I just bought a 20 acre plot in southern, MI. Some big bucks have supposedly been taken off this property. The property is basically a big rectangle with about 3 acres of hard woods and the rest is thick tall (6′ or more tall) grass/brush cover.
My question is should I clear a small area in the middle of the thick cover and plant a small food plot? I have always been under the impression you do not want to mess with a bedding area but this is the only area I would have to plant a plot.
Adding a food plot ( a small plot) would have both negative and positive effects on the property and any mature deer on the property. Adding a food plot would give a funneling point of attraction, essentially a kill plot, in which to hunt over. The thick cover, which is assuming it is early succession type cover, is actually providing cover and a lot more food per acre than the food plot could actually produce. You will not be supplying more food, but you might be providing a more palatable and more attractive food source on the property. However, with food plots come pressure. You not only will be disturbing the area but also frequenting the plot ( spraying, checking cameras, hanging stands. Placing a plot would have to be big enough in order to sustain attraction ( 1+ acres), but placed in a spot say on the edge of the woods and cover, or closest to other human disturbance in order to leave as much valuable cover as possible. I would say that if you can get a 1.5- 3 acre plot in the right area, that is in a location that does not disturb the rest of the property, you can reach to maintain and hunt without bumping deer, and that would potentially pull neighboring deer…I would say plant.
For planting, clear the plot, take soil samples, amend the soil with PlotStart based off the lime recommendation, and plant a species that will be attractive but can take significant browse pressure.
I would also recommend ( depending on the type of cover) to look into using fire or some disturbance to keep the cover in its current stage. After a couple of years the bushes and trees could start becoming more overhead cover than food and thermal cover.
Hope this helps!