dbltree's hing cutting thread

Funnel ideas

More then one way to skin a cat or so they say and there are plenty of ways to get deer to use one or more runways that all funnel or bottleneck down past a stand or two.

Example shows where I used hinging to block off multiple crossings downwind of a stand I hunt with S and SW winds and how i used the tractor to clear debris and create a pathway they are eager to follow

View from the stand....knocked everything down except for any oak trees and completely blocked off runways north of the stand

Several runways that lead out to a hidden ag field that gets plenty of activity but one leads in and past the stand



Note the time...2 hours after I was in there ramming around with the tractor, falling trees, stinking up the place with smoke and sweat...in come the "troops"...completely unphased....

and from that point on use the runway day and night

Not only does this increase hunting opportunities/success but provides accurate cam surveys as well and despite being a thick cedar/brush infested awesome bedding area...few bucks actually live there with the high number of does present. Those that do, show up regularly in this funnel

This allows us the opportunity to begin at inventory and age bucks that do call this timber home

When given the opportunity, most mature bucks in my area will take up residence in the native grass fields and few actually inhabit the timber

But by late October the "prairie dwellers" start showing up where the ladies live...

Combining funnels and cams helps me know for a fact where deer of various sex and age class live...if I only had cams here in the fall I would assume these bucks actually lived here

Buck activity will continue to pick up thru November and does will actually become scare in their own bedding area

Keep in mind you can easily make or enhance a path with a chainsaw and leaf blower in places not accessible to with equipment. Pile brush along the sides, leave the occasional small tree/shrub for scrapes and then get a stand set up for easy ambush along the cleared path or at the bottleneck

Only a few days ago I use the tractor and loader once again to clear out a spot to put up a ladder stand only this time i climbed in the stand a few hours later....7 does and fawns walked by using the path

One won't be back...

Obviously "tearing things up" is not all that alarming to these deer and in each case they were completely unaffected by any work done, even within a few hours of doing it. Whitetails are adaptable and they prefer the easy path. especially rutting bucks in search of does during the rut...take advantage of this fact to fine tune your hunting strategies on your farm or hunting property and get some funnels, bottlenecks and pathways in place...
Funnels and bottlenecks

Over the past several years I have shared detailed aerials and results of my own funnels and last winter worked on building funnels for landowners I work for. Like everything I share, if I can not provide credible evidence that said improvements actually work then it's just...talk.

The following is just one of the new funnels where a natural corner of an ag field (now a feeding area) and an area of timber/bedding area come together. I edge feathered the entire field edge to limit possible entrances to the field and the tightened the funnel forcing all deer to travel within 25 yards of a ground blind.

A year later hinged trees look like this (note runway passing thru the hinged trees)

To open up the corner and clear a shooting lane some trees were simply cut off and pushed back to close off runways

Bucks travel the circuit usually staying inside the safety of cover while does follow this runway out to the feeding area. Regardless which way the buck goes, he is as good as dead should the hunter decide to harvest the animal

Multiple runways form the wide part of the funnel

Each beaten down from repeated use by doe groups, now adapted to the year around food sources I use

A cam records movement 24-7 and like most funnels tells us that few if any bucks use this funnel until the rut and when coming to late season food sources. During the rut they are relentlessly travel this route in search of....

All of that sounds good on paper but...does it actually work? You be the judge....


Hinging trees enmasse is not for everyone nor even advisable in all situations in regards to creating bedding and browse depending on the kind, quality and quantity of tree species but one can use a chainsaw and some sweat equity to create some funnels with almost kind of trees. Brush can be piled, trees dragged into place and a diversion created almost anywhere you can carry a saw into.

Use the most natural bottlenecks and then work on tightening the noose so to speak to force deer by your stand or blind.

As I check more cams I will share the results in this thread....
Whitetail Browse

Of all the things we can offer whitetails to eat, none is more important then browse but unfortunately this the most oft overlooked food source. Deer don't need clover or corn, rye or radishes, but they do however need browse and they are designed to live and in fact thrive on natural forbs and browse.

While we may spend hundreds if not thousands on everything required to plant a food source, we can often provide far more beneficial food simply with a chainsaw. The following pics are from ares cut in the past 1- years, most of it hinge cut, some trees cut off and much of the areas shown were cut primarily for blocking and screening so not necessarily a bedding area.

Trees react differently regardless if cut off or hinged but 90% will send up plethora of new browse which in turn also offers screening (safety and screening) and in many cases outstanding bedding.

A fresh snow always reveals that these areas are heavily used by deer no matter how much planted food of any kind is offered

Hinging is on option I use to instantly create cover and browse but it is certainly not the only one

A downed tree top invites birds to roost and they in turn drop all kinds of seeds such as blackberries which then spring up to offer some highly sought after browse.

Different areas of the country will have various species of trees, any of which may react very differently but here most shingle oaks don't hinge well (they break off) but the stumps explode with thick brushy, leafy browse.

Reducing canopy also allows red cedars to come up, (again thanks to birds who love the berries) eventually adding some thermal cover to the area. If no conifers are present simply plant trees such as Norway Spruce or cedars in your cutover areas.

Simply opening up canopy will cause and explosion of new brushy growth simply by letting sunlight in. Logging and girdling trees will also allow a rapid conversion to the type of cover whitetails thrive in.

Deer will spend a great deal of time browsing in these type of areas

In this area the white, red and black oaks were released and left standing

Browse abounds and whitetails can live comfortably all winter with this type of food source

Some trees such as hackberry and elm hinge easily

and then provide plentiful browse along the now downed trunk

Shingle oak stump sprouts are awesome because they hold their leaves all winter

Our timber resources are one of our greatest habitat resources yet it is the one that is usually completely overlooked.

All timber/trees can not be managed in the same way...aspen stands are better off clear cut in blocks to create a succession of new growth and a pure stand of white oaks is not the place to be attempting things like hinging. Trees can be thinned and canopy opened up by various methods including a combination of things.

It's always important to remember that every landowner does not have the same situation as you may see, each property is unique and tree species vary widely so as we share ideas of how to improve our timber for whitetails, please cognizant of these things. Please share what is working for you but as the old saying goes....there's more then one way to skin a cat and....no one way is right for everyone.....

Falling trees along the edge of a timber, fence line, draw's or almost anywhere there are no/low value trees is a quick way to do some blocking, screening and provide the "edge" effect that provides browse. These are some areas I did last year showing the resulting regrowth from both trees and simply removing canopy, which allows blackberries and other shrubby cover to grow.

Some trees react by sending up stump shoots

While others send up vertical growth from the now horizontal trees

The dense growth that results from edgefeathering provides a screening effect that allows deer to feel comfortable bedding nearby

In this case we were able to limit the number of runways entering the feeding area

and thereby increase harvest success as a greater number of deer travel by a limited number of stands/blinds

In areas with small or limited trees to fall one can add cattle panels, scavenged fencing or any number of other items to help funnel deer

Planting conifers (in our case red cedars) will in time provide a permanent screen along the edge making it far easier to reach a stand without spooking nearby bedded deer.

Trees felled into a field will usually need to be pushed around parallel with the timber edge which requires the use of a tractor and loader, skidsteer or dozer although small trees may be moved by hand. Trees that will be pushed 90 degrees will often break off if hinged but the stumps will provide plenty of new growth and the trees blocking and screening and new growth will fill in.

Leave small trees near entrance/exit runways for scrapes which allows for an excellent cam census each fall as well....
Hinging cull trees

Hinging a tree is a means of falling it while keeping it alive and at the same time reducing canopy and competition with any better quality crop trees or at least more desirable species. The downed trees can help increase bedding opportunities, providing instant cover the moment the tree hits the ground. Long term, any method of reducing canopy will encourage understory growth so logging, clear cutting, removing trees for firewood etc. can all end up with the same result but over a much longer time period.

Hinging trees is then just an option, not right or appropriate for everyone or every timber but where you may have some cull or weed trees that are small enough to safely hinge, one can create an outstanding bedding area...over night!

Hickory, elm, hackberry and ironwood are just a few species that hinge well in my area...

anything in the red oak group is likely to break off deepening on size but smaller shingle oaks don't hinge to bad

Ash and larger honey locust almost always break off but not to worry....they will quickly send up stumps shoots

I like to hinge them roughly 4' high but I have seen too many cases of trees being hinged "the wrong way" that were full of deer including mature bucks so...experiment and most of all...be safe!!

Leave runways or travel corridors open

Note before we started we could see 100 yards into wide open timber....now the tops lay toward the trail which allows deer to feel safe and secure

Even a few downed trees make a big difference

Use caution not to drop mass amounts of trees over a huge area, create "brushpiles" if you will in a random fashion

it's easy to create a funnel with the dropped trees

Tip over smaller trees first and then drop a larger tree onto them

This bottomland was wide open before we started falling trees

Big honey locusts almost always break off and any larger trees may not fall so beware....this is dangerous work and you may wish to double girdle large trees

Shagbark hickories usually hinge well and create instant bedding areas!

My posts regarding hinging trees are to expose people to the concept and share how this habitat tool can help improve your ability to hold whitetails in areas that may previously have held very few deer. Consider all your options before deciding what might work best for you and your property.....
January 21st, 2013

Culling/killing trees by any manner including harvest will open up canopy and encourage undergrowth of the kind that whitetails love but hinging trees allows the same thing to happen while creating an instant bedding spot at the same time....

Another advantage of hinging trees is that birds then roost in the downed tops....

and deposit the seeds of everything from blackberries to red cedars...

which in turn creates a plethora of new browse and thermal cover

where once we could see 100 or more yards....now we can see no distance at all

The brushpiles of downed tops, created by hinging trees into a "hole" instantly screens large areas

and within hours, a wide open, little used stand of weed trees was converted to dozens of bedrooms for deer...

Semi open travel and loafing areas must be maintained

Deer aren't rabbits...they don't live in/under brushpiles...they do however bed behind them and need some open places weaving thru the downed trees for travel and escape corridors

Hinging trees is hard and extremely dangerous work, learn to expect the unexpected and be aware that trees will fall against other trees and "hang up"....they may fall 30 minutes later or 3 years later. Learn to keep your eyes on a semi downed tree while backing away (they often roll and flip sideways as you walk away) and most of all....know when to walk away and when to...run!!

Learn your tree species and how to identify a tree by it's twigs (burr oak)

and bark....

The stand shown happened to be mostly shagbark hickory, (perfect for hinging) so we released any oak and walnut trees which is not to imply that hickories have no value, they just have more value on the ground to those landowners managing their land for whitetails.

We are often asked to do radical hinging/aggressive crop tree release which means a very high percentage of trees are killed or felled via hinging but even a few large trees dropped per acre can certainly make a significant difference. Providing thick, heavy cover is perhaps the single most important habitat improvement we can do, far more successful and rewarding results will come from this endeavor then any possible planted food scenario you could possibly come up with.....
Areas with a lot of weed trees make for some great opportunities to create some great bedding cover but also an opportunity to release any oak species... in this case white oaks in the background

or perhaps a black walnut

Small clumps of white oaks are great because the released trees produce more mast which in turn allows for some oak regeneration but also naturally creates some openings amongst the tangled mess of downed trees

Deer don't care to bed in a giant brushpile but rather around or behind the screening cover of the downed tops.

Young white oaks are quickly decimated by deer but when they germinate in the downed trees, they are somewhat protected, yet lacking overhead canopy competition, they can quickly rise above the felled trees.

Hinged trees or sprouts from cut trees also provide plentiful browse that also helps protect new oak seedlings

Hopefully you are blessed with a few seed trees of various oak species in your area

if not, consider planting native oak seedlings and protecting them with tree tubes scattered among the hinged trees

If there are too many weed trees and to few oaks, you may need to simply girdle some trees to avoid having a solid mass of downed trees that whitetails will be unlikely to use. A combination of open areas and thick, screening from hinged trees will create a diverse and heavily used whitetail oasis....
Edge Feathering

There often various trains of thought when it comes to edge feathering, what does it entail, what does/should it look like and what is it's purpose? Some confusion arises from the fact that I share this habitat improvement along side "hinging" information, but typically edge feathering involves cutting trees down/off. We use both, often cutting the extreme outer row of trees off and then hinging those further in.

Edge feathering may be just the very outermost row of trees (weed trees) or it may involve some distance into the timber and when combined with true hinging for bedding, it becomes difficult to tell where one begins and another ends.

For whitetails we use edge feathering to promote early successional growth by severely reducing canopy, usually to a distance of 100' into the timber. We do a Crop Tree Release of sorts, releasing the best crop trees (oaks and walnuts) and falling everything else. Trees that fall into fields we push around parallel with the timber and many of these trees if hinged will break off depending on species. This is of no concern because large trees will take years to break down and decompose, thus providing a large "brushpile screen". Simply allowing sunlight inn will encourage a plethora of new growth that will add to the screen and the blocking effect of the trees.

The following are some before and after pics including some where because of a fence, trees could not be felled into the field, thus required no pushing and could be hinged. Keep in mind again, these are NOT for bedding but to form a dense, security screen between open fields and the interior where deer will bed.

Note that one can see into the timber which is wide open causing deer to bed far from the food source.

After falling trees (and yes, many of these are hinged since they don't require pushing) one can see only feet into the timber

The downside to dropping trees that won't be pushed is the inability to really "block" deer runways but we still gain the screening effect

In this case we thinned inferior quality white oaks and felled everything else to the extent possible but note that many trees (especially oaks) "hang up"...not a big deal as they will come down eventually but as with any work in the timber, it is dangerous work!

The opposite side of the same field had no fence but also had few large trees along the edge so many trees tipped over were ironwood

Whatever trees can be felled however can be pushed around forming a dense screen that encourages deer to bed closer yet allow the landowner to reach a stand without alarming deer.

Be aware that "pushing" trees is also not without danger! Do not try to lift heavy trees as they are heavier then one might think and can easily cause a tractor to tip. I move them slowly and carefully by pushing near the center of the tree rather then against the branches which can damage the tractor. Adding Slime to front tires can help avoid flat tires but we also use caution to use the loader to scrape locust branches ahead of the tires....
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So what does edge feathering look like a year or two later? Like any timber work the ensuing results will vary depending on tree species, soil types and rainfall but the following are some different examples.

These are trees that were hinged and remained that way after pushing

Results however are also excellent where trees broke off and the resulting regrowth is phenomenal, creating a thick dense screen, even without leaves on!

The downed trees encourage birds to root there whereupon they deposit well fertilized seeds that spring up, taking advantage of the sunlight and lack of competition along the edge.

These honey locust trees all broke off, but the trees of course remain, forming a dense block and screen and all kinds of weeds and forbs spring up, good for whitetails and small game as well. Note the shed...no doubt left behind after the buck bedded against the screen taking advantage of the morning sun...

Downed trees make a gnarly mess, alive or dead and new growth only adds to the screen

Note the sprouts that have erupted from the stumps

The combination makes it impossible to see into the timber and that means deer bed closer to the food source

Just as with hinging, certain species are likely to stay connected, others likely to break off. Hickory, elm and hackberry have a better chance of surviving hinging and then pushing. Shingle oaks, black, red and pin oaks, maple, cottonwood as well as ash are likely to break off when felled so don't expect them to stay connected when pushing. They do however make great screens inn the form of a brush pile and will send up plenty of new stump sprouts to add to the screen and provide edge browse.
Hinging for bedding and weed tree removal

Some areas have a large number of weed trees yet enough oaks to provide for some regeneration if given the chance, hinging the weed trees allows us to reduce canopy and radically change the open timber to incredible whitetail habitat

Weed trees are felled around any available crop trees (oaks and walnuts)

Instantly creating thick bedding cover

It's not pretty...

but pretty is as pretty does...

and downed trees create some pretty fantastic whitetail habitat!

and by leaving a trail open

It insures that rutting bucks will use the trail versus maneuvering thru the downed trees and tops

The thick screening

allows one to approach quetly by using the trail yet remain unseen

Remember to use good safety equipment

Larger trees fall hard

and make a big splash in the habitat bucket!

falling trees can do all kinds of squirrely things

but it quickly changes open timber that holds few deer...

to a thick refuge in which whitetails feel secure

It doesn't take much of a connecting hinge to keep the tree alive

The layer that sends the life blood of the tree is very thin, so attempting to make a bigger/larger hinge does not help the tree stay alive more so then a thinner hinge

Brittle species such a ash and the red oak species are likely to break off regardless but stump shoots will spring to life

It is not necessary then to worry that every tree remain hinged, the downed trees even if broke off will provide cover for years and in the meantime brush will quickly fill in

Trails or lanes...

can be kept open by girdling trees leaning the wrong way

Still plenty of time to get some lumber on the ground but...be safe out there!
Tim shared a great photo sequence of using edge feathering to block runways and funnel deer past his stand...

Hello Paul,I hope this finds you and yours well, thought I would send you a few pics of hard work paying off.

First pics are of an area that the deer entered the food plot randomly. I did some work and shut down the runs,( I counted 5) in about a 100 yrd strip. the second and third pic show the after work.

The big cedar in the back ground of the third pic is a little nook, so I pinched them there figuring that they would use the big cedar as another bit of cover before fully entering the field.

I then took my weed eater with a blade and cut a trail about 40 yds deep and past a ladder stand that I had erected prior. The stand sets right on a creek bank about 50 yrds in and gives me easy,quiet entry and exit. I turned a backroad into an interstate!

thanks for all your wisdom.

God speed,Still praying,Tim


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Those pics say it all and demonstrate how one can easily manipulate deer movement as well as screen bedding areas to encourage deer to bed closer to food source and enhance hunting opportunities. At a time in my life when I am challenged with serious health problems, I appreciate both prayers and pictures...thanks Tim!
November 7th, 2013

A trail cam recorded activity as Jesse and crew did an edge feathering job in early April, which I share because often landowners express concern that chainsaws, men and equipment will "scare" deer away...

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Note edge in background is done...

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and deer quickly return

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Chainsaws quickly become a dinner bell

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as deer flock to the downed trees to feed

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Keep in mind this cam is recording a very tiny fraction of 1000's of feet that were edge feathered

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Shed buck

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In the winter, tracks in the snow the next morning tell us the number of deer moving in to feed on hinged or fallen trees but the cam pics offer a chance to confirm what we already knew...

The following pics are of a funnel created by mass hinge cutting on either side of a natural runway, this runway connects two large bedding areas with year around food in between.


We keep a cam on it 24/7 365 days a year


You can see it's like shooting fish in a barrel


Bucks rarely use except during fall/winter months and constant cam monitoring helps understand whitetail habits


One thing we learned years ago is that many bucks will travel this well hidden, secure funnel (80 yards from our house) in daylight hours, yet will not appear in open feeding areas til after dark.


Hunting the edge can be productive but more often then not, a lesson in futility


Areas of radical hinging can sometimes be used in conjunction with natural narrow travel corridors


If a thick enough mess is created, deer are less likely to bed there and one can reach a stand without jumping deer. Everyone's habitat is different and all ideas may not be applicable everywhere but where funnels can be created...some outstanding hunting opportunities can be created...
Assessing timber and funnels

Lots to be learned when we check landowners cams this time of year, much more then pics of bucks but rather seeing the bigger picture and looking at how we can use habitat to increase/enhance hunting opportunities.

Typically, everyone thinks because they have timber...it's good enough and nothing more is required. Leaves on trees are deceiving and give one the feeling that the cover is great...

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As leaves start to fall however we begin to get a more realistic view...

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When snow blankets the ground...it's a real eye opener as to how open the timber really is...

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Each timber/forest is unique and different with no one size fit's all means of managing it, even mature junk trees can be marketed for pallet wood. Timber Stand Improvement practices can be employed to kill weed/cull trees and hinging weed trees to create instant ground cover may be a part of yours.

There is a high % of weed trees in this picture and if cost share is approved we'll begin a TSI plan to release crop trees and put some lumber on the ground. This will create instant bedding and browse, hundreds of whitetail bedrooms while also improving mast production.

What you can't see here is the mass hinging done to create a one runway funnel, resulting in many great pics of bucks walking 15 yards from the landowners stand...

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These are pics from an inside corner, note we hinged trees a year ago to pinch deer close to the corner...

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No one has hunted this spot yet but obviously the pics give one confidence for future hunts

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We also compare daylight sightings of mature animals in the timber and in the food sources, and without fail more daylight movement occurs in the timber versus hunting the edge

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Cams mounted on hinged funnels don't lie and inside corners such as this one allow the hunter to slip into the timber a few yards...undetected...

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Obviously...this timber is ripe for some radical hinging, but look beyond all that and what don't you see?

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These deer are only yards from the food plot and a year ago one could easily see into/out of the timber. Edge feathering corrected that and now the downed trees screen the edge between timber and field. Leaving one runway open creates yet another funnel as well...

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Cams are important census tools, they are invaluable in helping us know the number and age of bucks on our property. Many locate cams solely in open areas and never get a true picture of mature animals, but cams placed randomly in the timber may not be effective either.

Bucks wander and cut cross lots in open timber resulting in missed or near missed bucks...

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Tipping a few trees over can funnel every by the cam and this spot is sorely in need...

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Pictures tell the story and reveal the truth then it's up to us to fix and fine tune and year to year, monitor herd, habitat and hunting strategies and make changes as necessary.

Time to sharpen the chainsaw and get protective gear in order....
Tim sent in a few pictures of his timber project .......

Very open timber with zero bedding cover






Best to hinge when temps are near or above freezing and remember to be safe out there.
February 24th, 2014

Jesse and his crew have been busy doing a REAP funded crop tree release/weed tree removal using hinging as the primary means of releasing crop trees. REAPis a cost program peculiar to Iowa that allows us to do TSI and tree planting at little or no cost to the landowner.


Some species such as shingle and red oak, cherry and locust are likely to break off, while elm, hackberry, hickory and others hinge well. Those that break off will send up an explosion of stump shoots creating a plethora of new browse and cover



Whitetails will usually bed in openings behind downed tops


The second trees hit the ground new bedding is created



There is as they say, more then one way to skin a cat and so it is with improving timber and cover and most will do trick. Share your own version of timber improvement and cover enhancement to give others helpful ideas
Predator control

My son loves trapping, great hobby as is predator calling but many people falsely believe they can increase fawn recruitment via trapping and hunting


Predators respond however by having larger, healthier litters, so the answer is providing exceptional cover


In the timber this can be done quickly using hinge cutting, timber stand improvement and in some cases logging and clear cutting


Creating thick cover not only allows does to hide fawns better but dramatically increases the number of prey species. In open timber mice and rabbits are almost nonexistent


But they abound in thick, brushy environments, providing a plentiful food source for predators


Fawn recruitment rises greatly when you get out the chainsaw but by all means enjoy trapping and hunting predators as well
When I get where I'm going....don't cry for me down here...