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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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I agree to a point. Aspen is very fast growing and can expand exponentially via lateral root growth far exceeding a previously diverse forest. Again imo, if present prior to a clear cut even in very low quantity, the only thing keeping it from becoming the prevalent tree are heavy deer browse or human intervention.

The previous stand makeup and surrounding area should be very good indicators for how it may regen, however it must be keep in mind all trees are not the same. Growth rates and shade tolerance are strong influencers in a forest. In a mature 80-100+ year old forest, no telling exactly how it became to be and no telling how it might return today. IMO the strongest indicator of next generation is existing understory. If that isn't completely removed it has a great head start. If an understory doesn't really exist as in a park like mature stand, it might be anybody's guess what returns, within reason of course.
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.
I know in my SLP property that maple will be the main contender to try and claim the new space
I agree to a point. Aspen is very fast growing and can expand exponentially via lateral root growth far exceeding a previously diverse forest. Again imo, if present prior to a clear cut even in very low quantity, the only thing keeping it from becoming the prevalent tree are heavy deer browse or human intervention.

The previous stand makeup and surrounding area should be very good indicators for how it may regen, however it must be keep in mind all trees are not the same. Growth rates and shade tolerance are strong influencers in a forest. In a mature 80-100+ year old forest, no telling exactly how it became to be and no telling how it might return today. IMO the strongest indicator of next generation is existing understory. If that isn't completely removed it has a great head start. If an understory doesn't really exist as in a park like mature stand, it might be anybody's guess what returns, within reason of course.
Opposite here. Our main timber area is low wet woods. I don't want anyone hunting in there in much wind . Trees tend to blow over, roots and all. We have a select cut slated for 255 trees. No need to hinge anything here, plenty of horizontal cover from ma nature. A smaller woodlot south is higher ground with lots of hingecuts. Point is, let the land dictate what you should do to provide the best habitat. We burn wood for our main heat source and I have dropped many dead ash trees in the last 8 years. I can't imagine any scenario where a girdled tree standing dead on my property is a good idea. Making a widowmaker? I'll pass...
I agree. Seems crazy to go out and make a mine field in your woods with trees that can potentially fall anytime. Cut it down, hinge it or whatever but don't make it a booby trap that could go off at anytime.
Opposite here. Our main timber area is low wet woods. I don't want anyone hunting in there in much wind . Trees tend to blow over, roots and all. We have a select cut slated for 255 trees. No need to hinge anything here, plenty of horizontal cover from ma nature. A smaller woodlot south is higher ground with lots of hingecuts. Point is, let the land dictate what you should do to provide the best habitat. We burn wood for our main heat source and I have dropped many dead ash trees in the last 8 years. I can't imagine any scenario where a girdled tree standing dead on my property is a good idea. Making a widowmaker? I'll pass...
My first winter owning the property I cut and hinge cut a TON and the wife was PISSED. Didn't like the look. Years 3-9 she was very impressed with the re-gen and now loves how it looks. I knew it would take time for her to get past the ugliness of the initial cut (especially that first spring before green up). Now she trusts me (a little more) and knows that it's the long term that counts.
This winter I've been cutting for weeks. I know it's not super-pretty to her right now, but I've built some street cred. and I'll throw out a line every now and then like, "Imagine how nice this will be down the road when we have some grand-kids."
Update

Wife lost it when I mentioned cutting the big trees.
Ya, I learned my lesson….hinging by the front yard is a no-no….once I reach the barn, no holds barred and all ok! Just really glad she’s only been the the hunting property once! Don’t want to ask what she thinks about that!
My first winter owning the property I cut and hinge cut a TON and the wife was PISSED. Didn't like the look. Years 3-9 she was very impressed with the re-gen and now loves how it looks. I knew it would take time for her to get past the ugliness of the initial cut (especially that first spring before green up). Now she trusts me (a little more) and knows that it's the long term that counts.
This winter I've been cutting for weeks. I know it's not super-pretty to her right now, but I've built some street cred. and I'll throw out a line every now and then like, "Imagine how nice this will be down the road when we have some grand-kids."
Yeah I can understand that, I remember when my great grandmother cut her timber and everyone was shocked.

In her eyes it was money and a crop. For me I hear right now the market is decent for oak..and I have a ton of maple... Big and round and tall... But as I keep looking at it, I want those boards or at least some good $.

Thanks for the heads up!
Just some thoughts as far as hinge cutting goes, I did a fair amount on my property last winter and learned that some of my favorites are young elm trees. They are nice and soft and fibrous so they virtually never break, and make nice soft landings too. I've also learned that I can see the merit to both high and lower cut hinges. In the right area, I love cutting the elms low as they seem to explode with shoots all up and down the trunk, making for some dynamite horizontal cover and browse in short order. If they were hinged high I would lose that benefit for a large portion of the tree. Every area and goal are unique of course.

This elm was hinged last winter, and this pic was taken September 24th. All brand new vertical shoots, and you can even see a good portion of them have already been browsed and nipped off.

Plant community Plant Natural landscape Terrestrial plant Tree
She was very wise and looked big picture, not just what was in front of her. A well managed forest needs proper harvest to continue good health (or fire or disease)
Current market….red oak bad, white oak good…hard maple can depend on the mill it’s heading too whether it’s bad or good at the moment.
Yeah I can understand that, I remember when my great grandmother cut her timber and everyone was shocked.

In her eyes it was money and a crop. For me I hear right now the market is decent for oak..and I have a ton of maple... Big and round and tall... But as I keep looking at it, I want those boards or at least some good $.

Thanks for the heads up!
Opposite here. Our main timber area is low wet woods. I don't want anyone hunting in there in much wind . Trees tend to blow over, roots and all. We have a select cut slated for 255 trees. No need to hinge anything here, plenty of horizontal cover from ma nature. A smaller woodlot south is higher ground with lots of hingecuts. Point is, let the land dictate what you should do to provide the best habitat. We burn wood for our main heat source and I have dropped many dead ash trees in the last 8 years. I can't imagine any scenario where a girdled tree standing dead on my property is a good idea. Making a widowmaker? I'll pass...
I agree. Seems crazy to go out and make a mine field in your woods with trees that can potentially fall anytime. Cut it down, hinge it or whatever but don't make it a booby trap that could go off at anytime.
About the only trees a person might wish to consider girdling are a very few strategically placed ''wolf trees". The only species that should even be considered are ones that do not tend to blow over, hold branches well, and usually die quite slowly allowing branches to drop straight down. These features allow turkeys to roost, and woodpeckers, cavity nesters, and small mammals to make maximum use of the tree for the longest time without the crown overly impeding younger, healthier, growth. Sugar maple, beech, and oak are pretty good examples of trees that girdle well. Short lived species or ones that tend to quickly rot off at the ground and tip over full-length are a definite no-no. Aspens, cottonwoods, ash, and basswood good examples. Short lived species rarely "wolf out" anyway. FM
Things are a little slow both here and on my work schedule today, so I thought I'd revive this discussion with a question related to the QW article.

Vucurevich says deer hunters and managers like to take shortcuts to success so they can shoot big bucks and make their neighbors jealous, so they are suckers for marketing gimmicks that might provide an advantage.

I was pretty offended when I read this, but is he right? The hunting industry is full of this stuff and there's lots of money to be made, so maybe he has a point.

When I think about my own behavior, I have planted hundreds of native white oaks that don't promise to produce a single acorn for two or more decades. That's not the action of someone looking to cut corners, but on the other hand, I use the simplest and cheapest methods to plant food plots because I don't think it's worth the high cost to do it conventionally. Is this taking a shortcut to success?
Are you asking farming deer shortcuts or hunting deer shortcuts. to me they are different.
Habitat things take time and there are few shortcuts other than equipment.
Hunting is goal oriented so any shortcut to attain that is is play.
Things are a little slow both here and on my work schedule today, so I thought I'd revive this discussion with a question related to the QW article.

Vucurevich says deer hunters and managers like to take shortcuts to success so they can shoot big bucks and make their neighbors jealous, so they are suckers for marketing gimmicks that might provide an advantage.

I was pretty offended when I read this, but is he right? The hunting industry is full of this stuff and there's lots of money to be made, so maybe he has a point.

When I think about my own behavior, I have planted hundreds of native white oaks that don't promise to produce a single acorn for a decade or two. That's not the action of someone looking to cut corners, but on the other hand, I use the simplest and cheapest methods to plant food plots because I don't think it's worth the high cost to do it conventionally. Is this taking a shortcut to success?
That's a good distinction, Bucman. Maybe that's where the QW article went wrong. The author is conflating hunting tactics with habitat work/property management.
Are you asking farming deer shortcuts or hunting deer shortcuts. to me they are different.
Habitat things take time and there are few shortcuts other than equipment.
Hunting is goal oriented so any shortcut to attain that is is play.
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I know I address them differently!

No offense to anyone for the "deer farming"comment it was for distinction only.
That's a good distinction, Bucman. Maybe that's where the QW article went wrong. The author is conflating hunting tactics with habitat work/property management.
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By implication, I think Vucurevich is saying that's why deer hunters/managers like hinge-cutting and tend to misuse it. He considers it a short-cut to success (gimmick), but with pitfalls. If he had just stuck with "hinge-cutting can be a useful tool, but be careful not to misuse it", it would have been fine, in my opinion.

But we've already hashed that all out. I was hoping to turn the discussion to more of "where do you take shortcuts, where do you not, and why?"
If I hired Vucurevich ; would I be buying into shortcuts or taking advantage of a shortcut to outcompete neighbors?

Changing a habitat is going to happen one of two ways , or both combined. Time and "natural" progression , or deliberate manipulation.
For prime deer habitat , it's not unusual for adjustments to be made to maintain browse tonnage. The open park beginning after saplings create canopy only gets worse with time on timbered sites for an example suiting canopy removal or adjustment.
How the topic of how to alter a canopy gets crossed with shortcuts and gimmicks is just V's way of disagreeing with hingecuts and thier future maintenance.

A site might be wanting for both standing dead trees and hinged trees. Or his method/gimmick of adding structure.
Second growth is cover. Is it structure? And how long until the second growths saplings browse is out of reach depends on specie ,soil,clime, (including rainfall).

Neighbors behind my property and I cheer each other on.
Texted back and forth while hunting one time encouraging deer to visit one's own scant clover for one , retaliated by the other inviting deer to the scant rye on his property. That's some vicious screw the neighbor competition there!!
Whoever scores cheers the other for being on deck.
His wife has been offered my blind to use. Just let me know when and I won't be there.
We compare notes as we hunt the same deer.
If either party uses a scent or decoy or other gimmick , is it to defeat the other neighbor?
We know what each other has planted. Pretty much how when and why.
Don't believe a tree (trunks with much diameter not really a big part of the habitat anyways) has been saw cut hinged on either property. Or hacked and squirted.

It's no surprise deer trade back and forth and we get opportunities at deer in range.. So who after all the human created gimmicks and habitat alteration has an advantage over the other?

The vid could simply have compared hinge cuts to girdling in order to break canopies.
Let the viewer see fit as to application. Safely ; regardless of method.
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Great point, Waif! Well done.
If I hired Vucurevich ; would I be buying into shortcuts or taking advantage of a shortcut to outcompete neighbors?
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Here's a couple areas where I take shortcuts and why:
1. Food Plots - I feel I can get something like 80% of the benefit for maybe 20% of the cost of conventional methods, so it's a cost/benefit thing for me.
2. Scent Control - cost/benefit thing again. If I incur the costs in time and money to undergo a vigorous scent control regimen, it may or may not improve my success. But there are hunters who shoot 200" bucks with bows that use no scent control at all, so it's obviously not necessary to shoot trophy bucks. There is also a very high cost incurred to family or friends you want to host on your property. Will you make them go through your hour-long prep to hunt your land? That's a cost I'm not willing to impose on myself or others for dubious benefits.
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I feel for your victimized neighbors.
They probably didn't even know what hit them at first.
(y)
Here's a couple areas where I take shortcuts and why:
1. Food Plots - I feel I can get something like 80% of the benefit for maybe 20% of the cost of conventional methods, so it's a cost/benefit thing for me.
2. Scent Control - cost/benefit thing again. If I incur the costs in time and money to undergo a vigorous scent control regimen, it may or may not improve my success. But there are hunters who shoot 200" bucks with bows that use no scent control at all, so it's obviously not necessary to shoot trophy bucks. There is also a very high cost incurred to family or friends you want to host on your property. Will you make them go through your hour-long prep to hunt your land? That's a cost I'm not willing to impose on myself or others for dubious benefits.
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As long as they are jealous of me, that's what matters. :)
I feel for your victimized neighbors.
They probably didn't even know what hit them at first.
(y)
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