Hinge Cutting for Deer – Cutting Safely
Obviously, whenever we are doing something that involves cutting of any sort you want to be careful. This is especially true when hinge cutting for deer because you are most likely using a chainsaw. Chainsaws can be extremely dangerous if not taken seriously. Though it’s not required that you use a chainsaw, there are still a few safety concerns that you must take in to consideration before making your first cut. First, you need to plan out where you want the tree or trees to fall. Keep in mind that when you start to cut a tree down, it’s going to want to fall in the direction that the top of the tree is leaning. This is far more important if you are going to be using a chain saw rather than a pruning saw because you can cut much bigger trees. Always wear eye protection as well. You never know when some saw dust will find its way towards your eyes. If you are going to be using a chain saw, make sure you are wearing chaps and ear protection as well. Remember, we are doing all of this as a passion and a hobby. It is not worth dying over so safety should be your absolute number one priority.
Hinge Cutting for Deer – The Basics of a Hinge Cut
When hinge cutting for deer, the very first thing you have to do is make sure that you know exactly how to make a hinge cut. The biggest thing to remember is that we are not trying to kill the tree that we hinge. Instead, we are trying to bring the natural forage down to a level that deer can eat it while also creating a natural screen as well as letting sun in to the forest floor for other natural forage to grow. There are so many possibilities of how to use hinge cuts that it’s important to make sure that you have a plan for what you are trying to accomplish in each area before making any cuts. The worst you thing you can do is go through the woods hinge cutting random trees here and there to “just thicken up the place as a whole”. Remember, we are not only doing to attract more deer to the area, but also to help make it easier to hunt. The mechanics of making a hinge cut are actually very simple. When finished, you should have a tree that looks like the one in the top photo. In order to make a hinge cut, you want to cut straight through the tree about 60%. A good rule of thumb is that you only want to cut the tree far enough for you to pull or push it over. The tree in the top photo is still alive. I cut in this past spring and it exploded with growth during the spring green up. In the photo below, I accidentally cut too far through the tree and my hinge broke. Even still, because I did it while all the nutrients were being stored in the root system, the stump grew the many new shoots that you can see.
Hinge Cutting for Deer Travel
This type of cut is designed to manipulate where deer travel. When making hinge cuts in these areas, you are going to be making your hinge cuts at various heights. The idea here is to make a hallway so to speak where they are going to feel safe while traveling though it. To make a travel corridor, we are going to be hinging trees at shoulder height so that they fall away from or right along where you want the deer to walk. What this does is it gives the deer a place where they can walk through, but still be hidden from dangers because you have created a bunch of side cover for them. After the first year, you should have a pretty thick travel corridor with a well used trail running through it. The only thing that would stop it is if you have an extremely high deer population that is putting an extreme amount of browsing pressure on the new growth.
For a look at some hinge cutting for deer that I did, check out 2015 Habitat Plan Execution
Hinge Cutting for Deer Bedding
This type of hinge cutting is obviously designed for deer to bed in. Like with the travel corridor hinge cutting, these cuts are going to be made around shoulder height. The difference between hinge cutting for deer travel and hinge cutting for deer bedding is that with the bedding, you are going to go back through the entire area and clear out the smaller branches underneath the hinge cut trees. You want to make the area comfortable for the deer to lay down, so you want to make sure you remove all the sticks from the specific spots that you expect the deer to lay down in. You’ll also want to provide a back rest for them to lay against. Depending on if you are trying to a doe family group or a mature buck in a particular spot, you will want to create the beds a little differently. For a doe family group, you will be putting several spot around in a circle facing each other. For a buck bed, you will want a single bed that is solely focused on wind direction and safety.
Hinge Cutting for Deer Blockage
When setting up a property for optimal deer hunting opportunities, there are going to be places that you just don’t want deer to be able to go. There are many reasons for this as well. First, it may be an area that will be down wind from your stand location so you want to force deer to walk around it. Another reason may be that you are trying to block the deer from entering or exit your property or a field in certain location while encouraging that movement in a different spot. Yet another reason could be as a visual barrier because you need to walk in and out of a spot somewhere are you don’t want the deer to be able to see you. In order to hinge cut an area to keep deer out or create a visual barrier, you are going to be cutting trees in many different directions and at many different heights. The point is to drop all trees in to the same area and create something that looks like a tornado went through it. Within a year, the area should be so thick and have tree trunks going every which way so that no human or deer can walk through it.
When hinge cutting for deer there are many different things that you have to take in to consideration before you ever step foot in the woods. Having a habitat plan for the property before you start could save you tons of time and effort later. Once a plan is laid out and you know where you want the deer to bed, travel, and feed then it’s time to hit the woods with your chainsaw or hand pruning saw and transform the landscape for your deer. By taking the time to do it right, your hunting could be drastically better in just one season. However, even hinge cutting and making vast improvements to your land will not help you if you are putting too much pressure on your property or hunting stands with the wrong wind. Hinge cutting is just one more piece of the puzzle to help give you that edge. Happy Hunting!