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Hinge cutting-size and time frame
So a quick question regarding Hinge cutting trees. What size trees in diameter are the trees that should be cut? Staying with a size does this need to occur in a large area (1 acre more/less?). How long before new growth takes over and makes the effort worth it? What volume of tres to cut. Probably a topic already discussed and I realize no two spots are the same but any rule of thumb guidance is appreciated.
Theres a few options. You can pick real big pines and just drop em wherever to help with creating bedding areas. I like to do this is known bedding areas, as well as areas I'd like them to bed. Or just dropping them anywhere to help make more cover. Deer really love laying next to big down trees. South side slopes are preferred in winter as it gets more sun.
Or for hinge cutting--you want to pick trees no bigger than your thigh imo. You want to do this is the spring when the sap warms up a little and makes the tree flexible. You try this in the cold of winter and your tree will snap off. I like to cut my tree about waist high at very slight down angle about 70% through the tree. Basically just barely enough to be able to pull the tree down by hand. Sometimes I'll even cut through the tree completely at that same level, then pick up tree and place it on the stump. But that's more for dead trees I cut down. Then you'll want more of a level cut to put the tree back up on the stump.
Both methods work great and I have deer bedding regularly by my downed trees or hinge cuts. Imo dont cut hardwoods like oak unless dead already. Cut Pines or spruce. If you have any grassy areas with pines I'd be cutting there too. Good luck cutting trees and making cover is alot of fun! And finding beds next to your hard work will make you smile. Hope this helps
We made a coordinated effort this year to create bedding on our little 65 acres of heaven. Once created, it was off limits starting in the middle of August. I can tell you that was the single greatest impact we have made on our ground. So much so, that the majority of our effort going forward will be focused on this type of habitat improvement.
I would recommend doing a search for a gent named Jake Ehlinger. He is out of Michigan and has a number of YouTube videos. He is an absolute deer habitat guru.
If I had to choose between food plots or hinge cutting for increasing my deer activity, 10 out of 10 times now I would choose hinge cutting. Fortunately I didn't have to choose.
What types of trees are most prevalent in the area you are looking at cutting, langbow?
I was of the understanding that hinge cutting was done with 10 or 12 inch deciduous trees in order to bring the canopy down to where deer could brows on the bud ends. The hinge cut allowed enough bark to remain so the tree would remain alive and continue to produce brows, or so I though.
I thought the same 8point. I have only fir and pines, so the bedding area improvement idea intrigues me. Is there a particular geographic pattern of cut y’all find most effective for the bedding areas?
You don’t want to cut an an angle as Grunter suggest. That’s a receipe for a headache literally. Think about cutting through a tree at a downward angle. If you mess up and cut too far that tree has one way to go. Always cut parallel to the ground. You will get some guys on here that will tell you not to hinge cut at all it’s too dangerous. (It can. be) tree selection and safety gear matters. I would also add experience with a chainsaw is also important. If you aren’t familiar with normal felling techniques you can run into some issues hinge cutting.
I wouldn’t recommend hinge cutting pines or spruce trees either. The goal is to keep the tree alive. Pines and spruce will die. I have seen a couple of Cedar trees live after being hinged but those trees are tough and hard to kill.
Timing on when to hinge is a debate but I only hinge from December through April. It just happens to be the times I am not hunting or fishing. You can hinge in the cold without snapping trees I do it all the time.
Watch some videos online of the trusted habitat guys to get a better feel for the process
That being said define your goals ahead of time. Are you trying to control movement? Create bedding? Browse? Both?
Different hinge cuts for different situations. If you are trying to create bedding you can make an impenetrable mess that will be void of deer even though it is thick and nasty. Deer still like to move around and don’t like to feel trapped.
If your plans are to thicken up an area the key factor is getting sunlight to the ground to spur new growth. Sometimes a full harvest of select trees is just a better option to open up the canopy.
A rule of thumb that I use on how many trees to hinge cut is based on the size of the trees in the area I am cutting. If a tree I want to keep is 10 inches in diameter, I hinge cut every tree within 10 feet of the base of the tree I want to keep.
i.e 10 inch tree: everything within 10 feet of the base of the retained tree gets cut. 12 inch tree diameter: everything within 12 feet gets cut, 15 inch tree, everything with 15 feet of that tree gets cut.
My last advice is to cut till you think it looks TOO wide open around the tree you want to keep...wait a few minutes and then cut a few more trees.
Is birch a species this would work well with..?
X3 8 point. I thought it was a late season feeding tactic.
Never done it but read that making them fall in the correct position is critical as you need the deer to navigate through them and not block them off.
Osceola......That was about the same philosophy that my dad had when he would prune his apple trees in his 5 acre orchard! He said “if you couldn’t throw your hat through the tree’s branches, you didn’t prune enough.”
The best time to hinge cut is when you have the time to do it. You will have more failures during a deep freeze because the trees are brittle, but a lot of the tree that snap will still stump sprout. 2 keys to survival are sunlight and minimizing cambium pinch. You have to have adequate sun or most trees won't live. I like to cut high but unless the tree is supported by the preceding cut, there will be cambium pinch. Try to keep the uncut portion at 90 degrees or less. A hook will help you to lay trees exactly where they should fall, and help you do so with a lot less effort. A hook also allows you to cut less of the tree which is more efficient and has a higher success rate. A high cut usually puts 50% of the tree within browsing reach and the other 50% out of reach which helps survival. A low cut on a highly preferred browse species can be eaten to death.
Great info, I was not at the computer for the day. T-Roy the trees I wanted to cut are within a large area of oaks last logged 30 years ago. I feel some cutting of some smaller trees may allow some under brush and browse. This large area of open hard woods was not a good hunting spot without the acorns this year so that is where my head is at. How to make it better for the next bad masss crop year. A few black birch, smaller oaks, few beeches are what I am thinking.
Logging this may be better and the volume I cut may not have a real affect. Still kind of torn on what to do.
Some good info above. There are several good videos on YouTube on the subject of hinge cutting and timber stand improvement (TSI). Some good info on Iowawhitetail.com as well. Check into “crop tree release” too. You probably have some type of state forester that can give you some guidelines about which trees in your area hinge cut well and which ones to avoid, along with other pertinent information for your area.
If you are trying to hinge trees in a large and maturish oak woods, you are likely to be unsuccessful. you need the sun.
Maybe a timber stand improvement will be better
I have around 3-4 acres of mixed hardwoods ( poplar maples) that were blown over in a windstorm this past Aug. Should I just leave it or get in there and do some cutting. I am planing on cutting some to make it easier for the deer to access my one back plot. Since the storm deer have vacated the area.
We did a random block of hinge cutting at our beagle club, it became a very good beding area for deer over the first few years. Then it petered off..