Should I Establish Food or Cover?

By GrowingDeer,

  Filed under: , ,

← Grant's AnswersAsk Grant



I have a 120 acre property with a bedding area in the middle and food sources on the southern end of the bedding area.  I have a 15 acre ag field that is located on the NW end of my land that I’m trying to figure out what to do with.  It is currently open land and abuts my neighbor’s property.  He is a hunter and his property has mature oaks.  I can’t decide if I should plant a small perimeter of screen like pines on the boundary and then plant the rest in corn, hunting the interior corner of my property with mowed strips, or if I should convert the entire part into bedding with a small clover or wheat plot on the interior corner?  The interior corners would allow me access without spooking any deer.

I feel like if I make it bedding then the deer will go to the neighbors property, especially during good acorn years.  If I plant corn will deer transition through his woods giving him first crack before they enter the corn?

Will the deer bed in the corn if I leave the outside 10 acres of it standing and then mow the interior 5 acres to hunt (or even plant a couple small 1 acre green plots within the corn)?

I’m treading cautiously since ag land is hard to remake (clear) and I don’t want to convert it to timber until I know for sure what I should do.

Most of the properties around me are all cover with not many crops being planted.

Thanks for your time,



It sounds like you have been working hard to develop a solid plan.  As you’ve said it’s far easier to make the correct management decisions the first time than to have to redo them.

From what I know, I recommend planting the outer seven or eight acres in a mix of tall warm season grasses like switchgrass and big bluestem.  This will provide deer cover plus allow them to bed near the edge of the property and come toward its interior to forage.  The interior acreage can then be planted in corn/soybean rotation.  Again, leave the forage standing if possible.  I frequently create habitat plans for clients that include establishing cover near their property boundaries and food on the interior.  When quality food, cover, and water are close in proximity deer tend to remain in the area.

When creating these habitat features, remember to design stand locations and an approach or two for each stand that allows the hunter to enter the stand without being detected by deer.

Growing Deer together,