Suggestions for mixed Aspen forest

Discussion in 'Native Habitat Management' started by DRandall90, Jun 19, 2018.

  1. DRandall90

    DRandall90 New Member

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    Location:
    Minnesota
    Hardiness Zone:
    3
    Northern MN

    Last Spring, we clear cut a 1/3 acre area in the woods that was mostly quaking aspen and some alder. It's high ground near my primary deerstand. The area also has some mature white oak as well as some maple and a few other native tree species. The forest is overly mature and should be logged, but the owner (who I am related to) doesn't want loggers "ruining the forest" even though he is ok with me making clear cuts up to 5 acres. So far I have been taking it down 2-3 trees at a time and pulling it all out as firewood.

    After we cleared the area, we cut the stumps down, then sprayed the area with roundup and planted clover and chicory in the area. We didn't kill the stumps. The area has been overrun with aspen suckers and shoots, and then some clover/chicory growth in the couple of areas where the suckers haven't popped up.

    Next year we intend to clear out all the non-mast producing trees in the adjoining 3 acres. Our options are to cut the trees and let them fall and leave them in the woods, or we could hack and squirt and let them die and fall on their own. Mostly we want to open the canopy in that area to get some fresh growth but also to let the oaks get more sun to hopefully improve mast production.

    My questions are many fold:
    1. Are we better off just letting the aspen suckers and shoots grow up as food and cover, or should I try to kill all the aspen stumps so we can clear the area for just clover/chicory or other plot forbs?
    2. Should we avoid the hack and squirt on the aspen trees in fear of killing the root systems and losing all the regrowth of those shrubs?
    3. If we simply cut the trees and drop them in the woods to let them rot -- is that going to damage the regrowth? I don't think I can haul that much firewood out.
    4. Any other suggestions?

    Thanks
     
  2. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    northern New York
    Hardiness Zone:
    literally on the line of 4b/5a
    Welcome to the forum DRandall90. We live in northern NY here where the deer barely make the winter some years which is possibly what you see in your zone 3 location. Poplar is considered a very important deer plant here. Some clover is always beneficial but so is poplar regrowth. Poplar regrowth not only hides fawns well but the deer here feed on it through many parts of spring, summer, fall and most importantly winter when clover is usually buried in a few feet of snow. Our poplar stands are small, only an acre or so each; I clear cut sections of them each year when possible and leave the logs/trees in place. The preferred time to cut them is in late December just before the heavy snows come; that way the trees themselves provide valuable browse to our deer. We have seen up to 26 deer visit a dropped poplars(quaking aspen) in one day.

    Lately I have been hinge cutting the poplar as high as I can reach. I'm still watching to see what the regrowth rate is as compared to completely cutting thru the trees. Note--poplar does not hinge cut well, barber chairs are usual. To stay safe I cut half way thru the tree and walk away; usually within two weeks the wind does the rest. See my post # 421 to see a poplar hinge cut scene.
    http://www.deerhunterforum.com/index.php?threads/recreating-a-deer-woods.1088/page-22

    As you an see not all were cut in in that small stand as I try to ration them in smaller stands so there are some left each year to drop as winter deer feed. And yes the deer do bed in that particular cutting shown. And here we definitely would not hack and squirt our poplar trees.
     
  3. George

    George Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Pagosa Springs, Colorado
    Yep, work with your resource. You could add some red osier and white spruce, encourage your oaks.

    G
     
  4. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Active Member

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    Location:
    Fordville, ND
    Hardiness Zone:
    3
    I'd avoid killing the tree or the stump. Those things rotten and standing are very dangerous.

    If you're cutting them down and can't haul them out, at least stack them up and make brush piles for rabbit and grouse. It'll also keep your land clean. Those tornado zones will claim ankles and knees when you go walking through them.

    Best food plot I've seen up there is a cleared or thinned acre. I've considered throwing in the towel on plots and just working food areas with a chainsaw. I'm never short on interest in browse.
     
  5. DRandall90

    DRandall90 New Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Minnesota
    Hardiness Zone:
    3
    Thanks for all the replies.

    The area we primarily hunt is an 80 acre area that has a west area that is wooded and the east 40 is primarily a wetter area that is prairie, with some high spots that are used as hay fields (about 12-15 acres is plantable without concern for flooding) and a bit of woods in the north (see picture). We've planted some apple trees on the high spots in hopes of the deer using that area once they mature. The east and west are separated by a creek that runs between them. It's wide enough and deep enough that you can't get across without chest waders.

    The prairie area is primarily covered in prairie willow that we run the bush hog through every handful of years when they grow up too tall. I'm debating trying to establish dogwood there instead of prairie willow. We don't see much evidence of browse from the deer on the willows.

    I'm also looking to turn the hay field into something more attractive to deer, but planting 12 acres of food plot without much cover seems like it may be a bit overkill.
     

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