How late can you hinge cut?

Discussion in 'Native Habitat Management' started by pinetag, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. pinetag

    pinetag Well-Known Member

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    Ive never done any hinge cutting before but after reading various posts on the topic I feel like I've got a good handle on what to do. I know it's best to hinge when the trees are dormant so my question is... how late in the winter season is too late? In VA it stays relatively cold here through March and last frost is usually in April. Would it be safe to hinge in late March without worrying about killing trees?

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  2. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    I've done it all thru the summer sometimes and in fact the summer hinges do better than when cut in very cold winter. It somewhat depends on the tree. My shagbark will just die not matter the time, and a maple lives no matter what. I do find deer use is better the higher the cut, shoulder height and the best stump growth is when cut off foot high. Nice thing of summer cutting is you know exactly the tree you are cutting. Bad thing of summer cutting is its too hot and thats main reason I don't do it much. Good luck.
     
  3. pinetag

    pinetag Well-Known Member

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    That's interesting! That makes me feel a little better because I thought I had a limited window to get some hinging done. So is there a particular reason most people recommend winter cutting?
     
  4. Jeff H

    Jeff H Well-Known Member

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    Yeah.. there's nothing else to do! Or at least that's been my reason.
     
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  5. Mitch123

    Mitch123 Active Member

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    Don’t have to deal with snakes! We always run into a handful of rattle worms in the summer time stomping around the woods.
     
  6. OkieKubota

    OkieKubota Moderator Staff Member

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    Easier to hinge when tree is bare...at least in our deep woods environment I find this to be true...
     
  7. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    With everything else being equal a perfectly felled hinge cut tree that keeps a good hinge has the best chance when winter cut simply because the nutrients are stored in the roots during the winter. Here as soon as it begins to warm up even just during the day, sap starts to run from the roots to the top of the tree and thus if cut some of the nutrients will be up in the tree top and thus some of the plants stored energy will be lost if cut then.

    The same applies to winter cut poplar; Clearcutting poplar in the winter can produce up to 15,000 root sprouts per acre; cutting it in the summer is not recommended but it still can produce 8,000 root sprouts per acre. 8,000 is not so bad so I cut poplar as well as hinge cut based on when I have time and can do it safely. I use the cut poplar example because there have been documented scientific studies done root sprouting from winter cut versus summer cut and I am unaware of studies that have been done for survival of summer versus winter hinge cut trees. It seems logical to me(total assumption on my part), that the hinge cut will follow a similar relatively good enough summer success rate with all else being equal.
     
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  8. Elkaddict

    Elkaddict Well-Known Member

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    I kinda of view it like spreading lime: yesterday or last year. Although not an issue in VA, in the north country when the threat of deep snow threatens starvation, I like to hinge cut in February. I’m always amazed at how quickly they find and browse the tops. I hope to cut a couple dozen poplars and maple the next week or two.
     
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  9. Tap

    Tap Well-Known Member

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    A good time to hinge is when you have the time to do it.
    The best time IME is when the tree isn't frozen and brittle but it's still winter.
    I like to get a two-fold result from hinging...food low, and also higher growth that's out of the deer's reach so the tree survives. The browse that ends up within a deers reach provides late winter browse when it's needed the most and the stuff that's higher and out of browsing reach will have a better chance of survival and grow to keep the tree and roots alive. If the hinged tree is cut when browse is in demand, and all the buds are laying low within the browse line, then the deer may eat it to death. That same tree, if cut a little later when the clover and other stuff is greening up, may not get browsed hard and can survive.
    I guess a lot of it depends on the specie and your deer numbers.
    One thing is for certain...a hinged tree needs sunlight. If you hinge a tree here and there in deeper shade, they will have a lower survival rate.
     
  10. TreeDaddy

    TreeDaddy Active Member

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    Agree with Tap

    Survival of tree more dependent on technique than timing

    bill
     
  11. pinetag

    pinetag Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys. So it sounds like if i have to wait until late March or early April it won't have any negative impact on survival.

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  12. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    Great post Tap, I cut high because the deer avoided ones I cut low once they ate them. It had not dawned on me that higher besides being easier for them to travel through actually increases the chance for their survival because of the growth the deer do not reach.

    Great point Tap on the shade also; the resultant lack of sun should be obvious to all of us even if we are hinging our first tree. I must confess though that in my first few hinging attempts, the lack of sun to the hinged tree which is now or soon under the leaf canopy had never occurred to me. It was just dumb luck that one hinged area that was cut larger did so much better than other attempts that the light went off.
     
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  13. Tap

    Tap Well-Known Member

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    Your experiences are pretty much exactly the same as mine. We wasted a lot of chainsaw gas and sweat in our early years of hinging. We walked under a mature canopy and cut small saplings here and there. We we cutting them low and since there were few or no other hinged trees to support successive hinged trees, they laid completely on the ground and 100% of the buds were within browsing reach. The deer would simply eat it to death. And any buds that did escape browsing, usually died from lack of sunlight.
     
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  14. rusty1034

    rusty1034 Member

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    I've been doing a little poplar clear cut on my place.

    This little deer didn't want to wait for me to leave to start nibbling on the buds.
    IMG_2074.JPG IMG_2075.JPG

    Rusty



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  15. pinetag

    pinetag Well-Known Member

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  16. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    I agree with what's been shared thus far. A few random thoughts I had, when hinging trees in the cold winter months, vs. warm weather, they tend to totally tear off the stump much more frequently in freezing weather, especially if hinging larger than 4" diameter, and when hinging higher off the ground. IMO if lack of sunlight is an issue for keeping hinged trees alive, it's time to consider logging. Logging is one of the best tools available for creating great deer habitat. Then, anytime 3 to 9 years after logging wade into the thick stuff and hinge the trash saplings that are undesirable for good timber and wildlife management. It's an interesting principle that good timber management often coincides with good wildlife management. Someone hinging trees in large quantities needs to be able to identify trees, and also have at least a rudimentary idea of what to cut and what to keep or they will be doing a lot of long term damage to their woods in a very short time. A great way for beginners to avoid this is too identify and mark all of the valuable trees, at proper spacings to allow for future growth without the crowns touching, then mark with orange ribbon, then hinge everything else in between.
     
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  17. Tap

    Tap Well-Known Member

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    Man, so much has already been written and discussed about hinging, going all the way back to the defunct forum.
    But I guess we have to remember that we (hopefully) continue to have newbies with this habitat stuff and not everyone knows the basics. And even the old practices that we consider to be the standard way to do it morph as we all learn.
    2 things that are the basis of hinge cutting is safety #1, and stating goals would be #2.
    And having a high percentage of survivors goes without saying. Otherwise, we aren't really hinging as much as we are just browse cutting...there is a difference between the 2 practices.
    Safety is not always as simple and clear cut (no pun intended) as it may seem. Safety gear and practices can have its own thread. Saw handling and personal safety protection is one aspect of safety, but the actual tree felling is another thing. Widow makers and barber chairs are always a major hazard.
    IMO, hooks are as important as almost any hinging tool. Not only do they allow surgical felling, but they also make for much less fatigue. That makes for a safer and more productive day.

    Goals...are you creating bedding? Or are you creating just food as your goal? Maybe you are making blockades to control deer movement. Or you might be just feathering edge. Maybe you want to allow more sunlight into narrow plots in wooded areas.
    Are you cutting a north or south slope? High or low land? What species?
    There's a ton of criteria that will dictate whether you cut high or cut low, or which species you cut or don't cut and how/when those species are best cut.
    And sometimes there are the down sides. Allowing sunlight in can allow undesirable invasives to flourish.

    I love this topic. My post barely touches on the subject. There's a pile of guys with tons of experience on here. Let's hear some input.


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  18. TreeDaddy

    TreeDaddy Active Member

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    i recommend Jim Brauker's book on the topic

    I thoroughly enjoyed it

    Agree with Tap on rules re: safety and having a goal before you start

    Brauker said "You can't uncut a tree"

    bill
     
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  19. Jeff H

    Jeff H Well-Known Member

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    Entirely agree with the comments on logging. Plus you get paid to create habitat!
     
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  20. pinetag

    pinetag Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the great advice so far guys.

    As much as i would like to, being on a small property makes logging a difficult option. I've checked into it and most of the loggers around here don't want to cut less than 20 acres. The cost to move equipment just doesn't work out when they are cutting anything less. 20 acres is almost half my property and since it is long and narrow, it would make getting to stands undetected very difficult. I would always be walking in close proximity to bedded deer. I definitely think small pockets of hinge cuts located toward the center of the property is my best option to provide cover/food. I will be taking progress pics and hopefully will see the results of it next winter.[​IMG]

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