To Mow Or Not To Mow

Randy W. from Tennessee writes to ask about habitat management. “My fellow hunters and I are doing some management on the farm we hunt. We have some old fields that were formerly in fescue. Those fields provide no value to deer or other wildlife as far as we can tell. What is the best way to get something good growing there.”

Dr. Dave Samuel

That is a really good question, Randy. First, mowing is of no help. You can mow it, but the fescue will still be there. There are some valuable plants under that fescue, but the blanket of fescue prevents them from growing.

Thus, talk to your local agriculture agent, and get the names of a good spray and spray the field. Then wait two years to see what comes up. If it’s nothing good, then replant that field to what you want. But my guess is that there are lots of forbs there that will come up once the fescue is killed. And forbs are great for deer. In fact, forbs make up 70 percent of the spring diet of deer. Good luck with it!

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of‘s content at Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for more than 31 years.

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