dbltree's hing cutting thread

Cover and Browse

To often the focus is entirely on food sources...you never see for instance a big fancy add in a hunting magazine advertising "cover"...it's always about the supposed "magic" of some kind of food source that promises to grow monster racks and bring hoards of deer to your property. None of that could be farther from reality of course and in the end...the one with the best cover will be the most successful at holding mature whitetails on their property.

Thick nasty cover not only provides the safe bedding that holds mature whitetails but also "feeds" them as well

These pics are from an area a friend of mine did TSI and hinging work on perhaps 5 or more years ago?

Deer pour out of these areas that appear so thick a rabbit couldn't get thru it!

Compared to wide open timber commonly found this provides a plethora of cover and browse

Kip Adams wrote a great QDMA article on "Important Deer Foods"...all natural browse food sources....some of which are listed below.

Midwest – We received data from 4 states (IL, IN, KS, KY). Brambles and grape were most often reported. Coralberry, dogwoods, greenbriar, Illinois bundleflower, ragweed, trumpet creeper, wild lettuce and wild rose were also important species. Other notable plants included asters, plums, pokeweed, sumac and trillium.

Northeast – We received data from 4 states (ME, NH, NJ, PA). Bracken fern, brambles, grape and greenbriar were reported by multiple states. Canada mayflower, jewelweed, poison ivy, Virginia creeper, wild rose and wild sarsaparilla were also important species. Other notable plants included blue bead lily, goldenrod, plantain, sumac and winterberry.

Southeast – We received data from 9 states (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, OK, SC, TN, TX). Brambles, grape, greenbriar, honeysuckle (primarily the native coral, but also non-native Japanese/white) and ragweed were listed by nearly every responding state. Pokeweed and strawberry bush were listed by about half of the states, and American beautyberry, beggar’s lice and poison ivy were also listed by a third of the states. Other notable plants included Alabama supplejack, devil’s walking stick, Florida pusley, old field aster and trumpet creeper.

Canada – We received data from 6 provinces (BC, MB, NS, ON, QC, SK). Asters, brambles, choke cherry, fireweed, pondweed, snowberry, sow thistle, trillium, Virginian strawberry and wild rose were all reported from more than one province. Other notable plants included Canada mayflower, jewelweed, lupines, ragweed and wild lettuce.

When we radically open up canopy the result is a mass explosion of "brush" that will include many of the species mentioned in Kips article

There will be of course mostly young saplings that provide browse and cover for many years

For that reason we want different stages of succession in our timber

So that the entire thing isn't all the same at any one time

On larger timber do areas or blocks each year if possible

and keep a variety of growth coming up to provide cover and browse at all times on your property

You can also see why it is not imperative that every tree remained hinged, if some break off don't worry about it...eventually new growth will erupt and in time the hinged trees may not even be noticeably....dead or alive..

If you have cover like that shown, you will hold a tremendous number of deer of which a percentage will be mature bucks, all of which will eat anything and everything you plant. If you have poor quality cover you find it difficult to hold deer and the kind of food sources you plant will never fix the problem....
Manipulating Habitat

The following is yet another example of a real situation where I have combined year around food sources in a centralized feeding area, edge feathered the timber for blocking and manipulating deer movements and hinged trees within the timber to funnel deer by one stand rather then two.

I started with the natural runway skirting the edge of the field that allowed bucks to check the runways entering the field without coming into the field itself in daylight hours. My goal was to remove a few trees at a corner and then block cross runways farther into the timber so that bucks must come out and around the corner. I cut the trees down and pushed them back with the tractor forming a block in itself where deer previously used a secondary runway that was just out of archery range...

I hinged trees over several old runways and forced them onto one that is just inside the timber

I mounted a cam that will now catch 100% of the deer going thru here giving the landowner an accurate census of both deer and mature whitetails using this corner.

I edge feathered the field edge and pushed the trees around to block off multiple runways entering the field

Forcing all deer coming out this corner area to walk within 20 yards of the stand...this area will be white clover this coming year and is adjacent to the feeding area as noted on the aerial view. In the background lies the runway skirting the corner and the ground drops off considerably keeping deer hidden from any field areas.

Note ALL of the factors involved here, many started by the previous landowner such as NWSG, cedar screens, TSI, hinging etc. I capitalized on this great work to establish year around food sources and use blocking and funneling to give accurate cam surveys and increase the landowners odds of successfully harvesting a mature buck. The stand will allow him to hunt bucks that refuse to enter open areas in daylight hours yet he will also not have to enter a sanctuary.

The cam had over 200 pics on it in 48 hours after completing the funnel...

The adapted it to it immediately and showed no fear or alarm at their changed surroundings

Both mature bucks and does can be easily taken from this spot without alarming other deer

and mature bucks will wear this trail out during the rut...

Every property is different but hopefully these examples give you ideas on how you can manipulate deer travel to increase your odds of success. Combine ALL the factors noted on the aerial if you have a similar situation and make your habitat work for you....
Ironwood Management

A good question was brought up regarding "ironwood"...should it be hinged, should we cut and treat it or simply leave it alone?

Ironwood; eastern hop-hornbeam Ostrya virginiana

My purpose here is helping people improve their habitat for whitetails with emphasis on holding mature whitetail bucks on their property so I try to use caution to always provide facts and supporting data rather then "opinion". I have decades of experience and work with landowners across SE Iowa where I have physically done timber stand improvement and been able to observe the results. I do all of that following the advice of a number of very experience foresters, all with varying thoughts on timber management and then combine that with whitetail management goals that also varies among landowners. I share that because it is important to know the information I post is trustworthy and backed up by facts and actual experience on more then just a few acres.

Landowners may have very different goals so it is my goal to give good information that allows the landowner to make good habitat choices that are right for them. If the primary goal is holding mature whitetails then habitat improvements may be very different then if the landowner prefers to manage solely for timber and agricultural interests so it is important on a forum to remember that your goals may not be the same as those of others.

Ironwood is a shade tolerant tree that can grow quite comfortably under the canopy of large trees such as oak and hickory. I took these pictures today while doing TSI today...

I fairly large ironwood tree

under the canopy of very large and nearly mature oaks

Because ironwood trees are shade tolerant they can inhibit oak regeneration and hence are considered a "weed tree" but the key here is understanding "oak regeneration" and when that actually occurs? Typically oak regeneration is often greatest right after a harvest when the canopy is removed and there is soil disturbance and it is at that time when competitive weed trees such as ironwood are often cut and treated with herbicide.

Generally a timber harvest is followed by timber stand improvement to kill weed or cull trees and allow the remaining unharvested trees to grow and it is at that point we might cut and kill ironwood. I did this very thing on one TSI job last winter, we hinged the ironwood to give us more ground cover but treated probably 80% of the hinged ironwood with Tordon RTU

Oak Regeneration

This spring we will interplant red cedars among the open areas to increase bedding opportunities and because of the harvest the year before there is already plenty of oak regeneration.

That then is an example of when killing the ironwood might be the best option so when might we just hinge it and allow it to re-grow? When the oak timber is relatively mature such as shown here...there will not be any oak regeneration or at best it will be minimal.

The canopy from the large existing oaks is as bad or worse then the ironwood and there will be almost no regeneration, so in this case there is simply no valid reason to kill the ironwood.

The assumption here is that most people reading this thread are interested in holding mature whitetail bucks on their property and to do that we need thick, dense understory...BRUSH! In large mature timber that is next to impossible but we take advantage of every opportunity to create any ground cover at all and in this case ironwood may be one of the only viable options.

Many foresters may see it this way...the only good ironwood is a dead one, but from our standpoint of whitetail habitat it can serve a purpose until such time that you may be ready to do a harvest.

So what happens when we do radical hinging/cutting and severely open up canopy?

This is what happens most frequently in SE Iowa....oaks leap to life and quickly dominate

Large trees were felled and broke off the hinged trees in these pics but in open sunlight the oaks quickly out grew the ironwood in part because the ironwood thrives best in shade rather then open full sun.

The lack of canopy allows young oaks to grow rapidly along with blackberry brambles and other sun loving forbs and plants.

In smaller woodlots you have the option of micro managing small areas where some weed trees are chemically treated and oaks planted and tubed in those areas, while other areas are allowed to become thicker cover.

Hinging itself is not for everyone, regardless of species and each landowners habitat and whitetail management goals may vary widely but based on the facts you can make decisions that will be right for you. There is no across the board right/wrong way to manage your timber or habitat in general...you have options...choose the ones that will work best to meet your goals....
So what does ironwood really look like a couple years after being cut or hinged but not treated? Perhaps not what one might be led to believe....

There is no mass explosion of brush from either stump nor downed tree

I cut them much higher so that dead or alive the provide more ground cover but still one gets an idea what to expect from this shade tolerant weed tree

The pics of young oaks I posted previously are in the same cutting and are 3-4 times the height of the ironwood because they love sun and the ironwood does not

The tops of live hinged ironwood have very little leaf cover at all and are no competition at all to other growth

These are some recently hinged ironwood trees

They usually hinge fairly easy but respond slower when attempting to recover and re-grow so rarely create any real competition with other regeneration, such as as oaks for instance.

You can hinge or hinge and treat depending on your goals and concerns but I prefer to take advantage of any brush I can get when reducing canopy with hinging....
Not quite 50 years ago now I started my first habitat projects by building brush piles for small game and I soon learned that a pile of brush was an open invitation for song birds to roost in the relative safety of the piled branches. They of course left behind droppings filled with seeds of every imaginable kind of plant which soon turned the whole thing into a "living brushpile" so to speak.

That same thing occurs when we hinge trees or even merely drop them and is one of the ways the newly opened area soon becomes filled with new cover. On a recent consultation the landowner and I ran into a situation where the same phenomenon had occurred with red cedars....birds roosting in small hedge trees left droppings filed with red cedar seeds after having consumed the berries.

Not the greatest pics because I had my cell phone but you get the idea...under each tree there had sprang up a mass of little red cedars!

This is noteworthy on several counts because red cedars are great bedding/screening cover and I am often asked...will they grow within the hinged areas and the answer is absolutely yes (red cedars don't do well on wet low soils however) Hinged trees rarely have any canopy at all (compared to erect trees) but the little cedars can obviously stand some shade.

In all of my hinged areas I have natural regeneration of RC's but lacking seed trees in the area one can certainly plant them among the downed tops and expect them to do quite well.

Other conifers such as white or Norway spruce may also do well inter-planted into hinged areas and while white pines would also do well they do not make good cover long term and are very vulnerable to browsing/rubbing.

Hinging weed/cull trees helps being about a chain reaction of habitat changes and with a little help we can make it even better by adding some conifers in at least some areas of the hinge cuttings....
Unexpected dangers

Working in the timber is dangerous from the time you fire up the saw til you shut it down for the day. There are the obvious dangers when falling trees, they can snap backwards, fly up in the air 20 feet and slam to the ground, or flip and roll....all in the blink of an eye! There is no such thing as "safe" ways to fall trees because even the simple act of girdling a tree can bring it crashing to the earth if...it's rotten inside!!

I have had too many near misses when I didn't even want to fall the tree!

Be alert and aware, especially when you are not planning on the tree falling. Another frequent danger is dead limbs that snap off and ricochet thru the air, often larger then a fence post! This one landed inches in front of me and nearly broke my hand as it slammed into me...

Keep in mind I do this for a living and 6 days a week all winter so I see things that one may not when only doing a weekends work, but the potential is always there for one to get severely hurt or worse. Where hard hat and chainsaw chaps and never ever let your guard down!


Working in the timber every day from late November til April 1st allows me to learn a lot about whitetail behavior on a lot of different properties. It's always interesting to note their choice of bedding and that in turn helps me focus on some areas versus others. South facing slopes always get the priority and often it takes very few downed trees to attract deer and in fact they may be less attracted to a mass of downed trees rather then a downed tree.

There also plenty that bed in the wide open

Others tucked up against a downed tree

Some tucked up under a tree

Amongst a little brush

or where they can see in all directions

In general a mix of semi open and thick brushy areas attracts a lot of attention

There are two places that mature timber can never compete with, a mix of brushy, grassy red cedar cover and large fields of native warm season grass but get out for a walk this winter and observe the deer bedding preferences in your area. It can be helpful as you decide how best to improve your habitat....
Re-growth after hinging

The following pictures are from an area I hinged over 4 years ago and while different soils and trees species will produce different results, it gives on an idea what to expect when radical hinging/opening up of canopy is done.

Notice the regrowth on this downed tree, all of it providing ready browse and cover

Shingle oaks don't often stay hinged because they are quite brittle but this one is leafed out end to end, yet has no canopy to interfere with oak regeneration.

Other trees may not send up much growth along the stem but will from the cut stump

Several examples of cut stumps that have exploded with new growth

so while cutting the tree high enough and keeping it hinged is very helpful in providing immediate cover

It's certainly not imperative and nothing to worry about if some trees break off

Deer scat and beds are everywhere

Thanks to copious amounts of easy to reach browse

and the thick cover where it was once wide open

Deer live comfortably in this area even though it is a stones throw from my house

I have a funnel thru this mass of brush and brambles

and have killed two beautiful bucks that prefer the "highway" over stumbling around in the nasty mess when their only goal is finding a hot doe

Scattered small openings such as under this red cedar each have one or more beds

You can see the bed under this little cove of brush (the flag is a hybrid oak planted after hinging)

They have runways thru/under the hinged trees...if you look carefully at the top left you can see our driveway!

With this kind of thick cover however, whitetails are comfortable and find all their needs met.

All of my cover leads to one central feeding area, so all doe groups travel back and forth daily to that single feeding area. Because I have created funnels and blocked off multiple runways by utilizing edge feathering, bucks beat those "rut runways" to death during the rut. Those funnels are in the interior of the timber utilizing any natural bottlenecks and hinged trees to create the funnel. Hunting these funnels has allowed me to be consistently successful harvesting the most mature whitetail bucks on my property.

Provide year around cover and food and then use the most effective hunting techniques and you will consistently harvest the best deer on your property....
Hinging Hickory

Lot's of hickory species and depending on where you live you'll probably find some in your timber

Here's a link for help in identifying the various hickory types

Identify Hickory - The Major Hickory Species in North America

For the most part, hickories are lower in value then walnuts and oaks and they have little value to whitetails, unless....we tip them over. Here's a stand of shagbark hickories before

and after I tipped them over...this one is actually a bitternut hickory

Large and small they usually hinge pretty well and a large percentage stay alive although they seldom send up a great deal of re-growth.

Still....it allows us to create instant ground cover

and the newly opened canopy will soon come alive with all types of undergrowth

When there are many trees, a large tree may fall and break off other smaller trees previously hinged, those stumps will send up new growth and the combination will still provide cover and browse.

Hickories take years to decompose if the die after being cut so they continue to provide cover while new growth comes up thru the downed tops. Standing however they provide such a dense canopy that almost nothing can grow leaving an empty wasteland of open understory that will be nearly void of whitetails.

If you have more then 50 mature hickories you may be able to market those first but otherwise use a combination of girdling and hinging to release any oak trees and allow sunlight to create a new dense understory that will in turn become a haven for whitetails....

The security that thick bedding cover provides and it's importance in holding whitetails is clear but equally important is having plenty of high quality browse within and around our bedding areas.

Browse is often noticeably missing in open park like timber yet it is imperative that whitetails have access to browse like this...

That bud was the only one left uneaten and all of the rest looked like this

Even the resulting re-growth from the lowly ironwood...

get browsed

Hinging cull/weed trees not only provides bedding but plenty of browse such as this hackberry

and elm

the cut stumps may often send up more new growth then the downed tree such as with this black cherry

or this ironwood

which sends up little from the downed tree...but plenty from the stump

The results of hinging are often profound leaving a thick mass of downed tops

thru which thousands of new sprouts may emerge

Whitetails need browse in their gut even and especially if they have plenty of high quality crop forage and grain. They are "browsers" not "grazers" so unlike cattle they do need to have roughage in the form of browse in their diet. Provide for ALL of their needs by getting out the chainsaw and give them plenty of bedding and browse on your property....
Timber Stand Improvement using girdling and hinging

The act of hinging trees to improve whitetail habitat is often referred to as "TSI" but while hinging trees can be a tool in this process it is in and of itself not necessarily "improving" the timber stand unless done properly.

Not all trees can be hinged nor is it safe to even attempt it and falling large trees onto or into valuable crop trees can be counter productive so it is important to know when to girdle trees and when to fall them via hinge cutting them. Once in awhile I run into a stand of primarily "weed trees" but even then using indiscriminate "slash and cut" tactics can lead to mistakes, especially for the novice unfamiliar with tree species.

Marking trees first allows us to carefully look over the trees in our stand and decide which should be crop trees and which will be weed trees. Generally we choose black walnut and white oak over red, black or burr oaks

In some cases the stand may be 80% white oak for instance and then one must look carefully at the canopies and decide which oaks to kill to release the best specimens. In most cases it is far better to make those decisions with a paint can in hand rather then a chainsaw....

If the marked crop tree is surrounded by smaller weed trees then they can be felled by hinge cutting to both create cover and release the crop tree at the same time...such as with this black walnut surrounded by ash, shingle oak and basswood.

Good stands of hardwood timber are usually quite open and poor deer habitat

but large trees crashing into beautiful white or red oaks can cause serious damage that may be irreparable because open wounds are an invitation for oak wilt. Attempting to properly decide which crop trees to leave standing...which a chainsaw in hand is an invitation for disaster...

Marking the trees first allows us to make better choices and actually makes cutting go faster, since all the "thinking" has already been done.

In this stand attempting to fall large trees would not be in the best interest of the timber or the landowner so I use a combination of girdling and falling.

Here is an example of 2 beautiful white oaks (a third is not in the pic) and 2 black walnuts...what to do???

a look at the canopy reveals some damage from winds breaking another tree off and into these tree, the whites are suppressing the black walnuts but the whites are excellent quality...leaving one pondering the right choice??

With a saw running we often may not have the patience to really think things thru and decide what is best and in this case none of these trees are candidates for hinging. I decided to leave all of these trees standing and release them by killing the surrounding weed trees but that is my personal decision and every forester may look at these and make several different choices.

Each of you have unique and different stands of timber....someone with aspen and hemlock for instance will probably find clear cutting areas of their timber over a period of years will be the most effective habitat improvement. Some may feel their timber is more important than whitetail habitat, so there is no one way that is right for all.

Where weed trees (note...not every hickory, elm or ash is a weed tree and depending on the markets can also be valuable depending on the size) are plentiful, you can use them to block areas behind a stand such as I did here for a landowner while doing TSI

Even in otherwise good stands of timber there may be small area where trees can be hinged and not cause harm to crop trees, the ensuing "mess" can make some great whitetail habitat...

Often smaller weed trees can be tipped over without harming large crop trees and provide some ground cover

Falling shade tolerant weed trees such as ironwood, elm and hickory can allow at least a chance for some oak regeneration

Large weed trees however can be safely girdled to open canopy, releasing the adjacent oak crop trees and allowing some understory re-growth to occur

Hinging large trees can be dangerous and "widow makers" such as this hickory can kill you in a heartbeat if you forget....

Falling trees twist, turn, snap backwards....all kinds of crazy and unexpected things so always have an escape route and if trees hang up...leave the area until high winds either bring the tree on down or it is there to stay.

Even girdling is not without danger and is often more dangerous then falling a tree because if it is rotten inside it will snap off in a flash and that can be deadly if you are on the "leaning" side when it does!!

Oak wilt is very common in black oaks here so i have learned to girdle with caution!

In this pic there are a number of black oaks...all girdled...all of which came down sometimes before even finishing the first girdle.

We are all in a hurry to create some fantastic whitetail habitat but do some planning and research first, learn what species of trees are in your stand and how to identify the best of the crop trees if any are present. Some may not have the time nor experience for this and may choose to have a contractor do the work or at least mark the trees for you. Others will be eager to learn and do the work themselves and if so I urge you to read thru this thread on Timber Stand Improvement before you begin.

Good quality hardwood timber can be very valuable, not only does it add to the value of your property but good healthy, fully released oak trees can provide plentiful, sweet mast that whitetails find irresistible. Creating some pockets of think ground cover using hinging to fall competing weed trees will insure they bed there rather then just make nightly forays into your timber from the neighbors place.
Increasing understory and enhancing timber quality

Trees crowd each other and compete for sunlight and that competition slows growth, reduces mast production and virtually eliminates understory ground cover that whitetails need for both bedding and browse.

This timber was virtually void of deer sign other then a runway passing thru it from adjacent cedar cover to a feeding area beyond...

I went to work to change that

Releasing the better crop trees and putting some lumber on the ground at the same time

Even in a stand of hickories the best crop trees can be released to encourage faster growth

and where possible competing trees hinged to instantly increase ground cover

Pockets of trees may be hinged heavily, in some cases to provide screening and or manipulate deer movement

while other areas may be girdled to release trees but encourage only light ground cover

Better quality black walnuts and white oaks struggle in dense hickory stands

but in areas without better trees, I try to avoid killing every tree just because...hickories have timber value as well, as do most...even cottonwood can be marketed for pallet lumber

Where falling large weed trees would cause severe damage to crop trees, I girdle them and hinge only the smaller, shade tolerant understory trees that often consist of hickory, elm, basswood and ironwood.

Hickories hinge well except in extreme cold temps when almost all trees tend to break off...this winter has been mild and ideal for hinging.

At first glance some areas of mature timber seem unchanged...but pockets of hinged timber can be seen on adjacent slopes and as girdled trees die, the increased sunlight to the forest floor will begin to quickly change things.

Note that this area was heavily hinged for blocking or manipulating deer movement to force them by the landowners stand

Trail blocking and funneling is relatively easy to do with a chain saw and I admit...I can not do a TSI project without altering the timber to create funnels...even though I will never see the fruits of my labors....
A year later...

The following are pictures taken almost exactly a year after I did some edge feathering on a landowners farm, it's always interesting to go see what things look like after a growing season has passed. Did trees survive hinging? How much re-growth? How did whitetails and wildlife react to the hinging....and so on.

In this case a narrow strip was edge feathered on the inside of the timber rather then being felled into the field, simply because the neighboring field belongs to an adjoining landowner. The trees in this strip were between a fence line and a band of red cedars where deer frequently travel thru and bed in, so the trees were hinged primarily for blocking, screening and browse.

Here you can see the fence line trees to the right, hinged trees to the left and any thing remotely resembling a "crop tree" left standing...in this case mostly black cherry.

This strip is a solid mass of downed trees which is NOT what we would want for a bedding area

There is lot's of browse coming up where there was once a park like timber

The cedar bedding area is well screened

The younger pole sized trees were perfect for blocking runways...forcing deer to follow the inside edge and past the owners stand

nearly every tree remained alive and has new growth

When creating bedding, areas of trees can be hinged or large individual trees felled but you should be able to walk around the hinged areas freely...a solid mat of downed trees is not going to be used for bedding.

Radically opening up canopy causes and explosion of screening new growth and a new "edge" that whitetails like to follow and take advantage of the succulent browse.

Even though not very wide...the strip of downed trees almost completely blocks and screens the interior from the field edge.

I always leave semi-open areas for travel along the inside edge

If this were on a ridge deer will typically bed in the open area next to the downed trees but in this case they have better bedding further into the interior of the cedars and beyond.

The trees shown were primarily elms, hickories and cherry trees...not high value trees, unless of course we can use them to enhance our habitat and manipulate deer movement. This year we did TSI on much of the remaining timber doing a crop tree release with combined girdling and felling of trees to make a combination of thick pockets of cover and semi-open areas that will have plenty of new growth and browse yet also open enough to walk thru....more on that in a future post....
Regrowth after hinging trees

I love going back into areas previously hinged and seeing the tremendous re-growth that has occurred in only one year! The resulting explosion of new growth is often nothing short of amazing and is always full of deer. The other day I went back to continue our hinging program that a landowner and I started in the winter of 2010/2011 and was delighted with the results! I drove the Ranger to within 60 yards of the ridge, filled the saw and hiked to within 30 yards of the thick cover before the whole area exploded with whitetails!

One can see why with this thick cover at the top of the south facing ridge!

Previously the whole area looked like this and was of course largely devoid of deer

Even better was finding this shed next to a hinged hickory...

Opening up canopy alone spurs the amazing re-growth, so much so in places one can scarcely see the hinged trees but they have on on growth and are providing cover and browse themselves

Open timber in foreground and hinged areas in the back ground

So I set about continuing more of a good thing

Hinging any "weed" trees and leaving the oaks and walnuts standing

I always look for the main travel corridor and leave it open

Falling trees either right or left of it

It's been a long winter with over 400 acres done so I have more pictures to share...some rainy day....

April 29th, 2012

The following are pictures from a timber where I did a crop tree release using hinging and girdling over a year ago....the difference in ground cover is incredible!

The area not yet done looks like this...wide open with little or no ground cover or browse

Standing in the same spot but facing the side where I did radical hinging it looks like this

Even trees that broke off provide amazing amounts of growth

The hinged weed trees released young oaks and provide screening and bedding cover

and copious amounts of browse

Every hinged or cut tree has created an environment that provides the things whitetails crave most....food and cover

Trees killed via girdling open up canopy and allow lush new undergrowth

Young oaks are free to grow less the competition that once crowded them

while creating a jungle of bedding cover under them

I did some additional cutting...hinging trees along the edge

That next year will look something like this

Hinging to release crop trees and provide bedding and browse for whitetails is a win win habitat move! There is almost nothing you can do on your property that will produce more significant nor profound results and when used to funnel deer as well your odds of harvesting your target buck will rise as well...
August 1st, 2012


Typically edgefeathering involves falling and/or hinging cull/weed trees along the edge to create a transitional habitat that is beneficial to nearly all types of woodland and upland wildlife. Allowing sunlight in creates an explosion of new shrubby growth and cover and when we combine that with the "blocking" effect of this growth within the downed trees we also create some fabulous screening and trail blocking for whitetails.

The following pics are from some EF I did this past winter...

From the inside we cannot see the field a mere 20 yards away

and this creates a safe secure place for whitetails who love the safe feeling of not being seen

Note that while there is enough room for deer to move around...

you can not see down thru the timber thanks to the hinged trees

the downed trees fall towards the field and then were pushed around parallel with the field which allowed me to block off a dozen or more runways leaving only one...centrally located runway that is now more of a freeway!

From the outside we see nothing but a wall of new growth!

That new growth provides thick screening, a "fence" of sorts when combined with the downed trees..

and copious amounts of succulent browse

To often natural browse is overlooked and all our focus is on other food sources but whitetails are indeed browsers rather then grazers and must have browse in their daily diet.

When I started this project the timber was wide open from the field in and deer would flee within moments of approaching the field, let alone the timber.

Now deer remain calmly hidden from view and stage just inside the timber before entering the field to feed making them far more likely to step into the field in daylight hours. The single runway obviously has advantages for hunting but also allows us to get very accurate trail cam surveys.

Edgefeathering is an economical and efficient way to markedly improve your whitetail habitat as well as hunting opportunities. If you will be attending the Land and Wildlife Expo in Nashville next weekend stop by my seminar on Saturday where I'll be discussing this and other timber management options.

Land and Wildlife Exp Speakers

Fall, winter and early spring are great times to work on an edgefeathering project so get your chainsaw tuned up and ready...
September 13th, 2012

It's early fall...and everyone is proud of their food plots and eagerly anticipating the upcoming hunting season, hoping they will be successful thanks to their efforts in properly getting seed and fertilizer in the ground. Many however will be disappointed in the results simply because they have poor or no cover even though surrounded by...trees.

"Tree" do not great deer cover make, thick screening ground cover that blocks the view for more then a few yards is what makes up the kind of cover whitetails seek out yet much if not most timber I see...is wide open. This pic is a bit deceiving because of light leaf cover but I can easily see a hundred yards or more and deer avoid it like the plague!

Instead they bed here...in a thick maze of downed trees and the ensuing jumble of growth that erupts immediately following radical hinging....

Every deer in the area beds and travels thru this safe secure timber

Crop trees such as this oak were released, encouraging mast production and ground cover explodes to life thanks to the increased sunlight/reduced canopy.

Whenever I am asked to do a consultation, landowners frequently take me first to their food plots but I tell them..."let's take a look at your timber first" and find in all but rare situations, an open park like timber with no ground cover whatsoever....and their property holds few deer because of it . Timber Stand Improvement using hinging techniques changes all of that and the results are immediate when the first hinged tree hits the dirt! The following summer changes it even more and from that point on, little used feeding areas suddenly become a place that gets grazed to the ground!

Edge feathering (tipping trees over along the field edge) is frosting on the cake, creating a wall of brush and new growth that completely blocks the timber edge from the field and creates copious amounts of browse at the same time!

There were once 20 or more runways along the timber edge and now....every deer must travel thru this one runway creating an fantastic and highly accurate place for a cam survey not to mention a killer stand spot.

Friends...a $200 chainsaw will do more for your property then a whole fleet of tractors and implements or a mountain of seed and fertilizer! If you don't have a plot full of deer every nite...don't blame the food source....take a long hard look at your timber, because therein...lies the problem.....
October 13th, 2012

Hinging for blocking

It's tough to do much hinging in a timber that is predominately oaks, especially if they are near market size but if the timber is made up of a mix of oak other species of less or no value...one can create some sweet funnels that are killer during the rut!

I recently created some great funnels for a landowner where there were plenty of weed trees to work with! Large hickory, locust and elm trees along with plenty of ironwood growing under some mature oak trees, all which allowed me to completely block off multiple runways!

The aerial shows the timber, a large, deep draw that bisects it and creates a natural barrier and how I was able to funnel runways by one stand that now covers two runways

The exterior areas of the funnel are primarily ironwood which when hinged make an excellent but completely "free" fence.

One cannot even see the large hickories beyond the ironwood but a 70' tree blocks a lot of territory!

Creating a "mess" downwind of the stand helps prevent bucks from circling when calling from your stand

A trail cam mounted up high, out of reach of thieves and out of site of traveling bucks and left for the duration of the rut will yield clues to the effectiveness of the funnel and it's use by rutting bucks

This funnel...is working perfectly already....

Put your chainsaw to use and create your own funnels and avoid the frustration of having deer travel through open timber...just out of bow range...