Food or Cover

By GrowingDeer,

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I have 215 acres in Dent County, Missouri that was 100% hardwoods when I purchased it.  I have knocked down 4 small food plots and put in a 2 acre pond to open areas up for browsing.  I’ve been doing selective logging (TSI) to assist with the understory as well.  I have been considering clear cutting a significant portion of the ground and doing controlled burns in coordination with making that area a sanctuary.  After watching the information on your site, I’m now rethinking that logic and considering making some larger food plots instead.  What do you think the advantages are of doing one over the other, or even a combination of both?



You are very wise to weigh the options before making changes to habitat that can’t be undone during your lifetime!  Both cover and quality forage are critical to allowing deer to express their full potential.  To make the decision, I’d carefully analyze your mission for the property and what the limiting factors are to fulfilling your mission.  For example, if there are huge production ag fields adjoining your property then cover may be more of a priority than food.  If there is no production ag on or adjoining your property then establishing ample quality forage may be necessary to allow the local herd to express their potential.

I would not simply create a clear cut and count on the natural regeneration to provide quality cover on a sustained basis.  The resulting stump sprouts will grow past the stage of providing cover in just a few years.  In addition, woody browse never produces as many tons of quality forage per acre as production agriculture.  These are just a couple of guides to help you think through your options.

I strongly recommend you take ample time to evaluate your long-term objectives.  Missing a season is much better than spending a lifetime wishing you would have considered all the possible options.

Growing Deer together,