Native plants for deer browse:

Discussion in 'Native Habitat Management' started by Gravel Road, Dec 17, 2016.

  1. Gravel Road

    Gravel Road Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Hardiness Zone:
    6A
    I’ve done a search and cannot find a thread on different species of native browse. Although a nice food plot has many benefits, it’s not viable on all properties. There are plenty of websites such as the Missouri Department of Conservation that do an excellent job of explaining many plant properties, but thought some personal experiences with plants could be beneficial.

    As an example, I never would have guessed that deer would browse Osage orange, but in some areas it’s common. Looking a little closer, I’ve noticed that although it’s not used heavily on my property, fresh stump growth IS definitely browsed.

    Pictures are always fun, so post ‘em up. The wife probably thinks I’m crazy for taking pictures of weeds… If you can post your thoughts or experiences, that would be a great help.
     
  2. buckdeer1

    buckdeer1 Well-Known Member

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    Pigweed and common buckbrush are 2 of the most browsed weeds on my place.I would like to figure out a way to improve browse in the timber may even try fertilizing some this spring
     
  3. Gravel Road

    Gravel Road Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Hardiness Zone:
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    I'll start with hedge.

    Plant: Osage Orange, i.e. Hedge

    Benefits: Light to medium browse usage, drought resistant, tough, makes a good wind break/hedge, good firewood and fence posts, seeds eaten by squirrels and birds.
    Drawbacks: Invasive, thorns, tough as nails, extremely hard wood, usually requires spraying to kill

    Thoughts: Love/hate relationship with this one, as this stuff is everywhere on my place. It can be a useful tree, especially if it grows in a wooded area where it is forced to reach for the sun. Very nice posts can be cut under those circumstances. A day of chain sawing usually ends with dull chains, torn clothes, blood and scratches all over.

    I’ve been using smaller trees to block trails that I don’t want deer to travel, and placing them around field edges for quail and rabbit cover. Since they really don’t rot, they should be there for a long, long time. Next spring we’ll try placing a dead hedge tree over a planted oak seedling to protect it from deer.

    As mentioned earlier, until reading about these hedge trees getting heavily browsed in Oklahoma, I never would have even thought about these trees being browsed. Since hedges stump sprout readily, I kept an eye on some fresh cut stumps that were in an area where the cattle were fenced out. Sure enough, the new growth was soon nipped off. Osage orange is in the mulberry family so it makes sense to me.

    DSC_0086.JPG

    Here's the hedge that was browsed pretty heavily.

    IMG_20150627_132231815 - Copy.jpg
     
  4. Gravel Road

    Gravel Road Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Excellent! I've got some pics of both of those. I don't know much about which pigweed varieties are the best for deer...
     
  5. Gravel Road

    Gravel Road Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Hardiness Zone:
    6A
    Buckdeer1 brought up buckbrush and I had already started to write up a little bit about it. Nice little plant that adds diversity.

    Plant:
    Buckbrush (Coralberry)

    Benefits: Hardy and drought resistant. Berries are a winter food source. Can form low patches of cover. It’s even sold in some areas as a hearty decorative native plant for around the yard!

    Drawbacks: Can be slightly (moderately?) invasive in a pasture

    Thoughts: Never gave much thought to this plant until a few years ago when a small buck and several does wandered right under the tree stand. They stopped for a few minutes and ate the buckbrush berries like they were a last meal. I still consider them to be lightly used since there always seems to be plants in the area with berries on them.

    Here's a summer time picture before berries have formed.
    DSC_0022.JPG

    This picture is from yesterday and shows how the berries hang on in the winter.

    IMG_20161216_104319786.jpg
     
  6. Gravel Road

    Gravel Road Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Northeast Kansas
    Hardiness Zone:
    6A
    Plant: Pigweed

    Benefits: Can be a good browse at certain stages

    Drawbacks: Invasive and hard to kill. Lots of seeds for the seedbank.

    Thoughts: I’m not very well versed on pigweed, but know there are many varieties. Luckily, I don’t have much around the fields, but have seen it browsed fairly hard. For me, the negatives outweigh the positives if it's the wrong variety.

    After a little research at the Kansas State bookstore https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/pm1786-pdf
    This appears to be the waterhemp variety. It gets browsed pretty hard.

    IMG_20160724_110438880.jpg
     
  7. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Especially in the summer I see lots of browse on my place of giant ragweed. I'll have to dig out some pics later. At the right time deer will turn a young plant into stems and simply remove all the leaves, and this is right along the fresh green soybeans......so diversity is the key.
    ragweed.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
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  8. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    I've been a proponent of hedge for a long time. Preferred, nutritious, and easy. I think your post neglected it leafs. I've seen no shortage of deer with a mouth full of freshly fallen hedge leafs.
    Nice thread!

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  9. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    You would have liked two threads I had on the now defunct QD forum - "Field of Weeds or Field of Dreams?" and "Plant of the Month." After seeing that work destroyed, I'm a little reluctant about starting again.

    Since its cold as heck here this morning, I've got a winter browse plant for you - Japanese (vining) Honeysuckle. I know the purist types get their panties in a wad over this plant because it isn't native, but it:

    • stays green all winter
    • is highly sought out and browsed in the winter
    • provides protein levels around 18%
    • isn't invasive like bush honeysuckle or capable of doing the negative things that BH can do
    • grows mostly at edges and fence rows
    • can't take heavy shade so limited on what it can invade in a forest
    • can't take mowing so no way to take over a field
    • is aggressive enough in its limited space that you won't get rid of it even if you want to - so my best advice is join the party and enjoy the benefits. It's a great plant for old ditches and rough spots out in the sun that are otherwise wasted space. I push tree tops into these places to give it something to climb and the deer walk up and enjoy a fresh, green salad in January.
    And, I might add that it was present here when I was born, so to me it is native. The native sweetgum was also present. Guess which one causes the most trouble.............and guess which one I am constantly killing............

    Best wishes..........
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016
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  10. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    I loved those threads! Would love to see them start back up or that info piggybacked onto this thread.

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  11. Gravel Road

    Gravel Road Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting! I've never seen them eat the fallen hedge leaves. They'll never starve on my place then:)
     
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  12. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    Thanks catscratch. Maybe we can sometime. This thread will be a good one too if lots of people will participate.
     
  13. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    Lol, they vacuum them up on our place (cattle too). I've been actively managing for hedge browse on our place for yrs. My various hedge thickets and hinge cuttings can be hotspots for deer activity. The apples are the only thing I don't see deer use "often".

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  14. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    Hope so on both accounts.

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  15. Gravel Road

    Gravel Road Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Thank for the info on japanese honeysuckle. Very interesting, but a little scary too. I struggle with invasives so much already, and spend quite a bit of time each year spraying for thistle, serecia lespedesa, honey locust and hedge. It does sound like a promising plant that could be used for food and screening in the winter. Thanks!
     
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  16. Rickey

    Rickey Active Member

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    Native,
    I only have one thing to say.... Damn a sweet gum. Never ending battle. You would think deer would eat them the way my goats eat them. I used to think deer and goats eat the same thing. Not quite.
     
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  17. buckdeer1

    buckdeer1 Well-Known Member

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    I see deer eat the buck brush leaves alot during early season also.Mulberry is also used alot and I actually cut alot of my mulberry back to make them more like a bush.The leaves are usually eaten off before they can fall off these
     
  18. Cap'n

    Cap'n Active Member

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  19. Gravel Road

    Gravel Road Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Thanks for posting this link. I hadn't read that one, and it pretty nice that it breaks it down into whether or not it's preferred and further separates by soft mass and browse on the same plant. Very useful...
     
  20. Gravel Road

    Gravel Road Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Greenbrier:

    Although I haven't personally seen this being browsed by deer, apparently it is a preferred browse in the winter. I actually wish there was a little more of this on my place. It makes for a nasty place to try and walk through due to the thorns, but that's also a benefit for the quail and small game.

    DSC_0001.JPG

    Here's some greenbrier that was in a tree that was dropped in a fence row for habitat. Makes for good cover that coyotes can't get through.
    DSC_0025.JPG
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016

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