using switch for bedding- basics to phd
Habitat Improvement
Messages posted to thread:
gjs4 02-Dec-23
Bow Crazy 05-Dec-23
B2K 05-Dec-23
Buckdeer 05-Dec-23
t-roy 05-Dec-23
Corax_latrans 05-Dec-23
jsgold 05-Dec-23
Buckdeer 06-Dec-23
Corax_latrans 06-Dec-23
CAS_HNTR 07-Dec-23
chasin wtails 09-Dec-23
Mark Watkins 09-Dec-23
gjs4 10-Dec-23

By: gjs4

Going to toggle between specifics and generalities, but would like to hear experience based responses.

If your property was in an area where cover was NOT the "lowest hole in the bucket", but there was little grassland, would switch grass / CRP be something of interest? (Property at hand has early successional and invasive brush bedding now)

How big of a difference is there in SG for bedding and NRCS CRP mixes? (I would suspect these varies with snowfall in the region too. Property at hand does not receive substantial snowfall)

Specific to bedding- How large of an area is needed for effective bedding? Is it better for one large portion, or multiple smaller? Is it better to have depth of grass cover or to have lots of edge?

The "removing cover to plant cover" idiom comes to mind. Part of the ask is based on getting NRCS fund to remove some of the invasives into something better but the primary is to offer the best bedding around to entice and "protect" the herd.


I'm in west central Wisconsin, (ag and woods, hills and valleys) SG and CRP mixes with high counts of Big Blue and Indian Grass just don't seem to be great bedding areas. I think if we limit the amounts of the perennial grasses and include more forbs or even pockets of shrubs and pines/spruce, our luck would have been better. Our planting our so thick, especially the SG, we can hardly walk through it. Spring of 2024 I am converting a prairie made up mostly of Big Blue into something more attracting to deer and other wildlife. I will keep some, but breaking it up. BC

By: B2K

Bow Crazy, I have land in the same area and have noted the same general lack of use. I have switch, indian and big bluestem planted together. I theorized that perhaps they don't like bedding in it on the hillsides? We converted a portion of it to trees.


Most of the CRP mixes have shorter grasses with big blue being the tallest.Also they are requiring more forbs and are inspecting for them so when they get choked out by NWSG you will be required to replant forbs which is very expensive.I have been in about every CRP habitat program you can be in.One of the best for me was called CP33 at the time and it's 120ft max of switch around an ag field.You can plant switch as thick as it can get and deer will use it.If not in a CRP program I would add pockets of shrubs and trees.I have even drug tree tops out in my CRP so not to break any rules but all wildlife wants edge and structure.

By: t-roy

My thinking is a straight switch/NWSG planting would be the least desirable as far as bedding and even cover is concerned. I have had several different CRP mixes on my and my dad’s properties. CP25, CP33, CP12(I think it is). They seem to utilize the CP33 the least in my area, but are still in it quite a bit. The CP25 is more forbs, shorter grasses and some NWSG mixed in as well. I have a lot of surrounding timber that they utilize for bedding more so than the CRP, but they spend a LOT of time browsing in the CRP, and will bed in in often, too.

I’d also suggest that you go to Iowawhitetail.com and search the topic on there. There is a TON of good info on this topic, especially in the “Doubletree’s Corner” forum.


I’m mostly watching here….Thanks for working on getting rid of the invasives.

But FWIW, deer like edges, right? Bigger blocks of any one type of cover just limit your biodiversity and will crush the amount of edge-line that you can offer. I’d be looking for any ways to work with whatever topography you have, to create something as similar to natural growth patterns as possible.

Though I suppose some would say that would make the cover “too difficult” to hunt and you would be “more successful” if you planted so as to create funnels where you could sit and force all of the cruising bucks in your area to walk right past you…

And if you’re too successful in “protecting the herd” (aka privatizing the public resource), you may run into some issues with the neighbors….

By: jsgold

At my place the does bed in thick goldenrod patches under or near white pines, and the bucks seem to prefer the edges of the bluffs, looking down into the woods with the wind at their back.

I do have a 6 acre prairie restoration that is very diverse but includes some dense stands of Indian grass and big bluestem, and on the rare occasion that I scare a bedded deer out of the grass, it’s usually a big buck.

As far as size is concerned, I’d rather have 3 different 5 acre bedding areas, each with a different composition and protected wind direction, than one big uniform 15 acre sanctuary.


They let me plant Kanlow switch in my CP33 so it's 6ft tall.They would bed in it more if it was in larger than the 120ft wide but I still find lots of beds and trails.I this year after I burn I may lightly disc t stir up the seed bed and see what mixes come up.Switch will choke out about any thing that grows.


Sounds awesome to me, JS!! I’d love to see pictures just to see it.

Just make sure you don’t post the GPS coordinates in the photo data…. ;)


My experience is that if you have timber and early successional growth, deer prefer that over stands of switch or any tall grass/forbs mix. I don't live in wide open Ag areas, but I would think that if no timber existed, the stand of grasses would be good. I do think that having some variety is important - intermixed trees/shrubs, different "pockets" etc. would be better than a pure stand.


My first CRP contract I had 9 acres of bluestem, switchgrass and Indiangrass planted. The guy that planted it seemed to have run out of switch so I had a larger than I wanted area of Indian and bluestem. After 10 years that those 2 choked out my switchgrass. You know what happens to the 2 when you get ice and snow on them you get a carpet. They lay there.

I killed it all off and planted all switchgrass but only 3-4 lbs which I frostseeded. This is year 2 and I noticed beds in it when I had to walk through a section late summer. I have not been in it since. I think it depends how thick you have it whether you get them to bed but I don't know what that number would be (lbs per acre)


My experience in west central MN is very similar to Bow. Crazy (in very similiar type of terrain/cover).


By: gjs4

WOW- some very interesting points and tons of learning there.

To add some specifics, which parallels on of the most consistent comment aspects here; this property has a ton of early successional (and sadly invasive constituents) and mature woods in a big woods (little ag) area of Ohio.

While I wasn't sure if the one big sanctuary center was the best aspect or not, my easiest consideration was to utilize some bisecting gasline ROWs to create more edge. It would be a win if they bed in it, it would be a win if they just travel the edges and avoid it. My goal is to offer the best security in a high pressure hunting area but limit this invasive spread and break the place up some. (Sorry Corax).

Hopefully the NRCS supports some CRP/Grassland work here. If not (and apologize as I am somewhat familiar with DBLTree's posts), can one mix some switch into the native stands to enhance its bedding or lack of travel features? Sounds like seeding rate is key but also know sg can be fickle by both experience and reading the frustration of others.

Thanks a bunch

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