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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
If you look closely in this picture you can see where I hige cut small trees on the left to open up one runway and block off several others.




and some places I tip over larger trees to completely block off runways and force deer thru a narrow bottleneck



Smaller trees are easy to hinge which keeps them alive



but larger trees tend to break off



Using hinge cuts to funnel deer also serves to create new browse and in some cases even bedding. During the rut however, traveling bucks will take the easy route with little interest in either browse or bedding.



Thick natural cover not only holds deer on your property, it can also be used to manipulate travel routes...;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Several people have brought up the question of planting switchgrass in openings they have created via hinge cutting or perhaps some logging. Switchgrass is to expensive to use for a short term cover but something that some friends here in Iowa have been using is german millet or an assortment of millets or short sorghums.

Often just spraying the area with roundup and broadcasting the seed before a rain is enough to get some quick growth.

In most of my openings blackberries explode to life so I usually don't attempt any short term cover plantings.



I have used fertilizer in some areas on poor soils along a ridge to encourage growth but plants like the millets encourage birds that also drop more seeds as they feed on the millet and roost in the hinge cut trees and that also produces more forage and browse.

There are probably other forbs or grasses that might work but most of those tend to be expensive. Check places like Cooper Seeds or Seedland for seed and Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever for free or low cost seeds.

Here in Iowa Quail love the edgefeathered areas especially when bare areas are seeded to millet so anyone in southern MI with a few quail around might enjoy helping the little critters out along with creating better whitetail habitat...;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
10 years ago I sat and watched as huge bucks crossed helter skelter thru a myriad of trails 50-80 yards thru the trees beyond the main runway I was watching.

Back then it didn't occur to me to use hinge cutting to manipulate their movements so year after year I watched them and grew increasingly frustrated. It's hard enough to even see a mature buck but then to have the ones you see just out of bow range is hard to swallow.

Eventually I went to work along the field edge hinging trees that you see in the beginning of this thread. I pushed them around with the tractor and loader, cut tops and piled them in the runways until they gave up and were forced to use less runways.



Then I went to work on the interior area, using care not to kill any of the bur oaks but hinging virtually everything else...maples, locusts, a few shingle oaks, some elms and box elders.

Some areas went from this



to this and I planted white swamp oak seedlings in the downed tops which cannot even be seen in this pic because the undergrowth is 4 ft high!



I created a literal "impenetrable mess" in places, completely blocking old runways





but also encouraging new browse



the sunlight and lack of competition will spur a faster rate of growth from the burr oaks and eventually increase mast production and that runway I had so fruitlessly watched in years past is now a beaten down highway!

 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
and deer movement through that path has been nothing short of phenomenal, keeping my trail cam busy day and night!











Hinging cull trees covers a wide array of possible habitat improvements from creating bedding, opening up areas for new browse, spurring growth of oak seedlings and if well thought out, creating funnels and bottlenecks that allowed me to take a mature buck and numerous does this year.

Start with a walk with your forester, make a plan, mark crop trees via a TSI plan and then manipulate the hinge cuttings in away that affects deer movement to make harvesting them less frustrating...
 

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One very crucial aspect of holding whitetails on your property is safe, secure bedding and while any timber or native grass plantings can provide that to some extent, there is a combination that deer prefer.

Where we have timber, we use hinge cutting to change the habitat from open understory to protective cover that tipped over trees and ensuing undergrowth provide. If however you have the option of planting cover specifically for bedding and you have non income producing ground to devote to that purpose...a shrub/conifer planting is ideal.

Whitetails prefer overhead cover that they can see under while bedding but that will screen them when they rise or perhaps need to escape. A variety of shrubs can provide that type of cover but shrubs also lose their leaves and offer little protection against winter winds and blizzards.

Adding conifers offers year around screening and thermal protection that makes the combination irresistible to deer. There are many species of both shrubs and conifers to choose from and I have pictures and links to more options and ideas in my tree planting thread.

All about Tree Planting

15 years ago I signed up the exterior border of one of my farms in a CRP Shelterbelt signup and planted a combination of shrubs, conifers and oaks. That planting now is literally full of deer that use it on a daily basis for travel and bedding, despite being next to the road.

At that time Autum Olives were not considered invasive and were in fact reccomended for wildlife plantings and in that regard they have performed flawlessly. There are however many native species to choose from and a diverse planting will be most effective.

These are some pictures of mine...



I orginally planted Norway spruce for the conifer componet but hormone charged bucks have killed every one of the thousands I planted, so I have gradually been going back and re-planting red cedars by hand as you can see here.



These red cedars are about 3 years old now, they grow fast, deer don't mess with them and they provide awesome screening and thermal cover



Sometimes walking down the road in midday, returning from a morning hunt...I see them laying there under the shrubs watching me. Should I stop, they flee out of sight and no one driving by would even notice them but it shows how they like to be able to see by bedding in overhead cover.



Just plan out your bedding areas so that they are in a safe place, where you will not be busting deer walking in and out, where they can travel to feeding areas unmolested and then if possible use native grasses in interior fields surrounding food sources.

The combination of conifers and shrubs gives permamant screening and cover even when leaves fall, the conifers offering thermal protection and the shrubs overhead cover that deer feel secure bedding under.

I have many acres of hardwood plantings but those serve a different purpose and will never be very attractive for bedding areas, so while you may choose to scatter a few oaks in such a planting, use care not to focus on those type of trees in a planting whose priority is bedding.

Habitat should be diverse and some common sense should be used as you plan out your habitat improvments. A little of many different species and varieties will be far more effective then all of one thing.

100 acres of timber or switchgrass or corn will not be as effective as a combination of the three, all laid out in a manner that allows you to hunt animals as they move from bedding to feed without disturbing them in either.

It may seem a little confusing until...you walk your property and imagine getting shot at while you sleep and eat...then things get a littler clearer....;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
It appears that some folks are confused about "edge feathering", what it does, what it looks like and how it can used for a number of positive things at once.

In some areas edge feathering is done to promote quail habitat and perhaps is done a little differently. If one has good quality marketable oak trees or a nice screening edge of conifers...EF is not something you would want to use in those cases.

When I edge feather, I do hinge cut and tip over virtually every tree along the edge of the field. I attempt to tip them parallel to the field but if they fall into the field, I use my tractor and loader and swing them around parallel.

When I'm done I go back and block any small openings with cut brush, old pallets, old rolls of woven wire or anything else I can scavenge. All of this grows up into an impenetrable screening jungle that deer cannot see thru nor walk thru.



Before EF, deer could see thru the standing trees and they came out into the field via a 1/2 dozen runways.

After EF they now use only one runway and if you back up a bit you can see the TC pics of just a few that now use it exclusively.



NONE of this is or ever will be bedding, it would be impossible for them to bed in the nasty "living fence" I create with EF.



Deer feed on the edge browse (have you forgotten that deer are creatures of the edge? ;) ) they follow the edge feeding on the new growth straight to the only runway...like a puppy on a string...:cool:



Edge feathering is not bedding unless of course one doesn't use some common sense and allows the trees to fall helter skelter. Our fields are all crop fields so of course we don't want trees laying out in the field.

Where ever I can I save small cedars or interplant them amongst the tops so that in time they will also add to the screening effect.



Tons more pictures in the EF/bedding thread on IW of course but hopefully this is starting to make sense. That thread covers all types of hinge cutting "adventures" and they are all intertwined to create screens, new browse, bedding areas and bottlenecks.

That means the pictures you see are from various parts of my farms, edges, deep on the timber, pinch points..etc.

Lot's that one can accomplish with a chainsaw and I can assure you...this ole boy doesn't have deer just walking out just anywhere....thanks to properly done edgefeathering...:cool:
 

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Has anyone ever hinged trees along some of their switch or grass stands (if anyone has any against a woodline) or even just dumped some large tree tops into it to help with some of the lacking overhead cover? Is this something that would benefit an area of switch if your goal was for them to bed in it, or has anyone done this with any results good or bad?
 

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Has anyone ever hinged trees along some of their switch or grass stands (if anyone has any against a woodline) or even just dumped some large tree tops into it to help with some of the lacking overhead cover?
I dumped some trees in an area with tall CSGs last year. Looking at it this year, it worked pretty well to help keep the visual screen into winter by keeping the grass upright. instead of flattening grasses I still have 4'+ screens at the moment and anticipate it will remain until I start trying to kick up rabbits after the endless deer seasons are over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Has anyone ever hinged trees along some of their switch or grass stands (if anyone has any against a woodline) or even just dumped some large tree tops into it to help with some of the lacking overhead cover? Is this something that would benefit an area of switch if your goal was for them to bed in it, or has anyone done this with any results good or bad?

I do it all the time but generally they still prefer to bed in the tops/hinge cut trees inside the timber rather then in the tops that might be tipped over into the switch.

They do use that "edge" as a safe secure travel corridor where they can feed on the emerging browse while remaining hidden in the native grass edge. They always have a very prominent trail along the EF/switch combination but deer will almost always prefer to bed where they can see thru the tops looking down a ridge if they have that option.

My farms are very hilly so they do have that choice and with the exception of mature bucks, choose that bedding scenario almost exclusively.

They lay behind downed trees or tops that they can see thru or over looking down the ridge and use that as protective cover when approached.



EF along NWSG is a positive habitat improvment for most landowners but they may not use it for bedding, preferring instead to use it for travel and feeding....;)
 

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I know some folks think of Iowa as nothing but corn but this is the view out my living room window.



Lot’s of timber and lot’s of winter, often colder then most of southern Michigan



My neighbors are close friends and I let them walk through my place opening day of shotgun and in turn they let me bow hunt their farm for 4 months. They have a small group, harvest mostly does and often marvel at the escape tactics of cagey old bucks.
This time they commented that they counted 10 bucks slipping across from my place to theirs but wisely choosing a safe route well away from the standers.

My trail cams caught a few of them as they entered a bottlenecked runway…



Trigger time allows some to get thru but still caught a handful



Now all of this may seem like neither here nor there…except, folks like Dan Perez of Whitetail Properties and Lee and Tiffany Lakosky own most of the prime land near by so one might wonder why 10 bucks would hole up on my piece a nuthin’ farm?

Could be because of the years I have spent creating great bedding areas by hinge cutting cull trees and encouraging thick cover and natural browse.



It is much easier to hinge smaller trees but one can tip larger trees over if you’re careful. I would caution everyone to be careful because larger trees have a mind of their own and can snap backwards. Every so often someone gets killed working with a chainsaw and no deer is worth losing your life over.



These are recent hinge cuttings and in this case I will interplant oak seedlings among the downed tops that consist of mostly honey locusts and box elders.



When I can free up a young white oak such as this one it really encourages rapid growth and earlier mast production of the released oak.



In some places I inter plant red cedars because they offer great thermal cover and screening



Hinge cutting can be useful to landowners for more then just bedding; it creates openings that encourage new browse and thick cover. Hinged trees can be positioned to create bottlenecks and funnels and used to edge feather a field edge to both build a living fence and create a thick lush screen between the field and timber.

In a few short years you can greatly enhance your property and begin to hold more and older whitetails just by spending a few hours every now and then with your chainsaw. Just combine observation from hunting and scouting with some common sense thinking about natural deer movements and patterns.

In case you were wondering, the older bucks didn’t run across that field….they circle and sneak back behind the drivers and return a few hours later to the safety of a bedding area I created literally a stones throw from my back door….



If you can see clear through your timber…you have work to do…

 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
I took the muzzy out the other day and just sat in some of my hinge cuttings and snapped a couple pics from down closer to a deer's "point of view"...

You can see the vertical regrowth on this hinge cut tree while the tree itself remains alive, both offering browse that previously was unavailable.



You can see in the background the thick red cedars that offer thermal protection while the hinged and downed trees and resulting re-growth offer both food and bedding.



This pic shows a young white oak sapling that is now free to grow with most of the competition removed or culled. The parent tree in the background will yield more/better mast as well with less competing trees. In the far background you can also see an area that will be the focus of this winters TSI/Hinging efforts in what is now a fairly open area.



Severe winter weather is upon us now, snow is piling up, bitter winds howl with wind chills to minus 35 and the field and food plots already picked clean.

Still...the deer remain on my property in large part because of the readily available natural browse created by hinging cull trees and the ensuing safe bedding areas it creates.

Doe groups...



and mature bucks choose to stay here during the toughest time of the year...



It stands to reason that providing for their needs this time of year will keep them here year around as well.



Focusing solely on food plots and hunting season attractants is a mistake that many landowners make because attracting and holding mature whitetails is a year around venture that requires extensive natural habitat improvments.



Make an effort to utilize every square inch of your property to the fullest and diversify your habitat by enhancing native browse and cover. Consider planting NWSG in open areas and encouraging both soft and hard mast producing trees and shrubs.

Make their home like yours...a feeding area, a bedding area and a living area all of which make them feel safe, secure and well fed...:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Since most seasons are pretty well over and we'll be making some habitat enhancements via our chainsaws soon I'd like to keep this thread bumped up to encourage landowners to work on bottlenecks this winter.

This buck may not be a "monster" but he survived the seasons and hopefully will hang around. He's standing directly under my stand where I killed my buck this past fall...where deer after deer and a number of bucks have traveled through the bottleneck I created the winter before.



In previous pics I have shown the hinged trees creating the funnel and this pic shows three runways that are all in the natural portion of the travel corridor. The middle one is 20 yards and the farthest is barely 30.



The bulk of the hinging is behind my stand and previously deer traveled across an 80 yard stretch and many down wind to make matters worse. An hour or so with a chainsaw corrected all that now and they travel thru there on a daily basis.

If you work on your funnels share some pics and thoughts to help others learn how to create their own bottlenecks and keep those deer within an easy 20 yard shot....;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
I put together a new thread on Outreach on the subject of hinging trees and all of the various uses doing so entails.

It's meant to help folks understand how to do it, why to do it and where to do it but no doubt I have missed some thoughts or left some questions unanswered.

Check it out (unless you have dial up in which case forget it...:eek: :D ) and then if you have comments on how I can make it better or more informative I would appreciate your thoughts.

Hinging trees for bedding, browse & bottlenecks

In other posts I have mentioned that I feel it's important to make big nasty thick bedding areas rather then attempt to make a single bed.

You will also see in the pics that not all trees are "hinged" due to their size they are simply tipped over because attempting to hinge them is too dangerous.

There are many thoughts on creating bottlenecks, personally I feel it unethical to build highwire fences as some promote but tipping over trees to encourage deer to travel past a stand is far different.

Deer can and will move thru the hinged trees to feed so they are not "forced" as with fencing, mature bucks however will take the easy route during the rut so some downed trees will encourage deer to avoid the mess.

Too many landowners put all of their emphasis on food plots, forgetting the importance of natural browse and hinging trees is a means of ecouraging all types of natural food sources.

Hinging trees encourages new sprouts and new ground growth of exactly the kind deer need.

Edge feathering is just another form of hinging trees that can both funnel deer, promote browse, screening and create some excellent quail habitat.

Check out the thread and let me know how I can make it more informative for those still learning about the attributes of "hinging"...:)
 

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Dbltree: You indicated that you often plant oaks in the hinged tops that you have cut. Do you find that you need to put them in tubes? I am just wondering whether the use of tubes would hinder an older buck from using the area to bed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Dbltree: You indicated that you often plant oaks in the hinged tops that you have cut. Do you find that you need to put them in tubes? I am just wondering whether the use of tubes would hinder an older buck from using the area to bed.
I'm going to post more pics on this subject in the morning, so re-check the thread over the next few days for a lot more information and pictures.

I usually use the downed tops to protect the hand planted oak seedlings so generlly do not use tubes however...mature bucks are completely unafraid of tree tubes and often tear mine to shreds in the fall.

I have to fence the tubes or they rip the tubes off and then shred the tree!!:SHOCKED:

They even chew on the plastic ties probably out of boredom or curiosity so no worries about "scaring" them...;)
 

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dbltree, The big problem is a lot of people just don't cut aggressive enough because they feel if it gets too thick a deer won't use it. Deer are no different than big rabbitts. I have noticed over 15 rubs in an area of about 50yd x 75yd bedding area that is a complete mess , i have noticed the bucks are extremely attracted to rubbing cherry tree regrowth from the stumps. I think planting fruit or oak trees is an excellant idea inside the hinge cut area where a majority of the tree tops fall. Sweet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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