OVER 1000 POUNDS OF FORAGE PER ACRE CAN BE CREATED BY A WELL EXECUTED HINGE CUTTING STRATEGY.
Whitetails rely on three things to survive: food, water, and cover. While food plots are the go-to for most hunters and can pay huge dividends, hinge cutting is one of the most overlooked and most beneficial strategies a land manager can apply to their property. Hinge cutting is a quick and inexpensive way to create substantial cover and browse for deer and other wildlife.
Start by identifying areas that can benefit from cutting, such as areas where sunlight is blocked from the forest floor. By opening up the canopy, sun hits the forest floor and promotes the growth of native vegetation and the down trees offer instant cover for wildlife. Poorly shaped hardwoods and other non-desirable deciduous trees make great candidates for cutting.
Properly cut trees will continue to green up for years after cutting. Make a horizontal cut, approximately waist high, 60% of the way through a 6-inch or less diameter tree. Take your time while making the cut to avoid cutting too much of the cambium layer (the pipeline through which food is passed to the rest of the tree). Be intentional with the direction you drop your hinged trees. Keeping passageways throughout downed trees large enough for deer to easily walk through will quickly entice deer to call the new and improved location home.
Over 1000 pounds of forage per acre can be created by a well executed hinge cutting strategy.When your cutting is complete, adding conifer species at a rate of 50-100 per acre is a great habitat diversity practice. While hinge cutting is not appropriate for every habitat across the country, it is definitely a viable tool to create attractive daytime habitat for whitetails.