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Quality Whitetails - The Wrong and Right of Hinge Cuts

4768 Views 81 Replies 27 Participants Last post by  Bucman
Any NDA members get their QW in the mail today? What do you think of this article? I was dismayed and disappointed they would print this.
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No reason on God's Green Earth a person cannot get what they wish in the form of habitat via removal of woody vegetation and still get paid what the entire harvest is worth. No reason whatsoever, none. To get a fair price and the habitat the landowner desires he needs to be very clear as to what he wants the end result to look like. Then the forester can sling enough paint and/or come up with specification that will accomplish what is desired.

Some landowners simply tell the forester that they want enough light so the regenerating trees provide some food and cover. That leaves an awful lot of room for interpretation as to just how much open area the landowner wants. Foresters, like husbands, are not mind readers.

If a person is worried about not having enough cut, look at some of the last sales a forester has managed and tell the forester to remove more (or less) depending on what a person wants. Still concerned? Get something put in the Management Agreement with the forester to help ensure the desired result is clear to both parties. FM
Of course u don't want ripped off but removing the amount of trees I want to create deer habitat is more important than money.
You guys should know, I received a response from Lindsay Thomas regarding my criticism of the article. He defended the article, but also thanked me for sharing my opinion. This is good enough for me. NDA deserves a mulligan just like the rest of us. Here is a portion of the email:
...Nevertheless, it is important for me to know you had a different reaction. I regret that we published something that disappointed any NDA supporter. We would never condescend to deer hunters as an organization, nor allow any writer to do it in our materials. Your feedback will make me more alert to future content that might be taken this way.

Again, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I am copying other members of our team to make sure they have seen your letter. And thanks for your support of NDA!

Best regards,

Lindsay
I called one today. I'm thinking it is time to sell some wood and open that canopy up.
I have nothing against foresters per se. My complaint about my experience was that I was told that this guy was the "go to" for whitetail habitat, when in reality, it wasn't his thing. The reason for a whitetail habitater to hire a forester is to take the first step in getting sunlight into a woodlot. Might as well get your money from logging the sellable trees first. I would think a forester is a very good idea for helping in a tree sale. Who would you rather trust? A forester or a logger?
Be very cautious about hiring a forester. Make sure they clearly understand your desires regarding deer habitat and your property usage. And more important, make sure you understand what you want. There is a gradient of forest practices ranging from the worst wooded deer habitat, which comprises an unmanaged woods with a closed canopy that can support very little wildlife and is a deer desert, to the other extreme which is a woods with all canopy removed and nothing growing more than five feet above the ground (unless it produces mast, and then sparingly) which is perfect deer habitat (assuming it is managed for a variety of native species). In-between is the realm most landowners wish to achieve, but in doing so they will sacrifice deer habitat for other needs. The middle ground is habitat that is both beneficial for timber growth as well as deer habitat. This center ground is the territory that a good forester can lead you to. Other factors that must be balanced against deer habitat are aesthetics (people love park-like canopied woods (deer don't), waterfowl and small game hunting, and other recreational family use of the property.

But be very aware that in order to grow trees and have parklike aesthetics you must sacrifice deer habitat. Deer are NOT creatures of the woods. The optimum environment for them is early successional growth in well sunlit fields. And they are also not creatures of the edge, as so many people claim. Their usage of edges are common only because humans create those edges by using the land for farming, forestry, etc. In other words, they have to use the edges because they have precious little of the habitat that is optimal for them in most modern areas. If they have an early successional old field handy they will use the whole thing just like they do the edges of fields and woods.

I devote an entire chapter to this subject in my book.

Font Carnivore Adaptation Working animal Horse
I called one today. I'm thinking it is time to sell some wood and open that canopy up.
Thanks for the heads up. My woods are small so selling wood is tough. The market is not as high as last year for hardwood... I'm not hurting for money but I'm thinking that it's time to cut some of the larger maple and oak.

It's hard because I like seeing those big trees.

Thanks again
Be very cautious about hiring a forester. Make sure they clearly understand your desires regarding deer habitat and your property usage. And more important, make sure you understand what you want. There is a gradient of forest practices ranging from the worst wooded deer habitat, which comprises an unmanaged woods with a closed canopy that can support very little wildlife and is a deer desert, to the other extreme which is a woods with all canopy removed and nothing growing more than five feet above the ground (unless it produces mast, and then sparingly) which is perfect deer habitat (assuming it is managed for a variety of native species). In-between is the realm most landowners wish to achieve, but in doing so they will sacrifice deer habitat for other needs. The middle ground is habitat that is both beneficial for timber growth as well as deer habitat. This center ground is the territory that a good forester can lead you to. Other factors that must be balanced against deer habitat are aesthetics (people love park-like canopied woods (deer don't), waterfowl and small game hunting, and other recreational family use of the property.

But be very aware that in order to grow trees and have parklike aesthetics you must sacrifice deer habitat. Deer are NOT creatures of the woods. The optimum environment for them is early successional growth in well sunlit fields. And they are also not creatures of the edge, as so many people claim. Their usage of edges are common only because humans create those edges by using the land for farming, forestry, etc. In other words, they have to use the edges because they have precious little of the habitat that is optimal for them in most modern areas. If they have an early successional old field handy they will use the whole thing just like they do the edges of fields and woods.

I devote an entire chapter to this subject in my book.

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Update

Wife lost it when I mentioned cutting the big trees.
I called one today. I'm thinking it is time to sell some wood and open that canopy up.
Just explain logically to your wife, how it enhances the woodlot. Sorry, I put logically and wife in the same sentence.
Update

Wife lost it when I mentioned cutting the big trees.
Compromise, don't cut them all. Getting some light to the forest floor is better than getting none at all. FM
Update

Wife lost it when I mentioned cutting the big trees.
Rarely is a good whitetail habitat an appealing thing to uneducated closed minded individuals. ( No disrespect intended) Some neighbors of my Mother's had their place logged and she was beside herself about what was done. I tried to explain but she didn't want to understand. The lush new growth came back and hunting for them has never been better. My Mom is still comfortably clueless.
Exactly. Lol. I took 72 mature trees off my property (about 8 acres of woods) years ago. From afar you couldn’t even tell except for the tops laying around. Best thing I could’ve done for that woodlot.


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Just explain logically to your wife, how it enhances the woodlot. Sorry, I put logically and wife in the same sentence.
Yup my dad bought me my first membership when I was 12 I believe. After 20 years I decided not to renew this year. Its been getting worse every year and finally decided it is not worth it.
The NDA is really starting to become laughable
I knew NDA had become corrupted when I saw their YouTube page with videos on how we supposedly need to get more "diversity" involved with deer hunting and other such nonsense, as if that's ever been more help than hindrance when it comes to any meritable organization/cause.
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If you want to improve your woods, strictly for deer habitat, clear cut it. Right down to the dirt. Leave a few stategically placed trees for treestands. If done correctly, you will be ashamed to show your friends what you did to your property and your wife will hate you.
BUT.......in 3-4 years, what used to be your woods will be extreme whitetail habitat infested with deer. I have watched DNR clear cuts in Clare County become deer magnets. Guys that hunted the area were mad....at first. Then the clear cut grew to about 8-10 feet and was so thick that you had to have a machete to get through it. I had a "heavy select cut" done on 40 acres in Clare Co. After a couple years, i wished that i had more cut.
A word of caution/concern regarding clear cuts. 100% agree that the regrowth can be a deer magnet within 3-5 years. However, for how long and to what degree depends very much on what the clear cut re establishs itself to. I've hunting many vast state and county forests over 4 decades. All of these see various types of forest management. Ive witnessed relatively diverse forests clear cut and return into stands of pure popple. Some easily over 80 acres. For a relatively short period of time 2-6 years, they are attractive to deer, but soon after that they become the biggest deer desert in the woods IMO. Deer aside, personality I find them unattractive and nearly impossible to hunt or travel thru. They are valuable to grouse if that's of interest. Grown for pulp wood not sure what money exists in today and future markets.

The point being, before performing any major logging, define your goals and understand what it will take to get there. Forests can be mainipulated to return to the same habitat or favor a different regrowth. This is usually accomplished via different logging technics but can also involve transplants if radical changes are desired. Pure stands of anything will have limited attraction to deer at some point.

IMO the best clear cut successes (for deer) involve diverse regeneration which includes multiple trees species, various shrubs, forbs, weeds, brambles etc. however, keep in mind long term maintenance (cutting future regrowth) way be required to keep an open canopy and encourage regrowth at the level needed to maintain that food and cover for deer.

To better improve success toward achieving your goals if performing a clear cut, I suggest you best understand the existing stand, the understory, the soil, local deer pressure, and the surrounding area. Look for examples of previous clear cuts in the area in similar habitat, they may be good indicators of what yours will grow into.
Ironically, I'm hoping for exactly what you're describing, but my situation is very unique to my property. I had an aspen clear cut done in 2016 in an area where I strategically do not want deer. I know. That sounds pretty dumb. I confess, I did it for the money. I got about $21,000 that otherwise would have eventually fallen and rotted in the woods. I used the money to build a nice little cabin. Not a bad trade-off, in my opinion. I hope as the aspen regen matures and becomes less attractive for food and bedding, deer travel will become more predictable and my hunting will actually be easier.
Cloud Building Plant Window Sky
A word of caution/concern regarding clear cuts. 100% agree that the regrowth can be a deer magnet within 3-5 years. However, for how long and to what degree depends very much on what the clear cut re establishs itself to. I've hunting many vast state and county forests over 4 decades. All of these see various types of forest management. Ive witnessed relatively diverse forests clear cut and return into stands of pure popple. Some easily over 80 acres. For a relatively short period of time 2-6 years, they are attractive to deer, but soon after that they become the biggest deer desert in the woods IMO. Deer aside, personality I find them unattractive and nearly impossible to hunt or travel thru. They are valuable to grouse if that's of interest. Grown for pulp wood not sure what money exists in today and future markets.

The point being, before performing any major logging, define your goals and understand what it will take to get there. Forests can be mainipulated to return to the same habitat or favor a different regrowth. This is usually accomplished via different logging technics but can also involve transplants if radical changes are desired. Pure stands of anything will have limited attraction to deer at some point.

IMO the best clear cut successes (for deer) involve diverse regeneration which includes multiple trees species, various shrubs, forbs, weeds, brambles etc. however, keep in mind long term maintenance (cutting future regrowth) way be required to keep an open canopy and encourage regrowth at the level needed to maintain that food and cover for deer.

To better improve success toward achieving your goals if performing a clear cut, I suggest you best understand the existing stand, the understory, the soil, local deer pressure, and the surrounding area. Look for examples of previous clear cuts in the area in similar habitat, they may be good indicators of what yours will grow into.
Not being a subscriber , no I didn't.

Zach has his way.
You've seen my habitat , and my nimble capacity to avoid falling trees.
Personally I'd take a hinge cut over a standing dead tree resulting from Zach's preference for hack and squirt.
I don't like the multiple standing dead trees on a windy day. Heck , at home I hear an oak drop now and then on nice days. Often after a heavy rain prior.

Zach is spot on about less original labor. History shows natives and those Euro groups that spread out , girdling trees to kill them and allowing sunlight to the ground.
Planting around the bases of trunks/roots.
However , those dead trees are not still standing. And a point had to arrive where branches and eventually trunks came down. Fine if no one was below. Not fine if someone was.

Given a stand of timber and prohibited from hinge cutting I could tolerate making "snags". Topping trees and leaving trunks for nondeer critter habitat. Not interested in doing so here though.

The result of hinged or snow bent trunks is apparent. Even if maintenance is required for updating.
The resulting structure (let alone browse) vs standing dead timber is going to be quite different.
When removing timber by killing it is the goal , I'd be wanting some (not all) worked up into firewood.
Cutting on standing dead of much age I don't want anything to do with. Much rather see green wood dropped or hinged first. I felt Zach missed the hazards of standing dead timber caused by girdling. Or at least avoided mention of it.
(In this clip , not in the letter I don't subscribe to.)

Coppicing vs single upright second growth saplings getting browsed on.
The edge of my yard and watching the odd deer browse the maple saplings shows a need today to kill or modify those saplings as they grow out of reach and a new canopy is established.. That's maintenance too.

Any NDA members get their QW in the mail today? What do you think of this article? I was dismayed and disappointed they would print this.
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If Aspen are prevalent in the area they very well could take over as they are fast growing. If the area is diverse already, then the expected returning growth would be so as well.
A word of caution/concern regarding clear cuts. 100% agree that the regrowth can be a deer magnet within 3-5 years. However, for how long and to what degree depends very much on what the clear cut re establishs itself to. I've hunting many vast state and county forests over 4 decades. All of these see various types of forest management. Ive witnessed relatively diverse forests clear cut and return into stands of pure popple. Some easily over 80 acres. For a relatively short period of time 2-6 years, they are attractive to deer, but soon after that they become the biggest deer desert in the woods IMO. Deer aside, personality I find them unattractive and nearly impossible to hunt or travel thru. They are valuable to grouse if that's of interest. Grown for pulp wood not sure what money exists in today and future markets.

The point being, before performing any major logging, define your goals and understand what it will take to get there. Forests can be mainipulated to return to the same habitat or favor a different regrowth. This is usually accomplished via different logging technics but can also involve transplants if radical changes are desired. Pure stands of anything will have limited attraction to deer at some point.

IMO the best clear cut successes (for deer) involve diverse regeneration which includes multiple trees species, various shrubs, forbs, weeds, brambles etc. however, keep in mind long term maintenance (cutting future regrowth) way be required to keep an open canopy and encourage regrowth at the level needed to maintain that food and cover for deer.

To better improve success toward achieving your goals if performing a clear cut, I suggest you best understand the existing stand, the understory, the soil, local deer pressure, and the surrounding area. Look for examples of previous clear cuts in the area in similar habitat, they may be good indicators of what yours will grow into.
I haven't done much hinge-cutting or hack-n-squirt, but I've dabbled in both. My property is mostly early successional habitat, so I don't really have the need right now. However, a lot of the points he made in this video resonate with me. I like that you can cover a lot of ground by yourself with just a hatchet and spray bottle. I've attempted hinge-cutting by myself with a make-shift hook tool and it was rough. I'm not worried about dead trees falling on me. My luck is too good for that. :)
Not being a subscriber , no I didn't.

Zach has his way.
You've seen my habitat , and my nimble capacity to avoid falling trees.
Personally I'd take a hinge cut over a standing dead tree resulting from Zach's preference for hack and squirt.
I don't like the multiple standing dead trees on a windy day. Heck , at home I hear an oak drop now and then on nice days. Often after a heavy rain prior.

Zach is spot on about less original labor. History shows natives and those Euro groups that spread out , girdling trees to kill them and allowing sunlight to the ground.
Planting around the bases of trunks/roots.
However , those dead trees are not still standing. And a point had to arrive where branches and eventually trunks came down. Fine if no one was below. Not fine if someone was.

Given a stand of timber and prohibited from hinge cutting I could tolerate making "snags". Topping trees and leaving trunks for nondeer critter habitat. Not interested in doing so here though.

The result of hinged or snow bent trunks is apparent. Even if maintenance is required for updating.
The resulting structure (let alone browse) vs standing dead timber is going to be quite different.
When removing timber by killing it is the goal , I'd be wanting some (not all) worked up into firewood.
Cutting on standing dead of much age I don't want anything to do with. Much rather see green wood dropped or hinged first. I felt Zach missed the hazards of standing dead timber caused by girdling. Or at least avoided mention of it.
(In this clip , not in the letter I don't subscribe to.)

Coppicing vs single upright second growth saplings getting browsed on.
The edge of my yard and watching the odd deer browse the maple saplings shows a need today to kill or modify those saplings as they grow out of reach and a new canopy is established.. That's maintenance too.

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Yeah right.
One tree in the whole field and you'd probably bonk it with the quad.
:sneaky:
I haven't done much hinge-cutting or hack-n-squirt, but I've dabbled in both. My property is mostly early successional habitat, so I don't really have the need right now. However, a lot of the points he made in this video resonate with me. I like that you can cover a lot of ground by yourself with just a hatchet and spray bottle. I've attempted hinge-cutting by myself with a make-shift hook tool and it was rough. I'm not worried about dead trees falling on me. My luck is too good for that. :)
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Osceola, great return on the aspen harvest. I agree with your thinking. That mature aspen will likely become an area void of deer, except for any trails cut thru. You could also use it well as a tool to guide deer movment.
Ironically, I'm hoping for exactly what you're describing, but my situation is very unique to my property. I had an aspen clear cut done in 2016 in an area where I strategically do not want deer. I know. That sounds pretty dumb. I confess, I did it for the money. I got about $21,000 that otherwise would have eventually fallen and rotted in the woods. I used the money to build a nice little cabin. Not a bad trade-off, in my opinion. I hope as the aspen regen matures and becomes less attractive for food and bedding, deer travel will become more predictable and my hunting will actually be
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