Best Grass For Deer Bedding
When it comes to creating an ideal habitat for deer, one crucial factor to consider is the type of grass used for bedding areas. Deer rely on bedding areas for rest, protection, and concealment, making the choice of grass an important decision for landowners and wildlife managers. In this article, we will explore the best grass options for deer bedding, backed by research, case studies, and expert insights.
1. Importance of Deer Bedding Areas
Deer bedding areas serve as safe havens for deer, providing them with a sense of security and protection from predators. These areas are where deer spend a significant portion of their time, especially during daylight hours when they are not actively feeding. A well-designed bedding area can enhance deer movement patterns, increase their overall health, and improve hunting opportunities.
2. Characteristics of Ideal Deer Bedding Grass
When selecting grass for deer bedding areas, certain characteristics should be considered:
- Dense Growth: The grass should have a dense growth pattern to provide adequate cover and concealment for deer.
- Soft Texture: Soft grasses offer comfort to deer, allowing them to rest and bed down without discomfort.
- Low Maintenance: Opt for grasses that require minimal maintenance, as excessive mowing or fertilization can disrupt deer bedding areas.
- Drought Tolerance: Grasses that can withstand dry conditions are ideal, as they ensure the availability of bedding areas throughout the year.
- Perennial Nature: Perennial grasses are preferred as they provide consistent bedding areas year after year.
3. Best Grass Options for Deer Bedding
3.1. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
Switchgrass is a warm-season perennial grass that has gained popularity among wildlife managers for its excellent bedding qualities. It forms dense stands, reaching heights of 4 to 6 feet, providing ample cover for deer. Switchgrass is also known for its ability to withstand drought conditions, making it a reliable choice for bedding areas.
3.2. Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)
Big Bluestem is another warm-season perennial grass that offers excellent bedding characteristics. It can grow up to 8 feet tall and forms dense clumps, providing deer with ample cover. Big Bluestem is also highly palatable to deer, making it an attractive option for bedding areas.
3.3. Eastern Gamma Grass (Tripsacum dactyloides)
Eastern Gamma Grass is a warm-season perennial grass that thrives in moist soils. It forms dense clumps and can reach heights of 4 to 6 feet. This grass provides excellent cover and bedding opportunities for deer, especially in areas with higher moisture levels.
3.4. Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans)
Indiangrass is a warm-season perennial grass that offers both bedding and forage benefits for deer. It forms dense stands, reaching heights of 4 to 6 feet, and provides excellent cover. Indiangrass is highly palatable to deer and can serve as a valuable food source in addition to a bedding area.
4. Case Studies and Research
Several case studies and research projects have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of different grass species for deer bedding areas. One such study conducted by the University of Tennessee compared the bedding preferences of deer in switchgrass and fescue fields. The study found that deer showed a clear preference for switchgrass, utilizing it more frequently for bedding.
Another study conducted by the Mississippi State University evaluated the bedding characteristics of various warm-season grasses. The research found that switchgrass, big bluestem, and eastern gamma grass provided the best cover and bedding opportunities for deer.
5. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
5.1. Can I use cool-season grasses for deer bedding areas?
While cool-season grasses can provide some cover, they are not as effective as warm-season grasses for deer bedding areas. Warm-season grasses offer denser growth and better concealment, making them the preferred choice for deer bedding.
5.2. How should I establish deer bedding areas?
When establishing deer bedding areas, it is essential to consider the location, size, and shape. Ideally, bedding areas should be located near food sources and water, providing deer with easy access to essential resources.
5.3. Can I mix different grass species for deer bedding areas?
Yes, mixing different grass species can be beneficial as it provides a diverse habitat for deer. Combining grasses with varying heights and textures can create a more appealing bedding area for deer.
5.4. How often should I mow deer bedding areas?
Deer bedding areas should be mowed sparingly, if at all. Excessive mowing can disrupt the cover and disturb deer. It is best to allow the grass to grow naturally and only mow when necessary to maintain the desired density.
5.5. Can I create bedding areas in wooded areas?
Yes, wooded areas can serve as natural bedding areas for deer. However, incorporating grasses within the wooded areas can enhance the bedding opportunities and provide additional cover for deer.
5.6. How can I attract deer to bedding areas?
To attract deer to bedding areas, it is crucial to provide a mix of food sources, water, and cover. Planting food plots nearby, providing water sources, and ensuring adequate cover will make the bedding areas more appealing to deer.
Choosing the right grass for deer bedding areas is essential for creating an ideal habitat that promotes deer health and movement. Switchgrass, big bluestem, eastern gamma grass, and indiangrass are among the top choices due to their dense growth, soft texture, and low maintenance requirements. Research and case studies have consistently shown the effectiveness of these grasses in providing cover and bedding opportunities for deer. By considering the characteristics of ideal bedding grass and incorporating these species into your land management practices, you can enhance the overall quality of deer habitat and improve hunting opportunities.