What perennial grass should I plant to provide cover for deer?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersHabitat Management
I am close to rehabbing the farm and have, over the last 3 years, gotten the established fields mowed and the weeds under control. Now I am wanting to start establishing food plots. I have a small 5 acre field that is sloped so that 2.5 acres make a nice little bottom for clover. The problem I’m having is finding a perennial grass to grow on the sloped portion. Fescue is the go to here but it will eventually take over the clover. Is there a tall perennial grass I can plant to give the deer cover? I should add that this plot is on the property line with deer movement coming from all directions. The clover will be against a steep, wooded creek drainage. The neighbor also utilizes winter wheat and clover o his property as well as supplemental feeding of corn. My thoughts are to give the deer a safe feeling coming and going from the plot. Thanks & God bless!

Mr. Loftis,

I would suggest to you a Native Warm Season Grass (NWSG) mixture on the sloped area.  There are many mixtures of different warm season grasses you can choose that will accomplish your goal.  I have planted Big bluestem, Little bluestem and Indian grass in my mixtures and had some great success in providing safety cover.

For the best results, spray the fescue with a glyphosate to kill it off first, then use a no-till drill that has a specific planting box for warm season grasses.  Your local ag-extension may have this piece of equipment you can rent or borrow.  Also, you generally have the option to buy pre-mixed warm season grasses or choose to mix your own.  If you choose to mix your own, I suggest planting a mixture similar to this, 2 lbs Big bluestem, 3.0 lbs Little bluestem, and 2 lbs Indian grass per acre planted in early June. NWSG usually take 2-3 years to fully establish, however once established they provide excellent cover and are easily maintained by simply mowing or burning every 3-5 years.

Growing Deer together,