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· Tornado Jim
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There are several train's of thought on creating individual beds for deer that include "tying" trees down to create over head cover, attempting to create "buck" and "doe" beds. The controversy often leads to arguments and name bashing which is completely counterproductive to helping others learn how to enhance their habitat.


Argument and name bashing are not good, and I hope they do not come into this thread. But I must respond to something you said:

Suffice it to say that after years of hinging trees I have inadvertently created all types of "overhead' cover from 3-4' to 10-15' above the ground but thus far I have not found deer using those types of situations.
Many other people do get deer to lay under overhead cover, but not through "inadvertent" activities. You actually have to apply a series of properly performed, well thought out techniques to do it successfully. I have enormous amounts of bedding activity underneath the overhead cover of hinged trees, and have seen the same on numerous other properties. And that ain't bragging because I didn't figure out how to do it and probably never would have by just cutting trees on my own. I paid to find out how to do it from someone who spent about 20 years figuring out how to do it successfully. And it works. You can not only get them to lay under the cover, but you can get them to lay facing in whatever direction you choose. And you can decide whether it will be a buck using it or a doe family.

I am not trying to be argumentative, but I want folks to know that even though you haven't been successful getting deer to lay under overhead cover that you created, they can, and so can you, using apporpirate techniques.
 

· Tornado Jim
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dbletree while I think your photos are great and you have lots of great information about habitat and improvement, I have a few comments about some of your statements.

Another thing to note is that if deer are unmolested then they may not require as thick of habitat as those that endure constant harassment and those type of things vary widely among landowners.
This is a critical thing to point out. This time of year is OK for figuring out how deer like to bed when it is cold, there is snow on the ground, and food is less available, but it is not a good time of year to figure out where the deer are going to be bedding during hunting season. There are bedding areas on my property right now that are in spots that are virtually never used by deer in hunting season.


While there is much hoopla about creating a "buck bed" from time to time, actual proof that it has been used by a buck would be nearly impossible unless one has a trail cam focused on the bed. I frequently notice lone does bedded alone so a single bed does not signify for certain that it is being used by a buck.
You cannot always be certain that an individual bed is a buck bed. But if there are massive tracks leading to it, it is used regularly during hunting season by a lone deer when there is great pressure (you can tell that by looking at how much hair is matted in the area at the end of the season), it smells like the Detroit Lions locker room after a game, is in an isolated area of cover, has massive sized scat (grown-up males crap big) a short distance away on the trail in and out, has nearby rubs, (choose any two of the above:lol:) you can deduce that it is a buck bed. Moreover, you can observe the make-up of the bed and its location and deduce how to make one yourself that a buck might want to occupy (only about 50% of the beds I make are occupied by deer on at least an occasional basis). Although does may occasionally bed alone they are very social creatures and prefer to have company. If they are bedding alone it is probably during the rut and they got separated from their family by buck activity, and it is probably not something they would do repeatedly day after day.

On top of all that, I know a number of people who have cut visual lanes to well-used buck beds and observe the bucks in their beds during hunting hours. These guys feel having a camera there is counter-productive to the buck using it during season so I do not recommend that approach. I have only had the experience on one occasion but last year on opening day of gun season observed a buck laying in a man-made bed 120 yards away on the ridge across a creek. It is not only not "impossible" to tell but it is pretty easy if you know what signs to look for.

Enjoy a late winter hike on a sunny day and find out what habitat is being used or unused and why? If they are not bedding on your land are they coming there to feed and returning to a neighboring bedding area...is so what is different.
Just realize that these deer are very possibly not going to be using those areas during hunting season if you are finding their spots now. This technique is great if you actually go in the first week after hunting season ends, because they may still be using their pressured bedding areas.

Use Google Earth or some such to "see" what the neighbors have that you don't and sometimes it may just be a larger more protective atmosphere with the same habitat.... ;)
Very good advice.
 

· Tornado Jim
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dbltree;

I am in the process of freeing up a lot of oaks in a new piece I acquired that had about 10-11 acres of woods. I have removed about 40 logs of walnut, ash and maple. The rest of the maples and ashes have been or will be sent sideways (virtually all of them, unless they are needed for a stand setup) with many of the largest ones (12-30 inch diameter) of course meeting their demise in the cutting. A few good straight cherries and walnuts will be left standing, but most crooked ones will be hinge cut, some beach have been left standing but many have been cut because they take up so much canopy.

All the uncrowded oaks will be left standing. They are all straight and tall with small crowns at the top because of the density of trees that was around them. Although I am not aiming for an oak savanna, rather a mixed woods with dense horizontal understory, populated mostly my mature oaks and beach, what can I expect of the oaks? Will some of the more mature ones branch out or will they just develop at the current crown height? I am sure some of the younger ones will be able to branch out now but I am wondering more about the mature ones.
 

· Tornado Jim
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These are textbook examples of how NOT to do a hinge cut. They are cut too far through, are cut at an angle which is dangerous because you have no control over which way the tree is going to fall, and are suggested as being for bedding--yes, bedding of rabbits as Ed Spin would say.

I posted my comments on these hinge cuts here, post 360.

http://www.tonysulm.com/images/Tony-2010-8pt-bow.jpg

And here, post 361.

http://www.qdma.com/forums/showthread.php?t=30537&page=37

Bio...with all due respect. I would hate to lose Dbltree's posts on this forum. Dbltree put a lot of time and effort into helping others with habitat. Maybe using a little tact in telling somebody you disagree with them would go a long way.
First--I am so embarrassed. The first link in that previous post was supposed to be to post 360 here: http://www.qdma.com/forums/showthread.php?t=30537&page=36

I have no idea how that image got put in there instead, I always double check my links but may have been tired. i apologize for that image showing up.

Regarding dbltree:

I would hate to lose his posts on subjects he has expertise in as well. I have probably learned more from him than any other individual on this and the QDMA site. I have used techniques learned form him for planting food plots, planting trees and protecting trees, and planting NWSG. If he teaches you how to plant an acorn, well, an oak tree falling on you will probably not result...

As far as his techniques for bedding...don't do it that way. You can't uncut a tree.

I have looked at his hinge cutting pictures for quite a while and grimaced but kept quiet. Now he is talking along "how-to" lines and making "how-to" videos and it scares me. Sorry. I think when it comes to the potential death of our members through improper cutting techniques tact is not something I will opt for.

He is at the top of the heap when it comes to things within his sphere of expertise.

If he gives advice and a food plot doesn't work out--so what? If he shows "how to hinge cut" and people use the improper techniques he teaches to cut trees as large as he recommends (14 inches) well, he might just get someone killed and I am not going to sit back and be quiet just because I am afraid he won't give me free advice in other areas. He is lucky he has not been killed by some of those angled cuts on larger trees visible in this very thread. Trees should not be cut like that and anyone who copies him is at considerable risk.

Nobody is an expert at everything. He knows 100X, maybe 1000X more than I do about growing plants. But that does not make him an expert with a chainsaw.
 

· Tornado Jim
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When folks commence to shoutin' that I'm not doing something correctly I always urge them to prove their program is better with trail cam pics. Dead bucks are cool and all but they don't prove a thing...just that they got killed passing thru, trail cam history on the other hand proves without a shadow of a doubt that deer do indeed love the habitat created.

Riches 2nd 5 1/2 year old buck this year both with history to prove they lived in his hinge cuts and that his habitat program is effective.

191" buck...lived for 2 years in hinge cuts cut the "wrong way"...



I'm not selling anything folks...if you think my methods aren't effective heck...just ignore them.

To explore your statement about trail cameras being a more effective tool for determining if a program is better than using dead deer as evidence...

Rich Baugh hinged 3-4 acres just like I do...no complicated anything...just tipped em over and immediately the place was full of deer including a 3 1/2 yr old that stayed right in those hing cuts for the next two years.

Not just talk friends but simple facts proven with trail cam history
That is a darned impressive buck Rich shot but the story is not quite as cut and dried as it seems. It would seem from your telling of it that Dozer moved in and just lived there for two years. Well he didn't. Here is what Rich had to say about his hinge cutting efforts and his effort to get Dozer--he posted it in your thread at http://www.outreachoutdoors.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2010&start=70: (my empahasis).

Rich Baugh: I saw that 180 class [a member of the site] wanted to see a picture of Dozer. I'm trying to attach some pics of him. Hope it works!

As Paul mentioned, Dozer started bedding in a wide open timber in a spot that I hinge cut a couple of years ago. He would never have bedded in this timber the way it used to be. By creating the bedding area where I did and having a food plot 300 yds away, I created a really attractive situation for Dozer and lots of other deer. Last year as a 4.5 yr old, he used this bedding area and food plot during the late season, so I had high hopes for this year. Unfortunately Dozer wasn't huntable this year during the time my cameraman was here during bow season. For some reason he would leave the farm around October 25th every year and wouldn't return until Dec 10 - 12. He lived here all year long and went somewhere else during the rut.
Now, Rich eventually harvested that beautiful animal as a 5.5 year old. congratulations to him. But I would argue that the actual killing of a deer on a property, and being able to do it repeatably and consistently, especially on a very small property, is a good indicator that the habitat on that property is conducive to attracting deer during the time period when you are actually hunting them, especially in my state where mature deer are almost never seen in the open in day time--they stick to good habitat.

Paul many of us do not use trail cameras. Only 14% of the antlered deer harvested in my state are 3.5 or older. Those older deer have probably been shot at numerous times. They are as nervous as a hen in a fox den most of the time. Many of us do everything we can to diminish intrusion. While many hunters on this forum use trail cameras, and get great shots of deer, nonetheless they may be incrementally reducing their chances in some cases. Deer behavior is different in different areas. You can prove that just by driving into Ella Sharp park in Jackson Mi and walk around in sight of trophy bucks in daylight. If the same buck lived two miles away, you might never see him in daylight, and certainly he would never show himself to a human knowingly. Uncle Ted has said; "Deer in Michigan are born looking up and walking backwards." So on very small properties, many hunters avoid anything that might alert these hyper-alert deer to our presence. I myself do not use trail cameras. I am considering a radio transmitting camera like a Buckeye, but it is a big investment and only useful on the property near my home.

So when you say:

When folks commence to shoutin' that I'm not doing something correctly I always urge them to prove their program is better with trail cam pics.
Well, you create an impossible task for those who don't use trail cameras. In that case, perhaps you have to begin to judge people based on their reputation for being honest and forthright, and have some degree of trust that they are not making stuff up. It is odd to me that you don't think a dead 3.5 yo deer every year on a MI property is proof that the habitat is good, especially when combined with the testimony of many who have seen the property. My pal Jake and I walked 3 properties on the 30th, to beat the thaw so we could monitor where deer were bedding with the help of snow. There was ample information in the form of tracks, body impressions, scat, hair, body odor, rubs entering and leaving a location, and other means to determine if deer are "living" on your property. We saw evidence of mature bucks using the property. The fact that we both shot 3.5 yo bucks (a fairly demanding task in MI) further supports that the habitat would support mature deer.

Just because someone does not have trail cam pictures does not mean they do not have deer bedding on their property. And anyone with good woodcraft skills and whitetail knowledge can figure out the exact behavior, travel routes, and etc. by looking at the signs in the woods.

For you to require trail cameras and trail cameras only, and dismiss the work of your fellow members unless they have trail camera pictures is a bit unfair.

In fact, unless you catch him in his bed, a trail cam is just a picture of a deer. He might be living there, he might just be passing through. It is no different than shooting him with a bow or gun, he might have been living there, he might have just been passing through.
 

· Tornado Jim
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I had a great day today. The snow had completely disappeared, and then we got about three inches that ended late afternoon yesterday. I decided to go into my bedding areas in my Gravel Pit property--47 acres across the road and behind my in-laws property.

It was a great opportunity to see what deer were using it, since they are still pretty close to their pressured hunting season patterns.

Here is a pic of a trail into about a 15 acre area that is pure bedding area. It is untouched, unentered after the antlers of the deer are hard.



Hmmm...it appears some deer used this trail within the last 20 hours. Note the tree with the arrow. It is the source of my question and we will revisit it on the way back out of the bedding area.

As I strolled around the bedding area, I noted that many deer were using this small area. I saw at least 25 beds that were used in the last 20 hours. Here are a couple of shots straight down on a doe bedding area. I apologize for those pesky branches being in the way, they seem to prefer to lay underneath them.





Be patient, my question is coming...

A little bit north of there, I found a buck bed. How do I know? Well the tracks were just short of 3 inches wide and about 5 inches long. the impression was humungous, it was solitary, and when I got down and smelled it, it reeked with that tarsal gland smell that only a good sized buck can muster up, even though it is late season, there are still lots of doe fawns being bred. It had an entry area that came right over the brush and logs seen beyond the bed in the photo (so he feels hidden with his little tennis ball sized brain:lol:), and there is a rub right at his entry point (arrow).



Now, this bedding area is somewhat of a dead end. I have created a tornado zone, which is meant to be mainly a barrier to hunters, but is also a pretty significant barrier to deer if you read the snow. It is programmed rabbit habitat. There is no good reason for a deer to go past that zone in day time, because there is wide open, park-like woods with sneak-on trespasser types on the other side, hence the need for the tornado zone. But it is so thick that, even for a deer, there is not much reason to enter it, because it is a lot of work for them,and no reason to go beyond it. Plus there is plenty of wonderful bedding and escape habitat to the west, north and south (all directions that go to properties of co-op members--I am blessed to be almost completely surrounded by co-op members--oh, I forgot, I elected to be surrounded by co-op members). Here is a pic of the barrier, or tornado zone:



Question coming, please be patient...

Now, there are two main pathways out of this area. There is a north pathway, that goes by one of my stands, into a food plot past the "key" stand, into another food plot, and then to my neighbor's destination fields. I saw at least 15 rubs on the 3 trails that converge on that stand, but to address my question, I will go back to where we originally entered. That is the south pathway, and it also goes by one of my stand, and then pinches to meet the other trail and go past the "key" stand. This is a spot where I saw a number of bucks emerge this year. No shooters for me, but plenty of bucks. This is not a pass-through area as I indicated above, but is a path to a bedding area. So here is the other side of the tree pointed out in the first picture.



This is a fresh rub. I have only had this property since April but I cut that tree around May and I know it did not have a rub. The top of the rub is at 52 inches.

Now here is my question. If I had a trail camera of a buck walking through here, would it have any more significance or meaning than the presence of this rub, which was obviously made by a mature deer?

By the way, the fact that there is a tree stand in this picture, in a spot where a buck coming through has to quarter away within 20 yards at some point, is not a coincidence.

I own about seven or eight trail cams but choose not to use them in sensitive areas. Here is an example of why:

http://www.michigan-sportsman.com/forum/showthread.php?t=361801

Is a picture of a buck walking though a funnel between a bedding and feeding area worth more than a rub like this (and the other numerous examples I could show but would take up too much bandwidth)?
 

· Tornado Jim
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I Think the use of trail cameras needs a whole different thread to debate if they are good or bad, this is not what this thread was intended to be about.
I would say the latest posts have emphasized that methods of analyzing utilization of funnels has become a substantial element of this thread. Trail cams have been brought up over and over again. In fact I think there are 19 trail cam pictures on page 14 of this thread, along with comments related to trail cam usage to assess funnels.

Dead bucks are cool and all but they don't prove a thing...just that they got killed passing thru, trail cam history on the other hand proves without a shadow of a doubt that deer do indeed love the habitat created.

Read more at Michigan-Sportsman.com: Natural Forage and Cover - Page 14 - The Michigan Sportsman Forums http://www.michigan-sportsman.com/forum/showthread.php?t=300793&page=14#ixzz1ASIMiQ7Y
There are some who of course who can not afford trail cameras...been there once upon a time, but those who would make a serious effort to discredit me, can... and by choosing not to leave themselves a loophole by which they can excuse their conduct and not have the truth exposed.

Read more at Michigan-Sportsman.com: Natural Forage and Cover - Page 14 - The Michigan Sportsman Forums http://www.michigan-sportsman.com/forum/showthread.php?t=300793&page=14#ixzz1ASPP2Z00
I am trying to provide information about how to assess usage for those who choose not to or cannot afford trail cams. In fact I believe you can very effectively monitor how much deer "love the habitat created" without the use of trail cams. Some guys choose to not use them (like me), and many of our friends here on the forums cannot afford a modern camera that will not spook deer.

Once you learn to use funnels and trail cams together you'll be surprised at how many deer will live in your hinged habitat...

Read more at Michigan-Sportsman.com: Natural Forage and Cover - Page 14 - The Michigan Sportsman Forums http://www.michigan-sportsman.com/forum/showthread.php?t=300793&page=14#ixzz1ASIdUnR9
I was not surprised at all to see the heavy usage in the bedding area, for reasons discussed below. In the above post, I point out that I found 25 beds, including buck beds, all used within the previous 20 hours, and I followed the tracks from those beds, through the funnel, noticing many fresh rubs and tracks as large as 3 X 6 inches along the way. This is something that is not provided by trail cameras on funnels. Yes, you can assess who used the funnel, but you can't assess who bypassed it, and how they went about it. I saw that virtually none of those deer were moving beyond the bedding area, so that teaches me that the deer use this funnel as the main path to and from the food source. Once this kind of information is established, as long as the funnel conditions and food sources are maintained, one can expect the same pattern of usage the following hunting season. And of course annual scouting of the sort I am showing here should be done, right after the season to catch deer still using the patterns they were during late hunting season.

This aerial shows the funnel being discussed on this little 47 acre property. The stand pictured is the bottom one in the triangle of stands at the upper left. The orange is the paths deer must take if they want to go past the "key" stand to get to ag fields to the west. All the areas in-between stands are hinged at enough density to prevent both passage and bedding of deer. The large open grassy swamp in the middle left is a natural barrier, but we further discouraged traffic through there with a tornado zone at the edge of the woods. Again, it is too thick for deer to pass through or prefer for bedding.



Personal observations. In a spot like this, where there is no question deer are moving to and from food and bedding, one can deduce that the deer moving into the bedding area in the morning, and out in the evening, and using the funnel in between in day time for chasing and other activities, that the deer like the habitat and are using the area, not just passing through. I can assure you, any buck that passes through that bedding area to the east will be running a gauntlet through wide open, park-like woods. So deer do not "pass through" that funnel unless they are planning on using the facilities provided.

I saw more bucks than I care to go back and count from these three tree stands, including at least 3 3.5 yo and several 2.5 yo versions of the beast. On October 31st, I watched a 3.5 yo 8 point make this rub from the stand shown in the photo. It kind of caught my attention when I saw the entire tree top go to the ground:). He came out of the bedding area behind two does, fussed around for a while, and then went back into the bedding area on his own. A few minutes later, a 2.5 yo came by. These deer were using the bedding area and simply doing some chasing in and out, not "passing through." They did not go through the funnel because they were just chasing around in their home, which is my hinged bedding area, where they exited.



Here is a pic from the "Key" stand (farthest upper left in the aerial) on October 22nd. These two bucks were just casually strolling through browsing as they went. I saw three others that day in that funnel, as well as 6 does and 13 fawns.



Sitting in the "Key" stand and the other one east of it also taught me, by personal observation, that there was a funnel at the edge of the woods to the north. Most people would not look at an aerial and identify that as being a funnel. But it turns out that because of the grassy field to the south, and the open woods to the north, that it creates a funnel of traffic from my bedding area (and those of my co-op neighbor to the north) to the food west of us (also on co-op property).

In my view, my seeing them is no different than if I took a trail cam of them.

Folks, you do not have to go out and buy trail cams to put on your funnels. I think it can be a great tool to use, but it is not a necessary one by any means. I personally have over 50 permanent stands and almost every one is placed in a natural or man-made funnel between bedding areas and feeding areas. It is not time or cost effective for me to put trail cams at every one of these funnels. I observe deer from them, and do post season scouting on all of them. In my view, the post season scouting provides much more information about deer movement than capturing images of deer walking past a particular spot. Is is a useful way to monitor them? Yes, but to believe that you have to do it that way is not a burden you have to bear unless you want to and can afford to do it.
 

· Tornado Jim
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I would like to see the thread get back on point too. This is not a TL thread and I see no reason for it to become a debate on that subject.

I think I was addressing a valid point when I discussed alternative methods of assessing whether a "funnel" is being used. Much has been made about it so it seems to be a valid area to address. To do so, I used mainly a 20 hour snapshot of a period of use of a funnel in which I was able to follow tracks from bedding areas, past the funnel and to the food sources. I found what are unmistakably buck beds and tracks in the bedding area, and virtually all the tracks from the beds leading through one of two funnels out of the bedding area. I found no evidence of bedding in open canopied, non-hinge cut areas adjacent to the new hinge cuts (identical areas prior to the hinge cuts), so can infer from that information that the hinge cutting created good bedding habitat. In my opinion, this offers an important means for a hunter to determine whether deer "like the habitat" produced. I struggle (I am trying) to see how a picture of a buck taken with a trail camera has more value than a picture of a buck from a camera held in my hands, or a snapshot in time as seen with a fresh snow. I think that both of these approaches have value, and I never said trail cameras are not useful, they are. What I am trying to do is to simply convey to hunters that you can assess the use of your funnels without the use of trail cameras. If you use them, great, but I personally feel the results of the kind of scouting I did, where I follow the trail all the way from the bed to the food, is a more compelling approach, and more complete picture of what the deer was doing. I was even able to observe the browsing of the deer along the path as evidenced by them scraping the fresh snow as they walked through the bedding areas and left fresh pieces of green plants on the ground.


The part that I feel you (or anyone) is missing is that during the rut when that buck is most vulnerable...he isn't going to be sleeping period...let alone in a bed you built him.

That's the whole problem with this....the beds become useless when bucks start moving so it troubles me that some of you have been lead to believe that a bed is going to help you kill a buck?
To agree with Paul's point here, On November 23rd I looked across the road towards my mother-in-laws CRP field and saw a buck standing by my mailbox, about 15 yards into the field. Looked like a 2.5 year old. This is in the middle of our gun season and about 9 in the morning, and totally visible to every passing car. I saw him lay down so began to sneak across the road with my camera. I got to the other side of the road and saw that there was a doe he was tending. She was running back and forth, terrified of me, and he was like a sheep dog, blocking her from escape into the field. She finally got around him and they both disappeared into the high grasses. The point is, this buck is not going to be found in his bed during this time period (near the peak of the rut in MI). Many professional hunters say the height of the rut is the worst time to target big bucks and that mostly luck is involved in getting one at that time--for the reasons Paul points out. North Jeff has been pretty clear about that in the past.

Accepting the truth of Paul's statements, he and I are in a completely equal situation in my view. If a buck abandons the beds I make, he will abandon the ones you make as well (i.e. those locations that he chooses to lay down in among your hinge cuts). I fail to see how this is an argument against creating areas where deer want to bed. It applies to your sanctuary (bedding) areas as well as mine, doesn't it? What am I missing folks? During most of the hunting season in my state, the mature buck is hiding out in his prime bedding areas in day light. While the little guys are out chasing, he is hidden in very specific locations he likes, usually all day long--but very importantly, he gets up to move around at times, which is all that gives any of us hope outside the "crazy" times. What is wrong with optimizing these locations? It is only for a short period of a couple of weeks that mature bucks start to go crazy and do stuff in daytime that they wouldn't do otherwise--locking down on does in odd areas and the like. Because of that, are you saying that both you and I are wasting time by creating hinge cut areas where bucks will bed? I hope not.

There is something that may be misunderstood by some about this practice of "bed-building." The practice involves setting aside a sanctuary, and simply trying to make as many spots for a deer to bed as possible. One then hunts funnels and pinch points coming out of the sanctuary. It doesn't matter if a buck named Larry lays in bed 1, bed 2, bed 3, bed 4, etc., what matters is there are nice places for him to lay down, as many as possible, and that he come and goes through the funnels, past our stands. Paul teaches people how to make beds, North Jeff does, others do, I really only see differences in details, not whether it is a good idea to build bedding areas for deer and provide funnels for their entry and exit. I further see only minor differences regarding how to monitor the use of these funnels and bedding areas. some people rely more on trail cameras, others may believe trail cameras are a negative for mature deer and right or wrong, choose not to use them. others cannot afford a trail camera. I am simply (freely) suggesting alternative approaches.

The information I shared in the above posts about my late season approach to determining funnel use occurred during a time when bucks are on feeding, not breeding patterns. The same thing is true during October, when bucks are often still in bachelor groups, using traditional bedding areas, and are patternable.

During most of our season, the "rut" is not going on, and bucks are staying in their "home" spots where they feel safe. It is during these times that bucks are most predictable and may be patterned. What is wrong with creating as many neat spots for them to lay in on your small property as you possibly can? What can it hurt if one is willing to do the work?
 

· Tornado Jim
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20,072 Posts
Cover

You can't have too much cover and regardless if you log, hinge or plant shrubs and conifers....creating thick brushy cover will in turn attract and hold large numbers of whitetails including mature bucks.

Brushy shrubby type cover allows them to lay down and see danger approaching and then get up and flee withe cover between them and the pursuer

Brush also equals browse and natural browse takes the pressure off from planted food sources as well as keeping them fed through the difficult winter months. Think brush/cover/sanctuary and building better whitetail habitat with it today... :cool:
I could not agree more. I find this kind of cover is about as good as it gets, and my very best bedding areas consist of this dense, brushy cover. It provides great bedding. This shot is on 20 hour old snow. I saw about a dozen beds scattered around the area, but this was a long, large one with large tracks associated with it that appeared to be made by a buck.



This kind of cover also provides lots of fun rubbing trees. There are countless numbers of fresh ones to be found in this area.





The area these pictures were taken in is shown by the large arrow:



The problem with this spot is there is a great tree just west of it for a stand (white dot), but deer would move out of it along the trail of their choice. So we created a no-go, or tornado zone between them and stand in the giant oak (arrow). This forces the deer to move north of the stand to get too and from this bedding area. It prevents them from walking directly towards the stand, thus diminishing the chance of getting caught moving. It is so thick in this bedding area it is hard to see into even with snow and it is easy to have a deer stand up or show up and catch you unawares.



They must move along this trail, where X marks the spot for a deer moving east to west, one moving west to east is in position a little more in the foreground.



Again, this is with 20 hour snow, just after the end of our late doe season. It clearly shows deer are using this bedding area and moving on a path we prescribe right past the stand. That this represents the very best bedding on the property is evidenced by the fact that we found 4 dead deer within that small area this spring. Deer typically go to their most protected places to die.

As has been said before, much has been made about bedding areas made by hinging. That approach is a necessary but unfortunate need associated with the condition of an open hardwoods that lacks an understory. By hinging it you can change it from a deer desert to deer bedding area in one year, but it still is not as good as these natural second growth areas. In fact, the reason to take out the canopy is to take that former deer desert and turn it into second growth.

More than half of the bedding areas on this property (see map) are natural. Little has to be done except to make sure they do not get overgrown so that deer can get into them and use them. When we acquired this property last spring, we quickly realized that the tamarack swamp in the SE corner was not being used by deer at all (historically it was one of the best bedding areas in the area until it got overgrown--we knew that because our family property borders it to the south). We went through with chainsaws and made trails into it in May of last year, but it was still too thick, and was used very little this year, and we need to do some more work on it this spring. This is an object lesson in how important it is to not just designate a safe area and leave it be. On the other hand, there was a huge amount of usage of the hinge cut area to the north and the natural area north and west of the hinge cut area.
 

· Tornado Jim
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Bio, on average, how wide are your Tornado areas? I found one of my "tornado" areas still used by deer......obviously is was not thick nor wide enough.....
Width is not important. Like many, we make barriers that are very narrow that deer would choose to walk around rather than over. The no-go zones are cut low, medium, and high randomly enough (criss-crossing, putting tops down on the ground) so that there is no path they can take into it where they feel they can escape easily. Even if they might be able to penetrate it with a lot of work and effort, they do not feel they can quickly escape. That is at least my theory as to how these things work.

A key element of this is having nearby bedding areas that offer everything the deer needs. In the absence of our nearby bedding areas, deer would probably use the hinge cut areas near our stands or along the edge of the tornado zone, but since they have great alternatives, they don't use these areas.

Deer will use the best habitat available to them during times of pressure. If it is marginal, they will use the marginal areas. If there is a marginal area near a great area, they will seldom use the marginal area and use the great areas.
 

· Tornado Jim
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Poorly placed cam? You might want to look into what kind of camera this is, I have thousands of pictures of mature bucks with these cameras and this happens less then 1% of the time. 15 foot in the air is great for pictures of deer, but completely useless for aging them.
Back on topic, this has been a great thread with a lot of good information.
I chose Calhoun's thread because he is well known as being on of the best in the state of Michigan at using trail cameras to follow bucks year to year, pattern them, and work in conjunction with his fellow co-op members to understand the movements of bucks in their territory. Nonetheless, even with his high degree of expertise, deer sometimes (rarely) bust the camera, and he is willing to share when that happens. I am sorry I subjected him to unfair criticism by using his thread.
 

· Tornado Jim
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Every timber is different and for that reason being guided by a competent forester is extremely important :cool:
It should be noted that TSI is an acronym for Timber Stand Improvement.

It is not synonymous with DHI, or Deer Habitat Improvement.

In general, deer habitat is improved incrementally when a TSI program is done. However, it is not the end-goal of a forester to produce better deer habitat, and they will often advise you to do things that are not necessarily favorable to producing good deer habitat, like killing nearby trees (rather than hinging them) that might compete with target trees for nutrients, and moderate rather than aggressive reduction of canopy, in order to prevent excessive branching of trees. They might encourage the presence of black walnut trees, one of the big money trees, which may suppress under-story variety and density. These approaches might be in direct conflict with the optimal approach for someone who is mainly interested in Deer Habitat Improvement.

My main point is, if you are primarily into producing timber, then the forester's word is golden. However, if you are primarily into Deer Habitat Improvement, you will want to do things much differently than he (the forester) would recommend. If you lie between these extreme's, you probably want to get the opinion of a good forester and a deer habitat consultant and integrate the information to produce a plan that is more balanced.

In my own case, none of my wood lot work is eligible for cost-sharing. Even though I had a qualified forester walk my woods with me, I ended up ignoring most of what he said, because I was not interested in timber development, and he simply did not see the woods from the perspective of deer management.

Many people (most probably) will want a balanced program that both improves the timber and improves deer habitat at the same time--for that, the input of a good forester is invaluable. If you are imbalanced (like me:)) towards wanting to produce deer habitat, then a forester is not likely to help you much.
 

· Tornado Jim
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I have cut for 2 weeks straight from dawn til dark, a vary diverse species of trees and thus far not a single tree has done anything but tip over. The angle cut keeps them from tipping backwards and they simply fall over but please be safe an start with smaller trees first. Experiment with the species of weed trees in your timber and decide which method of cut seems to work well for you.
If a tree falls backwards then the hinge was cut too far through, period. If smaller trees break off they were released too much (cut through too far). A properly cut tree will not fall backwards under any circumstances. Releasing a tree too much (cutting too far through it, so that it decides where to go instead of you deciding), is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Stability and control of the direction of fall require a hinge that is robust enough to hold the tree in place even if you misjudged the direction. You have to take into account where the tree wants to go, of course, but if it wants to go back towards you creating an angled cut to prevent it from falling backwards simply creates instability of the cut, and the end result often involves the tree falling in an unintended direction or breaking off.

If you have hundreds of acres of woods, break-offs and trees falling where they want is not a problem (other than a safety issue). If you are like me, with only small areas of hardwoods to work with, then each tree is of value, and good control of how and where they will fall is essential.

There is a discussion of how angle cutting makes a tree unstable here.

http://www.michigan-sportsman.com/forum/showthread.php?t=364252
 

· Tornado Jim
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In my opinion, break offs of trees when hinging are mainly a function of how they are cut, not time of year or other theories. While break-offs are tolerable in situations where the main purpose is TSI, and large acreage of woods are available, those of us with small acreage and limited woods who are focusing mainly on creating deer habitat need to optimize our chances by getting as many trees as possible to remain on the stump. Maples can be a real problem, but there are ways to tackle them that will lead to success most of the time on trees of 6 inches or less, even in very frigid conditions. I got a chance this morning to get out and do some cutting of maple trees in 12 degree weather, because I have heard talk of the difficulty of getting trees to remain intact in cold weather.

Whether a tree is going to survive hinging or not is very much dependent on technique. I thought I would address some of the key elements that go into getting survival of maple trees, which are one of the toughest ones to deal with.

This first image shows the ingredients for getting a maple to survive. Number one is to have something in the drop area to cushion the fall of the tree. Notice there are two small maple trees to the right and left of the maple we want to cut, which is the one in the right center of the picture (upper left panel). The crown of the target maple is big enough that it will hang up in those two trees, so we will drop it dead center between the trees--we purposefully want those trees to prevent it from falling. No matter which way this tree wants to go, we will ensure it will fall where we want by creating the hinge in the right location. We decide where the tree goes, it doesn't. Next is the cut. We cut far enough to be able to pull the tree over but not far enough that it can release on its own. It is essential that the hinge be able to support the entire tree (this can be accomplished even with substantial lean in the tree). Now we have a firm, stable tree that is ready to be partially pulled over. By using a 16 foot pole we are easily able to pull it over so it gently nestles into the two smaller maples (lower left). We then do very partial cuts on the two maples. We don't want them to release on their own either. Finally, we ease all three trees down together and all three have excellent connections with their stumps. These trees will all survive (lower right).



If we want a tree to snap off, well that's easy to do, just cut it and let it release on its own without anything to cushion its fall. That is demonstrated in the next panel. There are two maples of identical size (upper left). The closer one was just cut and pushed over. When the top hit the ground, the hinge dislodged and broke off. We could take either of these trees in whatever direction we wanted, but we chose to land the more distant one on a pile of other debris. We slowly eased it over with the pole and actually hand eased it down by pushing up as hard a possible on it as it fell--the hinge is completely intact (lower left). Looking at it from another angle, you can see that it actually came down on a small sapling that is bent to the right near the older horizontal log, and that log kept if from going all the way to the ground, but not before the tree top landed against a previously hinged tree, cut specifically for the purpose of easing the fall of this second tree. A little bit of distance makes a huge difference on the stress applied to the hinge. By having the tree land so that it stayed parallel with the ground, stress was reduced on the hinge. None of this happened by accident, if we let it go where it wanted to go, where we put the previous tree, there was nothing to control its fall and it very likely would have broken off.



The final panel shows the hinging of a 7 inch tree in 12 degree weather. This size and larger maples are very difficult to keep alive under any conditions. The target tree is the one with the chain saw at the base. We chose the direction of fall very carefully. If we fall this tree to the right, which is where it wants to go (red arrow), it will crash to the ground and the hinge will almost certainly shatter. Instead, we made the hinge facing some dead leaners and a couple of smaller maples we want to get in the way and cushion the fall (black arrows, upper left panel. This is where having a very small saw comes in handy. We are able to get a wedge in behind the saw so that we can encourage the tree to tilt to the left instead of taking its desired direction of fall. Again, we do not cut far enough to release the tree. The wedges and pole will be used to put the tree where we want it. We use the wedge to move it into position, then make partial cuts in the two maples that we are taking it into, and then use the pole to ease the whole thing down. We end up with 3 intact maple trees.



Folks, how much care you use in hinging tree depends on your circumstances. It is all well and good to say you will get lots of growth from the stumps and exposed soil, and break offs don't matter, but I am here to tell you that break offs should not be routine at any time of the year. Yes, they will happen with larger trees and especially ash and maple trees, but there is no excuse for them happening regularly with smaller trees. It happens because people cut too far and allow the tree to release in a random manner. In the case I am showing you here, we have about 2 acres of maples in this area. It is an entry area from a CRP field to some stand sets and we want it is thick and gnarly as possible, and do not want any deer bedding here during the season. Accomplishing that requires careful consideration of how you are going to place each tree, and how many survive or at least remain hooked to their stumps to provide horizontal cover can be critical. If you have hundreds of acres that you are doing TSI on, and the timber is more important to you than wildlife habitat, by all means just walk through, cut trees until they release, and let them fall where they may. But if you are like me (and most people I know) optimizing the habitat is of critical importance. You can't uncut a tree.
 

· Tornado Jim
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After years of observation and hinging trees I have found only one bed under the trunk of a hinged tree while all others (depending on the slope) were backed up to the downed tree or laying above it (overlooking the downed tree)
)
I have seen literally hundreds of deer beds under overhanging trunks of hinged trees. You simply have to do it at the correct height, in the correct location, with the correct orientation, and the correct structure. You are right though Paul, if you just randomly hinge trees you will seldom if ever see deer bedding under them.

These are examples where I am aiming the camera straight down at the impressions left in snow by deer. If you don't know how to do something, it does not mean that it cannot be done by others. I could go out and take many pictures like these on my 190 acres if I wanted to. Deer will lie under overhanging trees, in fact they far prefer it, but it has to be done with some care and effort.








When confronted with danger deer must be able to leap to their feet and make a hasty and unimpeded escape, laying under something might be akin to us trying to escape from under the kitchen table....just food for thought but as always, make your own observations on your property and then make the habitat changes you feel will be most effective.... ;
You are absolutely right about this. A human would not feel very comfortable under a kitchen table, neither would a deer. Why would you ever try to create bedding cover that would make a deer fell like he was under a kitchen table?
 
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