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Natural Forage and Cover

87894 Views 331 Replies 57 Participants Last post by  Neal
Food plots are fun and helpful in attracting and holding whitetails but sometimes I get concerned that landowners put to much emphasis on them and not enough on the natural sources of food and cover that whitetails really rely on.

If you have timber or even brush...it can be improved and if you need trees and screens they can be planted and if you need cost share assistance it is usually available.

Managing our land for whitetails and wildlife in general covers a broad spectrum of things of which food sources from crops are only a small piece of the pie.

Right now is the perfect time to start inquiring about cost share assistance and I have a complete list of federal, state and private source of cost share programs that I would urge you to be aware of.

Conservation Cost Share Programs

Contact your NRCS office or private lands biologist and find out what programs are available because $$'s are tight these days and the supply is not unlimited.

Planting trees and shrubs is something I have been doing for nearly 50 years and I am passionate about this subject. At my age I will most likely never see the fruits of some of my labors but I do it anyway because I see the results of what others before me have accomplished.

The 80 year old white pines on my place are full of turkeys every night and when I hear the winds softly blowing through them I imagine the people who planted them years ago and silently thank them.

I concentrate mostly on mast production and especially on hybrid oaks and chestnuts in my hardwood plantings and many different varieties of soft mast producing shrubs that provide screens, travel corridors as well as food sources for wildlife large and small.

If you have an interest in planting trees next spring regardless if it is a 1/2 dozen or 10,000 seedlings take a look at my informational threads that will help you better decide which trees, the right herbicides and other planting information might be best for you.

Tree Planting

This thread is longer but covers everything including direct seeding of acorns and ideas to start your own seedlings from top producing trees in your area.

Tree Planting 101

Those threads include a list of some great nurseries and sources of all kinds of supplies and herbicides as well regardless if you plant by hand...



or with a tree planter...




I have hundreds of pictures that make it interesting and helpful as well.

Most likely you have timber, woodlots or forest on your property and managing it properly can be both profitable and help you attract and hold whitetails at the same time.

Begin by truly understanding what Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) means and learn to identify the trees on your property. Utilize your area forester and learn all you can before cranking up the chainsaw!

TSI is primarly releasing crop trees by killing cull trees close to them and doing so also allows oak seedlings to grow and replace shade tolerant less desirable species.

I put together these threads to help everyone understand how to better manage their own timber and get paid to do it!

Learn TSI

Understanding Timber Stand Improvent



Once you have learned to properly identify your trees then your in a position to decide where to create bedding areas or which trees to edgefeather.

Hinge cutting is a great way to create both cover and new browse at the same time and opening up small areas will increase both bedding and feeding areas.

All of these things make your property more attractive then the neighbors and you can see not only mine but others who have shared their successful work in my thread on edgefeathering.

Edge Feathering and Bedding Areas

A number of knowledgeable landowners share their own pictures and experiences in these threads to provide a great deal of information to landowners eager to learn how to improve thier property.

Ideas that share how to funnel deer, which trees produce the sweetest acorns the quickest, what shrubs provide the best screens the soonest and what timber is valuable and which is not are all in those threads.

Plant food plots but don't forget your greatest natural assets...your trees! :)
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I really enjoy sharing information with my friend Rich Baugh because he utilizes many cams to monitor his deer and that of course tells him how and where they use his habitat. Rich does have a large farm so he is able to hold mature deer and what he learns from that is always interesting. When you know a buck is residing on your farm you can be patient and allow him to mature and then kill that buck at 5 1/2.

Rich has been making a habit of that for some years now and killed a 191" behemoth recently and Rich shared a little habitat info that affected how and where this buck lived.

This picture of rye in his corn field also give you an idea that he has built the same type of habitat that I do...food sources surrounded by NWSG, surrounded by timber....perfect!



The larger the property, the more cover we have and the more likely we can hold bucks to maturity. Rich mentioned that "Dozer" lived in a 60 acre timber that is largely wide open partially because it needs to be logged and the market is depressed right now.

Within that 60 acres however he has hinged 3-4 acres 2 years ago and Dozer immediately took up residence there and lived in a 1//2 acre area since then. Rich noted that it is amazing how many deer bed in that hinged area!

Dozer bedded there because Rich had food sources within 300 yards going into winter and with the same thing happening this winter, this buck was easy to pattern. Rich was patient, allowed him to mature, patterned him with trail cams and then killed him as he came out to feed at 4:30 like he had done every day before.

Some of this should be obvious...the importance of hinging to create bedding, how much deer prefer hinged areas versus wide open timber, using trail cams to know what bucks are living there and then pattern them to kill them.

Winter food sources keep deer from moving to the neighbors during the most difficult times of the year and a combination of cover types insulate bucks from activity and they are more likely to stay put. Rich knows the importance of sanctuaries and leaving those areas alone but he also does habitat work, shed hunting and checks trail cams and that activity did not cause these mature animals to leave his farm.

On smaller farms we have to try harder and build the best premium habitat possible to be able to hold bucks to maturity. We have to hunt wisely and funnels allow us to do that without molesting deer in bedding or feeding areas.

The value of a chainsaw then cannot be underestimated but neither should the fact that a complete habitat program that provides year around cover and feed be overlooked.

Rich provides just such a program and even then acknowledges that he has much to do...but then again....don't we all....;)
Landowners new to hinging often wonder exactly how to make the cut, how far to cut etc. I hope to make some short video clips soon but here are a couple photos to get you started.

Every tree is unique and different but hinging for bedding usually does not require that the tree tip over in any certain direction. I look at the tree first and then begin a cut that will allow it to fall the way it is naturally leaning. I cut on an angle and perhaps 60-85% of the way through the tree.



Often I can give the tree a push and tip it on over...two people can also work together by using a light pole and applying pressure farther up the tree.



Smaller trees obviously are easier and safer to work with and this gives you an idea what the "hinge" is likely to look like.



The larger the tree, the more difficult and dangerous they are to hinge so work with smaller trees first and be extremely careful with larger trees. The are so heavy that when they start to tip, a few may split and send the tree slicing backwards like a giant spear....even if you have a helper there there may be nothing they could do to save your life.

Be safe...wear chainsaw chaps and helmet and don't take unnecessary risks when working in the timber! ;)
IMO, it's best to cut as little as possible while still being able to pull the tree over. This retains as much of the living wood connecting the top half of the tree so it can continue growing with as much success as possible. 70%-85% just sounds like way too much. Granted, I often have to cut each tree a few times until I cut enough that I can tip it over (usually using a pole or rope to get leverage on the tree by pulling from higher up). It's better to cut "almost enough" a few times than to cut too much the first time.

I cut on an angle and perhaps 60-85% of the way through the tree.
Disagree, A tree lives by its bark. As long as the bark don't get pinched the tree will heal itself, Want me to post an example tree?
IMO, it's best to cut as little as possible while still being able to pull the tree over. This retains as much of the living wood connecting the top half of the tree so it can continue growing with as much success as possible. 70%-85% just sounds like way too much. Granted, I often have to cut each tree a few times until I cut enough that I can tip it over (usually using a pole or rope to get leverage on the tree by pulling from higher up). It's better to cut "almost enough" a few times than to cut too much the first time.

I don't think I worded my post well enough. I was suggesting to keep as much of the tree attached as possible so that it will continue to live as long as possible. IME the chances and duration that a tree will live are proportional to the size of the hinge. The hinge that remains needs to be large enough to supply nutrients to the top half.

I didn't mean to imply that the upper part of the tree wouldn't live if only a small strip keeps it attached, but chances are reduced (not to mention I've had the wind "roll" a few poorly hinged trees and break the hinge).
Disagree, A tree lives by its bark. As long as the bark don't get pinched the tree will heal itself, Want me to post an example tree?
Totally agree ;)
IMO, it's best to cut as little as possible while still being able to pull the tree over. This retains as much of the living wood connecting the top half of the tree so it can continue growing with as much success as possible. 70%-85% just sounds like way too much.
Depends on the species. It's one thing to pull over a basswood or a box elder or an elm or a red maple that's been cut 50-60% of the way through, and quite another on a species with strong and tough (two different properties) wood.

Trees like bitternut hickory, blue beech, ironwood and swamp white oak are another story. On those, unless you're talking about a very small diameter tree, you could cut 80% of the way through and still have a substantial chore on your hands.

I strongly recommend that interested land managers educate themselves on the fine points of tree identification. I have a number of tree books, and the best, in a cakewalk, IMO, is Barnes and Wagners' Michigan Trees - A Guide to the Trees of the Great Lakes Region, and best yet is the 2004 edition, 2008 printing.
70%-85% just sounds like way too much.
I agree...it's all about the species and the "%" I mentioned is just a rough ball park figure., some trees require less, some more as FL mentions. It's not rocket science folks...cut the least amount to tip it over...simple as that.

Some tree species survive with a literal sliver of bark attached while others don't live with as little as 50%...experiment and find out what works best with the trees in your area.

By all means walk your property with a forester first and learn to identify the various trees species before firing up the chainsaw. I have tons of tree species ID pics and awesome links in my TSI, Hinging and Tree Planting threads on Outreach Outdoors. Holler if anyone needs a link but OO is easy to find with Google too...:)
Depends on the species. It's one thing to pull over a basswood or a box elder or an elm or a red maple that's been cut 50-60% of the way through, and quite another on a species with strong and tough (two different properties) wood.

Trees like bitternut hickory, blue beech, ironwood and swamp white oak are another story. On those, unless you're talking about a very small diameter tree, you could cut 80% of the way through and still have a substantial chore on your hands.

I strongly recommend that interested land managers educate themselves on the fine points of tree identification. I have a number of tree books, and the best, in a cakewalk, IMO, is Barnes and Wagners' Michigan Trees - A Guide to the Trees of the Great Lakes Region, and best yet is the 2004 edition, 2008 printing.
I'm not the greatest "artist"...ok...(I'm a terrible artist :D ) but here's a rough version of a funnel that i hope shows how I made it such a mess that deer don't bed in the area behind my stand.



I come in from a field and have some trees i have to step over (if you leave a clear path the darn things will follow it right to your stand....)

Some funnels could have stand either side but in this case there was no place for a stand and if there were...getting to it would be dicey.

Hinging for bedding can be pretty "messy" but hinging in the immediate area of the funnel (behind the "fence" hinging along the edge of the funnel) is more then just a mess. In this case they explored it at first and browsed on the hinged tops along the edge but a year later they just travel the funnel and have I have never noticed any in the hinged areas.

All you have to do is...be there...



Course once in awhile they get tuckered out and have to stop and rest a bit...right under my stand....



This funnel is awesome morning or night but I prefer to slip in under cover of darkness in the morning. Either way...thus far I have never jumped a deer going in or out although as that last picture shows...anything is possible....
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.
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.
I have been hinging them in that manner for 2 decades with zero problems or accidents and my hinged areas are full of deer. If you wish to do it differently then try different methods and see what works best for you but the angle cut is easy for me to control.

As for those trees in that pic...they were cut recently simply to take some pics of and are not in a bedding area. Those of you that wish to see my projects can find the information in my thread on Outreach Outdoors under "Hinging for bedding,bottlenecks and browse"

Marlin...I'm not offended so no worries, these are open forums where people are welcome to disagree. That allows everyone to see different points of view and then decide what works best for them.

The above angle cuts have worked well for me and I have scads of pictures to prove it on Outreach



These are just a couple showing all the growth and they are full of deer...again with tons of trail cam pics to prove it.



Choose which ever angle of cut you feel will work best for you and the tree species you are cutting and feel free to share success and failures here so others can learn. I've been doing this stuff for a lifetime so I share what works best for me and I have already mentioned that I hinge only 12"DBH and under trees for safety reasons.

If anyone needs a link to the thread on OO please just shoot me a PM...:)
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,

I've been hinge cutting a lot of ash and maple trees the past few years and I'm amazed how little trunk needs to be intact to get regrowth. I would prefer to keep more trunk intact when I'm walking/cutting in the tree rows, but when cutting hundreds or more trees, time is a factor too. When walking a couple miles a day down tree rows with a chain saw, it would be impracticle for me to be toting a hook pole along also.

As far as safety is concerned, I don't get too concerned about a hinge cut angle unless the tree was pretty big.

About the only practical idea I have heard of that I might try this year is to make a grapple hook with a rope attached, so I can get more leverage on a tree. That could be carried on my waist. Anyone here tried this?
The forum is about sharing ideas and what someone thinks might work or works for them in their particular situation. I wouldn't do it that way either, but it might benefit someone else. I'd ask you how you do it, but there have been more than enough posts about who you believe everyone should pay to find out that answer and it's become a broken record that many are tired of.
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.
FWIW, some of your window makers and head-high cuts scare me. Neither myself nor anyone else is running all over your threads every time you post a really high hinge cut. Cutting trees is dangerous work. It is the responsibility of the operator to determine what is safe or not.

Everyone has and is entitled to their opinion. I think you'll find greater success leading through example than shunning the work of others. In the mean time I hope that your animosity towards Paul subsides. You're both valued posters and I'd be disappointed to see either of you leave as a result of recent events.
Your linked posts suggest ways to make a safer hinge cut but do not give any reason why dbltrees hinge's are only suitable for rabbits. What is he doing wrong?
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 agree. "Tact" must be held "intact" though.

Both dbltree and bioactive have both literally spoiled the people viewing this forum for quite a while. Thank you to both.

I won't go into my own lecture on how to safely handle a saw, but a general common sense regarding ones own physical limitations, that of the saw, and guarding against complacency will save more lives than any one technique IMO. I have seen and heard of more people being killed or injured with a saw by letting their guard down, not by what they failed to know. :(

I have not yet seen common sense aquired from a book or institution.
You're both valued posters and I'd be disappointed to see either of you leave as a result of recent events.
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.

My hinged areas explode into awesome thick growth that whitetails love!



If I'm doing it wrong...by golly I'm gonna keep doing it cause they sure seem to like my "rabbit cover"...



Folks...don't do what I do...unless you want these bucks to live on your property year around...same buck above in October...(coming out of the hinge cuts that I didn't do right)



I guess the "right way" is a matter of opinion but for me it's simply a matter of creating thick nasty cover...like this.



Funny thing is I reckon all us folks in Iowa do it the "wrong way" and for some odd reason our dumb deer LIKE it the "wrong" way!

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

[/IMG]

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.

I'm plenty happy huntin' these bad boys that like my "wrong way" hinge cuts...;)



Cutting any trees can be dangerous but again I will just say that we have hinged literally thousands of trees without any problem, so saying it is somehow "more dangerous"...is just "talk" friends....;)
This thread is too informative to have it ruined with a whizzin match. Can we delete the personal stuff please?
Thanks
This thread is too informative to have it ruined with a whizzin match. Can we delete the personal stuff please?
Some examples of trees that have been hinged and have remained alive for several years sending up lot's of new growth.



Very few trees don't survive hinging and the trees pictured here were hinged solely for screening and oak regeneration rather then bedding, although deer quickly took advantage of the thick screening cover.



Each piece of ground is different and soils vary so hinged trees respond differently according to soil type and species...here you can see the browsing on the stems coming up from the hinged tree....an area interplanted with white swamp oaks.



Deer love thick brushy areas and in almost all cases regardless of how high the tree is cut prefer to lay behind or in front of the hinged tree. Their preference in all cases is to lay in front of a conifer exposed to sunlight rather then under overhanging limbs. Simple winter time observation will help you understand that creating bedding habitat is very very simple...and deer simply love it...



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

NOTE...in regards to the "rabbit cover" comments....that pic was simply for pics of the cut and my son and I made those in the back yard and are in no way shape or manner an example of a "bedding area". I never said they were and I hinge trees for all kinds of reasons so every hinged tree you see in my pics is not necessarily in a "bedding" areas.

For those who have followed my hinging thread on Outreach Outdoors...you know that I use hinging for bedding, bottlenecks, browse, oak regeneration, edge feathering etc.

Hopefully that clarifies some of your questions...
Looks great dbltree, thanks for all the info. Some people try to make it harder than it needs to be. There is no perfect hinge cuts in nature yet the deer seem to love blow downs.
Some examples of trees that have been hinged and have remained alive for several years sending up lot's of new growth.



Very few trees don't survive hinging and the trees pictured here were hinged solely for screening and oak regeneration rather then bedding, although deer quickly took advantage of the thick screening cover.



Each piece of ground is different and soils vary so hinged trees respond differently according to soil type and species...here you can see the browsing on the stems coming up from the hinged tree....an area interplanted with white swamp oaks.



Deer love thick brushy areas and in almost all cases regardless of how high the tree is cut prefer to lay behind or in front of the hinged tree. Their preference in all cases is to lay in front of a conifer exposed to sunlight rather then under overhanging limbs. Simple winter time observation will help you understand that creating bedding habitat is very very simple...and deer simply love it...



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

NOTE...in regards to the "rabbit cover" comments....that pic was simply for pics of the cut and my son and I made those in the back yard and are in no way shape or manner an example of a "bedding area". I never said they were and I hinge trees for all kinds of reasons so every hinged tree you see in my pics is not necessarily in a "bedding" areas.

For those who have followed my hinging thread on Outreach Outdoors...you know that I use hinging for bedding, bottlenecks, browse, oak regeneration, edge feathering etc.

Hopefully that clarifies some of your questions...
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