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Author Topic: To bush hog or not to bush hog  (Read 1016 times)

Offline Mossyguy

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To bush hog or not to bush hog
« on: March 30, 2023, 10:51:47 AM »
That is the question. As the season progresses with the warmer temps the food plots are starting to get higher. Most of what we plant that’s still around are cereal grains. For those that have open areas like plots and pastures do you let them grow or cut it at a certain point?  My biggest concern is the turkeys being ambushed by predators when the plots start getting thick. Not saying they don’t use these areas as nesting habitat but I haven’t seen any nests directly in these plots.

Offline ChesterCopperpot

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To bush hog or not to bush hog
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2023, 11:51:32 AM »
Heard someone recently coin the phrase “No Mow May” and I think that’s a good philosophy to adopt. Don’t cut anything until the nesting is done. A study in Tennessee recently showed somewhere around 10% of nests that were destroyed were done so my mowing/bushhogging. If you can eliminate that loss by simply not firing up the tractor that’s a really easy thing to do.


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Offline eggshell

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Re: To bush hog or not to bush hog
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2023, 12:02:39 PM »
I have 10 acres of fields and one is bordered by woods and birds use it. I do not mow it until mid june at the earliest and some years July. I am in southern Ohio and figure our birds should all have hatched  by mid June. After that I keep it mowed short. I played around with this for years and it seems like the hens and poult like the short grass to bug in. I see more activity when it's short, and it's not just because I can see better.

Offline Sir-diealot

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Re: To bush hog or not to bush hog
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2023, 03:25:32 PM »
I have 10 acres of fields and one is bordered by woods and birds use it. I do not mow it until mid june at the earliest and some years July. I am in southern Ohio and figure our birds should all have hatched  by mid June. After that I keep it mowed short. I played around with this for years and it seems like the hens and poult like the short grass to bug in. I see more activity when it's short, and it's not just because I can see better.
I wish all in the Northeast did this, I bring up the facts you mentioned and am looked at as though I am stupid. I may well be but not on this point.

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Offline Paulmyr

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Re: To bush hog or not to bush hog
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2023, 11:28:39 PM »
Depending on what you have planted in the plot mowing after hatches can be good or bad. If the plot is grass-like where the plant stems are close together mowing would be a good thing. If the plot is Forbes or other flowering type plants like clover where the stems of the plant are further apart mowing  can be bad.

When you mow plots with Forbes or early succession habitat to early your taking away the best brood rearing habitat available. The separation at the base of the plants allows the  small polts to move freely with overhead cover and also allow the hens to watch for predators  because shes tall enough to see over the vegetation. These types of food plots if allowed to grow will provide small polts with plenty of bugs to eat and cover to hide from avian predators.
Snakes and other non avian predators tend not to use this type of habitat.

If the plot is grass-like mowing would be good but it still doesn't provide the habitat needed for newly hatched polts until they get large enough to navigate over the grass bed instead of through it. I've heard it put this way; imagine a bird as big as your thumb  trying to walk through your front yard. It's not going to happen so hens won't use the plot with newly hatched polts and will be forced into habitat thats less beneficial until they are bigger.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2023, 11:49:58 PM by Paulmyr »
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Offline Scottf270

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Re: To bush hog or not to bush hog
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2023, 05:07:45 PM »
Instead of letting the farmer bush hog a fallow section in the fall, I convinced him to wait till April 1st. The patch provided winter cover and was greening up nicely and the perfect height for decoys throughout the season. Will be doing it this way from now on.

Offline silvestris

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Re: To bush hog or not to bush hog
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2023, 08:43:21 PM »
Paulmyr hit the nail on the head.  If people managed their plots for poults, rather than for decoys, there would be many more grown turkeys for recreation.
“[T]he changing environment will someday be totally and irrevocably unsuitable for the wild turkey.  Unless mankind precedes the birds in extinction, we probably will not be hunting turkeys for too much longer.”  Ken Morgan, “Turkey Hunting, A One Man Game

Offline gaswamp

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Re: To bush hog or not to bush hog
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2023, 06:57:27 AM »
I personally don't mow till August at the earliest

Offline bwhana

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Re: To bush hog or not to bush hog
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2023, 06:51:02 PM »
Unless you have a pure white clover plot that requires frequent mowing, mowing should be abandoned in favor of crimping and can be done after nesting periods …. https://youtu.be/9Amh6yzFwB0

Offline eggshell

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Re: To bush hog or not to bush hog
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2023, 07:13:48 AM »
Unless you have a pure white clover plot that requires frequent mowing, mowing should be abandoned in favor of crimping and can be done after nesting periods …. https://youtu.be/9Amh6yzFwB0

I'm not sure of this as a general method of field/pasture maintenance. The only people I know that regularly use crimping are terminating cover crops for planting. These are usually stemmed herbaceous plants like rye, wheat, and other sewed tall cover crops. Often this is then broken up, covered more or tilled in. I have never seen it used as a maintenance method to just crimp and leave. If you have grasses, like fescue then crimping does not work. It will be right back standing in a week to 10 days. In cropland they plant and the crop shades out the old cover crop or it's cut up with tillage implements. If you know a way it's being used as field maintenance please post a link, I think that is an interesting method. For now I will still bush hog. I organic garden/farm and I use the cut fields for a compost source.