Cutting for firewood

Discussion in 'Food Plots for Wildlife' started by rusty1034, Nov 20, 2018.

  1. rusty1034

    rusty1034 Member

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    Howdy all,

    Looking for some input on my next habitat improvement project.

    I have a 10 acre chunk of my 90 acres that currently consists of saplings through 20" hardwoods. Mostly Ash and Soft Maple. It's pretty wet, and I haven't been able to get my 50 hp tractor on it in two years.

    I've had two foresters look at it. Both said there was no lumber value in the trees. As far as I can tell the current habitat does very little for the deer in terms of food or cover.

    I'm thinking of having it cut for firewood to thin it out quite a bit. I would leave the tops, and hope for beneficial regrowth.

    Any thoughts on how drastic of a cut to go with ? Down to 10" ? smaller? larger ? none ? only a portion ?

    Thanks - Rusty


    Rusty
     
  2. JohnL48

    JohnL48 Well-Known Member

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    Try some hinge cutting. Hurricane Sandy provided a ton of blow downs where I hunt and I see a dramatic improvement in the deer
     
  3. TreeDaddy

    TreeDaddy Well-Known Member

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    Hinge cut points,knobs,ridges,terrace or basically any elevation that will stay dry

    Should thicken up in a hurry

    bill
     
  4. George

    George Well-Known Member

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    Let the sun shine.

    G
     
  5. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    That is a question Rusty with a myriad of right answers. Of course how hard to cut a piece is dependent on the reason for cutting it. However since it is pretty much assumed that all ash will die and without further growth, the ash could be cut to whatever diameter gives a return for your effort. Guessing that you are cutting strictly for the deer with zero consideration for future timber values which probably would never happen anyhow in that wet of a spot, I would consider clear cutting arbitrarily 1/2 of the acreage now and 1/2 at a later date. Clear cuts could be 2 1/2 acres on each end with the five acres connecting to it with just a ten yard wide clear cut through the five acres to connect up the two 2 1/2 acre clear cuts or in one acre checkerboard patterns or in a giant hour glass pattern. The whole idea would be to create a funnel of clear cut or a short standing timber spot that the deer will walk thru to go from one clear cut to the other. Then after so many years when the clear cut has regrown beyond the reach of the deer assuming it is not so wet that there is no regrowth the other half of the ten acres can be clear cut. It needs to be shaped of course so that the clear cuts have travel funnels connecting them. Visibility will be in very short range if there is good regrowth. Two clear cuts with nothing cut for twenty yards in between them of standing timber is another option.

    From what I have seen on this property, plan on almost zero deer use during daylight for the first year after the clear cut or even after a heavy cut. With all that said, if the current undergrowth is ferns then when the sun hits the forest floor watch out for a fern invasion or a Multi flora rose invasion or whatever invasive you might have.

    Leaving tops when cutting is generally very beneficial;however having tops in clumps with areas around each clump of tops with no tops is way more use-able to the deer as well as hunt-able for you.
     
    Jeff H likes this.
  6. Elkaddict

    Elkaddict Well-Known Member

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    I’d also recommend hinge cutting a significant portion of. I’d also leave a handful of trees that are appropriate for tree stands. I’d pick locations for hunting different winds that also give you stealthy access. I can’t say enough about what a difference it made for us. We did 23 across our 207 acres.
     
  7. massey

    massey Active Member

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    Cut away. The maple will come back strong. The ash won’t be there in 5 years anyway. Two best firewood species imo. Let ma nature start over


    Sent from my iPhone using Deer Hunter Forum
     
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  8. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    my experience is that both soft maple and ash will stump sprout fairly well. I personally would cut anything that makes sense for firewood purposes, You can hinge some if you like, but the stump sprouts will be back with a vengeance in just a matter of a few years and you will have a great bedding area. I would also suggest clearing a few pockets and adding some diversity....something that like wet feet. Whatever you plant you more than likely will need to cage, but things like dogwoods, elderberry, arrowwood and the like all like damp feet and can add some diversity to that area. You may need to or want to cut a few "sidewalks" thru the area as well if you plan on hunting the area to lead the deer past a stand or two. The issue here is that this area will continue to need your attention over the long term. Every few years your going to have to knock the area back otherwise the stump sprouts will create a canopy of their own and shade out everything else. Successional growth areas...like what you will be creating are a bedding magnet in my area, treat the area like a sanctuary and you will certainly have deer in there....especially if you have a decent food source nearby. Good luck....and be careful. Chainsaws are a great habitat tool...bit they are also a very dangerous one.
     
  9. Elkaddict

    Elkaddict Well-Known Member

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    Big fan of maple stump sprouts. The whole root system is pumping nutrients/minerals to the sprouts. They see incredible browse use.
     
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  10. Chipdasqrrl

    Chipdasqrrl Active Member

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    Maple regen should come in very thick, the deer would love it


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  11. rusty1034

    rusty1034 Member

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    Thanks to all who responded. Great info that I really appreciate. I should have mentioned in the OP that hinge cutting is going to be a big component of this cut.

    I’ve ordered one of these guys to make the process more effective


    IMG_0064.JPG

    A couple more questions if y’all don’t mind-

    When hinge cutting, is it preferable to have most of the trunks laying in the same direction , or should there be some criss-crosstown them .

    Also, is there a way to promote stump sprouting ? Fertilizer perhaps ?

    Thanks again all

    Rusty


    Sent from my iPad using Deer Hunter Forum
     
  12. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    Rusty, the best time to hinge cut to get the most sprouts is winter and you already have that covered. Only on willow have I noticed a better way than other ways to get more sprouts and that was to hinge cut the willows at ground level; this resulted in sprouts the whole length of the dropped willow trees from the tree trunks to the tops. The willows were cut more than halfway thru but I tried to get them down with as much hinge left uncut as possible. Love your new tool; it looks like it has some great grabbing power.

    I don't know if hinge cutting other trees at ground level would result in more sprouts as I didn't think to try it then. Usually the goal was to keep the hinges high enough for deer to walk under them but now I'm thinking that all levels are beneficial as long as the deer can navigate thru them. Good luck out there, looking forward to seeing the cut sometime.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2018
    rusty1034 likes this.
  13. TreeDaddy

    TreeDaddy Well-Known Member

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    Rusty,

    Check Extreme Deer Habitat by Jim Brauker

    All questions on the topic are addressed there

    An enjoyable read

    bill
     
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  14. rusty1034

    rusty1034 Member

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    Thanks Bill,

    I was on that YouTube Channel earlier. Lots of good info.

    Rusty


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  15. George

    George Well-Known Member

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    If I ever make it to Kentucky my plan is to make a patch work out of the cut maples. Some areas I will kill the stumps to promote other growth and some areas I will promote the regrowth of stumps.

    For instance, travel corridors up and down the hills I will probably flank with live stumps for browse and quicker growth of cover.

    Other areas I may want to promote briars, shrubs, and herbaceous plants and grasses.

    G
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
  16. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

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    My experience as well
     
  17. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    Personal experience. Cut chest high if you want sprouts to grow into a thicket. Also find high hinge cutting gets better use by deer than low cuts. If you want primary browse then waist to ground level gives good access for deer. I don't see much diff in pattern of felling trees, I tried both and deer just seem to not matter in my Random Clusters. Cutting in midwinter gives great browse for deer of felled trees to give them a snack when times are hard, especially in a snowy year like this one.
    To get thickets in your areas of hinging, you need be very aggressive and get the sunlight in, and ground will explode with briars and new growth. Fire would be a great additive but I choose not to do that. Northern crowd is a little different, but forests of the east have been taken over by shade tolerant trees like maple, reducing good mast producers that are needed for deer. Loss of fire and poor choices in logging operations expeically high grade timbering is mostly to blame but thats another conversation. Good luck.
     
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  18. Tap

    Tap Well-Known Member

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    Is the emerald ash borer in your area yet?
    If yes, cut all mature ash asap. If eab is not there yet, you have some time. EAB in my experience, does not attack young ash...only the larger ones so don't worry about cutting young ash.
    You can keep your ash population in an immature stage. Cut them while the roots are still alive and they will resprout. A low cut provides low cover and browse, but deer may eventually browse it to death. A higher cut will sometimes keep even the largest ash alive because browse is out of reach.
    Larger ash do NOT hinge well. Ash is brittle and tends to break. On larger ash, a traditional felling cut is safer.
    And most hinge cut trees survive better when tops are supported by the stump or trunk of the previous cut. The goal is to have the least amount of pinch on the remaining cambium.
    Hooks are invaluable for hinge cutting. A hook allows you to cut less of the trunk which preserves more cambium and a hook allows a softer landing (less breakage). A hook also allows you to lay a tree in any direction. We don't always want a tree to fall in the direction that gravity and lean want to take it.
     
  19. rusty1034

    rusty1034 Member

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    Thanks for the info Tap. Many of the trees I have are Ash. Several different sizes from 22" down to 6".

    I haven't seen evidence of EAB yet, but have to believe it's just a matter of time because it's been confirmed in more than one area less than 20 miles from me.

    Typically I've only done cutting in Jan-Mar when the ground is frozen. I may have to amend that plan to try and make some real progress if we get another dry summer.

    I have high hopes for the hinging pole. I've also read that wedges are helpful in hinge cutting. There are several good videos on the technique.

    I purchased an e-book titled "Extreme Deer Habitat" by Jim Brauker. Lots of good info in it.




    Rusty
     
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  20. Tap

    Tap Well-Known Member

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    Then you may as well start cutting that ash. Don't wait until they get compromised. Dead or dying ash are extremely dangerous to cut. They are notorious for widow makers. Dead branches can fall with the slightest disturbance.

    Your woods are about to undergo a drastic change. Cover and edges will change dramatically as those ash die and sun reaches the ground.
    Does your area have japanese stilt grass, yet? We have it and its growing over and covering the sea of countless dead ash parts that litter the ground. Its a hazard just walking through our woods. The tangle of ash parts are hidden by huge swaths of stilt grass.
    Its amazing how fast ash fall and block access roads and access trails. We have "road blocks" of ash. One day, I can pick my way through multi flora rose along access trails to a stand...2 days later, those access routes can be completely blocked by a newly fallen ash. Some stand sites become almost impossible to access without a chainsaw or major prune job through MFR or other brush. Sneaking becomes a chore. Its impossible to sneak through stilt grass without cracking hidden ash branches under foot. I'm not exaggerating in the least.

    Your stand schemes will change, too. As cover changes, so will deer patterns. And that great ash tree that was perfect for a stand will be gone. The options for stand trees will plummet if you lose as many ash as we have.

    Ash were such great stand trees...quiet bark for climbing, they were often multi trunked or had "Y"s for concealment, and they weren't high dollar trees so screw-in steps were never an issue.

    On the other hand, possibilies for small throw n mow plot will be everywhere. Sunlight will allow growth where it wasn't ideal before. But other stuff that isn't as desirable will grow, too.

    I'm trying to remember what our woods were like before the emerald ash borer. Things have changed drastically.

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018

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