthwhile.
Habitat management, some things a person won't live long enough down here to see the fruits of their labor.
Pray for our farmers. Huge acreages that had anhydrous spread for corn planting will not be in corn, maybe not even Milo or soybeans in the low areas. Hopefully nature will provide enough bounty.
The EG could not be doing better. The seed production looks to be outstanding!
I put 100 lbs of corn seed in a feeder. Hopeful that this will take pressure off of the beans. No beans have been planted in the AG fields to our east and west. We still have at least 4 deer visiting nightly, the pregnant doe and the three bucks. They could easily wipe out the beans before they get started.
I did not use inoculate on the beans as I had beans in there 11 years ago. Hopefully enough of the proper bacteria is still present, the corn works to take some pressure off, the weather cooperates etc. LOL, plots can break your heart.
Beans have made it in spite of 8" of rain since planting. A bigger problem, deer tracks every where. Hopefully the heavy seeding will help enough survive. Broadcasting beans works, you do not need an expensive seeder.
These two bucks might end up with some interesting racks.
Congrats on your successful bear hunt as well!
Hope the weather improves for every one!
The beans were not hit last night. I think our deer observations increased recently because we have been dogless since November 6th. It will be interesting to see if the pictures slow down since we have a new dog.
This buck will be interesting to keep an eye on if he continues to keep coming back. So far no new tracks in the beans, which is good!
I believe a fawn is in the EG right now, but deer do not really consume much grass. (EG is related to corn.)
I really appreciate your efforts as a rancher to increase NG use. I know this is a goal nationwide, but there is a big learning curve.
Tomorrow I'm going to roundup a small piece that never grows anything but weeds, no matter what I throw in it. My plan is to kill it, till it and kill it again then put in rye and hope for better results next year. I wish I had your commitment and knowledge.
Just last night 4 different deer are using the beans. The crops close by have not been planted yet. But, they are also using the corn so that is taking some pressure off of the beans.
I definitely have a fawn down there. She goes from the timber to the EG, and now I have 2 coyotes down there looking for that fawn. They are smelling where she walked. The buck is probably going to be a decent one.
One doe is still carrying, she has some girth to her now.
The yote is doing his business in the mineral lick. Is he sending a message?
Buddy and I returned from our morning walk on the trails around our community. We came back onto our property and a doe is standing in my beans. I just kept walking to the house, pausing only long enough to snap this picture, and she went to her fawn in the EG. I still have not got a picture of the fawn, but love that the doe is comfortable enough to keep using our small property.
This is the same doe as above. I think those are some huge ticks on her ears.
The deer are feeling very secure using this now. We sat on our patio with a couple of friends last evening after dinner, and what a treat, the doe came to the beans and her fawn came out and fed. Still no pictures. I will try and move a better camera where the fawn is coming out.
These two bucks were at the feeder this morning when I went on my walk with Buddy. The doe has walked by me for the third time as I sat on our bench down there. Buddy did not even bark the last two times, just wagged his tail.
3.5 inches of rain since Friday.
Your beans really took off!
The EG is tall enough now that when Buddy and I go on our morning walk there are usually deer still down along the other side of the plot. They can't see us coming.
This is the big matriarch doe that has the fawn down there. She was at the feeder which we walk right by to access our community trails. I had time to take my phone out and snap a picture within 25 yards of her. She trotted off to about 70 and let us walk right on by.
Does are using this plot all day long. I have invited a young female hunter to use this plot this fall to help her get her first deer. I have decided this will be unethical for me to use since I have other good places to hunt that are not such a slam dunk. Also, they really are becoming pets, not sure I could shoot one unless our freezer was empty.
But, for someone with limited experience, learning to know when to draw, how to field dress etc. this is a good opportunity.
Dry Creek, apply a liberal application of Vaseline to each leg, the entire length. That helps immensely.
This is the only fawn picture so far, yet I believe there are two fawns in the NG. I have at least one coyote almost nightly on camera so I think the does are keeping the fawns hidden still.
This buck is unique and will be fun to see in hard horn. The big typical has disappeared for the last 4 nights.
We did receive .25" of rain last night!
One hen took her poults to a stand of native grass I planted for a neighbor 5-6 years ago. A small victory!
This was planted on very marginal soil and has taken really until this year to produce a good stand. Big Bluestem, my favorite, is starting to dominate.
Thank you SF.
This guy gets more impressive every day. I hope Candace gets a shot at him.
Here are some more pictures I think that may be of interest...
We had another .75" of rain over the last two days, very gentle, no run-off. There are plenty of pods forming. The plants are tall and dark green.
Nature giveth and taketh. High winds came through with a storm yesterday and pushed over a lot of beans.