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DJ 17

What are you planting for screens and/or deer cover?

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I've become more and more interested in the habitat management aspect. I am looking for alternative options for quick growing perennials for screens and/or cover.  I planted a mix of about 500 conifers, and various deciduous brush/tree species 2 years ago, but that was the spring of death and our farm got no rain for over 8 weeks, so despite me watering it was game over.  I'm going to plant some more stuff this spring just looking to share some info with those of you that have done some of the same stuff.  I will plant some spruce and or pine but would like to get some grasses, shrubs, etc in that grow a little faster to get things started.  The Frigid Forage screen mix would be great except it is an annual. 

 

What ya got for me Gator?

 

Thanks,

Dennis

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I would consider invasive plants like australian phragmites much easier to grow then fussy natives.  Kidding of course but I have ovisosly considered it myself due to its cost and duribilty it would be hard to beat of your goal is to make solid screen cover fast.  But obviously their are many other eco friendly reed and switchgrass types. Right now I do a winter mowing on my natiive golden rod then a light disking. it's nearly 6' tall right now and the deer seem to love it as edge cover. 

If you take the thuway down twards dunkirk they are using a type of hybrid willow for snow fence it's thick and grows fast seems like it would be great but again water is key.. 

One thing I found is don't mow around new tree bare root plantings add a shove of wood chips and let the grass grow around it.  It helps shade and hold moisture longer in the hot sun. 

I have also taken bare root trees from the DEC stock in the spring and planted them in 1 gallon containers baby them all summer then plant them in the fall with about 10x more success rate but also more work digging a hole. 

But what the heck do I know I still have a buck tag and frozen fingers typing this..

 But to  enjoy the habitat improvements as much as the hunting and have seen benifets to all wildlife.  

 

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Thanks Diver. I have looked into willow brush for sure, may go that route along with some conifers.  Miscanthus is also something I have looked into: http://www.mapleriverfarms.com/  Check out this site.

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Diver,

 

Is there any negative impacts with this like trimming and mowing resulting in this stuff being spread and then growing somewhere else and germinating? I'm just not big on anything that is exotic unless it can be contained relatively easily....

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You can look into honeysuckle for cover - it is native.  Autumn olive is not but also very hardy and quick growing.  I have both.  When I hitch trees on edges they take over and fill in.  I didn't have to plant either.  The rabbits and grouse love the habitat.

 

For evergreens, I love white pine.  They are less disease susceptible and if they do get disease it is a natural way of stopping the upper growth so they just fill in anyways.

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Good info guys.   We  have about 20,000 conifers planted on our farm that my dad planted in the late 80's in different areas that are a mix of pine and I believe Norway spruce. There is one section of about 11 acres that is all pine and spruce, the deer love it for thermal cover.  The spruce seems to be better cover as the trees age due to its thickness at ground level.  The pines are opening up so I have started to hinge cut and clear spots selectively to let in the sunlight to hopefully thicken it up with berry bushes, etc...

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17 hours ago, BSmaster said:

You can look into honeysuckle for cover - it is native.  Autumn olive is not but also very hardy and quick growing.  I have both.  When I hitch trees on edges they take over and fill in.  I didn't have to plant either.  The rabbits and grouse love the habitat.

 

For evergreens, I love white pine.  They are less disease susceptible and if they do get disease it is a natural way of stopping the upper growth so they just fill in anyways.

I would agree but there are a ton of new ares that are seeing the White pine blister rust and the infiltration of the white pine weevils here in the North East are just too much for me to ever want to plant them again.... Once an area has it it pretty much is a death sentence for the area..... Here is a link to the blister rust from Cornell. http://www.plantpath.cornell.edu/Trees/WPBRust.html

The beetle is pretty much a spotty thing but the rust in areas that are wetter than most will be really bad....

 

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I’ll go up to the developments and ask them what “their” deers like to eat the most!!:lol: 

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Hinge cut your less $ trees.  It will screen in naturally.  Deer will feed on blackberry brambles all winter.  Deer don't get any nutrition from evergreens only thermal cover.  It sounds like you have that covered on your farm already.  

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Spent the last day of the regular gun season in Letchworth. Say 7 doe and one spike. No deer were harmed in the 6 hours of hunting. I was hoping to find the buck that was rubbing this tree!IMG_2646.JPG


Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United mobile app

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18 hours ago, Gill-T said:

Hinge cut your less $ trees.  It will screen in naturally.  Deer will feed on blackberry brambles all winter.  Deer don't get any nutrition from evergreens only thermal cover.  It sounds like you have that covered on your farm already.  

Yes where possible, do this 1st.  It is quicker, easier, and much cheaper. 

 

Save your plantings for future strategy.  I planted some norway spruce last spring where there were little to no trees not expecting them to be worth anything for 10 years or more.  But I thought they might be helpful for when I need to use a blind strategy.  Last year after Christmas I took down groves of poplar and some red maple.  I had deer using the poplars as wind breaks and were feeding aggressively on the red maple.  This literally happened over night.  Trim your deer pathways not for an atv but for a deer's natural security and plan them for your stand.  I almost always look for the perfect trees to set up in and then look to make the deer travel the way I want.  You can overtrim the first season and use those trees and branches from lanes you clear out to make obstacles to steer the deer.  It may not be good the first year but as things grow back in and look more natural, they will come.  Remember, a deer can jump a 6ft fence but it will also cross a 3 ft fence where a tree has knocked it down - over and over again instead of jumping it.  By perfect tree, I am referring to a tree or set of trees where you will not be silhouetted.  The same with your blind, if it stands out like a sore thumb they will not come.

 

If you go out in March and April after the snow has melted you can see pretty clearly the routes the deer take and use this to your advantage when setting up ground cover and kill areas.  I like to plan my seasons ahead.  Unfortunately, what I have learned is that not every generation of bucks acts the same.  this means I have stands all over the property and do not hunt most of them some years...

 

I have yet to do a food plot but will start hopefully this year.  I think with a preferred food source and good cover, I will be able to improve hunting seasons.

 

Sorry for carrying on, X2 for what Gill-T wrote.

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I have been hinge cutting in spots to build cover for a couple years. Where the screen is needed is along the road where there are no trees or other vegetation besides grass in the pasture.

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3 minutes ago, DJ 17 said:

I have been hinge cutting in spots to build cover for a couple years. Where the screen is needed is along the road where there are no trees or other vegetation besides grass in the pasture.

 

In that case you don't want deer feeding near the road, plant more evergreens.  You will help keep poacher-eyes out of your deer fields if you screen the road view in with two layers of pines. 

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4 hours ago, Gill-T said:

 

In that case you don't want deer feeding near the road, plant more evergreens.  You will help keep poacher-eyes out of your deer fields if you screen the road view in with two layers of pines. 

That's been the original plan, just investigating to see if there is a better option that I was unaware of.

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Nittanyfisher makes a good argument against white pine but I think I would still plant them for speed but longevity maybe mix in some sort of spruce.  If it takes an average of 8 years for a Christmas grower to grow a Christmas tree under optimum conditions than I do not know that there will be a perfect short term solution.

 

My brother has a similar issue.  His property had jack pines along the road for visual security and then the line company lopped the trees pretty low and they got diseased and died and he is trying to figure out what trees to plant to replace them.  It is important to him because you can see the food plots from the road.

 

My brother planted some white pine on the farm and our cousin didn't know it and brush hogged 1/2 of them down.  That is frustrating...

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Yep, a bunch of trees I planted 2 years ago met the bush hog as well.  No good.

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Just saw this. I don't plant many perennials, but Miscanthus and switchgrass are the obvious choices. Either one takes a few years to establish. I do plant shrubs, but there's a catch-22 in that shrubs or perennials favored by deer are going to be tough to establish in deer dense areas but planting simply for cover is of more limited value. I haven't found a good solution, so I try to do both. Freakin' deer eat most of it as soon as it emerges from the tubes though. Hopefully root sprouting will overcome grazing at some point. If you're going to use honeysuckle, I'd advise avoiding the invasive bush variety. It will form a monoculture and spread uncontrollably. I personally kill Autumn Olive, but others don't mind it so much. My current favorites for edge feathering among native species are ninebark--which is one of the things that actually survived that drought two years ago--as well as viburnums such as arrowwood, and I'm experimenting with speckled alder to screen along an access road. Given time, there's a bunch of stuff that will form thickets, but it's not an instant screen and generally requires full sunlight exposure. There's good information here: http://www.habitat-talk.com/index.php?forums/native-habitat.3/ and here http://deerhunterforum.com/index.php?forums/native-habitat-management.5/

 

It sounds like you've done your homework in terms of fast growing screens for roadside locations. I don't have that issue, but the folks who I listen to plant in stages with faster maturing stuff on the outside and slower growing on the inside--think grasses, poplar, then conifer triples. It all takes time, unlike hinging which is instant gratification. And food for the deer. And instant sunlight hitting the forest floor, stimulating all that good growth. One of the best purchases I made last year was a "Habitat Hook" from Nations Creations. It allows you leverage 15' up the tree, which means that you need to cut less and can still topple it where you want. A buddy of mine borrowed it last spring and swears it's the best tool he's used. I think they're ~$100 but if you're handy welding you could probably fabricate something similar.

 

If you're into cuttings, willows can be great. I haven't played with them much; there's lots of cover on my land via dogwood thickets and such that I'm focused more on shrubs that will give me some food benefit. Hazelnut, allegheny chinkapin, plum, various types of berries--winterberry, nannyberry, chokeberry, elderberry--as well as soft and hard mast trees. And aromatic sumac because the deer seem to love rubbing it. My buddy Keith calls it Gator's 45 acre petri dish. He's not wrong. If you get a hankering to take a walk and compare notes, shoot me a pm. Same goes to all who are interested in habitat management. I'm still a newbie at this stuff, but I'm happy to share cuttings or seeds from anything that I have established and I'm always looking to learn from other folk's experiences. Especially folks who have been doing this for awhile. I'd love to see long term successes (and failures). Tom Petty said it best: the waiting is the hardest part.

 

Edited by Gator

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Thanks man.   It is a fun process for sure. I did plant some arrowwood 2 years ago but the drought got it. I am going to try again this spring with a variety of plantings. Thinking like you said about staggering layers, such as miscanthus and spruce trees. I got an email form Don at Maple River Farms and we discussed the fact that Miscanthus expands horizontally 6-8" in all directions per year as well as growing vertically. Obviously have to keep that in mind. From what I can gather it has about a 15 year lifespan so that should hopefully be plenty of time for the spruce behind it to be tall enough to take over as a full time screen.   What's the story on ninebark? That's something I haven't heard of before.

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Ninebark is fantastic. It sets out a huge root system immediately after planting, which is probably why it was one of the things that survived that drought. Growth is supposed to be good, with a multi-stem shape that doesn't get overly big. The mature shrubs look great in the pictures, but I couldn't tell you myself because the deer are still trimming them for me...although I'm seeing signs of them taking off now. Miscanthus and particularly the giganteus cultivar is a sterile hybrid from what I understand that grows to 15', making it great for a screen. It requires maintenance. You plant rhizomes. That's about all I know. If anybody has a mature plot, let's see pics!

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Here is a pic from the Maple river farms website. It says single season growth, but I don't believe that is the first season of planted.

Don standing with miscanthus x giganteus - elephant grass

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If I'm not mistaken, it dies down and comes back every year, like most ferns and grasses. There's been some excitement regarding its potential as a biomass crop source since its production far exceeds most other sources.I guess if you had an open area that you really didn't want people to see into, it'd be a good choice. But you have to plant lots of rhizomes and tend them carefully the first couple years, much like you would cuttings, in order to see results like that. And other than screening I'm not sold that it has additional value. But it looks cool.

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Agreed. This would be completely for a screen, nothing else.

Edited by DJ 17
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