I'm kicking around the idea of slowly introducing my brother in law who is a conventional (curmudgeon) farmer to permaculture by trying to sell him on the idea of a small food forest to attract deer.
In our area, baiting deer with straight grain is illegal, so the alternative is to plant a patch of favourable greens to attract them to the location.
I watched the instructional video for one of the products, and it involved hosing down the area with chemical and planting a week later, not very permaculture.
I've read they like acorns in the fall and seem to like alfalfa I'm wondering what I could design to be a perennial system that may be in a cattle pasture.
Other say that they like apples, but Manitoba is a little cold for some of that stuff.
I would like to avoid the commercial products that may contain GM soybeans and sugar beets.
How about try some turnips and chicory? That's a pretty brutal winter you have in Manitoba and a lot of it might get winter-killed, but if you keep sewing it in the spring and letting it go to seed in the fall, you may be able to select for the hardy survivors.
My main concern is usually to REPEL deer from an area, but simply shifting my thinking into reverse might prove helpful. Wild critters need three things, and they need them year round....water, food, and cover. So establishing a small water source that is kept from freezing, surrounded by dense evergreen trees/shrubs that branch out down to the ground (like young conifers?) for cover and shelter from blizzard winds, as well as some browse when they don't want to venture out into fields to graze, might be a good starting point. I don't know whether deer will eat snow for water in freezing weather, or whether they get enough from their food, but if neither of those things are true, and your site is distant from water, establishing that year-round water source might be a real magnet not only for deer but for every other imaginable critter too....
I'm from Manitoba. I've been thinking a lot about this. But keep in mind I haven't actually done any of it, it's just hypothesizing at the moment.
Since you mentioned oak, I'm thinking you are south of 51.14 latitude. I haven't seen much oak north of Dauphin. I think the furthest up would be around ethelbert. Anyway, I hear the same thing about apple all the time from my dad, in fact every time I mention other food sources, I keep hearing about the apple. I'm pretty sure deer need more than apples. As much as drunk deer make for easy hunting, I'm sure multiple food sources will also help.
Burr Oak is supposed to be good for their taste because it's a white oak. Red oaks have more tannins and this affects flavor. Burr Oak don't produce nuts every year though. I was thinking about using Korean Pine. It can serve as a wind break and food source. I know elk will eat willow but I don't know about the deer. Do you have elk where you are? You might get the land owner draw. Are you metis? If you are metis you'll have more options when it comes to hunting if you do the paperwork.
Chestnut is supposed to be the clear winner though. These deer evolved on chestnut, so even if they haven't seen it before, they know what it is. It's in their genetic memory and they will take it over anything else. Also chestnut produce more than oak, I think they might produce almost every year.
Get some Caragana in there as well to get nitrogen in there. Keep in mind that deer live at the borders between fields and forest. So put some zig zags in there to increase surface area.
If the land has a pond on it and there was a beaver in it, I think it would be beneficial to get poplar and willow around it. Poplar and willow fix nitrogen in their bark, so you don't have to worry about that. The beaver would be constantly killing off vegetation so there would always be something sprouting. Deers will eat that.
The University of Saskatchewan is working on cold tolerant hazelnut. They will browse on that.
Deer like to browse on young Eastern White Pine. They also make a good tea. I think there is also a cedar if you are in a marsh.
Here in the PNW we have a large shrub layer semi-tree 'ocean spray' which grows pretty similarly to hazelnuts. Deer like to eat fresh tender young shoots of many otherwise tough plants. Ocean Spray and Hazelnut both coppice pretty well - I know ocean spray is one of their favorites. If I wanted to encourage deer at my place I'd plant a bunch of this kind of browse an then coppice 25 percent of it or so a year.
Freakin' hippies and Squares, since 1986
posted 5 years ago
Celtis occidentalis might work.
Manitoba Maple sprouts like crazy. You might have trouble keeping that under control.
Get some Basswood in there for the bees. Caragana (I mentioned it earlier) is a nitrogen fixer that bees will also love. There are wild plums but maybe better to do your homework on them because I hear that many animals will ignore them because they are too bitter. If it were my land, I would plant some wild blueberries near the Caragana. Not for the deer, for me.
I think leaf mulch is better when it has a variety of different leaves. Here are some treesnative to Manitoba:
Manitoba Mapble, Black Ash, Green Ash (especially good for leaf mulch, drops first), Tamarack, Showy Mountain Ash, Eastern Cottonwood, Balsam Poplar, Hop-Hornbeam, Wild Plum, Bur Oak, Basswood, Hackberry, White Birch, White Elm, Largetooth Aspen, Peachleaf Willow, Trembling Aspen.
Consider black-summer truffle innoculation while planting trees, especially the burr oak. And the bark of oak is also used for cork. And make sure you have a mushroom you like.
Perennials for the field: Goldenrod, oats, mullein (can this kill voles?), barley (also use it on algae problems), perennial wheats, comfrey, yarrow, clover (nitrogen), purslane (omega 3/6 fatty acids), calendula.
Wild rice if you have a shallow pond. Cattail for the muskrats.
Apples are a good bet. They are fairly quick to fruit, you can definitely find some hardy enough for your area, and they will generally outlast your lifetime. the fruit is eaten by deer through the winter as they dig them up out of the snow or wait for the dried shriveled ones to fall out of the branches in storms.
Cedar is great tree for cover and browse. In my area the deer always retreat to the deepest cedar forests in the worst winter weather to escape the deep,snow and eat cedar tips from blowdowns or low hanging branches.
You can also hinge cut trees to create sheltered bedding areas or to block line of sight.
I use a peas, vetch, oats soil builder on my food plot. It's the same thing I scatter on exposed or disturbed ground whenever I'm working around my zones 2 and 3.
Barberry is invasive here (meaning hardy and very difficult to kill) and I've watched deer spend all morning stripping off the red berries in the fall.
They will also browse new beech tree foliage, as well as loving the nuts. Beech can be coppiced or pollarded to keep providing new growth.
Oaks of any kind are great, but they take a long time to reach maturity.
I am creating a food forest. I am including deer favorites aling with mine. The part that attracts the deer most in my cold snowy winters is an evergreen arc of pinyons and junipers that block the north winds and makes a great afternoon warm spot for a half dozen visiting mule deer. They show up to this protected southwest facing spot at 2:00 every afternoon. I have food plants but it is clear that protected warmth is the draw.