What is the Best Native Grass for Whitetail Deer?

Whether you’re like me and you just love having wildlife in your yard, or you’re a hunter looking to attract deer, you may be wondering what is the best grass for deer?

The best grasses for attracting deer include orchardgrass, Timothy, Kentucky bluegrass (cool-season) in northern regions, and Bermuda grass, bahiagrass, and switchgrass (warm-season) in southern regions. Legumes like clover and alfalfa can also enhance nutritional content.

Choose grasses based on local climate and soil conditions.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the best grass choices for deer, additional habitat elements, and deer hunting considerations. By the end of this article, you will have gained valuable insights and strategies to enhance deer habitats and maximize your hunting success.

Short Summary

  • Grass is an essential component of deer habitats and understanding their preferences for native grass plantings can create a successful environment.
  • Switchgrass, Eastern Gamma Grass, Bermuda Grass, and Indian Grass are the best options to attract deer due to their nutritional content and ability to provide escape cover.
  • Planting fruit trees, woody plants, and travel corridors with cereals & miscanthus offer additional food sources & cover necessary for sustaining a healthy deer population.

Understanding Deer Preferences: Why Grass Matters

When it comes to deer habitats, understanding their preferences is key to creating a successful environment. Deer require essential food and cover to thrive, and the grass is a crucial component of their diet.

A deer’s diet consists of broadleaf weeds, and shrubs, often preferring the richer nutrition found in plants growing in long grass over the sharp, green blades themselves.

To ensure the habitat provides all the necessary elements for deer, it is vital to choose the right native grasses and planting techniques that cater to their requirements. This includes creating suitable bedding areas and providing the right daytime browse, which we will discuss in more detail throughout this post.

Food Sources for Deer

White-tailed deer prefer to consume a wide range of plants, including grasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees.

Forbs, which are broad-leaved, protein-rich, and easily digestible plants, are often found in food plots specifically designed for deer to eat. By providing a diverse selection of vegetation, you can ensure that deer have access to a variety of food sources throughout the year.

It is important to note, however, that cultivating pure switchgrass fields may not provide enough sustenance for deer. To address this issue, it is recommended to plant trees and other vegetation that provide additional food sources, creating a more diverse and attractive habitat for deer.

Deer Habitat Requirements

Whitetail deer need high-quality cover to hide during hunting season and bedding areas with tall grasses and shrubs that provide thick cover. Some suitable grass varieties for deer habitats include:

  • switchgrass
  • Eastern Gamma Grass
  • Indian Grass
  • Purpletop Grass
  • Lindheimer’s Muhly Grass
  • Real World Wildlife Switch grass
  • Little Bluestem and Big Bluestem
  • Sugarcane Plumegrass

In addition to grasses, other elements can enhance deer habitats, such as fruit trees, woody plants, American Beautyberry, Witch Alder, Prairie Cordgrass, Smooth Sumac, and Oldfield Aster. Incorporating these elements into your deer habitat can provide a diverse range of food sources and cover, ensuring a thriving environment for deer.

Top Grass Choices to Attract Deer

Switchgrass, Eastern Gamma Grass, and Indian Grass are the top choices for attracting deer due to their high nutritional value and ability to provide cover. These grasses not only serve as a food source for deer, but also offer essential cover that deer require for protection and bedding.

In the following sections, we’ll explore each of these grasses in more detail, including their characteristics, planting tips, and maintenance requirements. By understanding the benefits of each grass variety, you can make informed decisions when selecting the best grasses to attract deer to your property.

Switchgrass

Switchgrass is a native, warm season grasses, perennial grass that is a natural component of the tall grass prairie.

It is a hardy and drought-resistant plant that can reach up to 10 feet in height and has a finely-textured reddish-purple seedhead. Switchgrass can serve as a fundamental form of bedding cover within 18 months, making it an ideal choice for deer habitats.

When planting switchgrass in transition zones on field edges, it is essential to consider other native grasses as well. Sideoats grama and little bluestem are often planted in these zones, providing additional cover and diversity to the habitat.

Eastern Gamma Grass

Eastern Gamma grass, scientifically known as Tripsacum dactyloides, falls into the category of warm-season grasses that are highly palatable to all types of livestock, especially cattle.

It produces seeds from June to September and has deep roots that can reach depths of up to 7 feet, allowing it to grow in saturated soil, penetrate compacted layers, and tolerate both drought and flood conditions.

To maintain the health and vigor of Eastern Gamma Grass, regular mowing and fertilization are required. Additionally, it is imperative to control weeds and pests to guarantee the grass remains healthy and productive.

By properly maintaining Eastern Gamma Grass, you can create an attractive and diverse habitat for deer.

Indian Grass

Indian grass is a type of native grass that is particularly suitable for dry upland areas and can withstand flooding for more than 30 days. Although it is generally not consumed by deer, Indian grass can provide a good bedding cover, making it a suitable choice for wetter areas in deer habitats.

When planting Indian grass, it is crucial to select a site with well-drained soil and full sun exposure. Planting should be conducted during the spring or fall, and the seed should be embedded at a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

To maintain Indian grass, it’s important to know that some animals eat grass; however, regular mowing and fertilization during the spring and fall seasons are recommended for optimal growth.

Creating Irregularly Shaped Pockets of Land for Deer

Creating irregularly shaped pockets of land within a field can provide more diverse habitat for deer, with benefits such as increased edge effect and improved forage.

By designing your deer habitat with irregularly shaped pockets, you can enhance the overall environment, making it more attractive and accommodating for deer.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss effective planting techniques for creating irregular pockets of land and the benefits of incorporating these pockets into your deer habitat.

Planting Techniques

To create irregularly shaped pockets of land for deer, it is recommended to plant a mix of native tree species, shrubs, and a combination of conifers. This diverse selection of vegetation can provide a variety of food sources and cover for deer, as well as attract other wildlife to the area.

When planting fruit trees or opening the canopy for existing mast-bearing trees, it is essential to select a well-drained spot with plenty of sunlight. Regular pruning is also necessary to ensure the trees remain healthy and productive, providing an abundant food source for deer.

Benefits of Irregular Pockets

Establishing irregularly shaped parcels of land for deer can afford more edge cover and access points, thus facilitating a feeling of security and comfort. The increased edge cover and access points can furnish more areas for deer to browse and rest, thereby resulting in a more diverse vegetation and cover.

By incorporating irregular pockets of land into your deer habitat, you can enhance the overall environment and make it more attractive to deer, ultimately increasing your chances of attracting and retaining a healthy deer population.

Enhancing Deer Bedding Areas with Native Grasses

Enhancing deer bedding areas with native grasses can be achieved by selecting the right grasses, such as switchgrass, Indian, big and little bluestem, and gamma grass. Switchgrass is the only native grass planting that reliably provides concealment of deer for the entire hunting season, making it an ideal choice for bedding cover.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss the most advantageous planting strategies for enhancing deer bedding areas with native grasses, as well as effective maintenance tips to ensure optimal growth and concealment.

Planting Strategies

Switchgrass is the most suitable native grass for deer bedding areas, and other native grasses such as big and little bluestem, gamma grass, and prairie cordgrass can also be utilized to augment deer bedding areas. It is important to note that Early Successional Growth has been estimated to take between 12-15 years or more to effectively obscure deer, making switchgrass a more efficient choice.

By selecting the appropriate native grasses and planting strategies, you can create a diverse and attractive habitat that provides excellent bedding cover for deer, increasing the likelihood of a successful deer population in your area.

Maintenance Tips

Mowing, fertilizing, and managing weeds are critical maintenance measures for improving deer bedding areas with native grasses. Mowing is essential for keeping the grass short and promoting new growth, while fertilization ensures that the grass receives the necessary nutrients for optimal growth.

Utilizing herbicides can also be beneficial for maintaining deer bedding areas with native grasses, as they help control weeds and ensure the grass remains healthy. By implementing these maintenance techniques, you can create an attractive and thriving deer habitat that provides sufficient bedding cover for deer throughout the year.

Additional Habitat Elements to Attract Deer

In addition to grasses, planting fruit trees and woody plants can also attract deer, providing additional food sources and cover. Fruit trees such as apples, pears, persimmons, plums, and chestnuts are ideal for deer habitats, while woody plants offer sustenance, shelter, and protection.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss the benefits of planting fruit trees and woody plants in deer habitats and the best practices for maintaining these additional habitat elements.

Fruit Trees

Apples, pears, persimmons, plums, and chestnuts are some of the most suitable fruit trees for deer habitats. Planting fruit trees not only provides a source of nourishment for deer, but also offers shelter and shade, attracting other wildlife to the region.

When planting fruit trees, it is imperative to select a spot that is well-drained and has copious amounts of sunlight. It is also essential to prune the trees consistently to guarantee they stay vigorous and productive, ensuring that your deer habitat remains attractive and abundant in food sources.

Woody Plants

Woody plants, such as apple trees, pear trees, persimmon trees, chestnut trees, grey dogwood, prairie crabapple, American highbush cranberry, red-osier dogwood, silky dogwood, American hazelnut, Juneberry, common winterberry, and oak trees, are an integral part of deer habitats.

They provide sustenance, refuge, and cover for deer, as well as contribute to creating a more varied habitat that attracts more deer. In fact, deer tend to be drawn to areas with a diverse range of these woody plants.

Incorporating fruit trees and woody plants into your deer habitat not only enhances the overall environment, but also provides additional food sources and cover for deer, ensuring a thriving and successful deer population.

Deer Hunting Considerations: Maximizing Grass Benefits

Utilizing grasses for deer hunting can be achieved by creating travel corridors and using cover for stealth. By constructing travel corridors, you can direct deer movement between habitat features, allowing you to hunt more effectively.

Using cover for stealth enables you to remain undetected by deer, enhancing your chances of a successful hunt.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss strategies for creating travel corridors and utilizing cover for stealth, ensuring that you can maximize the benefits of grasses in your deer hunting endeavors.

Creating Travel Corridors

Constructing effective travel corridors for deer involves forming 1-2′ trails between bedding and feeding areas, and removing any logs, branches, or dense vegetation from the trails to enable deer to navigate between habitat features with ease.

Sowing typical cereals such as oats, wheat, triticale, and rye can attract a substantial number of deer and offer valuable nutrition.

Utilizing miscanthus, a tall perennial grass, can also be an effective method of guiding deer movement into and out of bedding grass fields, increasing the likelihood of a deer sighting while in a stand.

Utilizing Cover for Stealth

Utilizing cover for stealth is a technique employed by deer hunters to remain undetected while hunting. This technique involves utilizing natural cover, such as leafy suits and natural barriers, as well as deer scent lures and calls.

By employing these strategies, you can remain concealed from deer and enhance your chances of a successful hunt.

It is important to note that mowing paths in bedding-grass fields is not a viable strategy for hunting mature bucks, as it may alert deer to your presence and disrupt their natural movement patterns. Instead, focus on creating travel corridors and utilizing cover for stealth to maximize your hunting success.

Summary

In conclusion, understanding deer preferences and habitat requirements is crucial for creating a successful deer environment.

By selecting the right grasses, such as switchgrass, Eastern Gamma Grass, and Indian Grass, and incorporating additional habitat elements like fruit trees and woody plants, you can create a diverse and attractive habitat for deer. Additionally, utilizing grasses for deer hunting by creating travel corridors and using cover for stealth can enhance your chances of a successful hunt.

Armed with this knowledge, you are now ready to create a thriving deer habitat that not only supports a healthy deer population but also maximizes your hunting success.

Frequently Asked Questions

What grass do deer like the best?

When it comes to what grass deer like best, switchgrass is the clear winner. Switchgrass is a form of native grass planting and is the only one that can actually be considered a base cover for deer. All other grasses cannot compete with its appeal.

What is the best thing to plant for deer?

For a reliable source of food for deer throughout fall and spring, the best thing to plant is a combination of oats, wheat, triticale and rye. This combination of cereals is a great way to provide valuable nutrition to the deer while encouraging them to remain in your area.

What is the best cover crop for deer?

For deer, the best cover crop is a combination of cereal grains such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats, as well as winter-hardy legumes like crimson or white clover or oilseed radish.

This mix of plants will provide nutritious food for deer while also helping to protect the soil.

What is the best grass for deer bedding area?

For the best grass for a deer bedding area, it is recommended to use Asylum – Insane Deer Bedding Mix from Star Seed Inc. This grass mix is designed specifically for creating a comfortable and safe resting spot for deer.

It provides superior protection against the elements and ensures the deer have a comfortable place to rest.

What is the importance of understanding deer preferences for habitat solutions?

Knowing deer preferences is paramount when creating successful habitat solutions, as it allows us to provide an appropriate environment that meets the species’ needs.

Familiarizing ourselves with deer preferences for habitat solutions is essential in order to ensure that we can provide them with suitable resources and shelters. This is key for supporting their survival and well-being.

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