How to Keep Your Land, and Your Deer, a Secret

Use grass and wheat to prevent overexposure

9 point buck whitetail buck tall grass
Shielded: A Midwest 9-pointer is blocked from view by a tall strip of switchgrass.Lance Krueger

Problem

Your woods are too visible to neighbors and potential road hunters.

Diagnosis

If your woods and brushy fields are open to view from public roads or a neighbor’s property, you’re overexposed. This raises several issues. Not only does the lack of cover raise the potential for poaching, but it also puts mature bucks on edge and makes them warier, more nocturnal, and more difficult to hunt because of intrusive human activity from road traffic and hunters walking along the boundary.

Rx

Create a fast-growing border of cover to block deer from seeing people and people from seeing the deer, solving both problems. Good plantings include Egyptian wheat, BioLogic’s Blind Spot, and sorghum. These annuals can grow 6 to 10 feet tall and easily shield the view of your woods and fields from roads and bordering properties. Plant rows 15 to 30 feet wide. In some cases, these tall strips of cover can serve double duty, offering hidden access for you to reach your stands or blinds. Avoid adding edible plants such as sunn hemp. Even though it grows 10 feet tall, deer like to eat this legume and will be attracted to the cover—the last thing you want.

Preventative

First, discourage deer from using boundary areas by putting sanctuaries and food plots more toward the center of the property. Second, consider more durable solutions by planting mixtures of warm-season grasses such as switchgrass, Indian, big and little bluestem, and gama grass. These take a little more time to establish, but in one to two years will provide a lasting shield, standing 5 to 8 feet tall.

Conifers offer another good option for a long-term solution. White pines grow thick, and they can often be purchased from state forestry departments for just $1 per seedling or less when bought in bulk. If you want a quicker fix, buy larger pines from commercial nurseries.