Ascesing Browes Pressure Advice

Double L

Well-Known Member
This past hunting season we did our best to help thin out our doe population. All our deer so far look very healthy. I've been studying the deer trails since we have had snow on the ground for last 6 weeks as I am trying to plan where best place is going to be to do hinge cutting and some more food plot creating. When and what to you guys look at when looking at the browes being ate? Like what types get ate first and or last? This may be a silly question to most on here but I have never looked this far into the habitat management before as I was just getting started and was focusing on just making the food plots. As always thanks again for the advice and input..
Seems like food plot decisions would be made on location to bedding areas and how to get into that area and out of that area without wising up deer.

Also - how to get the necessary equipment into the location to establish a food plot.

For our farm we are interested in the food plot locations and the trails the bucks will cruise in late Oct / early Nov for our area searching phase.

Good luck Double L.

I am with Wayne on the food plot thing. As far as browse is concerned. If you want to see the true impact the deer are having...put up a an exclusion cage in various areas and over time monitor the difference in growth between what is in the cage and what else is in the immediate area. Make the cage decent size so to capture as many different types of plants as is reasonable.

Another thing you can do is simply monitor which plants along those trails you are seeing being browsed. Deer browse tend to be higher and will be more ragged in nature vs that of rabbits. Rabbit browse will be nipped clean as they have teeth on both the top and bottom...deer don't so they sort of nip and tear. Flag those plants you are seeing being used and then once things green up we can help you identify those plants and then you can try to propagate of of those or even add new plants that we know deer like to browse (Elderberry for instance is a favorite in my area). You can also experiment a little bit with hinging as well along those trails and identify which trees the deer seem to favor. I suggest identifying the tree before you hinge it and then make notes as to what it is. Then you can go back and seek those types out later. In my area I had a doe and her twins strip a yellow poplar clean was got knocked down in a wind storm. I would have never though to hinging those in my area, until I put a cam on it at the suggestion of a forum member. The big thing is figuring out what YOUR deer like. It's ok to experiment to find out, just don't go crazy until you know. Also consider that hinging without the needed sunlight will typically result in the tree dying. Hinging can bring food down to the deer's level, but without the sunlight to keep them have great results for on year and then your screwed!
Only a small percent of your hinge cuts are going to survive but, if they do survive they need sun. It’s important to do a large enough area so that besides the hinge cuts you will get stump sprouts and new growth. Sun is the key. It doesn’t really matter what you hinge, the deer will most likely eat anything with new sprouts. I like to hinge at the bedding areas and around groups of hemlocks or spruce Strictly for winter stability. Then the deer are happy right at their bedding locations at all times of the year. They will have no problems moving to your food plots with good green growth there. Security and food at the bedding areas, good food in the plots and a travel corridor between them and you got yourself a good hunting setup.
DoubleL, we do our browse surveys between the last week of March and the and the end of April depending on when he the snow leaves. We simply take notice of which plants are browsed and from experience we know that if they have eaten spruce or buckthorn or other low end (not preferred) browse species for this area, then we can expect to also see that all or most of the preferred browse like apple, sherry, sumac, briars, etc. was consumed. Generally the optimum browse level is thought to be at 50% consumption at that time of year. If less than 50%is remaining then there are too many deer for the amount of browse being produced on the property or said the other way the property is not producing enough browse for the amount of deer. If you have only ten percent or less preferred browse left then the property is being severely degraded by too much browsing and a program of herd reduction and extreme habitat improvement is needed.

Regarding where to put habitat improvements and more plots and such, that is a huge subject. Dogghr's random clusters thread is hitting some of it and a must read and with more to come I'm sure. And Steve Bartylla's book White-tailed Deer Management and Habitat Improvement is another must read (in my opinion) if you haven't read it already. You re basically asking how to landscape the property to house and feed the most deer in the healthiest way while encouraging them to stay on your property as much as possible so that they might live to maturity, and stay daytime active during hunting season.

I relate habitat/landscape design to garden design with the deer being your guest and the gardens designed for him. In that design would be paths for him to walk and focal points such as water holes, food plots, hinge cuts, clear cuts, etc. All these focal points can be loosely grouped in different areas of the property spaced far apart enough so that the garden could hold as many visitors in it as possible without them running into each other. Paths would meander along the directions of property lines for easy stand access yet far enough in from them so the deer are safe from neighboring lands and so that we do not disturb them in accessing our stands. Deer paths will also go from focal point to focal point utilizing natural focal points like ridge points, south slopes, saddles, brooks, swamp edges etc. as well as bringing deer through our manufactured focal points.Food plots are placed far enough off the property lines so that we don't create killing spots for someone else to take advantage of and are shaped to direction-ally point the deer back into the property rather than out of it.Hinge cuts and browse are encouraged throughout the landscape but near property lines it is done at only half a level so as not to encourage deer bedding in them. The bedding areas are often planned to be next to heavy browse cut over areas. These are all just simple ideas that when combined allow growing more deer food, housing more deer, growing older deer and even housing more older deer on a single property. It also creates a predictable and hunt-able flow of deer movement throughout the property.

Give me a pm and your e-mail again and I'll e-mail you a pic of our habitat plan that Steve had made for this property. While your property will be different than mine you will see what we mean about making the deer path where you want them too walk versus in the random (to us) way they choose to travel on their own.
thanks Chiansaw, I was wondering what time of year you did that survey of the browes. With the terrain that I have I am kinda limited as to where I can hinge cut and put the plots, plus being able to go to and from the stands with disturbing the deer. God and mother nature gave us the perairmiters that we need to work around. Thanks guys as allways you have all given good food for thought.. DLL
Browse selection depends on time of year and harshness of weather. Spring browse going to much diff than that in this nasty winter we are having now. Also dependant on health of herd going into winter and food available such as hard/soft mast, ag, and summer browse. My deer will eat MFR at greenup but seldom touch it otherwise , they love cedars for bedding and browse in the nasty zero degree days we now have, etc. I doubt anything you hingecut beneath a shaded overstory won't grow as it is mostly shade tolerant. Hingecut shoulder high if you want thickened understory as deer don't browse it easily. Hinge waist to ground for good browse sprouts. Dropping any trees this time of year in winter is a great feeder especially in browse poor areas.
Evaluate the amount of browse you have just before greenup by evaluating the browse on stems. If they have browse past the first or especially the second knuckle of growth of stem, your browse is not adequate for winter. Have to use some thinking as to the severity of winter and fall food that was available . Good luck.